Easily Set Aflame Chapter 7 Part1

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Damae Ramen is my go-to instant noodle (not that I eat instant noodles often, but if I do, it's this one). Good choice, Qiao Qiao. Ah, some quiet time together. ?

Chapter 7.1 — A Sudden Rumoured Romance (1)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting 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.

At this point, the call was hung up. Jia He still felt as if in a fog.

Yi Wenze set her mobile phone to the side, picked up his telephone, and dialed an internal line. "Qing, would you please bring some food in? Thank you."

Plain rice porridge served with a few other small, simple dishes. She was not certain whether it was because she was sick or because he was watching her the whole time as she ate, but the food was bland in her mouth. With difficulty, she managed to finish everything before she put down her bowl. "What time is it?"

Yi Wenze lifted his wrist. "Nine o'clock."

Nine o'clock? …

She had actually slept all the way into the middle of the night. "I'm so sorry. I've troubled you for such a long time."

He did not reply to that. "Do you want to sleep for another little while?"

Sleep… His one sentence wholly exposed to her what the situation was, and she all of a sudden realized that she truly, right in front of him, had just blatantly slept for a really long time.

In the past, she had watched his television serials in her own room and, hugging her blankets, her mind hazy, drifted off into sleep. She had even felt that being able to fall asleep while listening to her idol's voice was truly such a happy thing. But it was apparent the current situation was a whole other matter.

In this very dim room, there were only the two of them, one lying on the bed and one sitting at the bedside.

"I slept too much. I want to go out and watch some TV." Jia He wrestled inside herself for a long time before managing to squeeze out this sentence that had no value whatsoever.

After a lengthy quiet, he finally answered with a chuckle, "How about we watch a DVD?"

Her mind was blank for a moment, then caught on. Yi Wenze's home likely did not have cable television…

Het original intent had been to try to avoid the awkwardness of being alone with him, but in the end, they merely changed locations, from the guest room into the study, and continued being together. Compared with the liveliness of last night, tonight was quite a bit quieter. Qing offhandedly explained that Wu Zhilun was attending an event tonight and would probably be coming back in the middle of the night to sleep. Then she began informing Jia He of where the herbal teas and teapot were kept and even specifically brought Jia He to have a look at the place where the tealight candles were stored…

Her fever had actually broken for a long time already; she simply felt  a little faint and weak now. However, in comparison to Yi Wenze, she would still be considered a healthy person.

And hence, from the moment Qing closed the door, she instantly took on the role of taking care of him.

She steeped some tea, lit a candle, and placed the transparent teapot above the flame.

Only then did she stop to look at Yi Wenze, who was sitting behind the desk. "Would you like to go downstairs and get something to eat?"

Yi Wenze smiled, "No, it's okay. The DVDs are on the shelf. Go ahead and choose one."

Since Jia He was the one who had made the suggestion, it would not be right for her to continue being overly polite. Therefore, she could only face the shelf after shelf of discs and carefully look through them. There was a generous variety of types of films. In particular, one shelf was devoted to recently-released films.

In a glance, she spotted Gillian Chung's new film, Ex[1].

The word-of-mouth reviews on this movie were pretty good, so without thinking too much about it, she stuck the DVD into the player.

In the beginning, it was still rather fun and amusing, but the further along the movie progressed, the more it became scenes of suggestive, yet still ambiguous, interaction between Gillian and her ex-boyfriend. And the more she watched, the more she felt this was not quite right. Jia He inconspicuously lowered the volume a little and snuck a peek at Yi Wenze. Observing that he was still reading through some doc.u.ments and did not seem to have noticed the movie picture, she could at last secretly breathe out in relief.

But when she was in the middle of changing out the disc, he suddenly spoke up.

"What's wrong? It's not a good movie?"

Jia He hemmed and hawed for a bit, answering equivocally, "No. I just suddenly realized that I've watched it before."

"Of the recent Hong Kong films, there are several smaller productions that are pretty good." Yi Wenze was holding a stack of doc.u.ments, signing as he spoke. "That film, Love in a Puff[2], is quite good. It's quite a close portrayal of real life."

The words spilled off Jia He's lips before she had even thought them through. "It's that movie about a romance in seven days?"

She had watched this movie, starring Shawn Yue and Miriam Yeung, completely from beginning to end, and the impression it left with her was merely like that of a romantic love song that lasted for seven days, very in line with the fast-food-type love prevalent in current culture. But no matter how she evaluated it, she still felt that the basic foundation itself of the film was weak.

Seeming very much in a leisurely mood, Yi Wenze set down his pen. "The reviews for both of these movies are quite good. Which one do you prefer?"

Why was it that, no matter how she heard these words, they sounded like he was asking her, which did she prefer, an ambiguously intimate relations.h.i.+p with an ex or a fast-food style romance with a new love?

<>This is a copy, taken from the site hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. The translator would greatly appreciate it if you would read this story from there instead. Thank you.

The flame of the tealight candle was unhurriedly warming the tea.

Jia He hesitated briefly. "To be honest, I don't really like modern movies with an urban setting. I prefer Ashes of Time[3]."

A very old film. Back in her university days, she was already able to recite almost all the lines in it.

"Go take a look at the tenth disc on the third shelf. It should be the disc for that movie," he unexpectedly said.

"The old version or the new one?"

"The old version."

Following his instructions, she went over and pulled out the disc. Sure enough, it was the right one.

"When the film was released in 1994, its initial box-office reception was terrible, but because it received a lot of awards, it suddenly became popular." He stopped, looking at Jia He with a smile. "At the time, you should only have been in your teens."

Jia He silently calculated for a moment. "Not even ten years old." Seeing how well the disc was kept, she asked offhandedly, "You really like this film, too?"

He replied, "From a cinematography and editing standpoint, I very much like it. But I don't really appreciate the protagonist's character."

Jia He thought about Gege, Leslie Cheung[4], and could not contain a sigh. "How he let himself live a self-indulgent, unchecked life?"

Yi Wenze smiled. "His att.i.tude of hiding from his own feelings."

Jia He had not expected the conversation would develop to this topic, and for a moment she did not know what to say. She could therefore only give a cursory laugh, and then, while remarking on how good Gege's acting skills were, she set that disc into the player and carried on whittling away the time. It was some time past eleven o'clock and the movie was nearing its end, when Qing at last knocked on the door and said that Qiao Qiao was back. When Jia He heard these words, it was like she had received a special pardon, and, practically fleeing, she sped downstairs.

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

Qiao Qiao had carried in two boxes of Demae Ramen instant noodles and was now downstairs drinking water. Seeing Jia He, she immediately winked and signaled with her eyes. "One box is for you to b.u.t.ter up your idol and one box is for me to b.u.t.ter up my ba.s.s-playing talent. How about it? I'm such a good friend, right?"

Qing snorted out giggles when she heard this, making Jia He terribly embarra.s.sed.

She helped Qiao Qiao bring a box into the kitchen while the other one was moved into the guest room.

"Will I be able to sleep with you?" Qiao Qiao asked out of the blue.

Looking at her in bewilderment, Jia He countered, "Why wouldn't you?"

Qiao Qiao immediately flopped onto the bed, answering with a grin, "Will I get in the way of your 'happy activities'?"

Jia He finally understood what she meant. "Cut the jokes. If you hadn't driven my car away, I wouldn't still be staying here tonight."

From top to bottom, left to right, Qiao Qiao swept her eyes over Jia He. "When you were pa.s.sed out in sleep this afternoon, I was already back. How come I didn't see you driving it away then?"

"You came back this afternoon?"

"Of course. You had a high fever that wouldn't go down. You think I'd dare to not come back?" Qiao Qiao laughed. "Sadly, though, it was obvious my presence was redundant. Wu Zhilun is so able to act, but even he didn't dare be an atmosphere-spoiling light bulb[5] there with you guys, let alone me."

Jia He had no words to say to that. This afternoon, she had been dead to the world when she slept, so Qiao Qiao could fabricate things however she wanted and Jia He would not be able to expose her. Therefore, she decided simply to hold her silence.

Qiao Qiao fussed about for another little while before falling into a deep sleep, a pillow nestled in her arms. Jia He, on the other hand, having slept too much during the day, tossed and turned on the bed, and at one in the morning, she still had not fallen asleep yet. When she stepped out to get herself some water, she unconsciously glanced towards the study. The lights inside were still on.

After wavering for half a minute, she slowly treaded upstairs and gave a knock on the door.

"Come in." Yi Wenze's voice was somewhat deeper, and weariness could be heard in it.

Pus.h.i.+ng the door half open, she saw that he was still sitting behind his desk, looking at his computer.

The tealight candle had long since burned out, and all that remained was a thin layer of tea at the bottom of the pot.

On the television screen was still the picture she had paused the movie at, with Maggie Cheung, dressed in a bright red gown, frozen in an action.

He typed out his last word, then lifted his head to look at her. "Why aren't you sleeping yet?"

Fortunately, Jia He had come up with an excuse before coming upstairs, and now she only smiled and replied, "I was in bed and then felt hungry. It just so happens that Qiao Qiao brought a box of Demae Ramen back with her. I'm going to be making some anyway, so if you want some, I can make yours together with mine." Ah, sure enough, she was calmer if she first drafted up in her mind what she was going to say. More and more, she admired her own composure.

"Sure."

"Want to add an egg to it?"

She was not really clear on what Hong Kong people's tastes were. If Qiao Qiao had not exposed her to it, she would not have even known about this brand, Demae Ramen. From her own common knowledge, she just believed that when you cook noodles, you need to add an egg in before it will be tasty.

He nodded again, his smile deepening. "Sure."

Jia He had originally wanted to ask a few more questions, but remembering that he might not even know what the refrigerator contained, she decided it would be better to simply go herself to have a look, and whatever was good to eat, she would just add into the noodles. Seeing that Yi Wenze truly did seem interested, she hurriedly went downstairs, found her way to the kitchen, and began rummaging around, a.s.suming that that Shanghainese housekeeper had brought a lot of things here today. Very soon, she dug out some luncheon meat and eggs, and pulling out a pot, she boiled some water. Only now did she notice that the box of noodles had not been opened yet.

There was a wide strip of tape across the box. Squatting on the floor, she slowly tore it at its edge with her fingers. A short while later, she heard the sound of boiling water. Right as she was about to stand, a hand was already reaching from behind her and turning down the stove.

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She turned around. Yi Wenze, leaning against the edge of the marble counter, told her, "The scissors should be in the cupboard to the right."

Hastily crouching down again, Jia He grabbed the scissors, opened the box, and pulled out two packs of noodles.

Package of sesame-flavoured Damae Ramen. Packaging may vary in design and colour, depending on flavour and region. ()

Steam rose relentlessly from the roiling water, which emitted very light noises.

When she ripped open the package and pulled out a dried cake of noodles, Yi Wenze had already cut open the pack of luncheon meat, and taking out a clean plastic cutting board, he began cutting it into slices. His knife work was pleasant to watch and skilled and made Jia He, a smatterer when it came to working with a knife, sweat profusely with embarra.s.sment at her own skills.

Boil the noodles, crack the eggs, put in the meat.

He practically did everything. Jia He, standing to one side, gradually became the person who merely helped hand things over to him. Not until he was holding a pair of chopsticks and starting to stir things together did she recall that, just earlier, she seemed to have been the one who said she wanted to make noodles for him to eat…

Feeling a little sheepish, she began randomly searching for things to talk about. "What a coincidence. The two movies that we talked about today both have scenes with cooking noodles. It seems you Hong Kong people really like to eat this stuff."

His lips turned up ever so slightly, and he took a glance at her. "Bring over two empty bowls."

Hurrying again to rifle through the dish cupboard, she brought out two large, white, porcelain bowls. Before long, one bowl was filled.

He got some more cold water and began to heat it.

"How about you eat first?" She helped him rip open the other package of noodles.

He told her, "It's okay. It'll be ready really soon."

She was a little embarra.s.sed. "I was the one who said I'd make noodles for you… You coming downstairs like this, will your leg be okay?"

Calmly, he replied, "It should be fine. As long as you have no need for me to play ball or go running, there should be no problems."

Jia He was glum for a moment. If she really did make any sort of request for him to play ball or run, she reckoned that everyone, from his talent agency down to his fans, would hack her to death, then grind up her bones into ashes and scatter them to the wind.

Tiny bubbles climbed up from the bottom of the pot. Slowly, the water began to boil again.

All the things that needed to be handed had been handed to him already. There was nothing else for her to do, and she was unable to find anything to converse about either. She could therefore only just stand beside him, staring at those bubbles on the bottom of the pot to try to distract herself. After he  poured out the noodles into the other bowl, she hastily stretched out her arm to take the pot from him, wanting to first bring it away to wash.

And then, completely catching herself by surprise, her hand b.u.mped into his.

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

[1]《前度》 Ex (2010) is a Hong Kong film starring Gillian Chung and William Chan.

[2]《志明与春娇》Love in a Puff (2010) is a Hong Kong romantic comedy starring Miriam Yeung and Shawn Yue. It is about two smokers who fall in love over a week, after meeting outside while having a smoke.

[3]《东邪西毒》Ashes of Time is a Hong Kong wuxia movie that was first released in September 1994. It is a loose prequel to Jin Yong's Legend of the Condor Heroes (also known asThe Eagle-Shooting Hero). In 2008, it was re-edited and released as Ashes of Time Redux.

Ashes of Time stars big names: from left to right, Leslie Cheung, Brigette Lin, Tony Leung KFai, Jacky Cheung, Carina Lau, Charlie Yeung, Tony Leung Chiu-Was. Maggie Cheung was also in the movie, though not shown here on this poster.

[4] The extremely-loved Hong Kong actor and singer, Leslie Cheung, is also fondly referred to by the nickname “Gege,” which literally means "Big Brother." He suffered from depression, which ultimately led to his death by suicide in 2003, hence Jia He's sigh as she suddenly thought of him. Leslie Cheung played the role of the main character, Ouyang Feng, in Ashes of Time.

[5] In Chinese slang, being a light bulb is like being a third wheel when you are with a couple. A person who is hanging out with a couple is like a light bulb, s.h.i.+ning brightly on them and spoiling the atmosphere.

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting 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:

Damae Ramen is a much loved instant noodle brand in Hong Kong. While it's not impossible to find it in Mainland China, it's not commonplace, especially back in 2011, when shopping on online sites like Taobao was not nearly as common as it is today. Qiao Qiao brought back a brand that Yi Wenze very likely was familiar with, so Jia He could “b.u.t.ter up” her idol. ?

This was the instant noodle brand that I grew up knowing. Forget Cup-O-Noodles, Mr. Noodles, etc. and all those other N. American brands. This one beats it hands down. Of course, nowadays, way more Asian instant noodle brands have made their way into the market, but this one is still my noodle of choice (on the off chance that I want instant noodles, which is… rare). It conjures up childhood memories.

Completed:
1 of 1 Prologue
19 of 58 Chapter segments
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Easily Set Aflame Chapter 7 Part1

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Easily Set Aflame Chapter 7 Part1 summary

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