Their LUNAR NEW YEAR’s EVE NIGHT
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It was the eve of Lunar New Year. As the night got deeper, the sky, once sheathed in a lingering beautiful shade of lilac and pale gold, is helplessly consumed by darkness. The moon rose, illuminating the tenebrous sky while proudly showing everyone across the land the magnificence of its form. As if by habit, the shimmering sparkles of stars silhouetted into the darkness. One by one, they began to appear–some choosing to grace the sky in solitary, while some emerged in clusters.
The city also began to light up brilliantly. All over, buildings and streets and started coming to life. Although in comparison to the night sky, its beauty can be considered faint, nonetheless, it happily displayed its own brilliance.
Before long, a trembling gust of wind, slightly stronger than yesterday’s, drifted across the skyline, bringing with it joyful noises and festive chatters.
As if separated from the outside world, the military compound presented a different atmosphere–one that’s void of any merrymaking. Within these walls, silence ruled.
While in the middle of sharing a very quiet meal with General Gu, Jiang Yuan broke the silence with a light sigh, followed by a few well-chosen words, “Last year, whether for good or bad, we had a child around. This year, it’s just the two of us. Celebrating New Year like this just isn’t right. Honestly, it’s quite sad.”
After a moment, Gu Wei Ting calmly gave Jiang Yuan a glance after hearing what his wife had to say. He began to speak, “I should have let you celebrate alone then. That way, when I accompany you next year, you wouldn’t feel so sad.”
Gu Wei Ting’s statement forced Jiang Yuan’s lips to purse tightly together, “If even you hadn’’t come back, I wouldn’t know what else I’m living for.”
Once Gu Wei Ting spoke again, his voice was calm but authoritative, “Children are not part of your body. In a sense, they are merely worldly possessions. Even if they don’t leave, they still do not belong to you. When they eventually settle down and get married, you will be left with only one person to celebrate New Year with. If you feel lonely, then you can have another child.”
“Do you think I can just have a child whenever I want, huh? How am I supposed to make one by myself?” Jing Yuan’s voice was failing her attempt to mask her annoyance.
Gu Wei Ting smiled faintly, “I can give you my friendly assistance.”
“You!!!” Jiang Yuan’s slight annoyance was quickly replaced with smiles and laughter, “How come I never knew you were such a smooth talker?”
“You’re flattering me too much. I’m still a far cry from Lao Bai.”
These words silenced Jing Yuan who began to slightly pout once again. A few seconds later, a beautiful rosy red color started to stain her smooth cheeks. She raised her gaze, revealing eyes that were kissed with rays of bright lights. They seem to sparkle even more as she looked warmly at the person beside her.
“Honestly, we should really consider about having another child. Xiao Hai and Luo Yin are only 18 years old and we’re not that old. More importantly, we have the ability to raise another one. Think about it, with one more child, wouldn’t life be even more fulfilling?”
“I have no objection.” Gu Wei Ting’s brows slight rose, “After all, my hopes for Gu Hai has died long ago. Now, I don’t expect anything from him anymore. If you can give me another child, I’ll be able to entrust my hope and energy to him.”
The lights in Jiang Yuan’s eyes grew even brighter. “OK,” she says with a soft smile. “Then…if we really have another child, are you going to dote on him or strictly discipline him?”
“Dote upon him? Do you really think I’d dare dote on another child? Look at Gu Hai! I doted on him and look at how he’s turned out!”
“Huh……” Jiang Yuan couldn’t hide her surprise upon hearing General Gu’s words. In fact, his statement caught her off-guard so much that it turned her face pale. “You call the way you treat Gu Hai doting? Can you imagine how a child would turn out if you decide to strictly discipline him? Or how he’d be after your trample on him?”
“Well, in any case, if he doesn’t have a strong will or is not perceptive of things, he won’t be able to withstand my rigorous training.”
“Since you put it like that, how do you expect me to even dare have a child?” Jiang Yuan could feel her heart sinking as those words left her own mouth.
Indifferent, Gu Wei Ting sneered coldly, “If he can’t so much as take my method of instilling discipline, then how can I allow him to be called my son? What’s the use of having a son like that?”
“If we follow the logic of what you just said…it’s like saying a child born with an innate illness or disability should be killed. A child is not brought into this world to be used for the fulfillment of any personal objective. When couples decide to have a child, it should be so they’d have someone to love and care for.”
Jiang Yuan continued, “I wish I had a little girl who would stay by my side all day long and weep about the silliest of things. That to me is happiness. Just the thought of it makes me happy.”
“When did you become so motherly?” Gu Wei Ting shot her a glance–one that was neither judgmental nor compassionate.
Jiang Yuan merely heaved a sigh, “Ever since my son left, I’ve come to realize that the things I used to stubbornly pursue were all superficial. Without my child at my side, everything is meaningless.”
Remaining calm and quiet, Gu Wei Ting decided to focus on finishing the food in his bowl.
After some time, Jiang Yuan spoke again, “Have I become a great grandmother to you? Are you finally fed up with me?”
“Even if I was, I won’t ever leave you for someone else. I’m the kind of person who would rather not deal with inconveniences.”
After this, the rest of the dinner was spent in silence. That is, until Gu Wei Ting spoke again at the end of the meal.
“Starting tomorrow, you can come to the military compound with me.”
“Go with you?” Jiang Yuan tried her best to conceal her happiness. In all honesty, General Gu’s invitation really pleased her. So much so that it once again ignited the bright lights that appeared in her eyes earlier in the night.
Gu Wei Ting nodded his head, “Yes, come with me to the military compound.”
After dinner, Jiang Yuan was able to fall asleep right away. Perhaps it was due to the fact that she had finally been able to unload the thoughts that have been weighing upon her to her husband, but she suddenly felt really tired the moment she laid down.
On the other hand, Gu Wei Ting couldn’t sleep. He stood in front of the window, lost in his own thoughts, as he stared at the city skyline, which was brilliantly lit by the fireworks and light shows that were put up in celebration of the Lunar New Year.
Why do I miss my shameful son so much?
Meanwhile, his and Lao Bai’s shameful sons were in a public square setting off firecrackers and playing to their heart’s content.
Gu Hai took out two thick steel pipe double-explosive firecrackers  and lit them up while firmly holding them with both hands. Upon seeing what the stupid monkey was trying to do, Bai Luo Yin felt scared and wanted with all his heart to stop him. But he knew it was too late to do so as the wick had already started to spark, so instead he took two large strides back to avoid close contact. Seconds later, a series of loud thunderous explosions started to sound off near his ears.
As the explosion came to an end, Bai Luo Yin saw Gu Hai still holding the remains of the firecrackers firmly in his hands. This sight made him so angry and scared that he couldn’t help but scold Gu Hai.
“Are you an idiot? Who would light up a double explosive firecracker while holding it?”
Even after Bai Luo Yin’s reprimand him, Gu Hai still looked quite pleased with himself, “Do you dare?”
Bai Luo Yin coldly responded, “Is this an ability that you should be bragging about? If you’re really good, then why don’t you shove it up your crotch and light it up, huh?”
“You fucking…” Instead of anger, Gu Hai met Bai Luo Yin’s words with smiles and laughter, “Believe it or not, I’ll shove it up your asshole and light it up there.”
These words enraged Bai Luo Yin, who immediately started chasing and hitting Gu Hai.
“Don’t hit me. It’s bad to hit people during the New Year.” Gu Hai wrapped one of his arms around Bai Luo Yin’s neck, “We still have fireworks that we haven’t set off yet. It’s almost midnight. Let’s hurry up!”
Bai Luo Yin and Gu Hai walked towards their car and opened the trunk. Gu Hai started taking out the tubes of fireworks that he had placed there earlier, and just as he did so, the ember of the cigarette stick in between his fingers came in contact with the wicks of some of the firecrackers, igniting them.
Luckily, he was able to notice this right away. He couldn’t afford to remain calm. Very swiftly, he grabbed Bai Luo Yin’s hand and pulled him to the side as if their lives depended on it. They ran until they were a safe distance away from the car.
Unaware of what was happening, Bai Luo Yin was in the middle of running when he suddenly heard a loud explosion. At least 10 fireworks soared into the night sky–lighting it up with various colors. The sight of the fireworks shooting from the car was so magnificent and beautiful that even if twelve men simultaneously lighted firecrackers together, their efforts will still fail in comparison.
The scene it created can be likened to that of flowers blooming during the arrival of spring; how they magnificently open up and reveal their colors for all to see.
This glorious explosion, though, was only the beginning. Quickly following it are smaller explosions. Sparks also started flying in all random directions–like fireflies seeking refuge. As they continue to scatter, several exploded near Bai Luo Yin’s feet.
By the time the two guys’ eyes shifted from the sky to Gu Hai’s car, it was already consumed by a large raging flame. The flames slowly ascended to the sky, growing bigger and bigger until it got to the point where half the skyline was dyed a fiery red.
After a long while, Gu Hai hesitantly mumbled, “What great fortune! Everything is thriving!”
“What great fortune?” Bai Luo Yin roared in response. “Your car is fucking ruined! Why didn’t you take a better look when you were moving the fireworks? Why are you just standing there? Hurry! Go and put the fire out!!”
Bai Luo Yin was about to go and put out the fire when Gu Hai pulled him back. “Don’t go. It’s already ruined. There’s no saving it even if the flames are extinguished. It’s better to just buy a new car than to spend so much on repairs.”
It didn’t take long for regret to tug at Bai Luo Yin’s nerves. His brows wrinkled together in a stern frown as he looked at the flames ahead. That huge flame was burning stash and stash of paper money.
Seeing that regretful expression on Bai Luo Yin’s face from the corner of his eyes, Gu Hai couldn’t help but to tease him. “In society nowadays, you should be ashamed to call yourself the son of a high official if you haven’t burnt a car at least once.”
Hearing those crazy words, Bai Luo Yin scornfully gritted his teeth in anger.
And thus, Gu Hai and Bai Luo Yin’s plans to set off the firecrackers came to a sudden end. The two drove back in one car. As they traversed the streets, everywhere started to bustle with noise and excitement. Outside of the car, gorgeous arrays of colorful fireworks blossomed in the night sky. Bai Luo Yin sighed with sorrow as he let his gaze focus on the scenery outside. If he had known early on that the car would become scrap, he would have raised his head into the heaven just a bit longer to take in the sight above.
The night sky then must have been especially beautiful!
It’s inevitable that one must pay a devastatingly high price to obtain some things in life. And since you have already paid dearly for them, why not just treasurer this hard to come by happiness to your heart’s content?
After shifting his eyes back, Bai Luo Yin stared attentively at the electronic display screen inside the car. At that moment, it displayed 11:59PM. He held his breath in and just as the number jumped, he swiftly turned his head to the side.
“Happy New Year!”
“Happy New Year!”
The two spoke at the same time before reveling in each other’s joyous smiles and enjoying the warm presence of each other. There was no need to pretend any longer. Just staring at each other’s faces eliminated any trace of regret or sorrow that crowded their hearts. An unspoken promise resonated within them at this moment that seemed almost ethereal.
For all eternity, we will never forget, the New Year’s Eve that we spent together on the road.
In the middle of March, as the weather gradually became warmer, Bai Luo Yin and Gu Hai prepared to set out on a journey to Tibet.
While they were packing, Gu Hai seemed somewhat reluctant. “You Know, the auntie at the food market know me by face already. Every time I bought vegetables, she would always give me a small discount.”
Bai Luo Yin did not even so much as spare him a glance as he sneered, “I reckon she gives discounts to everyone who buys vegetables there.”
“Who says?” Gu Hai said, strongly standing his ground. “Before the New Year, she never gave me any discount. When I went back there after the New Year, she never took any of the small changes. And sometimes, she would also give me a few scallions for free. After we leave, who is going to give us discounts, huh?”
Hearing the slight complaint, Bai Luo Yin furtively gave Gu Hai a glance, “You burnt a car and immediately got a fucking discount.”
“I’ve discovered something. Why are you so cold and detached?”
I’m not cold or detached. I’m just not as expressive of my feelings as you are. Nor do I say everything that’s on my mind out loud repeatedly like you do. How can I not feel sad? At the very least, we’ve been here for three months already. Every day, as soon as we open our eyes, we are greeted by the beautiful sea and get to enjoy the breeze the moment the windows are pushed open. Where else can we find such a cheap place with a beautiful view of the sea?
After they properly pack their belongings, they ate their last meal in this apartment. As their conversation went on, the topic of school was unintentionally brought up, and without thinking much of it, Bai Luo Yin mentioned said a few words.
“You Qi passed the second round of the examination for Beijing Film Academy.”
After hearing that name, Gu Hai raised his head and looked at Bai Luo Yin, “Why did you get in contact with him?”
“I didn’t. I saw it on the school’s online forum. Someone posted a list of students who are eligible for the third round of examinations for the Academy and I saw You Qi’s name on there.”
“Could it be someone else with the same name?”
Bai Luo Yin snorted then let out a small chuckle, “You think such a stupid name can actually be that common?”
“That’s true.” The chopsticks in Gu Hai’s hand came to a sudden halt before he deliberately said, “You seem rather concerned for him.”
“At first I wasn’t so concerned, but ever since we fought about him, he’s made a lasting impression on me.”
“You’re fucking saying that deliberately, aren’t you?” Gu Hai quickly became hostile.
Having already been accustomed to Gu Hai’s mood swings, Bai Luo Yin naturally changed the subject.
“That’s right. I haven’t asked you, have you thought about which university you want to go to yet?”
Gu Hai haphazardly replied, “It doesn’t matter.”
“It doesn’t matter?” Bai Luo Yin became annoyed with his reply. “Can you be a bit more ambitious?”
“Who said I’m not ambitious?” Gu Hai’s eyes swept towards Bai Luo Yin. “Even if I attend a university, I won’t waste my time there. I plan on starting my own business after two years. Whether it’s attending classes or being an entrepreneur, I won’t be neglecting either one. I’m a very practical person. Theoretical knowledge doesn’t attract me, nor do I fancy walking the path of a government official so going into business is the best for me.”
Bai Luo Yin thought that it was not a probable idea. “What about the funds?”
“Since I have a solid plan, I can definitely secure the appropriate funding. I can start small and gradually expand.”
“I’m afraid, once the money is in your hands, you’ll show off and spend it all in less than two days.”
“What are you trying to say?! You make it seem like I have no self-control at all.”
“Have you ever had any to begin with?” Bai Luo Yin was extremely skeptical.
Gu Hai’s brows rose questioningly as a flash of light swept past his eyes, hinting at something that was obvious to both. “Which aspect of me do you mean?”
“Eat your food!”
 二踢脚: literal – double kicks: a firecracker that goes off twice; once on the ground and again in the air. (double-explosive firecracker)
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