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Chapter 31 – Singing Diva?
Dinner was finished before Gun finally came down from upstairs, and there he saw Tong Nian, sitting by Grandfather’s side, holding a knife, and paring an apple. Have you ever seen a live version of the first time someone learns how to pare an apple? It would be just like this now: skin with apple flesh still attached to it; the knife constantly moving to, time after time, start a new cut; and a very ugly-looking end result.
Utterly bored, Dt watched the Huangmei opera film that was on the television to pa.s.s the time.
Since the elderly one came to visit, this entire house seemed to have reverted back to that era of smoke and flames of the Republican period, and every day, the television would rotate through all kinds of Chinese opera. He got headaches from listening to them.
Gun walked over and sat down in a brash, nonchalant manner. Propping one leg on the other knee, he motioned for her to hand him the fruit knife.
Then, picking up a new apple, he briskly pared a single, long spiral of peel off of it, sliced it into eight wedges, and cut out the core, not once touching the flesh of the apple with his fingers during the entire process. Just like that, he tossed the wedges onto a plate and pushed it over to that pair of one elderly, one young.
Swiftly, Tong Nian grabbed a toothpick, stabbed it into a wedge, and held it up to the elderly man.
“You didn’t even wash your hands. Eat it yourself.” The elderly man looked at him disdainfully.
Without saying a word, he truly did pick up a wedge with his fingers and toss it into his mouth.
Tong Nian followed suit and began to eat one as well with a manner of “I don’t mind. I absolutely, firmly do not mind.”
While she was eating away, she heard Grandfather ask, “Nian Nian, that day I heard your parents mention that you like to sing, and you are very famous online with lots of fans?”
Self-consciously, she glanced at Gun. “Not really a lot…”
“Look at your wife.” Grandfather once again glanced scornfully at Gun. “Her interest is so cultured and cultivates the mind. All you know how to do is play video games.” Rolling his eyes, Gun carried on with eating his apple. It was apparent the elderly man had already chosen to selectively ignore that his favourite grandson [eldest grandson born of a daughter] was also a gamer and, furthermore, a professional gamer who had many times been ranked as number one in the world.
Grandfather smilingly turned his eyes back to Tong Nian. “What do you sing?”
“I sing… mainly songs from anime as well as a variety of j.a.panese songs.”
“Oh, j.a.panese songs. Those aren’t nice to listen to,” Grandfather sighed. “Do you know Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy?”
“……” She shook her head sheepishly.
“Your [paternal] grandpa used to love listening to The Legend of the Red Lantern. Have you heard it before?”
“I have! I’ve heard it many times.” Phew. Good thing she had. Finally, she had found a common topic with him to talk about. “When Grandpa was still alive, he would always play it in our house. Back then, our house was just like this. Every day, as long as you were awake, there’d be opera playing.”
Grandfather was even happier with this, feeling that Han Shangyan had not really done any good things in his life and the only thing he could bring out to flaunt in front of people was that he had found himself such a lovely, well-behaved little wife. And so, the old man laughingly waved his hand and instructed, “Sing a little segment for Grandfather right now.”
Gun and Dt simultaneously lifted their heads.
Together, they turned their gazes to this cutie little girl who had just dug a pit for herself…© 2013-2016 FANATICAL hui3r.wordpress.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r.wordpress.com. If you are not reading this from hui3r.wordpress.com, then this translation has been posted without the permission of the translator.
For the entire half hour drive back to her home, Tong Nian, in a state where she did not even dare speak half a word, hugged her bag to herself and bit down tightly on her lower lip. Who could understand what it felt like for this “healing-type girl” [sweet girl whose presence comforts and “heals” the heart], who, for the first-ever time singing in front of the person she liked, had had to sing scenes from The Legend of the Red Lantern?… Especially since, midway through her singing, Dt had simply broken out in laughter and left the room, and Gun had shown all sorts of rich and colourful expressions on his face as well.
Hence, the direct result of this was, from when she finished singing to the present—this present moment where they were about to arrive at the front door of her home—she still was in a state where she did not dare say a single word to him.
Turning the steering wheel, Gun drove into her community compound. In a shadowy parking spot fifty metres from her apartment building, he parked the vehicle.
Here, it could be guaranteed that they would not have any spectators looking in on them, nor would the circ.u.mstance arise where her parents would happen to come outside and see them, yet he could still watch her safely step into the building stairwell. It was a good spot.
He cut the engine.
“I’ll be back next weekend.” Though he was not used to reporting his schedule and plans to anyone, for simple tasks such as this, if he could do it, then he would.
“Oh,” she answered briefly.
“I won’t tell you the flight number. You don’t need to come meet my flight.”
“Oh.” She carried on with nodding her head.
But she simply would not look at him, still submerged, instead, in her The Legend of the Red Lantern incident as her agonized heart silently dripped blood… She felt her wrist being taken into a grasp that pulled her over. The centre console armrest lay between them, so he had not yanked forcefully, only enough to convey that he wanted her to move close to him.
Huh? She saw him adjust his seat to slide it backwards.
This particular parking spot was on the very periphery of the compound, and he had parked so that the front of the car was facing inward. Therefore, only the back of the vehicle had a view of the headlights that were driving by in the distance.
Her head bowed, she crawled lightly over the armrest and, with his arm holding her waist, sat herself at an angle on his lap. One-tenth of a second later, her lip was already caught between his teeth, but she was still pondering whether Blueberry and her husband would also so frequently… kiss…
Of course, her pondering ceased within a few seconds.
Waves of tingling numbness travelled down her back. Her knees were tensed tightly, and her leg was pressed against the car door as she shifted slightly a couple of times. As it turned out, his palm happened to be resting on her leg, and rather displeasedly, he left her lips for the moment. “It’s cold out. Why are you wearing a skirt?”
“It’s not cold…” she murmured in a low voice.
“Not cold?” He pushed open the car door. A biting wind rushed in.
She gave an abrupt shiver.
With a bang, the car door was shut.
Phew. Warm again.
“Still not cold?”
“Cold…” She was honest this time.
Needless to say, he could see straight through the girly thinking she had tried to keep concealed in her heart, and with no mercy, he exposed it. “Clothes are meant to keep out the cold. If you want other results, it’d be better just to not wear anything.”
Ah?! Colour rushed into her cheeks.
She squirmed bashfully…
Gun always spoke bluntly and to the point. He never felt that words like these needed to beat around the bush, especially when they were spoken to the one who had already been conferred the t.i.tle of “girlfriend.” Of course, they did not delve deeper in discussion on this topic because when he began his second round of “reasonable demands a boyfriend could make,” he discovered that… skirts were actually pretty nice.
However, this particular skirt-length was still a bit dangerous.
Consequently, the original plan to watch her walk into the building stairwell was changed to become him personally accompanying her into the stairwell. Standing in that spot where the dark of the night intersected with the glow of the lights, he watched her repeatedly turn her head back at every step to bid farewell to him.
That sense of belonging from being needed, being desired, as well as being entrusted by someone—it had only once existed for him between the teammates of that squad from his distant past. The more intense these feelings were, the more painful the feeling of loss that followed was. He had no profound experience in regards to love and romance, but he had amply experienced the connections and relationships that occur between people…
Turning around, he stepped out of that brightly-lit place and into the cloak of night.
From behind him, a pet.i.te pair of arms suddenly stretched out and circled around his waist. “Did I give you a scare?” There was a smile in the little girl’s voice, and she secretly felt a teeny bit of delight. She had stealthily, one step at a time, slipped back. Fortunately, he had not discovered her. “Come back soon.”
He looked down at her tiny hands. Without any l.u.s.t in his action, he caressed them a couple times as his way of answering her.
“I… will miss you,” she told him softly.© 2013-2016 FANATICAL hui3r.wordpress.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r.wordpress.com. If you are not reading this from hui3r.wordpress.com, then this translation has been posted without the permission of the translator.
 黄梅戏. Huangmei opera originated in approximately the 18th century as “tea-picking songs.” It is sometimes referred to as a “folk opera” as it combines folks songs with narration and dance, with plain language and a natural and simple style.
 民国 “Minguo.” The Republic of China (1912-1949), sometimes referred to as the Minguo period, in Mainland China is an era after the fall of the Qing dynasty but prior to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It was a period in China showing the Western influence but also still containing many traditional aspects.
《智取威虎山》 Taking of Tiger Mountain by Strategy is a Peking opera. It is one of the original eight 样板戏 model operas, which were officially formed during the Cultural Revolution and, to inspire the people, contained themes of heroes and models who rose up from the commoner ranks (peasant, soldier, worker, etc.). The story of Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, set in 1946, is based on the true story of a soldier, Yang Zirong, who went undercover, infiltrating and successfully taking down a gang of bandits. It was adapted to screen in 1970 and then again, recently, in 2014 in Tsui Hark’s The Taking of Tiger Mountain.
1970 Poster for Taking of Tiger Mountain by Strategy(image credit)
《红灯记》 The Legend of the Red Lantern (or sometimes in English, simply The Red Lantern) is one of the eight model operas (see footnote) of the Chinese Cultural Revolution created in the 1960s. The story is set in the anti-j.a.panese war period in which an orphan girl learns that her parents were communist party members who sacrificed their lives for the revolutionary cause and social change. She, too, goes to give her life to the revolutionary work.
The Legend of the Red Lantern (image credit)
治愈系妹子. The concept of 治愈系, which literally means “healing type” was actually introduced in j.a.pan and describes something (e.g. story, anime, person, etc.) that makes people feel warm, relaxed, happy, etc. It has an ability to warm, comfort, and “heal” the heart and mind, by making you feel better mentally and emotionally, especially when you are sad or discouraged. A 治愈系妹子 “healing type girl” is one whose presence or beauty has the ability to comfort and warm the heart. Adjectives for such a girl often include cute, gentle, pure, innocent, sweet, etc.