The Healing Sunshine Chapter 11 Part2

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This is a loaded chapter. Xixi learns some harsh truths. Thankfully, while the Jǐ family has never been there for her, she is not completely alone. I really appreciate the compassion that Nuannuan’s mother shows to her here, and the encouraging words Grandpa Jì passed on to her.

Chapter 11.2 — The Reason to be Strong (2)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or reposting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

On this night before the Lunar New Year, Jǐ Yi dreamt of things that had occurred in the past.

In her dream, she was crying the entire time. Someone walked over to her and asked, what was wrong? Was she lost? Where was her home? She pointed behind her and said, her home was actually on the other side of this window. That person said some more things but was unable to console her. This continued until an older boy came up to her and held out a small plastic bottle that had a pink hue to it—it was for her. The bottle's shape was very cute, and its mouth was sealed with foil, which could be opened by simply tearing it. On the body of the bottle, the two characters "Xi Le" [Joy] were written.

She awoke. She remembered that this was the scene of her and Jì Chengyang's first meeting.

Although she only remembered Wang Haoran's face from that day, she was certain the person who handed her the Xi Le drink must have been Jì Chengyang.

喜乐 “Xi Le”, which means “joy” is a brand of yogurt drink that is similar to (but not the same as) Yakult. ()

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This undeserved calamity had torn through like a hurricane, quick and violent in force, roaring and wreaking devastation. But after ripping up homes and uprooting trees, the next day, it was gone without a trace, leaving only cloudless, azure skies for miles and miles. Reputedly, Wang Xingyu's father's position transfer had met with strong opposition, so he took advantage of these several days of the Spring Festival[1] to personally make a visit to the Jì family and pay New Year's greetings to Elder Jì, who was having a hard-to-come-by short stay in his eldest son's home. The conversation and laughter that took place in that room all indicated an understanding that that disagreement and ruckus between the children really were not significant matters. Naturally, then, they should set aside any resentment and make peace. And hence, the difficulties encountered with the position transfer were also easily resolved.

As for the right and wrong in all of this, no one wished to comment about it when it was not their place to do so.

Ten years later, when Jǐ Yi went to a prison to interview a seventeen-year-old juvenile offender and listened to the bizarre and incredible details of the case, the thought suddenly occurred to her: if in that spring of 2002, Jì Chengyang had not extended a helping hand, would Fu Xiaoning also have become like this, sitting in a chair, speaking words that did not have much logic, all the while seeming obsessive-compulsive as he looked out the high window again and again at the blue sky beyond it?

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On the fifth day of the new lunar year, all the senior-year high school students were to return to school for remedial classes.

As this was the last semester of the final year of high school, Fuzhong justifiably requested all students to live on campus, so as to allow them to focus on preparing for examinations. On the morning of the fourth day of the new lunar year, earlier than the required date, Nuannuan's mother brought Jǐ Yi and Nuannuan back to the school. When the vehicle arrived at the school gates, Nuannuan's mother instructed Nuannuan to go first with the driver to bring the luggage up to the dormitory and leave Jǐ Yi alone in the car. At first, Nuannuan had not been willing to comply, but afterwards, when she discovered that her mother was extremely serious about this, she had no choice but to leave.

The door of the vehicle closed. Jǐ Yi looked toward Nuannuan's mother.

"Xixi, don't be nervous," Nuannuan's mother soothed her. "Grandpa Jì told me to have a little talk with you. By chance, I also had the same thought."

Jǐ Yi nodded, unable to guess the content of the conversation.

The discussion with Nuannuan's mother began with talking about Jǐ Yi's paternal grandfather and grandmother. This was somewhat outside of what she had expected. Jǐ Yi's grandmother was uneducated, taken in by the Jǐ family since she was a child and raised as the future daughter-in-law[2]. Grandfather Jǐ left the home and went to Beijing to study while Jǐ Yi's grandmother stayed behind in a village in Guangxi. After the Liberation[3], Jǐ Yi's grandfather brought Jǐ Yi's grandmother out from Guangxi and took her here to Beijing. Finally, at the age of forty, she had a son. However, because there was simply too great a difference in their education level, the two divorced.

Jǐ Yi's grandfather wed his second wife, and they had another two sons.

Back when the divorce occurred, there were people whose political views conflicted with Grandfather Jǐ's. They advised Jǐ Yi's grandmother to make a tremendous scene. She had thought that this could change the result, but in the end, they still parted ways. At the time, there were many people from this older generation who divorced, but only the Jǐ family's divorce caused an uproar that left everyone talking.

"That is why the father-son relationship between your father and grandfather is very bad." Nuannuan's mother was quite reserved and subtle with her words. "Your father is the only one in the family who has not donned a military uniform. During that era, if you didn't wear a military uniform, you would have to go to the countryside[4]. That's how your father met your mother over in the northeast region of the country. They both went through a lot of hardships. By the time the two were finally on the return journey home, your grandmother died of illness. Because of this, your father came to physical blows with your grandfather many times."

Jǐ Yi's father despised Jǐ Yi's grandfather for abandoning his wife and son. Jǐ Yi's grandfather hated his son for being so unfilial and had even written several versions of the agreement to sever their father-son relationship. Regarding these matters, outsiders who knew did not breathe a word about them to anyone. It had only been in these last few days that Grandpa Jì had told Nuannuan's mother about them.

"That's why, Xixi, if your grandfather does not treat you lovingly, it's not your fault." Nuannuan's mother said, "Auntie should not have been the one to tell you all this. But your Grandpa Jì, Uncle Jì, and I all watched you grow up, and you're so good and well-behaved. We don't want to see you get hurt because you don't know about some things. You're sixteen already, a big girl. Knowing and understanding is better than being kept in the dark, right?"

"Mm."

"Your grandfather is old now. Your two [paternal] uncles and their wives, as well as the grandson, are always by his side, so the relationship between them is strong. Anything they say, your grandfather will very much believe. You cannot really blame the elder for that. After all, when you're old, you can only count on the sons and daughters who are by your side taking care of you, and the ones who are not filial, you will just view them as if they were never born. This is human nature."

There were many children and grandchildren in the Jǐ family. The second and third sons and their wives all were filial and took good care of their elders—they were good children. And hence, in the ears of the elderly man, those groundless, inciting accusations that those good children said must be true.

Jǐ Yi's two uncles and aunts all were of the opinion that Jǐ Yi living there was something that Jǐ Yi's father had deliberately arranged so that in the future, when they were dividing the estate, he would have something he could use as discussion point. After all, the father-son relationship was already broken; the granddaughter was the only person linking them together. These sorts of words were ones that Jǐ Yi's aunts would say to anyone they encountered, and they would also often prattle on about this to Jǐ Yi's grandfather. So, over time, everyone had come to view them as true.

The eldest son disregarded his filial duties and would even come to physical blows with the elderly man. This, indeed, had cast a chill of bitter disappoinment in the elderly man's heart.

The older a person gets, the simpler his memory formation process becomes. He remembers only who treats him well and who treats him poorly. On the morning of Lunar New Year's Day, Grandpa Jì had had a heart-to-heart talk with Jǐ Yi's grandfather. When the elderly man mentioned the name of his eldest son, his emotions had become riled up, and bursting out in rebuke, he had pointed out the door and bellowed, too, at Jǐ Yi to scat, the further the better. Grandpa Jì knew then that there was nothing else he could say.

This truly was a family matter. Outsiders could only watch from the sideline.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only.

Happy families always have things that are similar between them; unhappy families each have their own different miseries.

Those who do not know the details will simply treat them as stories to listen to, and these stories contain other stories. Sometimes, when you read or watch news about society and life, you will find stories of two people who have no blood relation standing steadfastly by one another, never forsaking each other. And sometimes, you will also see people who are related by blood going forth in their lives as if they are strangers.

"Blood is thicker than water"—this saying does not apply in every situation.

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"Those words that your family members say to you, you can just listen and then let them pass. There's no need to take them to heart. In the future, just be more careful in whatever you do. It'll be better once you graduate." Nuannuan's mother helped Jǐ Yi smooth the bangs that lay on her forehead. "After you graduate from high school and enter university, you can rely on yourself and your own abilities. Nuannuan's granddad told me to tell you this: His parents both passed away by the time he was ten years old, but he has still lived just fine all this time up to the present. None of this is anything big."

Jǐ Yi gazed directly at Nuannuan's mother. Sincerely, she said, "Thank you, Auntie."

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Jǐ Yi returned to her dormitory room and unpacked her bags. After putting one month's worth of daily necessities into the wooden trunk beneath her bed, she glanced at her watch. It was still early. There was still time to go to the

Hospital. Thinking this, in this time when the senior-year students' floor was becoming increasingly lively, she left the dormitory building.

When the auntie-like woman in charge of the dormitory building saw Jǐ Yi, she immediately ran over and gave her a large bag of dried jujubes. "These are crisp and sweet. They nourish the blood[5]."

From the look in this auntie's eyes, Jǐ Yi could tell that the auntie, after learning about the incident that had occurred before the Lunar New Year, wanted to comfort her, and so she repeatedly expressed her thanks. Then, stuffing the dried jujubes into her schoolbag, she hurried away.

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When she arrived at the hospital, the nurses of this floor's ward that Jì Chengyang was in soon recognized her and therefore did not stop her from proceeding inside.

Jǐ Yi followed the hallway and continued walking further in. As she turned the corner, she found that the door to Jì Chengyang's room was ajar. It seemed that every time she came, there were people here visiting him. Right as she was about to push on it, through that slightly-open door, she caught sight of a young, short-haired woman sitting on the couch in the outer room of this hospital suite. Her back was to Jǐ Yi as she conversed with Jì Chengyang, who was also sitting on the couch.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only.

On that light brown couch, his body was sunken deep in as a result of the couch's softness, and he was listening earnestly to the person speaking beside him. His hand held a clear glass, and his index finger was unconsciously rubbing the outside of it.

Except for this small action of his finger, all of him was very still… as if he did not belong to this space anymore.

He should have been someone who traversed through the smoke of war and artillery. He should have had a pair of eyes that could see through you. But right now, right this moment, he was here whittling the time away. Still, though, he was so unperturbed. He looked upon fate with tranquility and calmness that were beyond his years.

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"I've always wanted to do a special feature on Rick Atkinson," the young woman said.

"Let me guess what you all would introduce in it." Jì Chengyang seemed to have some interest in this topic. At the very least, he had the desire to continue talking about it. "His expertise is in narrative nonfiction. He has one book, The Long Gray Line, which is about the military academy at West Point, and also another one about the Gulf War in the early 90s called Crusade. Both were bestsellers."

His voice still was as it always was, cool and calm.

"Mm. Those are things I have researched already. What else?"

"What else?" Jì Chengyang pondered. "What I know, you would be able to find out in your research. This person not only likes writing narrative accounts with themes revolving around war, he is also quite a good journalist himself, one of the top journalists who covered the Gulf War, Washington Post's bureau chief in Berlin, and then Washington Post's assistant managing editor.

Jǐ Yi wanted to knock and go in, but afraid that she would interrupt this conversation of theirs that was like work, she turned to pace slowly by the doorway.

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"His father was an army officer," the woman laughed, appearing to be in an extremely cheerful mood. "He's just like you."

Jì Chengyang did not respond to this particular topic.

He continued, "He received two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism, in 1982 and 1999. Too bad it's now 2002 already. If you were to talk about something that happened two, three years ago, there would be no sense of newness to it."

"That's why I'm chatting with you about it, to see if there is a newer spin to talk about."

"New? For example, you can make a bold prediction… He likely will be awarded a third Pulitzer Prize. He's already developed his own style, and moreover, it is very much in line with what those jurors on the Pulitzer Prize Board like."

"You're that certain?" There was laughter in the woman's voice as she continued with the topic. "That he'll be able to get another Pulitzer?"

"If nothing unexpected happens, I imagine he should receive another one within these next couple of years."

As Jǐ Yi listened to these words, she felt that Jì Chengyang was so distant from her.

He was an expert, professional, respected. Even if those beautiful eyes were concealed, his expression as he spoke these things, or just one slight smile from him, caused people to feel that such a man… must be held in the hearts of many.

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Hearing that there was a short silence inside, Jǐ Yi wanted to push open the door. But then, her hand halted.

From the pocket of his jacket, Jì Chengyang pulled out a candy. With practiced actions, he peeled open the wrapper, tossed that creamy-green square into his mouth, and ate it.

"When did you develop the habit of eating candy?" That young woman asked him, "Don't you dislike sweets?"

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only.

"Why haven't you gone in yet?" A nurse suddenly spoke up right behind Jǐ Yi.

Her heart gave a thud. The dialogue inside had already been disrupted, so she had no choice but to reach forward and push on the door.

The young woman on the couch turned and looked at her. Her facial features were still all very similar to the female newscaster on television who did feature reports on individuals, except she looked less like an intellectual than she did on the screen. She only had light makeup on now, which made her appear more welcoming and friendly, and she looked a little younger, too.

Jǐ Yi recalled the name she had seen on the television screen—Liu Wanxia.

When Liu Wanxia saw Jǐ Yi, she smiled as well. So it turned out it was a little girl.

Seeing that someone had come, this currently-popular news anchor quickly stated that there was a meeting at the station this afternoon and then also complained in a warm, gentle voice that it was only the fourth day of the new lunar year but she already had to work like this, such that even when just visiting him in the hospital, she still ended up talking to Jì Chengyang about work.

The nurse spoke quietly to Jì Chengyang. It seemed she was telling him a schedule, at what time he would need to go for this and that check-up or test and who would bring him there. Liu Wanxia listened attentively and also asked some questions in follow-up. It seemed she placed much care on matters that pertained to him.

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After the nurse and Liu Wanxia had left, Jǐ Yi finally felt a little more at ease, and she took a seat next to him. "What's Pulitzer?"

"It's a person's name." Jì Chengyang smiled, giving her a concise explanation. "He was an American and also leading figure in journalism. After his death, this award was established. It can be considered a very important and influential award in American journalism, and it's expanded now to cover many other categories, for example, literature and music and such."

She roughly understood now.

So that "Rick Atkinson" they had been talking about earlier must be a famous person in the American field of journalism.

"Xixi, could I trouble you to bring out the computer that's in the bedside drawer?" he suddenly asked.

Answering affirmatively, Jǐ Yi found the power cord and the network cable sockets and, after connecting everything, turned on the computer.

"Outlook is on the desktop. I need you to help me reply to an email."

"Found it." She double-clicked the icon. A window popped up on the screen. "It needs a password?"

"770521."

Jǐ Yi remembered that that was his birthday.

She still remembered, that time when they had had dinner at Xinjiekou Opening, he had eaten very little. He said it was because he had witnessed too many bloody and brutal atrocities and seen too many corpses of people who plainly were born in a peacetime era but still ended up dying amidst the fires of war, until finally, he no longer had any desire to eat innards and even had a psychological aversion to them.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only.

Jì Chengyang asked, "You've opened it?"

She pulled her attention back. "Opened it. It keeps saying that it's receiving mail."

This process of receiving mail took a full ten minutes. More than a thousand unread emails poured in. Watching as new emails continuously popped up on the left side, she found this remarkable. Just how many matters did he have going on that he would need so much email correspondence?

When all the emails had finished coming in, Jì Chengyang gave her an email address. "Type the first two letters into the search bar. The complete email address should automatically show up. And then, look for the last email that he sent me and read it out to me."

Jǐ Yi followed the steps that he had prescribed, but her mind was somewhat preoccupied, still thinking about that string of numbers that was his password.

"His last email… asks you when you'll be going back."

Jì Chengyang directed her in replying to the email.

The general idea of the reply was to explain that during this period, he was ill and unable to look at his computer, and he possibly needed to go for surgery.

"The surgery will be in three days." Jì Chengyang spoke these words to her in English. "When I have recovered, I will contact you again. The above was written by a friend of mine on my behalf."

Jǐ Yi paused in surprise.

Surgery in three days?

The unknowns of what would happen after the surgery instantly struck fear into her. It was that type of fear that you have when you are standing in front of a dark passageway, but you cannot see whether your next step will be a stairstep or a black hole. You feel powerless, rendering you without courage to face what lies ahead.

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Slowly, she typed in that last line of English words. After checking everything through once, she signed off with "Yang" for him. Then, she clicked "send."

"That's my roommate in the U.S.," Jì Chengyang told her.

Her mind was in a muddled mess, and she only made a sound in reply.

She shut down the computer. Wanting to put the laptop back into its original place, she rose from the couch.

But before she had even taken a couple of steps, she doubled back. "You're really going for surgery in three days?"

"If all goes according to plan, it will be in three days." Jì Chengyang was still sitting in the same spot. He lifted his arm, and it bumped into her shoulder. "I suddenly remembered that I forgot to tell you something."

"… What?" She felt inexplicably nervous, fearful that he would talk about things such as the surgery risks.

Jì Chengyang touched her black tresses.

If his eyes had been normal, there would undoubtedly be a sense of doting and tenderness within them that had never before been seen by anyone.

Slowly, he used his hand to feel the length of her hair and then from that determined whether it had grown a little longer again. After a brief silence, he continued on telling her, "I forgot to tell you, the first installment of Lord of the Rings is out in theatres. When my surgery is done, I'll watch it with you."

"The Chinese version?" she asked softly.

"Chinese versions usually have things cut out of them." Jì Chengyang smiled. "I'll watch the original version with you. If there are no Chinese subtitles, I will translate everything sentence by sentence for you."

Jǐ Yi lowered her head, her throat feeling a little tight. "The original version… I should be able to understand, too."

She and he had once discussed this film in the place where scenes for it had been shot. Time had quietly marched forward, and in the blink of an eye, it was already released in theatres worldwide. Right now, though, right in this moment, she understood. Jì Chengyang was giving her a promise—a promise that he would live.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only.

[1] 春节 "chun jie." In China, the Lunar New Year period is also called the Spring Festival and lasts from the first to the fifteenth day of the new lunar year.

[2] 童养媳 "tong yang xi." In pre-modern China, some families would adopt a daughter when she was a child and raise her as the future bride of one of the sons of the family. These girls were called tongyangxi, which literally means "daughter-in-law raised since childhood."

[3] 解放 "jie fang." This is literally translated as "the Liberation," and is the term used in China to refer to October 1, 1949, when Mao Zedong proclaimed the creation of the People's Republic of China. This signaled the end of the civil war between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party (also known as Kuomintang). In Mainland China, this war is referred to as the Liberation War.

[4] See footnote [1] in chapter 5.2.

[5] 补血 "bu xue." In traditional Chinese medicine, blood deficiency can occur and may bring such symptoms as poor memory, anxiety, dizziness, tiredness, poor appetite, etc. When this occurs, you need to "bu xue" or nourish and replenish the blood.

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or reposting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

Additional Comments:

(Just a note: Jì Chengyang was right. Rick Atkinson was awarded another Pulitzer Prize in 2003. It is currently February 2002 in the story.)

Whew, thankfully this chapter ended with some sweet interaction between our two leads. Hehe, this chapter should be a very good illustration of why I have been placing the tones on Jì and Jǐ.

The Healing Sunshine Chapter 11 Part2

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The Healing Sunshine Chapter 11 Part2 summary

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