Chapter 20: Arc1: Rural Love: Chapter 20 – Breaking the Corns
Huang Dan picked up a branch and went back to the grave. He saw Chen Jin Hua silently burning paper money with her head bowed. Some of the burning ashes flew down on the back of her hand but she was unaware.
Huang Dan went over, “Mom.”
Chen Jin Hua wiped her eyes. “Hey!”
She took the branch that her son had handed over and tossed it in the blazing pile of paper. “Dong Tian, give your father a few knocks.”
Huang dan did as she said.
It was a new experience for him who had no parents.
Chen Jin Hua opened a sheet of paper money and threw it into the fire. “Dong Tian’s father, take this money and spend them, there’s not much left.”
Suddenly she laughed. “Drink less, it’s easy to do silly things.”
Huang Dan’s eyes flickered slightly; Chen Jin Hua held resentment against Zhang Ma Zi.
According to the memory of the original owner, Zhang Ma Zi’s accident happened more than ten years ago on this day. It was raining heavily, he was not in the house, but had ran out alone and never came back.
No one was there, nobody knew what Zhang Ma Zi went out to do, who he saw and how he fell into the river.
The people in the village said that it was pouring heavily and the road was slippery. Zhang Ma Zi accidentally fell into the river and injured himself somewhere, that was why he didn’t swim up.
Zhang Ma Zi’s death was similar to throwing a stone into the water. There were some ripples at that moment, but following it was just tranquility.
At that time, the original owner was still young, he cried as he asked why his father died. Chen Jin Hua explained that he was taken away by the Dragon King in the river.
According to the memory of the original owner, at that time, Chen Jin Hua was only sad, and she was not angry at all.
Several years later, the original owner brought up that incident again. Chen Jin Hua didn’t answer him, she just took the bamboo stick and beat him up with it, as if she was venting her anger. Afterwards, she shut herself up in the room and cried.
In those years, something must have happened.
For example, Chen Jin Hua might’ve unintentionally found out the cause of Zhang Ma Zi’s death.
A cause of death that could crumble her heart, such that she took her anger out on her son.
Huang Dan’s train of thoughts withdrew back to his mind, “Mom, go to the hospital in the big city to have a look at your legs after the New year.”
“There’s nothing to see.” Chen Jin Hua said.
She couldn’t keep her eyes open because of the blowing ashes, “In any case, Mom can still walk, however, your Aunt Wang’s whole lower body is paralyzed, she can’t even use the toilet by herself. That is called suffering, so pitiful.”
Huang Dan faintly heard mockery in her words. Was it his illusion?
He thought about the numerous times he had mentioned Wang Yue Mei before; Chen Jin Hua’s words, actions, expressions were that of a good sister. He could not associate this word to her at all.
If it wasn’t an illusion just now, and there was real mockery hidden in her words, then it was not necessarily accurate that they were helping each other by sending each other gifts.
Was it possible that they were flaunting before each other?
Huang Dan’s heart leaped. He seemed to have grasped something, but he didn’t have time to analyze it.
The truth and fakehood between women, the things in the dark and out in the light; they were really hard to understand.
On the way back, he passed by a pathway and it was surrounded by a large area full of honeysuckle. The white and yellow colors all folded into a layer of radiance.
Huang Dan pulled out some of the blossoms, took them home and put them in a bottle. He leaned close and sniffed; They were very fragrant.
Chen Jin Hua asked, “Why are your keeping this thing? They attract mosquitoes.”
“It’s okay to leave them in the hall.” Huang Dan said, “Mom, let me pick out some and put them on your head?”
Chen Jin Hua was sweeping the floor with a broom. “Mom will not wear it. I’m old and no longer a young girl. Why should I wear it?”
Huang Dan’s eyebrows moved. “Oh.”
Chen Jin Hua said, “There are still plenty of honeysuckles on the table. Take them to Aunt Wang.”
Huang Dan took a look. They were all the leftovers. The stems were all twisted and crooked.
He gathered the flowers together and walked out. In his heart, he put together the several old stories that he had heard from outside about Chen Jin Hua and Wang Yue Mei, according to the order.
The first one was that Wang Yue Mei was very good at hooking up with men, when she was young. Her husband was angered to death, and she became a widow. Other men would rush to do something for her whenever she had some matters.
Second, Zhang Ma Zi died accidentally.
Third, the original owner went to work in other places when he was a teenager. When he came back from other village during new year, Chen Jin Hua was already a cripple.
Fourth, shortly after the death of Li Da Gui two years ago, Wang Yue Mei was suddenly paralyzed.
Would this pattern be related to Li Da Gui’s death?
By the time Huang Dan came back to his senses, he had already walked to the back of the village. His and Li Gen’s house was in the opposite direction.
When he first arrived here, he would often come out for a stroll in the night just to eavesdrop on his family members.
Unfortunately, he didn’t hear anything useful.
So, Huang Dan didn’t do that again recently. After all, it was not very safe.
Almost all the villagers raised dogs. A little bit of noise would attract the attention of the dogs. He was afraid of being chased by the dogs.
Huang Dan was about to leave when he heard a thud. Standing by the door of a house, he looked inside and found an old man lying on the ground, unable to get up.
The villagers called this old man, old fool, because he was not clear in his head and liked to spurt nonsense. His family would often shut him in the house and refuse to let him out.
They might have been occupied with something at the moment and had neglected this old man.
Huang Dan went in and helped the old man up. “Grandpa, it’s Dong Tian.”
The old man’s mouth was shriveled and he could not articulate clearly. His forehead was also bruised from the fall. “Oh, it’s Dong Tian, is your mother alright?”
Huang Dan’s breath halted for a moment. “My mother is fine.”
The old man asked Huang Dan to help himself to a wooden chair and sit down. “That Yue Mei is too much. The two families just had to argue about a drainage ditch because of their joined field.”
“Quarrel, so be it. But, why did both of them still hit each other? She looks thin but has great strength. Your mom’s face was swollen, just with that one slap.”
Huang Dan didn’t find this memory clip. The original owner probably did not remember this incident.
Then how did Chen Jin Hua and Wang Yue Mei reconcile?
The old man asked, “Where’s your father?”
Huang Dan said, “My father is busy in the field.”
“It’s good to be busy. As soon as you are busy, your mind will not be on other things.”
The old man’s mind was not clear, as he spoke, he began to speak to an empty spot and uttered nonsense.
“Both the palm and the back of the hand are made of flesh. Yue Mei, how can you say that in front of your husband’s grave? That it would be good if the second one is dead.”
Huang Dan’s eyelids suddenly lifted.
“Son, the world is very chaotic. Listen to Dad, don’t mind other people’s business.”
The old man suddenly shouted, “Young man, who are you? Why are you in my house? “
“…” Huang Dan said, “I am Dong Tian, the son of Chen Jin Hua.”
He raised the honeysuckle in his hands. “I was just passing by. I saw you fall on the ground, so I came in.”
The old man seemed to have remembered, “It’s you, Dong Tian. You have grown so big.”
“Have you gotten a wife?”
Huang Dan shook his head and said no, instead casually telling him, “Da Gui has a wife.”
“He’s not dead?”
The old man’s eyes stared at him and he chattered bizarrely, “How could it be? How could he not be dead?”
Huang Dan was about to speak when a sound echoed from the door. He swallowed his questions and turned around to see the incoming person. It was Zhang Ying Xiong and several other people, they seemed to be passing by coincidentally.
Unable to ask any more questions, Huang Dan could only leave first.
But when he got back, there was a lock on the old man’s door. He didn’t know where he had gone.
Huang Dan kicked away the stone irritably. From a distance, he could see Zhang Ying Xiong mixing with the children, playing flip the paper1. He narrowed his eyes, went back to take the Three Hundred Tang Poems, sat on the threshold and read aloud.
Good rain knows the season, it falls when spring comes.
It infiltrates the night along with the wind, moistening things silently.
The paths between the fields are cloaked with darkness, the fire in the river boats twinkles.
When dawn approaches, redness will cover the damp soil, countless colorful flowers will fill the streets and alleys.
After reading the poem one after another, Huang Dan flipped to the back and saw that there were two more poems on the last page that were written with a blue ballpoint pen. He read them aloud and raised his volume intentionally.
Zhang Ying Xiong came and shouted, “Dong Tian, did you recite wrongly? It’s not thunder rumbled but thunder rang incessantly.“
Huang Dan acknowledged, “This is really true.”
He bafflingly asked, “Ying Xiong, this seems to be a poem written by Sister Cui Ling herself. How do you know about it?”
Zhang Ying Xiong grinned, “I asked Sister Cui Ling and borrowed her book.”
Huang Dan said, “Ying Xiong, Sister Cui Ling is really awesome. I don’t understand any of the poems in it.”
“I don’t understand either.” Zhang Ying Xiong wiped the sweat on his face and shook his legs as he leaned against the wall. He casually said, “Just read them for fun. Not everyone has that sort of knowledge.”
Huang Dan said, “Sister Cui Ling is still young, why isn’t she marrying again?”
Zhang Ying Xiong rolled his eyes at him. “Are you stupid? Of course, Sister Cui Ling doesn’t; it is for Brother Da Gui.”
Huang Dan said,”But Brother Da Gui has been dead for two years.”
“Sister Cui Ling can’t be a widow all her life, can she? If Brother Da Gui, who is 6 feet underneath, knew about this, he certainly wouldn’t want to see her like this.”
Zhang Ying Xiong said, “Who knows?”
Huang Dan asked casually,”By the way, Ying Xiong, how come there’s no one in Grandpa’s house?”
Zhang Ying Xiong shook his head and replied, “I don’t know.”
He smacked his lips, “Grandpa is retarded. Can you actually converse with him?”
Huang Dan said, “I left some honeysuckle at his house.”
“It’s just honeysuckle.There are more in the west, as many as you desire.” Zhang Ying Xiong said.
Realising that his inquiries weren’t working out, Huang Dan got up and left.
He had overlooked Zhang Ying Xiong and was only placing him in the suspect’s frame now.
At present, his suspicion on Wang Yue Mei was still the biggest.
That night, a shower of rain descended quietly, disturbing the whole village.
Huang Dan got up to close the window and saw Chen Jin Hua standing under the eaves, for an unknown period of time.
He didn’t make a sound and secretly observed from the window. Chen Jin Hua’s shoulder was shaking slightly, she cried before laughing again.
In a rainy night like this, such a sight like this was a bit scary.
While Huang Dan swallowed his saliva, and was hesitating whether he should go out or not, Chen Jin Hua had already turned back to the house.
The rain didn’t last until morning and halted before dawn arrived. The sun was shining as usual, and the rays were still scorching.
Huang Dan got up early, went to the fields, helped to water and picked the rice seedlings. He was very busy but fortunately, Li Gen would come everyday to help him since he was done with his family’s field.
As soon as he was done with the work in the field, he had to harvest the corn.
Huang Dan went together with Li Gen.
The corn fields of the two families were close to each other, it was almost one mu wide. The tall and thin stalks were able to block some sunlight.
Huang Dan carried a basket on his back, pressed down a stalk, gripped an ear and twisted it off before pulling the tassel on it.
Li Gen put the water he had bought over on the ground and sat down. “Come to Ge.”
Huang Dan glanced from under the straw hat, saying “There is a field of corn waiting to be harvested.”
Li Gen smiled with his legs crossed. “So there is no need to rush.”
Huang Dan ignored him. He was afraid that his arm would be scratched by the leaves, so he wore long sleeved shirt and trousers. He was sweating all the way from his house to the corn field.
Li Gen went over and hugged Huang Dan’s waist from the back with one hand while stretching his other hand to the front. “See what good things Ge has bring for you.”
Huang Dan looked down and saw a box of cream2 on the man’s palm.