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Hometown Visit (5) - Behave!

Popularity 1Viewed 9381 times 2016-3-13 12:01 |System category:News| themselves, delicious, enormous, friends, easily

Mussolini hadn't conquered the world. But pizza had. I could easily tell how delicious it must be to all my friends. They didn't even waste a crumb of the crust. Every bite was an enjoyment. Every bite was a blessing. Or to mimic the tone of our Party, every bite was an enormous superiority of Socialist society. Now I finally realized that pizza was not particularly ordered for me, but for themselves, or to be fair, I should say,  for all. Nevertheless, I was amused, I was glad, super glad.
"Oh, sorry. I forget the other thing Nipple told me. Guess who did what to Miss Xiang the day she was late for ..."
"Okay, okay, let's not talk about old things, tedious things back in school. Guys, you wanna know what happened on the train afterwards? I mean, the Shenyang woman and her son."
"Yah, yah." Yang responded.
"What happened next?" asked Zhen.
I thanked the two tomboys in my deep heart. But I would really have to have a private talk to Nipple later.
"Did you talk to her?" Nipple's voice turned serious instantly.
"No, I didn't. She was on the phone all the time. And in a moment, her son began to be yelling, screaming, kicking, and smashing stuffs non-stop."
"Didn't that woman say anything to her son?" Ling and Tingting proposed the same question.
"No. Not a single word. It was truly annoying. You know, I always try to understand people. People can do whatever they want to do and I don't give a shit as long as others are not bothered. At the beginning, I tried to understand this Shenyang woman and her son, and I believe the people around did the same. For example, maybe you talk loudly for a minute or even shout on the phone for 30 seconds, and then you are done, that could be kind of acceptable. Every one has something unusual coming up once in a while. That's understandable. But still, we are people, we are human beings, we consider many things that the animals don't consider. Aboard the train, people were reading, thinking, dozing, resting, watching the views outside, chatting in a considered voice, and even working on something in their laptops. That woman and her son never stopped and never took a break. They were so noisy that whenever I looked up, I found the passengers around looked our way and shot them ugly looks. I think I also saw Zha Jianying there, sitting not far from me. I think it's her though not hundred percent sure."
"Which Zha Jianying?" Yang asked.
"A female writer and an old guess to Dou Wentao's Talk Show Behind the Headlines with Wentao on Phoenix TV channel." Ling answered on my behalf.
"I know about her. She has a special brother. So you saw her?" Fatty said.
"I think it was her when she also turned to look our way and check out who the heck was doing that phone talk."
"Did you go to her to say a hi?" 
"No, I didn't." I replied to Zhen. "Because it would be weird."
"As you mentioned, all others were doing this, doing that, but what were you doing on the train?" Tingting also asked, seeming to have forgot the topic she was about to trigger.
"Me? I was doing sudoku. But the woman talked so loud and her son was so noisy that I couldn't focus myself on it. By the way, I was doing devil level sudoku. And the boy accidentally kicked me on the knee several times. He yelled, kicked around, punched around, and smashed his stuffs like he was on his huge tantrums all the time."
"Did his mother see him kick you?" said Tingting.
"Yah, she saw that at least twice, but said no word to her son."
"Did you tell the boy to stop?"
"No."
"Did you tell that woman?"
"No."
"What did you do then?"
"Yah, what did you do with that venal official's son?" Nipple asked after Tingting's inquires.
"Ha! I know. You gave him a punch back." Zhen gestured with her fist.
"And a kick back?" added Yang.
"How did you two know that? Holy! Clairsentience and clairaudience! Just know everything across the ocean. Amazing! Yes, I punched, kicked, punched, kicked, and threw the boy out of the window. What the heck are you talking about? That's only an ill-behaved kid. Yah, maybe a kid like that deserves a lesson, but not a punch or a kick. I hate those parents beating kids more than I hate those parents spoiling their kids. I hate any act of violence on kids. Even if we want to teach an ill-behaved kid a lesson, we should teach it nicely, not punch and kick."
"So what's the lesson you nicely prepared for that one?" Ling asked.
"I took out a bag of Maltesers and a bag of M & M chocolate candy from my bag. I'm not a person very much into those stuffs, but I always put some chocolate goodies in my bag and usually I don't eat them. They were put there just in case and I hardly thought of eating them. When I opened M & M first and poured out a dozen of chocolate candies on my palm, god, the boy instantly quieted down and sat still. Honestly, M & M was never something special to me, but that moment, my eyes were bedazzled as much as the boy's eyes were by the lovely colors of the candies. That Shenyang woman also ended her phone talk and looked at me. I put the chocolate candies into my mouth one by one and closed my eyes to feel every message M & M tried to deliver to its customer. The boy and the woman could see how sweet the smile on my face was. When I completed the first handful of the chocolate candies, I put the M & M bag on the seat beside my thigh and opened Maltesers. Unlike M & M chocolate candies, you don't have to bite Maltesers. All you need to do is just shrink the room of your oval cavity. When the first cocoa ball was put into my mouth uttering the very sound of crunch, I myself was completely amazed with the indescribable feeling I had never had. Crunch by crunch, I ate, tasted, and got intoxicated. And I let M & M and Maltesers play the role alternately. People around looked this way because they found the woman and the boy both turned silent and it must be something happening. People giggled, whispered, and smiled to me. The woman and the boy didn't say a single word or make a sound until they got off the train 10 minutes later at the next station while I was still crunching."
All laughed out loud.
"It's, it's, it's just ..." Yang seemed trying to find an appropriate word to describe how she felt.
"This is much worse than a punch and a kick. Oh I love it!" commented Zhen.
"His parents didn't teach him. Someone else did." Fatty said.
"The kid of that corrupt official parents deserved every bit of it!" shouted Nipple. "I feel much much better. I no longer worry about how to tell anti-corruption department on that bitch now."
"A great lesson for us all!" Tingting said. "Going forward, we know how to handle similar situations now."
"Look, I didn't mean to do that, even to an ill-behaved boy. But at thought of his corrupt parents, I couldn't help. I think even Wang Qishan would say I did that right."
"Of course! You did it right, buddy!" Nipple and Fatty replied.
"That served them right!" Zhen and Yang said simultaneously.
"Well done, buddy! Awesome!" Skinny raised the bottle.
"It's part of anti-corruption action and it's patriotism!" Ling concluded and I tried hard not to laugh. She raised her beer. "Here."
Then Tingting did the same. Then all.
"Cheers!"
 
A flight of twittering sparrows flew by outside the window. Wu Da in the TV hit my sight.
"Hey, buddy," I nodded to Nipple, "this guy did exist in history."
"Really?" Tingting was interested.
"Yes, his name is Wu Zhi." Ling explained. "But not as short as described in the novel. A very nice guy."
"I don't even know his name. I only know this figure does exist. You are good." I nodded agreement.
Zhen turned to take a look at the TV set. "Boring."
"Actually the character image design for Ximen Qing is very stupid here. He pins a flower on his head all the time." said Fatty.
"No, I think it's Okay." Skinny disagreed with Fatty. "Because, in Water Margin, the executioner Cai Qing also pins a flower on his head."
"But are we talking about Cai Qing or are we talking about Ximen Qing?"
The two pals started to argue again. They always argued with each other for nothing. As far as I remembered, they started doing that as of the very first day they got known to each other many years ago and they wouldn't stop doing that until their great grandsons were one hundred and one years old. I never knew how much time Nipple and I had spent on our efforts on stopping them doing that.
"Hey, what's Ximen Qing's sobriquet in Water Margin?" Nipple tried to stop their dispute.
"Edisen Chen of Yanggu county."
My answer rocked the table.
"Look, what's that?" I asked, pointing at the TV. "Look, look. See? That woman's name is Jinlian (gold lilies in English). Obviously, the author has delivered the clear information that she has a pair of tiny feet which certainly means she is very sexy as per traditional Chinese men's weird fetish value dominating our country for a thousand years. But look how big the actress' feet are."
"Yah, you are right," agreed Fatty.
"Don't be too picky. How can you find an actress with a pair of feet as tiny as 10 centimetres nowadays?" questioned Tingting.
"At least not that big, like this one. The director can use a stand-in's feet." Skinny tilted his head to the TV. "And look, that foot is even longer than Ximen Qing's face. How could that be sexy in Song Dynasty? The author must be crying."
"Bound feet system in old China is very bad." Ling said in a serious tone. "It's simply a torture to all Chinese women."
"I agree. But," I touched my nose tip, "I'm afraid Professor Tomson Ku had a whole set of theory to justify that just like he had a whole set of tea-pot versus tea-cups theory to justify old China's concubinage system."
"Oh I hate that old fogy." Ling said. "Don't think because he came back with some knowledge and education to China from overseas, and then his theory was right."
"I hate him too." Tingting echoed.
"I like him." said Skinny.
"Me too." Fatty confirmed.
"Don't make troubles for yourselves." Zhen said when Yang still seemed to try to figure out whom Professor Ku was.
"But why did tiny feet mean attractive? Do you guys think bound feet are really sexy?" Ling spoke out her confusion. "I just can't understand ancient Chinese men."
"Why? Hehe, I have no idea," said Nipple.
"Yah, that's also my question," followed Tingting.
Skinny shook his head. The girls turned to look at me.
"Ok, can I pretend that I know?" I made face to them.
"I don't know either. But," Fatty scratched his cheek a bit and continued, "I believe Yang must be very sexy with a pair of tiny feet."
"Watch your tongue or I will simply kick you to death." Yang eventually used her high school pet phrase.
"Sorry, sorry, I triggered the topic, it's my fault or partly it's that actress's fault or we should say it's the director's fault. We shouldn't have come to this sophisticated topic. So," I raised the beer. "Cheers to Pan Jinlian's big feet!"
"Cheers!" The boys instantly echoed, but only the boys, this time.
 
"Nipple, yesterday, I found a tiny factory, well, not a factory, but a small workshop, just a few simple bungalows."
"Where is it?"
"Just half kilometre away from our school."
"West to our school?"
"Right."
"Yes, I know it. That's a private-owned workshop."
"Well, it must be. But the problem is, I found people were still using electro-slag welding there and the ambient surroundings and conditions were very bad. Such welding only goes with proper protections and is strictly controlled to use in United States and Canada because of its contamination. But we are still using it with loose protective measures? I mean, they, the people in that private-owned workshop."
"In large-scale state-run enterprises, environment and working protection is kind of okay, but I don't think many small private-owned workshops care that much. If you want to know the details for anything related to fabrication and welding, ask Skinny because his father-in-law owns a small fabrication factory about 5 kilometres away from here."
"Does that factory do welding?" I asked Skinny.
"Yes, some. The protection, I would say, is kind of okay."
"Then your father-in-law must be a good friend to Fatty's father 'cause his father is the manager of heat treatment workshop."
"He was." Fatty clarified. "He retired last year."
"No use. Even when Fatty's father didn't retire, my father-in-law always complained the quotation and pricing from his father were too high and too expensive for tempering and normalizing."
"What could he do? He was not the one who could decide what was how much in the state-run enterprise." Fatty defended for his retired father.
"Okay, okay," Skinny dried the bottle in his hand, "that's why my father-in-law sent those welded parts to other places for heat treatment, and also for ultrasonic test with better prices."
"How is your father-in-law's factory going?" Fatty asked.
"It's going."
"Eventually, our Skinny will be the heir for the property. Right, Skinny?" Nipple smiled to him.
"Let's not talk about that." Skinny turned to unlid another bottle of beer.
"Yah. Let's find something more interesting to talk about." Zhen proposed.
"Sure. Look, I never repeat gossips. So now, listen carefully." Yang lowered her voice. "Yesterday afternoon I saw Ah Gang in ..."
"Wait! Which Ah Gang?" Zhen cut her out.
"Oh come on, the one who twined his dickie with iron wire at home and his entertainment was accidentally seen by his neighbour and also my desk-mate Nana when she walked into the door left ajar and came to ask Ah Gang for a pencil sharpener. You forgot?"
"Oh yah yah yah, that's when we were 9 years old. Go on, go on."
"Ling, any boiled water and tea in the kitchen? Just let me know where." I stood up.
 
To quote someone's saying - if you want to know a nation's comprehensive quality, check out their kitchens and bathrooms. Ling's parents' kitchen was nice and tidy.
"I also need a cup of tea myself." Ling followed me into the kitchen. "I'm kind of curious. You don't know know LV bag?"
"I didn't say that."
"Well, there's another high-end brand for bags. It's called Ai Ma Shi. You know, right?"
"Yah, I guess. How to spell it in English?"
"It's, uh, H-e-r-m-e-s."
"If it's not Belgian one, then it must be French brand, because the first letter H is silent."
"Yes, it's French one. I'm not a fan so much into luxuries. But sometimes I take a peek."
"Oh yah? You know what, I make bag with recyclable materials myself."
"You do? Show me."
"All right. I will e-mail you the pictures. You know I'm an art fan. I used those cases for chewing gums as the material for making bags."
"That's interesting. Can't wait to see."
"Yah. You will. Hey, could you do me a favour?" I lowered my voice a bit. "Uh, I bought Miss Chen and Miss Xiang  something from Canada, I mean, some health care products for old people. I know Miss Xiang is relatively young. But still, those are good for her health. Oh, they are particularly good for osteoporosis prevention."
"Osteoporosis?" Ling put the kettle on the gas stove and turned the fire on.
"Yah, I noticed they both got a little humpbacked when I saw them from a distance last time, especially Miss Chen, she even turned shorter."
"Well, the hobby of art really gave you a pair of observer's eyes. You are right about that. But I can't help. I mean, I shouldn't help. You got to do it yourself. Sorry."
"Oh come on. Don't be mean."
"I'm not being mean." She opened the cupboard. "It's just something you'd better do it yourself. Don't you get it?"
"Fine. I can ask Tingting to do me the favour."
"I'm pretty sure Tingting would say exactly the same thing to you. And you know Tingting would."
"Serious? You don't want to help me? Look, I'm busy, uh, I have things to do, I have relatives to visit, and I have things to do."
"You said 'I have things to do' twice. Where did my parents put it? Ah, here." She reached to take out a tea can from deep inside of the cupboard. "See? Jasmine tea. Your favourite."
"Will you help or not?"
Ling opened the lid. "Smell it."
I stayed put.
"Mmmmmm. Fragrance of jasmine tea is really something that can change people's mind. Hmm. I won't help unless ..."
"Unless what?" I looked at her.
"You tell me who did what to Miss Xiang that day." Ling opened another cupboard and took out a tea pot and two tea cups.
"Look, many different people did many different thing to Miss Xiang many different days or even in a day. How am I supposed to know all those or which one did what on which day to Miss Xiang?"
"But you know the very one I'm talking about. Very well. I can ask Tingting and you lose your chance."
"Okay, fine. I went to Miss Xiang's dormitory building. I tied a knot on the door handle of her dormitory with one end of a rope and tied another knot on the door handle of the opposite dormitory with the other end of the rope. The rope was straightened and tightened so that neither door could be pulled open. And those doors were designed to open inward. That's why she was late for ..."
"How dare you?! What if there was a fire?"
"I'm sorry."
"What if in the opposite dormitory lived a 9-month pregnant woman?"
"I'm sorry. But, that's a single's dormitory building."
"What did you say?"
"I'm sorry. I mean, that's a single's dormitory building is what was in my mind by then, not by now. I know I was wrong, I was naive, I was immature, and I was teenager."
"But why did you do that to Miss Xiang?"
"Why else? When Miss Chen notified my mom of coming to the school, Miss Xiang told my mom many other things I had done. But those things were totally irrelative to this case."
"Many other things totally irrelative to this case? Like what?"
"Like," I quickly picked the most minor one, "she said to my mom that she often heard me speak the English words of 'do you, do you' at school. She told my mom that it was very bad to say that when girls were beside. But I explained to my mom that I was learning English, as an English saying goes, practice makes perfect, I was merely practising speaking English, and actually it was not from me, it was from Michael Jackson. He kept saying 'do you, do you' in his Remember The Time. That's where I had got that from. None of them could understand how hard I was trying to learn English."
"What did your mom say?"
"She said, 'yah! You are trying so hard to learn English that I'm even called by your home-class teacher and your English class teacher to come over to the school!' And Miss Xiang also told my mom that she had overheard me say to the classmates that Miss Xiang had already got an older look than her age and her permed hair had worsened her situation. She said to my mom that she didn't mind that, but to comment on other women was very rude, especially to a boy doing that."
"What did you say to your mom?"
"I explained to my mom that it's not true, I wasn't commenting on her, I was merely telling the truth, and from the artistic view, she shouldn't have permed her hair because she had a pair of small eyes, plus her permed hair had truly made her much older and made her 52 instead of 25, so that was an artistic comment."
"What did your mom say then?"
"'Who the heck wants to hear your shitty artistic comment in this world after all?' Well," I sighed heavily. "Miss Xiang just had nothing better to do, but simply enjoyed making an art fan's miserable situation worse."
"But you shouldn't have drawn a nude her first place, and shouldn't have drawn the two ... and I'm not gonna repeat the worst thing you did. It's too much. Tieing Miss Xiang's door is bad, ugly, and nasty."
"I know I was wrong. I was just as silly and naive as Gillian Chung." I sighed again. "But who else in this world didn't have a dirty period of history in the past?"
Ling turned her body and then couldn't help laughing.
"Where did your parents get this tea set? So pretty, so elegant."
"Yah, pretty, eh?" Ling put a spoonful of tea leaves into the pot.
"And it's china, right?"
"Yes, china. They were presented by the neighbour who moved away. Oh crap!"
"What?"
Ling turned to look at me. "Both Miss Chen and Miss Xiang moved. I don't know their new addresses."
"What a cunning stud! You just purposely hooked my story out."
"Serious. You can go ask Nipple, Tingting, or Fatty, just any of them if you don't believe me. All we know is they bought new apartment. But we don't know exactly where. It's said that Miss Xiang's apartment is not far from her school. Oh, forgot to tell you. Miss Xiang transferred to teach in the school in New City District because her husband's parents live there."
"Where's her husband?"
"He resigned, and it's said that he's running a business, something related to construction materials. That's what I heard a few years ago."
"And Miss Chen?"
"She retired. You know it, right?"
"Crap!"
The kettle beeped. I helped switch fire off while Ling poured boiled water into the pot and then lidded it.
"But don't worry. We can always try to find them. The expiry dates of those stuffs aren't tomorrow, right?"
"Right, not tomorrow, but yesterday. No, I jest. But I hope we will eventually find them."
"We will. By the way, who is the Italian you mentioned just now?"
"Who's the, oh, I see whom you are asking. Ennio Morricone. I have to admit, he can beat Beethoven in certain aspects. I would still say the same even Herr Beethoven is standing in front of me right now."
"I know about Ennio Morricone not just because he came to China for his concerts, but because of Once Upon A Time In America."
"There you go. Hey, thanks for your mom's dim sum, I mean, spring rolls. And thank you for all these."
"Oh, come off it. But literally you ate nothing. You only ate one spring roll and didn't even eat out a slice of pizza."
"I ate too much for my late breakfast."
"Do you often eat late breakfast on Saturday mornings in Canada?"
"I mean, usually I don't sleep over. I just watched certain TV series of Resistance War very late last night. Actually, you can't imagine how much I eat and drink for every Saturday morning breakfast."
"I know everything on the menu of McDonald's breakfast."
"Oh no, not that. Okay, here's my recipe. The food? A French loaf sliced into 5 buns, each of which is cut into halves from the middle and applied with nutella, strawberry jam, marble cheese, cream cheese, and low fat cheese or sometimes peanut butter respectively; an omelette made of two eggs seasoned with a little black pepper sprinkled on, and finger carrots purposely placed to make a smiling face on the omelette, and above the carrots are two strips of bacon as hairs to form a girl's head altogether. The drink? A small mug of orange juice, a small mug of Lipton green tea, a small mug of hazelnut-flavoured coffee, a medium mug of spring water, a big mug of English tea; and two scoops of ice yogurt with two lychees in a glass cup. So I have meat - bacon, I have eggs - omelette, I have veggie - carrots, starch - buns, fruit - lychee, diary products - yogurt and cheese, plus orange juice, tea, coffee, and water, as well as Jerry Goldsmith. What else do I miss for the breakfast for an art fan, cooking fan, and music fan like myself?"
"I knew you were kind of crazy before. But I don't know you still maintain the good habit of going crazy now."
"And every Sunday, I make myself a big glass dish of fruit salad, almost as big as a basin. Of course I finish all of them in 3 times. Usually I lay Roman lettuce leaves at the bottom because I need them for the background color of fruit salad. Then, with my art passion, I cut and slice watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, orange, grapefruit, kiwi, and mango  into nice shapes in an art way, and place them on the Roman lettuce leaves in the big glass dish, dotted with strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and a few slices of lemon or lime. I squeeze the lemon and let the juice drop on various fruits, you know what, the mixed taste is unbelievable when I eat them together with Roman lettuce. And the background music is the most favourite music of Shaanxi peasants - Shaanxi opera Three Drops of Blood, when I'm eating."
"You are truly weird."
"I know. But every one is weird once in a while in this world. The only difference between me and all the others is, I'm weirder."
"No more comments."
"But don't you think Three Drops of Blood is as musical as Italian song Funiculi Funicula?"
"To please you, I do. Where did my parents put chocolate wafer sticks?" Ling opened the kitchen cabinets one by one. "Ah, there they are. Here. Pick one."
"Thanks. Hey, I'm really impressed by Nipple, Fatty, Tingting, and every one, I mean, do you see how every one love pizza? Even Skinny. He doesn't eat a lot usually. But look what he is doing now in front of pizza. Every one is like, well, I don't know what to say. Uh, the moment they saw pizza, every one's eyes were radiated with lewdness."
"Lewdness is not a right word to define the situation here. You really need to improve your Chinese language now."
"But look, Hua Qianfang could use 'Sima Zhao's intent' that way, why can't I use lewdness this way?"
(Note for non-Chinese readers: the quote of Hua Qianfang, Vice Chairman of Writers Association of Fushun City - China's resolution to lead the time of information is already a Sima Zhao's intent. In Chinese language, an idiom goes: Sima Zhao's intent is well-known by each and every pedestrian. The thing is, in the history, Sima Zhao's intent is an ill-intent. So this Chinese idiom is only used to describe those conspiracy wagers. As such, people wonder if Hua Qianfang intends to warn the whole world - "Be careful. China's resolution to lead the time of information is Sima Zhao's intent and every body knows".)
"You do know what's happening here." Ling beamed. "All right, you can, you can. But, if you really want to use our language like he does, it's all up to you."
"I just don't understand those people."
"Tea is now ready to serve. Here." Ling poured a cup of tea for me and another for her own.
"That guy even wrote a novel."
"Do you mean the one he posted on Tianya Club website?"
"Yes, and the name is, is, ..."
"Our Journey Is Star And Sea," reminded Ling.
"Right. Look, the name, I mean the novel name is obviously pirated from Japanese writer Tanaka Yoshiki's novel and also Japanese anime Legend of Galactic Heroes: My Conquest is the Sea of Stars."
"Wait. If Brecht can pirate the book name of Yuan Dynasty's Li Xingdao's The Chalk Circle for his play The Caucasian Chalk Circle, then Hua Qianfang can do that for sure."
"Which Brecht?"
"Bertolt Brecht, the author of Der gute Mensch von Sezuan (The Good Person of Szechwan in English)."
"Oh yah? Then that is to say, I can also pirate the idea of Thomas Hardy's book name? Like The Return of the Native? Or maybe I can ony use Hometown Visit? Because I want to write one."
"Of that I'm certain, you can even use the exactly same name or title for your book, story, or novel as long as the content is not the same."
"I heard of Der gute Mensch von Sezuan, but honestly, I don't know much about Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Li Xingdao, and his The Chalk Circle. See? You read much more than I did."
"If that's true, then just a few books more."
"Well, at least I keep reading and try to catch up with you one day. Oh, talking about reading, I was very upset because I got scolded by my parents again, yesterday."
"What happened?"
"I merely mentioned to them that I really doubted the thing announced in an article I once read on Sina, or 163, or Sohu, or maybe ifeng. I can't tell exactly which website, I forgot."
"But what's the thing?"
"The article says President Xi loved reading when he was very young. And the article even gives out a list of President Xi's readings which includes a novel called Les Chouans. I told my parents, the book Les Chouans was not published during those days, how possibly was President Xi supposed to read that? They got ticked off at my words right away. They told me, 'before the Cultural Revolution, a book called Parti Chouans in Chinese translation was published, that is Les Chouans, although the text is in traditional Chinese character, although the text arrangement layout is vertical instead of horizontal, although the copies of the book's impression is extremely limited, although the probability this book emerged in that tiny Liang's Creek reader's room in the remote and barren mountain area is extremely low, still, it should be believed that President Xi had read this book for sure.'Then they threatened me and said that going forward, if I were to doubt President Xi again, they would go out for square dancing. I was instantly freaked out at the words and swore to them that I dare not doubt anything of President Xi again in future."
When Ling laughed badly, she was not as pretty as when she smiled.
"Your parents really believe in him. So do my parents."
"Yah, I know. Actually I like Wang Qishan much much more. He is very intelligent, capable, and open-minded. But why are we here? We are off the track. What's the previous topic again?"
"Hua Qianfang or copying ideas something."
"Oh yah. Thanks. I mean, even piracy or copying ideas requires intelligence. The original meaning of that Japanese book means that I'm going to conquer the sea of stars. That all makes sense. Because the structure of Tanaka's novel name My Conquest is the Sea of Stars is like, C is B of A. But look at Hua's novel name. 'Star and Sea' are two nouns and two concepts which are parallel to each other in grammar structure, like A and B, as object in Chinese or as predicative in English. So the structure of Hua Qianfang's novel name goes, C is A and B."
"Or maybe he's trying to use the structure - C is AB, whereas A modifies B?"
"Ok, if he went with the structure 'C is AB', then the name would be Our Journey is Star Sea rather than Our Journey is Star and Sea. There is a difference between Star Sea and Star and Sea. In the phrase Star Sea, the word Star is for modifying the word Sea whereas in the phrase Star and Sea, the word Star is parallel to the word Sea instead of modifying the word Sea. Right?"
"Right."
"But when he goes with C is A and B, then problems poses here. Journey is something linear, though not necessarily straight. So when we define a journey, we use a linear-natured or linear-related word because it's logical. But see? Star is something dotty while sea is something planar. So the book is trying to tell people that something linear is actually something dotty plus something planar? I always think, comparing to others, my Chinese language is horrible and even the worst among the people after these years and I also have told you guys so, right? But now Hua Qianfang comes out to prove I was lying."
At my words, Ling's tea cup was shaking so hard that she had to put it down on the kitchen counter. "All right. Let's not talk about that any more."
"Well, no wonder Nipple worries so much. Hua might be a good guy, but, well, just don't know what to say."
"Just leave it. Hey, you know what happened to Zhen and Yang, right?"
"I know, I know. Not all, but some. Nipple and Tingting already told me. That's why I'm very kind to them. What am I talking about? I'm always very kind, nice, and friendly to them. I was, I am, and I will continue to be though occasionally their words might be kind of bugging, to certain extent."
"Occasionally?"
"Well, sometimes, but just kind of bugging, not hideously repugnant. Sometimes they are kind of rude, but not ill-purposed, sometimes they are kind of over-relaxed, but not frivolous or giddy. Still, they are both good people. They are just special and sometimes don't know what they are doing."
"I'm glad you say so. But I still remember, you were not always nice to them when we were back in school. Occasionally, you played your tricks to them as well."
"Where in the world is this from? I was always nice to them."
"Remember, you used to say to them 'oh you look like a picture'?"
"So?"
"But you never said a picture of what. Don't think you are the only one reading To Kill A Mockingbird. Moreover, behind them, did you once say they looked like a picture of fauvism?"
I really wanted to give a special thank to Nipple. "That's just a tongue slip. Like, I was jesting. I didn't mean what I said. And fauvism is also art after all, isn't it?"
"Is that so? Well, for your information, I didn't mention it to any one. So, the story ends here."
"Thanks."
"But ..."
"But what?" I stopped sipping.
"Did you draw a picture entitled 'All the girls in Class 3 expect my emergence in the dreams'?"
"You know what, just tell the police, if anything bad happens to Nipple in the future, I'm responsible for that."
"Sure, I will be more than happy to help. Oh, by the way, you know how much the mouthful of liquor you spat out costs? Well, friendship is never something that can be measured and evaluated by money, but Nipple is a very good friend to you."
"Can I ever hide anything from your eyes? You are right and I know Nipple is a very good pal, but I don't know why I still feel like tearing Nipple's mouth bigger, just a little bigger. Well, Zhen's reminder is right, I'm not Zhou Yu."
"You are not. I know, generally, you are nice and kind to Zhen and Yang. You see, they just talk to people their way. That's what it is. Actually, both Zhen and Yang like you."
"Do they?" I brushed my hair back to get a better look. "Uh, excuse me, where's the mirror here?"
"Who would put a mirror in the kitchen?" Ling took a sip of the tea.
"Oh no, I mean, I just wanna take a glance at the as-beautiful-as-a-flower me."
Splash! Ling spewed all the mouthful of tea out into the exquisite glass sink.
"But serious, don't you think mirrors should be provided available everywhere just for the devastatingly handsome people like me?"
"What on earth has Canada done to you?" Ling pulled out a napkin tissue to wipe her mouth and chin. "What a pity! Zhen and Yang missed it. But honestly, just now, your 'Marshall points out, Marshall emphasizes, Marshall points out' really amused me."
"Ha! You are amused? But look, every time you watch CCTV or read the release of Xinhua News Agency or read the People's Daily, it's like this A-B-A pattern - Jiang Zemin points out, Jiang Zemin emphasizes, Jiang Zemin points out, and then Hu Jintao points out, Hu Jintao emphasizes, Hu Jintao points out, and now Xi Jinping points out, Xi Jinping emphasizes, Xi Jinping points out, always this pattern, always this stereotype, forever and ever, never change, never feel bored. You see, 90 percent of the time, I speak English there, but I always love my mother tongue and I always consider Chinese language is one of the most beautiful and intelligent languages in this world. Look what CCTV and Xinhua News Agency have done. They've made our beautiful Chinese language ugly. When you turn on your radio, you turn on your TV, pick up your newspaper, or click and open any gateway website  to check the news, it's 'point out, emphasize, point out' there all the time, every time, every day, and every moment. You know, sorry, I mean, every Chinese knowing Chinese characters knows tons of expressions are available out there, dozens of expressions, if not hundreds, for one same meaning are just there. Let's say, even you want to suck a boss' ass, you suck the ass in a tactful way; you want to do propaganda, you do propaganda in a smart way. Maybe, Air Force One could also be considered a special kind of propaganda in certain aspects, right? But look the way American did. What a model of duel harvests on spiritual civilization and material civilization! Repeating 'point out, emphasize, point out' makes a point pointless. Are they stupid or are they just too lazy? Without using this pattern, will they die or what? Do you see what's too complicated for them to change that? 'cause I don't."
"I also noticed this long ago. Actually I think I had noticed this even before I was born."
"How?"
"My mom told me my dad used to read her the People's Daily when she was pregnant."
"No wonder you beat all of us in the exams back in school. It's all attributed to the People's Daily." I gave a big clap on my thigh.
"R-i-g-h-t. Guess why I could not top the class in the university."
"But you still graduated magna cum laude, right?"
"But I wasn't number one, no matter how hard I tried."
"Big deal?"
"Well, anyway, I figured out why. I had stopped reading the People's Daily and had switched to reading Southern Metropolis Daily."
"I like this joke."
"And now they advocate that Chinese people need to have creative spirit. Repeating 'point out, emphasize, point out' is nowhere adjacent to being creative, but everywhere close to being stupid."
"I can't understand anything of them."
"So after living overseas all these years, you still care about our country and Chinese people very much, right?" Ling's eyes gleamed with her teenage days' innocence.
"No, I don't care. Sorry, where's China again? Of course I care about China and Chinese people. I pray for China and Chinese people for a tomorrow of goodness and happiness all the time. Every time something bad takes place in China, I'm sad, upset, and frustrated, sometimes angry. And anything good, I'm happy, excited, and proud."
"See? Today, we still talk to each other the way we used to talk during high school."
"True. I don't think any one would talk to their boss and to their colleagues this way."
"No, no one would." Ling took out a lime from the fridge, washed it, cut off a slice, and put it into my tea. "Hey, anything interesting in Canada?"
"Well, many interesting people, things, and stories."
"Tell me a few."
"I've met and come across a lot of different people. Here's this woman. She works in Pizza Pizza which is franchised just like Pizza Hut, KFC, and McDonald's. Well, she's the owner of that franchised restaurant. She told me she was from Afghanistan, but she's Italian. Can you imagine that?"
"How did she get there from Italy?"
"No, she was born in Afghanistan. Her grandparents took his father, uncle, and auntie to go to Afghanistan along with their family's friends at the end of World War 2. And she came to Canada in late 1990's. Don't ask me why that Italian woman's grandparents moved to Afghanistan, because I never know if her grandfather was a Fascist, or a Communist, or an Italian loyal to Mussolini, or an Italian with some troubles in Sicily."
"Well, that's rare."
"Yes, it is rare. And another woman is my colleague. She's Indian, but she moved to Tanzania with her parents when she was a kid, and then came to Canada when she was a teenager."
"Why did your Indian colleague's parents move to live in Tanzania?"
"My colleague is Indian, but she's Muslim, I mean, her parents are Muslims. I think that explains something. And you know what happened there in the history."
"I got it. So these Indians came from Tanzania to Canada?"
"Uh, not straight to Canada. Actually, they moved to another country first. Sorry, I forgot the name. But she told me, they were actually kicked out of Tanzania."
"How come?"
"She said, during the 1980's and 1990's, local people launched a movement and claimed that Tanzania is Tanzanian's Tanzania, Africa is African's Africa, not Asian's, not Indian's."
"I didn't know that."
"I didn't know that either. It did not just happen in Tanzania, but also happened in many places in Africa. Look, this is history, we were experiencing the history, but our government never told us anything about that. When we were kids and teenagers, we were educated every day how plunderous US imperialists and British imperialists were and how bravely the people of Asia, Africa, and Latin America fought against them, right? We were never educated how badly the people of Asia, Africa, and Latin America kicked each other's ass.  What did we learn from our high school history books or world politics and affairs books any way?"
"I know." Ling nodded.
"Another colleague of mine is Pakistani. His parents took him to move from Pakistan to Guiana which is a country adjacent to Brazil, and then moved to Bermuda Islands before coming to Canada. They are Pakistanis, but they are not Muslims. I guess it's a similar case to my Indian colleague's."
"You are lucky. They witnessed history directly and you witnessed history indirectly."
"Yah. And I also told Tingting that I had a colleague from the former Communist country of Yugoslavia, and..."
"She is the neighbour of an actor in Valter Brani Sarajevo."
"Oh Tingting told you already?"
"Yep."
"From her, I heard a lot of stories about TituMilosevic, and the Allied's air raids in 1999 from her."
"The air raids in 1999? Did you tell her our ..."
"Yes, I did." I answered before Ling completed her question.
"Canada is really a mosaic."
"Yah. You wanna know the world and the history? Go to Canada and your colleagues will tell you everything you want to know. And I even have a Tamil Tiger colleague from Jaffna and he came to Canada after the government troops captured that peninsula."
"Serious?"
"Oh don't worry. He's a nice guy and well educated although I can hardly stand the smell of curry after he uses the microwave to heat his lunch in our cafeteria every noon."
"That's funny."
"Yah. And I have a Finnish colleague. Guess what, this Finnish colleague's father was once a prisoner of war captured by Soviet army in the area north to Leningrad in 1944. And then, he spent many hellish years in the camp of POW somewhere deep in Siberia. My colleague said, according to his father, Finland joined the war because the ex Soviet Union had badly bullied Finland, and to Finnish people, that's an anti-oppression war. The only mistake Finnish government had made was choosing the Third Reich for help. And then my colleague was like, 'but look at ex Soviet Union, the collapse and disintegration served ex Soviet Union damn right. Today, Finland is much more developed and richer than Russia.'"
Ling laughed. "So what did you say?"
"I said, 'calm down, calm down. That page turned over. Today, people in the world try all the best to live in peace and harmony together, just like every one in Canada.' And then he complained, sometimes he was upset because the ice hockey team of Finland was beaten by Russia team and he always cheered for Finland team."
"Then what about the match between Canada and Finland?"
"Oh, he cheers for Canada on his face and for Finland in his heart. He told me so."
"What a funny man! How old is he?"
"I'm not sure about his age. He must look quite younger than his age. His eldest sister looked much older than him. She came to our unit to pick up something from her little brother once, and she looked like around 60? I guess."
"Tell me more."
"And I have another colleague who is German. Actually he retired a few years ago. His father was a soldier in Wehrmacht and missed in action in Crimea, Ukraine in 1944. All his family, including his mother, his two sisters, and himself, came to Canada after the war. Guess what. His mother kept receiving his father's army service benefit payment every month from the government of West Germany until she passed away in Canada. Look, millions of Germans, killed or missed in the war like his father, served in the army during the Third Reich period, but the government of West Germany, which is now the government of today's Germany, keeps making the benefit payments to the war widows, no matter where they are in this world. Can you imagine that? What about those widows from Sino-Vietnam War in 1979? Do those widows receive the money every month until the ends of their own lives, from our government for the great contributions their sacrificed husbands made to our country?"
"You are right. Our government should take West Germany government's practice as a model to learn from. At least they can do something to make people feel, 'oh, I am really cared about. And if I were to sacrifice on the battlefield, my family would be well taken care of by the government'. Right?"
"Right."
"You don't have any Chinese colleague?"
"Uh, yes and no, depends upon how you define Chinese."
"Okay, let me say, Chinese from mainland China."
"No, I'm on my own. I'm the only one there in my department. But amongst my colleagues, there is an ethnic Chinese from elsewhere though she's not in my team. She's from Myanmar. She was born and raised up there. She speaks both Cantonese and Mandarin because her parents were born and grew up in Guangdong province."
"Why did they move to Myanmar from Guangdong?"
"Why? Hehe, why else? They didn't move to Myanmar from Guangdong, they escaped along with my colleague's grand-parents from there to there between 1966 and 1967."
"That I know. Yes, tons of Chinese fled away during Mao's regime, especially during Anti-Rightist Movement and Cultural Revolution. They struggled hard to go anywhere, any corner in this world they could. Countless people tried to swim over to Hong Kong and many of them drowned in the sea, some even eaten by sharks."
"Yes, our country has such a yesterday too painful to recall."
We both sighed.
"I guess I should talk about something joyful, happy, or funny." I pressed the slice of lime with the tea spoon Ling passed to me and tried to squeeze out more lime juice in the cup.
"My Quebecois colleague used to complain how crazy his daughter was for Justin Bieber. She was a genuine Belieber. Good thing was, as he mentioned, his daughter couldn't even afford the trip to follow Justin Bieber's concerts."
"How old is his daughter?"
"My colleague told me once. Hang on. Uh, she was around 16 or 17 by then and now she's in college. I see what you mean."
"But didn't your colleague give his own daughter some help?"
"Well, my colleague said to his daughter that he would sponsor the trip for Taylor Swift's concert, but not for Justin Bieber's."
"Why?"
"Because he hates Justin Bieber. Basically, his age can be that teenager star's father. But he just hates him."
"What a funny father!"
"Yah, he's funny. And his father is also funny."
"Oh yah?"
"You see, my colleague is an English-Irish-Welsh Quebecois, so his father is not even a French Quebecois, but his father is a determined Quebecois Separatist. Can you imagine that?"
"What about your colleague?"
"My colleague is not. So they used to engage in argument with each other. My colleague came to work in Ontario after graduating from his university in Montreal. But he loves his father."
"That's interesting. Hey, how do you think about the music industry in Western countries now?"
"Well, that's a big topic. But, I mean, in pop music sector, Taylor Swift is quite someone and she's not only a singer just for country music. She is different from others. Adele is also different. But look what's going on in today's pop music world. Did you, by any chance, check out, on YouTube, Nicki Minaj's 'Anaconda', Shakira and Rihanna's 'Can't Remember To Forget You', Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's 'Booty'? Just sex plus bumpin beat with an interlude of rap. That's all the pop music is, nowadays. And look at Miley Cyrus. Look what she's turning herself into. Comparing to the 80's, or even 90's, I don't know what else I can say about the current pop music."
"Yes, people say, the 1980's is the golden age of pop music. I guess I can still find some MV's from domestic websites and make a comparison between the 80's, 90's and nowadays."
"Yes, do it and check them out."
"Do you go to cinemas to watch movies there?"
"Not often, only sometimes."
"With your friends or alone?"
"Basically, alone. Occasionally, with friends. And once ..." I paused and watched Ling reach to pick up a short hair in dark red colour from my left shoulder and puff it away from her finger tip.
"That's not mine. But thanks."
"It's Nipple's. Don't know why he dyed some of his hairs into red. But maybe because he just engaged in a singing show organized by the company's Labour Union recently. Thank God, not straight red, but dark red."
"Guess that's his statement to be a Red."
"Yes. He will officially be a Red and a red reformist."
"Yah. I never know someone amongst us wants to be Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao."
"Well, he wants to try, then go ahead and try. Sorry, you said 'once' before the hair thing?"
"Oh yah. Once, uh, one summer night, I went to a cinema alone because I was upset."
"What happened?"
"China national men's soccer team lost the game to ..."
"What? You still watch ..."
"Oh crap! Yah, I watched, but just don't tell."
"I won't. Go on."
"Thanks. So I went to the cinema to cure my emotion. There weren't many viewers. I can't even recall the movie name. But anyway, right after I sat down, a Chinese girl came and sat behind me, not straight behind, but one seat off to my right back there. Guess what. She put her feet atop the seat next to mine to ease her sitting. There are two things I hate in daily life. One, gladiator sandals; two, sour feet. And the girl got both. I was totally, utterly, entirely, and completely handicapped with anosmia, or to be precise, everything smelt to me like Old Shanxi preserved vinegar after the movie."
"But didn't you complain?"
"No."
"Didn't you ask her to take her feet off away?"
"No."
"Didn't you shift to sit elsewhere as you mentioned there weren't many people?"
"No."
"Why?"
"Because she's very pretty." I made face to Ling.
"You are weird."
"I know."
"How hopeless!"
"Me or men?"
"I made this cup of jasmine tea for you, but after all, it smells to you as sour as the girl's feet. What a waste!"
"But I never said everything smelt to me like the girl's feet. What I said is, like Old Shanxi preserved vinegar."
"Right! How different!" She was shaking her head hard.
 
A ripple of tinkling laughter came. It sounded like Tingting's. And followed Fatty's and Nipple's.
"Would we get back to join them now or we stay here a further while to finish our tea?"
"Time flies." Ling didn't seem to hear my question clearly.
"Year after year it does. Oh, almost forgot. I have a question about year, I mean, something related to year."
"Shoot."
"From time to time I see on the internet that people use the regnal year name to define the time something happens to someone somewhere somehow and the regnal year name they use is Qingfeng. At the beginning I didn't pay much attention to that. I thought it might be the regnal year name during Northern Song Dynasty or Southern Song Dynasty or some other dynasty as I was pretty sure no emperor used that regnal year name in Qing Dynasty and Ming Dynasty. Then I thought it could also be a very short period I might have ignored, just like the regnal year name Qixiang which is the time for the three months between Xianfeng and Tongzhi, and if we go to the chronology of Chinese history table at the end of New China Dictionary, we won't find Qixiang between Xianfeng and Tongzhi there, right?"
"Right. I mean, in the brief chronology table, we won't. It might be there in some larger dictionary. But go on."
"True. But when I read further on, I find the time people use to mention does not refer to the past history, but today, I mean, nowadays, because those things people describe are all current affairs. So I wonder where this Qingfeng is from and why."
"Ha! I see what you mean. People like to go kidding. It's only a joke, nothing else. Actually, there's a song similar toStory of Spring and it's called ..."
"Ling!"
"Yep?"
"I need my cell-phone back!" It's Nipple.
"What is it?"
"I want to tell my mom Zhen is bullying me again."
"I will tell that to your mom in person later."
Laughters came from the sitting room again.
"Yah. I can understand that. People joke in daily life. That's usual." I said. "But regnal year name is very important. It matters a lot. Qingfeng, 'to celebrate harvest'. Nice name, eh?"
"Not bad at all to me. But did you say regnal year name is very important and it matters a lot?"
"Yes. Look, I have been studying Beijing. I'm interested in anything related to Beijing, its people, its dialect, its tradition, its climate, its culture, its history, its architecture, its roasted duck, and its sugar-coated haw stick. And ..."
"And its girls?"
"Uh, yah, its girls as well. I sent you my article Spring Hike and you saw the comments I made upon Beijing girls in Part 5, right?"
"Yes."
"And I have found a secret from my studies on Beijing. Interested?"
"No, not at all. And I don't want to hear." Ling flattened her face.
"You don't?"
"But I'm not allowed not to listen to you, am I? So, go ahead."
"Hey! Don't be like Zhen and Yang. They are them, you are you."
"But they are my friends, my sisters. Don't you know 'birds of a feather flock together'?"
"But you are different from them."
"Yah! I'm different from them, because I'm worse. Oh come on. Shoot, shoot."
Now it was my turn to shake head. "The name of regnal year is very important to dynasties or regimes. As long as the name of regnal year does not have a character contained in the name of any of those southbound gates of the Inner City, then the regime is safe. As you well know, those gates are Zhengyang Gate, Chongwen Gate, and Xuanwu Gate. What is the regnal year name when Yuan Dynasty ended its regime in China proper? Zhizheng. When was Ming Dynasty toppled? Chongzhen. When did Qing Dynasty lose its reign? Xuantong. See?"
"That's an important discovery. But now, there is no regnal year name any more."
"The name of the president also counts."
"Does it?"
"It does. Well, first, let me put it this way. Let's make some examples, and let's say, Chairman Yu Zheng-sheng may be very good for the post of chairman of CPPCC and Chairman Zhang De-jiang may be very good for the post of chairman of NPC, but may not be good for the post of president of China, in terms of this gate name rule."
"For Yu, I can understand. But what about Zhang?"
"Don't tell me you don't know which gate is also called Hade Gate. You told me your father used to smoke Hade Gate cigarette. And it was you who explained to me what your father had told you about Hade Gate."
"I'm glad you still keep that in your brain."
"Well, many thanks to you. And this rule might also apply to Zhang Gao-li because Zhengyang Gate was called Lizheng Gate during Yuan Dynasty and was shifted and re-constructed about 800 metres south to the original location during the period of Emperor Yongle in Ming Dynasty. Look, how do the detectives pick up a thread from various phenomena? What's the rule to trigger an investigation? If something happens once, it's normal; twice? it's coincidence; thrice? it's a case. Actually, what I'm talking about now is not even only three occurrences."
"Not even three times?" Ling put down her tea.
"Who was the president when Republic of China ended in mainland China?"
"Chiang Kai-shek."
"Right, Chiang is his surname, Kai-shek is his style name, but what is his given name?"
"Oh my god! You are so right!"
"Yah, that's what I'm talking about."
"But wait, how about Dr. Sun Yat-tsen? Yat-tsen is his style name, his given name is Wen, and he's the Father of the Republic."
"Good point, Ling, good point. Who is the first formal president of the Republic of China? Don't pretend you don't know."
"Yuan Shikai. Oh, you are right. Sun was never the formal president, he was the temp."
"Yah, he was a temporary president for only a few months, and even so, it was him who handed the Republic regime to Yuan Shikai who schemed to try to change the Republic regime back into the emperor regime system."
"So right."
"And I've checked those presidents of the Republic, from Yuan Shikai, Li YuanhongFeng GuozhangXu ShichangCao Kun to Wang ZhaomingLin Senand Chiang Kai-shek. The premiers don't count. That's how I picked up the thread."
"Who else has studied so much about Beijing and cared about Beijing like you have in China?"
Ling's words made me laugh. "Thank you. Actually, I found another thing through my Beijing studies. It's like a by-product if I may say so, although it's not related to Beijing."
"What is it? The line of 'the revolution is not a social dinner, a literary event, a drawing or an embroidery; it cannot be done with elegance and courtesy. The revolution is an act of violence' is not from Mao, but from Confucius?"
I grinned. "Well, you are right about one thing - it's about Mao. You know who was the Commander-in-Chief of National Revolutionary Army when Wang Zhaoming was the head of Nationalist Government, right?"
"Chiang Kai-shek."
"Right. Guess who was Propaganda Minister of Nationalist Party's government? To my surprise, it was Mao Tse-tung. There was an election on the 2nd National Congress of Kuomintang (KMT or Nationalist Party). Wang Zhaoming won full votes for the chairman. Chiang Kai-shek also won 386 votes while Mao even obtained 193 votes and was therefore elected as Propaganda Minister. Chiang Kai-shek must be confused because in his mind he was worth all those votes, but to him, Mao was nobody by then. Chiang must be wondering, had Mao joined the Revolution of 1911 like he had? No. Was Mao an old member of Solidarity like he was? No. Was Mao the closest loyalist to the Father of the Republic Dr. Sun Yat-sen like he was? No. Had Mao led National Revolutionary Army to get rid of those warlords threatening the revolutionary regime and had solidified the revolutionary base in Guangdong like he had? No. So, how the heck had this young peasant from Hunan making no contributions to KMT got elected with so many votes as Propaganda Minister for KMT government? And this young peasant even spoke no Mandarin to you."
"What an interesting thing! I wonder as much as Chiang."
"Yah. So, that is to say, Wang Zhaoming had both Mao Tse-tung and Chiang Kai-shek as his left and right hand. Left hand, Mao held the pen; right hand, Chiang held the gun. Imagine that!"
"Well, that's the peak period in Wang Zhaoming's life."
"Surely it is."
"Wait! If Mao Tse-tung was Propaganda Minister of KMT, then isn't Mao the first man who eats the Party's meals and smashes the Party's wok?"
"What? What? What's that?"
"Well, there's a saying going around." Ling explained. "Someone announces on newspaper that we are not supposed to eat the Party's meals while smashing the Party's wok at the same time."
"Holy! You are so right! Genuinely, Mao is the first man who eats the Party's meals and smashes the Party's wok." Every time I was with Ling, I could learn things.
"But the question is," she paused for 2 seconds and then said, "who on earth is eating the Party's meals whereas the meals are actually from Chinese workers, Chinese peasants, and Chinese intellectuals, I mean, each and every labourer in China. Isn't it 'no labour, no food'? Any food, any product, any grain of rice, any needle, and any yarn of thread is from each and every labourer, isn't it so? Only the exploiting classes don't labour, only the exploiting classes don't work. Weren't we educated so? Thus, who's eating whose meals after all? I wonder that guy is trying to imply that whoever eats the Party's meals all the time, belongs to the exploiting classes?"
I always found Ling's brain was 1,000,000 times sharper than those ass-suckers'.
"Well, never mind. Hey, back to the gate name rule, how about Zhao Ziyang? His name applies."
"Ha! You are a tough one. Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, I also checked him. Look what happened in 1989. To my surprise, Zhao was not the president, he was the premier first and then the secretary general of the Party. The president was another guy. But still, even that, the Party's regime was greatly impacted that summer. Good thing is, Deng Xiaoping quickly removed him from the leadership position. Well, it's a narrow survival."
"Did you say 'good thing'?" Ling looked at me in strange eyes.
"Oh, don't take me wrong. I mean, good thing for certain people in the Party. For me? I stand by Zhao's side. I believe you too, and I know which side our friends, our classmates, our parents, our uncles and aunties, and our fellow Chinese are fond of."
"All right then. Hey, wait!"
"What is it this time?"
"As much as I remember, Chiang Kai-shek quit his job for a few months in 1949 and Li Zongren was the president when the Republic lost the mainland. Isn't it so?"
"Ha! Very likely, you caught me there this time. Hang on," I looked outside the kitchen windows, trying to retrieve threads from my memory. A girl in red hit my view, walking closer and closer. She was pretty.
"What are you looking at?" Ling reached to look out.
I immediately shifted my sight away from the girl, but it was too late.
"Uh-huh, a-ha. That's the one you were looking at."
"No, basically, people like me don't look at girls on own initiative. She merely came into my sight."
"She's my neighbour, I mean, my parents' neighbour. A nice girl."
"Thank you!" I yelled with excitement. "You saved me again!"
"What?"
"What's Li Zongren's style name?"
"I don't know. Give me a tip."
"When Li Zongren sent a delegation of Nationalist representatives to Beijing for peace talk with Communists, what did Chiang Kai-shek say?"
"How am I supposed to know? That's hard, that's not a tip."
"Still remember that day, during the recess time, we boys were checking out who was the best in mimicking Chiang Kai-shek's tone and accent and you girls's conclusion went - I was Chiang Kai-shek myself, right?"
"Yah, right, I remember that. You said, 'I won't go, I won't go, tell Zhang Xueliang to come over'."
"Yah! You are good, you are good, but that's for the Incident of Xi'an, not for the Peace Talk in Beijing. What else did I say? I mean, what else did we say? Every boy there quoted the same lines and the lines were repeated by different boys, and ..."
"'How betraying and humiliating of impotent Wenbai! Tell Delin to send a plane to get him back'?"
"Good memory!"
"Well, thanks to you guys and also thanks to our school for brainwashing us with red movies all the time. Delin is Li Zongren's style name?"
"Yah. Remember the lines in those Civil War movies. What did both Nationalist generals and Communist leaders including Zhou Enlai address Li Zongren? Revered Mr. De, right?"
"This is, this is ... does any one else know this secret? I don't know what I should say now. But wait, oh my god," Ling suddenly grasped my arm, her eyes round-open, "Zhengyang Gate is usually called Daqian Gate nowadays. Actually, Daqian Gate is the brand of the cigarettes my father used to smoke before the brand of Hade Gate. And now, people of the whole country call Xi ..."
I immediately hushed her stop.
 
Sunshine, the source of life, was warm and bright. The light blue sky was fleeced with white clouds floating slowly towards southeast. A big flock of birds flew in and out of a grove of trees, singing songs in their language. It is said that, in general, there are 27 kinds of sparrows, among which 5 are in China. Other than certain weeks in winter season, sparrow's breeding season can almost last throughout the year. The whole world has been very nice and friendly to sparrows except China in the 1950's. Sparrow is small, but a pregnant sparrow can have as many as 6 eggs in one delivery and she can deliver at least twice in a year. Usually, the hatching period is around two weeks during which the husband also gives a big helping hand. That is to say, hatching is done alternately by both husband and wife.
"Hey, what is that bird? That's not a sparrow." I put down the cup, pointed to the bird in the distance with one hand and collected another chocolate wafer stick Ling passed to me, with the other.
"Which one? Let me see."
"That one, the one taking off from the spruce."
"But which one is spruce? I don't see it. Or you mean that pine?"
"That's not pine, that's spruce. Oh, never mind, he's gone."
"I can't never tell the difference between pine and spruce, just like I can never tell the difference between the English words 'help' and 'assistance'."
"Okay, let's say, we are not in China now, we are in Central Park in New York City, and I'm gonna rob you, hit you, and do all those bad things to you now, will you yell 'Help! Help!' or yell 'Assist! Assist!'?"
"Then do it, I won't yell," Ling paused, looking at me.
"Stop it."
"'cause I'm still struggling on which word I shall choose, ain't I?"
"S-U-R-E. But serious, how come there are so many birds? And they are different, not just sparrows. Look, look. I wonder the birds are more than the mah-jong players here now."
"Yep. Shooting birds is strictly banned here. So the birds have babies, and babies have babies. That's how the number of birds grows faster than the number of mah-jong players living under the policy of Family Planning."
"Very nice, very nice. Afforestation is very good for fighting haze and sand storm. I just hope my hometown gets better and better. That grove is new, right?" I put down the remaining half of the wafer stick on the saucer and looked into distance, but my question went unanswered.
All in a sudden Ling put an hand on my arm and pulled me round to face her. She looked more serious than any moment I could recall. "Will that rule possibly apply this time? Will it happen? His think tank or at least someone should tell him not to allow people to call him that any more."
"Are you guys okay?"
"Dad, you are back?" Ling instantly took her hand off my arm like getting an electro-shock.
I turned around, trying to look an I-didn't-do-anything-to-your-daughter look in front of Ling's father. I couldn't understand why I had to try to look like that whilst I had absolutely done nothing.
"We are okay. Where's Mom?"
"I'm here, sweetheart." Ling's mother waved a hand out behind her husband and came over to give a slight tweak on Ling's nose. "Behave."
 
Notes:
01. Mussolini: 墨索里尼
02. every bite was an enormous superiority of Socialist society: 这每一口,都是社会主义的巨大优越性
03. Behind the Headlines with Wendao: 《锵锵三人行》
04. sudoku: 数独
05. clairsentience and clairaudience: 千里眼和顺风耳
06. Wu Zhi: 武植,即武大
07. "Hey, what's Ximen Qing's sobriquet in Water Margin?" Nipple tried to stop their dispute.
"Edisen Chen of Yanggu county."
“哎,西门庆在《水浒》里的绰号是啥?”奶头想止住他们的争论。
“阳谷县陈冠希。”
08. Professor Tomson Ku: 辜鸿铭
09. electro-slag welding: 电渣焊
10. fabrication: 钣金
11. heat treatment: 热处理
12. tempering: 回火
13. normalizing: 正火
14. ultrasonic test: 超声波探伤
15. concubinage system: 纳妾制
16. osteoporosis: 骨质疏松
17. "... I was just as silly and naive as Gillian Chung." I sighed again. "But who else in this world didn't have a dirty period of history in the past?": “……我那时只不过像钟欣桐一样又傻又天真而已。”我又叹了口气。“可是这世上又有谁不曾有过一段肮脏的历史?”
18. ...the moment they saw pizza, every one's eyes were radiated with lewdness.: 大家看到披萨的时候,每个人的眼中都放射出淫荡的光芒。
19. Sima Zhao's intent: 司马昭之心
20. China's resolution to lead the time of information is already a Sima Zhao's intent.: 中国引领信息时代的决心,已经是司马昭之心了。
21. Tanaka Yoshiki: 田中芳树,日本作家
22. Legend of Galactic HeroesMy Conquest is the Sea of Stars: 《银河英雄传奇——我的征服是星之大海》
23. Bertolt Brecht: 贝尔托特·布莱希特,德国剧作家
24. Der gute Mensch von Sezuan: 《四川好人》
25. Yuan Dynasty's Li Xingdao's The Chalk Circle: 元朝李行道《灰阑记》
26. The Caucasian Chalk Circle: 《高加索灰阑记》
27. Thomas Hardy: 托马斯·哈代
28. The Return of the Native: 《还乡》
29. Hometown Visit: 《探乡记》
30. The article says President Xi loved reading when he was very young. And the article even gives out a list of President Xi's readings which includes a novel called Les Chouans. I told my parents, the book Les Chouans was not published during those days, how possibly was President Xi supposed to read that? They got ticked off at my words right away. They told me, 'before the Cultural Revolution, a book called Parti Chouans in Chinese translation was published, that is Les Chouans, although the text is in traditional Chinese character, although the text arrangement layout is vertical instead of horizontal, although the copies of the book's impression is extremely limited, although the probability this book emerged in that tiny Liang's Creek reader's room in the remote and barren mountain area is extremely low, still, it should be believed that President Xi had read this book for sure.' Then they threatened me and said that going forward, if I were to doubt President Xi again, they would go out for square dancing. I was instantly freaked out at the words and swore to them that I dare not doubt anything of President Xi again in future.: 那文章说,习主席年轻时酷爱读书。而且,文中还列出习主席的读书单,里边有一部小说叫《朱安党人》。我跟我爸妈说,《朱安党人》那书在那个时候都没出版过,习主席怎么可能读到这本书?我爸妈一听就来火了。他们跟我说,‘文革之前,出版过一本书,叫《朱安党》,那书就是《朱安党人》,虽然那书是繁体字的,虽然那书的文字排列是竖版排列而非横板排列的,虽然那书的出版印刷数量极少,虽然那书在那个时候出现在地处偏僻贫瘠山区的梁家河阅览室的概率极低,但是相信习主席一定读过这书。’然后,他们就威胁我说,从今以后,我要是再质疑习主席,他们就出去跳广场舞。我一听,立马吓得向他们保证以后再也不敢质疑习主席了。
31. then the name would be Our Journey is Star Sea rather than Our Journey is Star and Sea. There is a difference between Star Sea and Star and Sea. In the phrase Star Sea, the word Star is for modifying the word Sea whereas in the phrase Star and Sea, the word Star is parallel to the word Sea instead of modifying the word Sea: 那么书名就应该是‘我们的征途是星海’,而不是‘我们的征途是星辰大海’。‘星海’和‘星辰大海’两者之间是有差别的。在词组‘星海’里,‘星’是用来修饰限定‘海’的,而在词组‘星辰大海’里,‘星辰’则与‘大海’是平行并列关系,而不是修饰限定‘大海’。
32. So the book is trying to tell people that something linear is actually something dotty plus something planar?: 那就是说,那书是不是就想告诉大家,线性的某物其实就是点性的某物加上面性的某物?
33. To Kill A Mockingbird: 《杀死一只知更鸟》
34. fauvism: (绘画艺术中的)野兽派
35. All the girls in Class 3 expect my emergence in the dreams: 《三班女生都在梦中期待着我的到来》
36. Zhou Yu: 周瑜
37. Southern Metropolis Daily: 《南方都市报》
38. Sicily: 西西里
39. Tanzania: 坦桑尼亚
40. Guiana: 圭亚那
41. Bermuda Islands: 百慕大群岛
42. Valter Brani Sarajevo: 《瓦尔特保卫萨拉热窝》
43. Titu: 铁托
44. Milosevic: 米洛舍维奇
45. Tamil Tiger: 泰米尔猛虎
46. Jaffna: 贾夫纳半岛
47. curry: 咖喱
48. Siberia: 西伯利亚
49. Wehrmacht: 德军
50. army service benefit payment: 抚恤金
51. Quebecois: 加拿大魁北克人
52. Belieber: 西方流行音乐界贾斯汀·比伯的忠实粉丝被称为Belieber,主体人群是世界各国的高中女生、初中女生
53. Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao: 康有为和梁启超
54. Old Shanxi preserved vinegar: 山西老陈醋
55. Qixiang: 祺祥(Aug. 1861 - Oct. 1861),咸丰与同治之间的年号,时间极短
56. Xianfeng: 咸丰 (1851-1861)
57. Tongzhi: 同治 (1862-1874)
58. As long as the name of regnal year does not have a character contained in the name of any of those southbound gates of the Inner City, then the regime is safe. As you well know, those gates are Zhengyang Gate, Chongwen Gate, and Xuanwu Gate. What is the regnal year name when Yuan Dynasty ended its regime in China proper? Zhizheng. When was Ming Dynasty toppled? Chongzhen . When did Qing Dynasty lose its reign? Xuantong: 只要年号中没有包含了北京内城朝南的那几个城门中任何一个城门名字中的字,执政就不受影响。你当然知道,那几个城门是正阳门、崇文门、宣武门。元朝是什么年间结束了在中国本土的统治的?至正年间。明朝是什么时候被推翻的?崇祯年间。清朝什么时候失去政权的?宣统年间。
59. Hade Gate: 哈德门
60. Lizheng Gate: 丽正门
61. Yongle: 永乐 (1403-1424)
62. Chiang Kai-shek: 蒋介石
63. Chiang is his surname, Kai-shek is his style name, but what is his given name?: 蒋是他的姓,介石是他的字,但他的名是啥?
64. Dr. Sun Yat-sen: 孙中山
65. Yuan Shikai: 袁世凯
66. Li Yuanhong: 黎元洪
67. Feng Guozhang: 冯国璋
68. Xu Shichang: 徐世昌
69. Cao Kun: 曹锟
70. Wang Zhaoming: 汪兆铭
71. Lin Sen: 林森
72. the revolution is not a social dinner, a literary event, a drawing or an embroidery; it cannot be done with elegance and courtesy. The revolution is an act of violence...: 革命不是请客吃饭,不是做文章,不是绘画绣花,不能那样雅致,那样从容不迫,文质彬彬,那样温良恭俭让。革命是暴动。
73. the 2nd National Congress of Kuomintang (KMT or Nationalist Party): 中国国民党第二届全国代表大会
74. Chiang Kai-shek also won 386 votes while Mao even obtained 193 votes and was therefore elected as Propaganda Minister. Chiang Kai-shek must be confused because in his mind he was worth all those votes, but to him, Mao was nobody by then. Chiang must be wondering, had Mao joined the Revolution of 1911 like he had? No. Was Mao an old member of Solidarity like he was? No. Was Mao the closest loyalist to the Father of the Republic Dr. Sun Yat-sen like he was? No. Had Mao led National Revolutionary Army to get rid of those warlords threatening the revolutionary regime and had solidified the revolutionary base in Guangdong like he had? No. So, how the heck had this young peasant from Hunan making no contributions to KMT got elected with so many votes as Propaganda Minister for KMT government? And this young peasant even spoke no Mandarin to you.: 蒋中正也获得了386票,而毛泽东竟然赢得了193票并且当选为宣传部长。蒋中正肯定感到非常困惑,因为在他脑子里,他得的所有那些选票是理所当然的,可对他来说,毛那时完全是名不见经传、默默无闻的人啊。蒋一定感到非常纳罕,毛像他那样是同盟会元老么?不是啊。毛像他一样参加辛亥革命了么?没有啊。毛像他那样是孙中山先生最亲近的拥护者么?不是啊。毛像他那样带领国民革命军扫荡威胁广东革命政权的那些军阀并且巩固了广东革命根据地了么?没有啊。那么,那个对国民党未立寸功、来自湖南的农民青年到底是怎么获得这么多的选票当上国民党的宣传部长的呢?而且,这位年轻的农民还不跟你讲国语哎。
75. So, that is to say, Wang Zhaoming had both Mao Tse-tung and Chiang Kai-shek as his left and right hand. Left hand, Mao held the pen; right hand, Chiang held the gun.: 那么,也就是说,汪兆铭同时拥有毛泽东和蒋中正作为他的左右手。他的左手,毛握着笔杆子;他的右手,蒋握着枪杆子。
76. "If Mao Tse-tung was Propaganda Minister of KMT, then isn't Mao the first man who eats the Party's meals and smashes the Party's wok?"
"What? What? What's that?"
"Well, there's a saying going around." Ling explained. "Someone announces on newspaper that we are not supposed to eat the Party's meals while smashing the Party's wok at the same time."
"Holy! You are so right! Genuinely, Mao is the first man who eats the Party's meals and smashes the Party's wok." Every time I was with Ling, I could learn things.
"But the question is," she paused for two seconds and then said, "who on earth is eating the Party's meals whereas the meals are actually from Chinese workers, Chinese peasants, and Chinese intellectuals, I mean, each and every labourer in China. Isn't it 'no labour, no food'? Any food, any product, any grain of rice, any needle, and any yarn of thread is from each and every labourer, isn't it so? Only the exploiting classes don't labour, only the exploiting classes don't work. Weren't we educated so? Thus, who's eating whose meals after all? I wonder that guy is trying to imply that whoever eats the Party's meals all the time, belongs to the exploiting classes?"
I always found Ling's brain was 1,000,000 times sharper than those ass-suckers'.:
“如果毛曾是国民党的宣传部长,那他岂不成了‘吃党饭、砸党锅’的第一人了?”
“啥?啥?啥意思?”
“哎呀,就是有那么一句话。”阿铃解释道。“有人在报纸上讲,我们不应该吃着党的饭,而同时砸党的锅。”
“呀!你说的太对了!毛是正宗的‘吃党饭、砸党锅’的第一人啊。”每次和阿铃在一起,我都能学到东西。
“但是问题是,”她停顿了一下,然后说,“到底是谁在吃党的饭啊?事实是,这饭不是来自中国的工人们、农民们、知识分子们吗?我是说,饭是来自中国的每一个劳动者啊。不是‘不劳者,不得食’吗?任何粮食,任何产品,任何一粒米,任何一针、一线,不都是来自每一个劳动者吗?只有剥削阶级才不劳,只有剥削阶级才不作。他们不是这样教育我们长大的吗?所以说,究竟是谁在吃谁的饭呀?我在想,讲那话的家伙是不是想暗示说,不管是谁,一天到晚吃党的饭,谁就是剥削阶级?”
我总是发现,阿铃的脑子要比那些阿谀奉承的马屁精们的脑子快得多的多的多的多。
77. Li Zongren: 李宗仁
78. recess time: 课间十分钟
79. I won't go, I won't go, tell Zhang Xueling to come over.: 我不去,我不去,叫张学良来。(《西安事变》)
80. How betraying and humiliating of impotent Wenbai! Tell Delin to send a plane to get him back.: 文白无能,丧权辱国!叫德邻派飞机把他接回来。(《风雨下钟山》)
81. Revered Mr. De: 德公
82. It is said that, in general, there are 27 kinds of sparrows, among which 5 are in China. Other than certain weeks in winter season, sparrow's breeding season can almost last throughout the year. The whole world has been very nice and friendly to sparrows except China in the 1950's. Sparrow is small, but a pregnant sparrow can have as many as 6 eggs in one delivery and she can deliver at least twice in a year. Usually, the hatching period is around two weeks during which the husband also gives a big helping hand. That is to say, hatching is done alternately by both husband and wife.: 据说,麻雀一般分为27个种类,其中有5种分布在中国。除了冬季的若干个星期外,麻雀的繁殖期几乎一年四季都可以进行。全世界对麻雀很友好,只有五十年代的中国除外。麻雀虽小,但一只怀孕的麻雀一次可以产下6个卵,而且,她一年可以至少生产两次。孵化期通常是两周左右,其间,男麻雀会出大力帮忙。也就是说,孵化是由夫妇二雀交替完成。

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


Passing

Eggs

Flowers

Shake hands

Ray
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Comment Comment (6 comments)

Reply Report Lynn16 2016-4-2 22:05
Why did they leave any comments to such a wonderful blog ?Hmmm ,I should say sorry to you ,that I just finished reading all of your six blogs ,really too long and extraordinary .And you were really a special and traitorous boy at that time .
Reply Report Igo 2016-4-3 10:19
Lynn16: Why did they leave any comments to such a wonderful blog ?Hmmm ,I should say sorry to you ,that I just finished reading all of your six blogs ,really  ...
Thanks for your compliments. Well, maybe not every one gets round to completing reading the whole 6 parts of this article because as you mentioned, it's too long though I don't see it that long. But how long did it take you to complete reading from Part 1 to Part 6 in total? 1.5 to 2 hours, right? Well, thanks for your comments and reading. Cheers.   
Reply Report Lynn16 2016-4-3 17:51
Igo: Thanks for your compliments. Well, maybe not every one gets round to completing reading the whole 6 parts of this article because as you mentioned, it ...
When did you post such series of article ?And I just finished yesterday !So it is not difficult for you to calculate ...... ,hmmm , among all ,this part is the longest .it took around 1 hour ,the others ,much easier .Cheers  !
Reply Report Igo 2016-4-4 00:09
Lynn16: When did you post such series of article ?And I just finished yesterday !So it is not difficult for you to calculate ...... ,hmmm , among all ,t ...
Right, they were posted here 20 days ago. Right, not difficult for me to do the calculation.    But if Part 5 alone took you 1 hour, than at least I can tell, the total might take you over 2 hours. Which part do you like most? Part 7, right?
Reply Report Lynn16 2016-4-4 19:27
Igo: Right, they were posted here 20 days ago. Right, not difficult for me to do the calculation.     But if Part 5 alone took you 1 hour, than at le ...
Yes ,part 7 ,when will you post that ?In fact ,I am interested in the part related to your childhood or adolescence ,so next time ,will you write more about it ?Just curious about .....
Reply Report Igo 2016-10-2 01:53
Lynn16: Yes ,part 7 ,when will you post that ?In fact ,I am interested in the part related to your childhood or adolescence ,so next time ,will you write more ...
Sorry for late reply as I just come back here by now (after 6 months). Part 7? Mhm... Hey, have you figured out the meaning of the last sentence in Part 6? Why is the next stop that?

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  • Hometown Visit (2) - Are you from Mars? 2017-7-11 12:06

    jaseminsibo: Haha, this blog made me laugh and well done for writing such a long interesting piece! You can be a scriptwriter!
    Thanks a lot for your comments. Well, I also regard myself as a scriptwriter. Sorry, scratch that. I regard myself as a great scriptwriter. Ha!

  • Hometown Visit (2) - Are you from Mars? 2017-7-9 20:17

    Haha, this blog made me laugh and well done for writing such a long interesting piece! You can be a scriptwriter!

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