Chapter 84: You are That Zhang Ye?
In the first class, second grade’s classroom, the atmosphere had suddenly turned silent. The rowdy children and parents were all fixed in their spots!
And more astonishment!
Teacher-in-charge Zhao Mei gaped, “This essay…”
“‘Tribute to the White Poplar’! What an excellent ‘Tribute to the White Poplar’!” The Education Bureau’s Director Liu applauded and praised it. This shout also broke the silent scene. He looked slightly over-excited, and it was obvious he was not just a Leader. There was an 80% chance he was a teacher or scholar who was involved in education in the past. “The text is plain, and could even be said to be simple. There is no uncommon word or complex rhetoric in it. It does not look like prose at all, but it is this kind of text that perfectly harmonizes with the topic to an extreme. A common white poplar, simple peasants in the North. It might be writing about plants, and furthermore, a very inconspicuous tree, yet in actuality it is expressing the greatness and power of the common people!”
Another person from the Education Bureau was also extremely shocked, “This… This is practically a model essay out of model essays! Currently, in all the mainstream textbooks, be it in elementary, middle or high school, there is no other educative model essay as this! How could this be written by a child!? And a eight-year-old child at that?”
Principal Li immediately asked, “Who wrote it?”
The language teacher said in a daze, “It’s… It’s written by our class’ Chenchen!”
Principal Li nearly fainted, “I meant, who was the real author of this essay!”
Which of them was dumb? Furthermore, even a person with intellectual disabilities could tell that this plain on the surface, but riddled with layers of profoundness, essay was clearly not written by an eight-year-old child. Ignoring an eight-year-old student, even among them, who were in education all their lives, there was not any one of them who would be able to write such an outstanding model essay even at the age of eighty! They did not have that literary foundation! They were almost certain that the person who could write a prose like ‘Tribute to the White Poplar’ was no ordinary person!
Or which professor?
They were all trying to guess!
The language teacher gave a wry smile, “Principal Li, I, I do not know either.” Immediately looking towards Rao Chenchen, she asked, “Chenchen, who wrote the essay for you?”
Chenchen said without being ashamed, “I wrote it.”
Zhao Mei immediately said, “The Leader and Principal are here. Chenchen, say it truthfully; who prepared this essay in advance for you? It’s alright. We won’t say anything bad.” Of course, they could not criticize Chenchen. Today’s language public class’ topic was meant for parents and children to write an essay together. For example, in Tongtong’s save-the-environment kind of essay, it did not look like Tongtong’s work at all, with its terms or deeper meaning. It was definitely prepared by Tongtong’s father ahead of time. Quite a large number of other parents and guardians were also ghostwriters for their children. After all, it was a parent’s heart. No one would like their child to be embarrassed in such a public setting, so the teachers understood this.
Chenchen said with a calm face, “It was written by me.” She did not lie, but she added on, and looked towards Zhang Ye, “I wrote it while my uncle read it.”
He was the original author?
Immediately, everyone’s eyes landed on Zhang Ye!
As Zhang Ye was too young, everyone gave a suspicious look. Who was this? Not familiar? Never seen him before? He could write such an essay at such an age? That can’t be! Principal Li, Director Liu and company had their doubts.
Principal Li asked, “You are?”
Zhang Ye said, “I’m Chenchen’s uncle.”
“I mean… How do I address you?” Principal Li said with a skeptical tone.
Without waiting for Zhang Ye to respond, Rao Chenchen said with a hoarse voice quickly, “My uncle’s name is Zhang Ye (张烨), written with a 火 and a 华.”
“Zhang Ye?” The language teacher was immediately stunned!
Principal Li was also shocked, “You are that Zhang Ye? The Zhang Ye who wrote ‘Shuidiao Getou’? The original author who won first place in the essay competition with ‘Little Bunnies Be Good’?”
Zhang Ye smiled, “That’s me.” Hehe, I didn’t know this bro was so famous in the education system.
However, there were only these few people who knew him. The other parents did not know him. They only knew Zhang Ye was probably quite an impressive person, given Principal Li and the language teacher’s surprised expressions.
Director Liu laughed, “So it’s Teacher Zhang Ye. No wonder, no wonder you can write an essay such as ‘Tribute to the White Poplar’!”
If it was any other person, how could a young lad just past the age of twenty be able to write ‘Tribute to the White Poplar’ on the spot? They would definitely not believe it, as it was impossible. But the author was Zhang Ye, the famous Zhang Ye. There was no need to talk about his other works. Just think of ‘The Song of the Stormy Petrel’, which shocked the online world was written by Zhang Ye.
Both essays were writing about living things. One was written about an animal, while the other was written about a plant. One was a prose poem, while the other was also prose. The common theme was clear; they were using a living thing as an allegory. “The Song of the Stormy Petrel” was using the petrel to express one’s resistance and fearlessness, while “Tribute to the White Poplar” was using the white poplar to express the greatness and simplicity of the ubiquitous people.
They had different themes, but the same feeling!
Hence, there were no doubts about his authenticity after they knew he was Zhang Ye. Zhang Ye was the only literature author in the country who could write such an essay at his age. Of course, there were other young people who wrote well, and they were also about the same age as Zhang Ye, but the problem was they were just not bad. No peer of Zhang Ye could reach his standard! The difference in quality in the works was too great!
The language teacher exclaimed, “You are really Zhang Ye?”
Zhang Ye blinked, “That’s me. Why?”
“Nothing, nothing, I… Nevermind. I’ll talk to you after the class has ended.” The language teacher seemed to have something on her mind.
Director Liu then said, “Right; there’s still class. Come, let’s go behind and continue listening. Let’s not disrupt the children from their lesson.”
The people from the Education Bureau and teachers all sat in the back row. With the appearance of “Tribute to the White Poplar” , they no longer had any intentions of visiting other classes.
Principal Li said after taking his seat, “Teacher, carry on. Don’t bother about us.”
“Alright.” The language teacher calmed her mood and said to everyone, “Students, just now you heard ‘Tribute to the White Poplar’ once. From the looks of everyone, you might not understand why this essay is good, and it can’t be blamed. This prose is not something easily understood at your age, because its essence and excellence is not on its surface, but within. I really wish each one of you will be like the white poplar, and using Chenchen’s uncle’s words… With straight trunks and branches, aim high, stand erect and be unbending in face of a violent wind.”
The children all looked towards Chenchen.
“Actually, I need to be self-critical of myself.” The language teacher said honestly, “Just now when I read the first sentence of ‘Tribute to the White Poplar’, I had some contempt in my heart. Like everyone else, I also find the white poplar mundane. Praising the white poplar? What was there to praise? But after I finished reading it, I knew I was wrong. A rose may be beautiful, but it easily withers. The orchid may be beautiful, but it is easily bent. The white poplar might look ugly, but I think they are much more beautiful than them. It is beautiful in the sense of striving for excellence. It is an unyielding beauty. This is a ubiquitous beauty!”
The language teacher’s evaluation of it was of a certain standard.
After hearing this, everyone applauded!
Director Liu and Principal Li also nodded and gave their applause!
“Just now when I recited ‘Tribute to the White Poplar’, I had some uncertainty and hesitation. So my tone was not right at times. Actually, I also do not have the ability to recite it properly. I wish to invite Teacher Zhang Ye to recite it once. I’m not sure if Teacher Zhang is willing to?” The language teacher suddenly said, “You might not know this, but Teacher Zhang Ye is a professional in this line of work. His profession is a broadcasting host, but he is also an author. His recitation will definitely be better than mine by a hundred times. Hur Hur, students, let us give a round of a applause for Teacher Zhang Ye to recite.”
There was applause once again.
Director Liu also greatly wanted to hear how Zhang Ye recited it. Principal Li might not have heard Zhang Ye’s live performance, but Director Liu had happened to listen to an audio upload of Zhang Ye’s recital of “Dead Water” onstage at the Silver Microphone Awards ceremony. That mocking tone, that sarcasm and that anger, with no scruples about cursing, could be felt throughout the recitation. Back then, Director Liu had even stood up and slammed his table when he heard it. It was too exciting!
Zhang Ye was not willing to incur ridicule on himself. However, Chenchen kept stabbing him with her little elbow, “Zhang Ye! Zhang Ye!”
Zhang Ye could only stand up, “Alright, then. Since the teacher has said so, I’ll incur ridicule on myself today. If I don’t recite it well, please don’t fault me.” Following that, he did not take Chenchen’s composition book. He did not need to see it. He walked to the podium and closed his eyes to steady his breath. It was his habit, and also a breathing technique taught in his broadcasting college. This was because recitation was not a simple matter. It needed to be recited with emotion. Amateurs might think that it was simple, as it was just reading an essay, but only professionals knew the trade well. Zhang Ye was a professional at this, so he was not sloppy at all.
He calmly said, “Tribute to the White Poplar.”
Immediately following that, Zhang Ye gave a smile. It was a smile exuding confidence that ignored everyone, “The white poplar is no ordinary tree. Let me sing its praises!”
Zhang Ye’s visual interpretation of this essay was extremely good!
The children were fascinated listening to him. Not even them, even the parents and the language teacher were watching with respect and shock!
A professional was indeed a professional!
It was indeed completely different from how the teacher had read it!
Especially when Zhang Ye read the last line, his fanatical smile made people feel a rush, “The reactionary diehards, who spite and snub the common people, can do whatever they like to eulogize the elite nanmu and look down upon the common, fast-growing white poplar. I, — for my part, will be loud in my praise of the latter!”
Bba Bba Bba!
The applause this time reverberated through the entire corridor!