Chapter 62: Family Dinner
Afternoon, 4 P.M.
The unit knocked off earlier, since it was Mid-Autumn’s Festival.
Zhang Ye had wanted to rest an extra day tomorrow, so he stayed over to record the next day’s episode of “The Wizard of Oz” before heading home. His mom had called this morning to inform him that he should go to his grandmother’s place. Zhang Ye naturally obeyed, so he went home to the Jiaomen rented apartment, so that he could change into something more presentable.
Upon entering the corridor, he coincidentally bumped into Rao Aimin, who was coming out of the elevator.
“Eh, Auntie Landlady?” Zhang Ye greeted, “What have you been doing these days? Why haven’t I seen you? I have pushed the rent through the underside of your door. Did you see it?”
“I saw it. Wait up.” Rao Aimin threw the trash bag in her hands into a trash compartment by the door and took the elevator with Zhang Ye. She slanted her eyes at him, “You sure are good, kid. You became famous once again. You won first place at the Mid-Autumn Poetry Meet just now, right?”
Zhang Ye said proudly, “Just average.”
Rao Aimin flicked a ball of thread that had fallen on her arm, “To think that you accepted the praise I gave you. It is only because those people don’t know anything. Your poem was so sh*tty!”
Zhang Ye exclaimed, “Ah? My poem is sh*tty?”
“How did you compose it? Recite it.” Rao Aimin said.
“Alright, then please analyze and tell me where it’s wrong. I really can’t believe it.” Zhang Ye immediately turned offensive. He was thinking, “How could anyone pick a fault in Su Shi’s most famous work? Isn’t this bull****? Even those people from the Writers’ Association could not say anything, but you can?” He then shook his head as he said deeply, “When will the moon be clear and bright…”
“Isn’t that a load of rubbish!? When will it? The 15th day of the 8th month!” Rao Aimin said loudly.
Zhang Ye was stunned as he suppressed his speechlessness, “With a cup of wine in my hand, I ask the clear sky…”
Rao Aimin interjected, “Why do you even need to ask the clear sky? There’s no need to ask it. Asking me would do. I already told you; it’s the 15th day of the 8th month!”
Zhang Ye’s brain was already filled with black lines, “…In the Heavens on this night, I wonder what season it would be?”
Rao Aimin interrupted once again, “Didn’t I already tell you. Today is the 15th day of the 8th month! Year 2014, the ! Do you have no calendar at home?”
Zhang Ye, “….%$#@@#@)!&&”
Rao Aimin showed her venomous tongue once again. This was the first time Zhang Ye had heard such a sharp criticism of the poem. He was momentarily dumbfounded!
Are you understanding “Shuidiao Getou” as something from the children’s show, ‘A Hundred Thousand Whys’!?
Zhang Ye already knew that he could not communicate with the landlady who had not one bit of literary culture, so he immediately went home to change his clothes. If he carried on speaking with the landlady, Zhang Ye believed there were only two outcomes. Either he would be vexed to death, or Su Shi would be vexed to life! However, after giving it some thought, Zhang Ye was hoping that there was someone like her amongst his fans. If a queen with a venomous tongue like Rao Aimin joined in the troll army wars, then she would be an absolute force to be reckoned with. The landlady herself had the power to fight a thousand alone. That was the real battleground for her to show her prowess. Yes, on this point, the landlady was an extremely rare talent!
The sky was still cloudy and looked like it was about to rain.
Zhang Ye came to Liu Li Qiao, where his granny’s house was. This was an old and tiny district. The thing slightly different from his memory was that this tiny district had been repainted, so the houses looked newer. Clearly, this was a change caused by the game ring. It was like a butterfly effect. There were many slight adjustments in this world. Well, it was unknown what changes had happened to his relatives. This was also one of the reasons why he had not dared to come to his granny’s place ever since he had started work. Strictly speaking, this was no longer the world he completely knew, so he was afraid of letting the cat out of the bag.
The door was open, but the anti-theft door was still activated. Laughter and chatter from the few cousins could be heard.
Zhang Ye opened the anti-theft door and entered. The first thing he saw was his mother and his third aunt, who were cooking in the kitchen, “Mom, Third Aunt.”
His Mom smiled, “Son, you are here?”
His Third Aunt smiled, “Heh. Our superstar is here.”
“What do you mean, superstar? I’m just a radio host, so don’t tease me.” Zhang Ye said humbly, before looking towards the sofa, “First Uncle, First Aunt, Second Uncle, Third Uncle.” He greeted them one by one. “All of you are here? Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!” Only his Second Aunt was not here for some unknown reason.
“Heh, Little Ye.”
“I haven’t seen you in a long time.”
“Quickly come in and meet your grandparents.”
Zhang Ye said, “Okay.” and entered the small house. The door was closed. His uncles smoked, while his grandmother did not like the cigarette smell. Opening the door, he gave some nutritional and health supplements that he had bought from the supermarket to his grandparents, “Grandma, Grandpa, happy Mid-Autumn Festival. How are the both of you?”
Grandma liked Zhang Ye the most. The moment that she saw him, she urged him to take a seat, “I’m good. My health is good, too. I’ve only been missing you. Why haven’t you come in a month?”
Grandpa also doted on Zhang Ye a lot. There was no other way. Although Zhang Ye was a maternal grandson, he was the only boy amongst the younger generation in the house. As old people, they were more traditional and prefered boys, “Little Ye is busy at work. He just started work, so he can’t keep coming like before.”
Grandma asked, “Hehe. Why did you buy so much? How much would that cost?”
Zhang Ye smiled, “It’s not much. It’s just to honor the two of you, and let you supplement your bodies.”
“Look at our Little Ye; he’s so sensible.” Grandma beamed.
At this moment, shouts came out from the house. These shouts sounded like larks. They were clear and pleasant.
“My brother is here!”
“Bro! Let me take a glance!”
“The superstar is here! I need to see him, too!”
The three sisters crowded into the small room.
His mother’s family situation was quite interesting. His mother was the eldest sister in the house. She had three younger brothers, who were Zhang Ye’s first, second and third uncles. The three uncles all had daughters as children, which were the three cousins of Zhang Ye.
The eldest sister was Cao Dan. She was in her early twenties and was not much younger than Zhang Ye. She was still in college.
The second sister was Cao Tong. She was in high school. Her personality was quite frank, like a boy. She was good at making big hoohas.
The third sister was Cao Mengmeng. She was in middle school. She was the most mischievous of all. She made a fuss all day and she was not afraid of doing anything.
In summary, none of these three girls were easy to deal with.
When Zhang Ye saw them, he sighed, “Little Dan, Little Tong, Mengmeng.”
The eldest sister was considered the quietest amongst the three. She obediently called, “Bro.”
His second and third sister were not that particular. Cao Tong slapped Zhang Ye on the shoulder loudly, “Well done, Bro! You became a celebrity after I had not seen you for a few days!”
Grandma shot a glance at her, “This kid… How can you speak to your older brother in this manner?”
Cao Mengmeng sank as she held Zhang Ye’s arm while laughing, “After hearing what First Aunt said, I specially went on the web to check, and I really found quite a lot of your works. Our school has also publicized ‘Little Bunnies Be Good’. I only knew that it was written by my Bro yesterday. So awesome. Hehe. Bro, you must have made quite a lot of money? Be honest. The few of us don’t have any allowance left to spend. My parents also aren’t giving me any pocket money. We will be relying on you.”
Hurhur, what sort of question was that!
You are my sisters; how can I not give money if you ask?
Well, but talking about money hurts feelings, so let’s change the subject!
Zhang Ye digressed and chatted about other things with them. First Uncle and Second Uncle also came over and they chatted.
After a short exchange and some leading questions, Zhang Ye received quite a good understanding of the present situation. His relatives had not changed too much. However, there were still some differences. For example, his youngest cousin’s school was no longer the middle school from his memories. His eldest cousin had scored tens of points higher for her college entrance exams than in his memory. For example, the working place of his First Uncle and Aunt had changed to somewhere Zhang Ye had no memory of. All of these were considered minor changes. After all, the world had changed to a new world. A lot of cultural industries may change, so it was impossible to not affect his family. After figuring this out, Zhang Ye also dared to speak, and was not too afraid of making mistakes.
Even as dinner time approached, everyone was still talking about Zhang Ye.
“Little Ye is so promising.”
“Little Ye, when did you dabble in creative work? Why didn’t I see it before?”
“That’s right; I’ve never seen this talent of Little Ye in the past. Even if he gained enlightenment, it shouldn’t have been so exaggerated. I heard from Big Sis that Little Ye even wrote poems!”
Third Uncle and Aunt had a suspicious tone, but they had no malicious thoughts. They really could not understand. This was because other than Zhang Ye having managed to make the cut for a pretty good university, he was not great in any other aspect. He had been too normal since he was young, hence they had even discussed before that after Zhang Ye graduated, he would at most find a behind-the-scenes job in a radio station or newspaper firm, where he would do the lighting or write documents. No one expected Zhang Ye to find such a well-fitted profession and even manage to sit stably as one of Beijing Radio Station’s broadcasting hosts!
His parents did not speak.
However, his Mom did not like hearing that and was just about to retort.
Suddenly, Second Aunt came home. She held a bag of in her hands. She had just went to buy food. The moment she entered, she began to chatter. She pulled out two rolls of newspapers that she had held under her arm. “Eh. Little Ye, you got off work? Quickly take a look. I just bought the newspaper at the newsstand. Little Ye has made it into the papers. At this afternoon’s whatever Mid-Autumn Poetry Meet, Little Ye had shockingly taken down the professional writers from the Beijing Writers’ Association, getting first!”
“There was such a thing?”
“Quickly, let me see.”
“What sort of newspapers? Some tabloid?”
Everyone was very surprised.
Second Aunt said, “What tabloid? It’s the Beijing Evening News. Another is the Beijing Times. They are all big newspapers and each have a great circulation!”
Zhang Ye tilted his head over and took a glance. He had walked past the newsstands just now, but he did not buy it. He did not think that the afternoon’s events would be reported in time, as the newspaper firms would have prepared manuscripts. So it would never be in time. But who knew that it would come out today? Hence, he also had not seen the specific content.
His Third Cousin, Cao Mengmeng, grabbed it, “Wow, Bro. You really became famous. I thought it was just some small hooha. I didn’t know that you had become so famous!”
The relatives passed the newspapers around as they surrounded them. Only then did they realize how promising Zhang Ye had become.
Grandpa and Grandma were very elated. They praised their grandson for his abilities.
Mom’s face was beaming with pride as she began to brag, “That’s because you don’t know. Little Ye is awesome. Just last time, he used a poem to save a person’s life. A female university student wanted to commit suicide; but after hearing my son’s poem, she immediately did not want to die. The next day, the entire family even brought a banner and made a big hooha at my son’s unit to thank him. Also, that fairy tale that was greatly publicized by the capital, it may seem like an ordinary story, but in fact, it’s nothing ordinary. Back then, when my son posted ‘Little Bunnies Be Good’, that was a national contest… That was something that even shocked the Education Ministry. I think it’s even possible for it to be written into elementary school textbooks. And then, there’s the other time…”
Mom was bragging throughout the entire meal.
Zhang Ye blushed while hearing this. He was thinking, “I didn’t realize that I was so kick-ass!”