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2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
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Once the water had started to boil, the noodles could be put in to cook. By the time they were ready to be scooped out, Liu Shu had returned home. The basket of feed he had gathered was placed at the doorway of the rabbit’s little room. He came back and washed his hands. Right at that moment, Liu Sen woke up, and was sitting on the edge of the kang, waiting for Liu Lin to help him get his shoes on. When Liu Shu opened the door to enter, Liu Sen gave a big sneeze.
Liu Xu’er got worried – she hurried over to feel Liu Sen’s forehead. “Yesterday was so upsetting, Senzi wouldn’t have caught a cold, would he?”
Hearing that, Liu Shu also came over to feel Liu Sen’s forehead. The children surrounded Liu Sen to give him a good once over when Liu Sen suddenly rubbed his nose. “Dage, jie, I’m hungry. Where’s mum?”
Liu Xu’er hurriedly said,”Jie has already finished cooking! Wait!” Terrified that Liu Sen would start making a fuss about wanting mum, she quickly went to dish out the noodles. Liu Shu carried Liu Sen off the kang, and carried a basin over to wash his hands and face.
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Nkw Dw’la yeele psxl pyzv vs vbl dssezlp. Ebld pbl caswtbv kv shla vs Nkw Fld, vbl pswde sq qssvpvlrp qasx swvpkel alynble vblx, yde Nkw Qys pbk’p hsknl aydt swv. “Nkw Fbw? Fldgk?”
Nkw Nkd oldv vs srld vbl essa, yde Nkw Qys pbk ldvlale nyaaukdt y cypjlv. Fllkdt Nkw Fld iwklvzu pkvvkdt yv vbl pkel sq vbl jydt, y csoz sq dssezlp sd vbl vyczl, pbl lmnzykxle kd pwarakpl. “Eyp vbkp xyel cu Nkw Fbw?”
“Ylkxlk xyel kv!” Nkw Fbw iwknjzu nsaalnvle.&dcpr;
Nkw Qys pbk tzydnle yv Nkw Dw’la clqsal y pxkzl casjl swv sd bla qynl. “Dw’la jdsop bso vs nssj?”
Nkw Dw’la dseele. “Ywx vywtbv xl bso vs nssj dssezlp…. Lyk, yal usw byhkdt zwdnb blal clqsal tskdt sqq?” Fyukdt vbyv, pbl iwknjzu oldv vs vbl jkvnbld vs cakdt yzz vbl csozp sq dssezlp swv.&dcpr;
Fllkdt vbyv vbl zkvvzl sdlp kd vbl assx bye kv yzz olzz xydytle – vblu bye lhld xydytle vs qlle Nkw Fld bkp dssezlp, ralryale vbl qsse yde oypble vblka bydep – Nkw Qys pbk qlzv blyavynbl, cwv yzps y valxldeswp rakel. Fbl qlzv vbyv vbl nbkzeald kd bla qyxkzu olal fwpv vss pldpkczl.&dcpr;
Jakdtkdt vbl cypjlv vs vbl jkvnbld, pbl vssj vbl dssezlp pbl bye ralryale yde rwv kv kdvs vbl jkvnbld nwrcsyae clqsal fskdkdt Nkw Dw’la sd vbl oyu cynj vs vbl xykd assx okvb y csoz sq pvlyxle ltt nwpvyae.&dcpr;
“Qs yblye, dyk yvl clqsal nsxkdt.” Nkw Dw’la bye vakle vs rypp Nkw Qys pbk y ryka sq nbsrpvknjp, cwv Nkw Qys pbl pbssj bla blye. Fbl vssj shla Nkw Fld’p csoz yde pvyavle vs qlle bkx, qallkdt Nkw Fbw vs byhl bkp sod zwdnb.&dcpr;
In the end, children will be children. Even if they were worried about their parents, if they were hungry, they were hungry. There was definitely no such thing as being too worried to eat. Even Liu Xu’er ate her fill – an entire bowl of noodles with soup.
Half of the egg custard was given to Liu Sen, who also had a bowl of noodle soup. His little stomach bulging, he contentedly started rolling and playing on the kang.
Aunt Wu also came by to check if the kids had had their meal. If they hadn’t, she would have called them to her place to eat. Liu Gao shi couldn’t thank her enough, and kept expressing her gratitude.
Liu Xu’er brought the bowls back to the kitchen where she saw that the kitchen cupboard was ajar. So she went to have a look inside and saw that there were more noodles inside. She knew it! Nai had given them noodles.
When the family separated, none of the families had enough grain. Ye and nai were both extremely clear that the ones most likely to go hungry was their family. First and Third both had money, so even if there wasn’t enough, they could buy more – they wouldn’t starve.
But realistically, ye, nai and sishu were also only given that amount of grain. If dabo and sanshu’s families hoarded their grain and refused to help support them, then they too would go hungry next year.
Liu Xu’er stared at the noodles absentmindedly for a long while before grabbing a basin to ladle out some water and washing the dishes. She also went to bank the fire in the kang. Liu Gao shi was uneasy about the matter, and went to have a look. Seeing the fire already banked, she praised Liu Xu’er.
This kind of work would definitely be beyond the ability of an actual five-year-old to do well. But even if Liu Xu’er were to do it, others around her would only think that she was a bright and clever child. It would not arouse their suspicions. After all, it wasn’t work that took a lot of strength.
Completely unexpectedly, that afternoon, Liu Changgeng and He shi returned home from town!
The cart had just entered the village when many good hearted villagers went up to ask about them, especially those who had gone down the ravine to join the rescue. They wanted to know about the state of their injuries. As such, even from a large distance, Liu Xu’er heard the outside clamour.
The instant that Liu Shu’s attention slipped, Liu Lin ran out to have a look, yelling, “Mum and dad have come home!”
Liu Shu, frightened by his action, wanted to give chase, but stopped short at the doorway. He was torn and kept looking back at the house.
Liu Xu’er had her attention firmly on Liu Sen to prevent him from falling off the kang. On hearing Liu Lin’s loud call, she wanted to see, but she didn’t dare to leave the kang. Liu Gao shi on the other hand, had no such compulsion. She rushed out after Liu Lin.
“Nai! Erge has run out!” Liu Xu’er quickly said.
Liu Gao shi hurriedly went out and told Liu Shu who was at the courtyard door to return – she would go after him. After a short while, the courtyard entryway became noisy again. Liu Xu’er peeked out, and saw a flatbed cart at the doorway with a group of people surrounding it chattering.
A few aunts, including Aunt Wu, hurried in. Once she came in, Aunt Wu announced, “Your parents have returned! Saying this, she and the other aunts helped to tidy up the kang, while one of the aunts picked Liu Sen up.
Liu Xu’er stood at the entrance, and saw her dabo, Liu Changqi, carry her dad in. She quickly called out. “Dad!”
Liu Changgeng looked alright; his lips were somewhat bloodless and pale, but his eyes were bright. The instant he came in, he gave each of his children a good look. Seeing that they were fine, he relaxed. He nodded at Liu Xu’er and laughed. “Xu’er….”
Liu Changqi carried him to the side of the kang, while Fourth, Liu Changshi, followed from behind. He came forward to help his dage adjust Liu Changgeng’s position on the kang. The pain from the movement took Liu Changgeng’s breath away.
It was then that Liu Xu’er noticed that her dad’s right leg was bound between several flat boards. Although his left leg didn’t have these, it still looked like it had gotten hurt. It had swelled significantly, and the pant leg had to be cut open to accommodate the increased size.
Following his movement, a thick smell of medicinal ointment started to spread in the room. Clearly the abrasions he had were also pretty severe. Liu Xu’er saw her mother being carried in by her xiaogu, Liu Hong. She hurried forward exclaiming, “Mum!”
Aunt Wu and the group of aunties surrounded them and started to chatter non-stop, drowning out her cry.
“Let me carry her, how can we let Liu Hong do this? Her little body can’t possibly manage the weight of her saozi?”
He shi was also carried into the house and placed atop the kang. When Liu Xu’er came in, she saw that He shi’s ankle was injured. It was wrapped in thick bandages.
Surrounded by a group of people all talking at once, He shi quickly took Liu Sen into her arms. It was only when she saw her children squeeze between the crowd to stand by the kang that she let out a sigh of relief.
Liu Gao shi and Liu Hong quickly went to the kitchen to boil water and helped to host the helpers – offering them seats and water. Liu Changqi and Liu Changshi were outside with Old Man Liu thanking everyone, shaking everyone’s hands – repeatedly thanking all those who had braved the risks to help with the rescue.
Most of the villagers just stayed at the doorway to say a few words before leaving. The aunts in the room too started to make their excuses and slowly started to disperse.
Finally, there were only family members left. After sending off the guests, Old Man Liu and his two sons came in. Seeing Liu Changgeng, Liu Changqi said, “Now just concentrate on getting better! Don’t even think of going out to do physical work. The doctor was very clear – you cannot get off the kang for at least two months!”
Liu Hong also nodded. “It’s the same for you, saozi. The doctor said that the open wound is a huge issue, and so is the fact that you’ve sprained your ankle. Once you’ve hurt your ligaments and bones, it takes 100 days to heal. If you don’t allow it to heal properly, it could give you issues for the rest of your life!”
Liu Changgeng and He shi kept nodding their heads. He shi’s face was so white, it appeared bloodless. She looked at Liu Hong, “Xiaoguzi, I’ve really dragged you down in this matter. You had to carry me everywhere…. I really don’t know what to say.”
Once she said this, there was a sudden silence in the house. Liu Changqi’s face became extremely ugly. He lowered his head and went out.
Liu Hong moved her mouth, wanting to say something, but seeing how awful Liu Changqi’s face had become, she merely indistinctly hummed. “We’re all one family, there’s no need for all this….”
Liu Changgeng also wanted to say something, but Old Man Liu, seeing that everyone was settled, nodded and said. “Now that everything’s sorted, you should both listen to the doctor and take good care of yourselves. Everything else can be settled later.”
Liu Gao shi went out to pour away the rest of the water when she saw Third peering around the courtyard door. It was only when he had confirmed that there was no one else around that he came in. She immediately walked out to scold him. “You still know to come? You’re a heartless animal! How did I birth such an animal!”
Liu Changgui paused his footsteps. He gave a conciliatory smile, “Isn’t it alright mum? How is it that the instant I come in, you start scolding me? Didn’t I also help with the rescue attempt? I just couldn’t follow them to town because my wife was nervous about being alone at home….”
It would have been better not to mention Jia shi. At the mention of her, Liu Gao shi flew into a complete rage. She roared, “Get out! You get out!”
Liu Changgui was left in an awkward position. After a moment’s hesitation, he turned and stormed off angrily. Liu Changqi had walked to the courtyard and after witnessing the entire episode, he suddenly made up his mind and also left quickly.
Then Old Man Liu went off, walking with his arms behind his back. Liu Gao shi was worried that he had overtaxed himself from last night’s emergency, so she quickly left some instructions with Liu Changgeng and He shi before following him back.
Liu Changshi and Liu Hong stayed in the room and didn’t leave. Liu Changshi’s personality was straightforward and honest. Seeing his mum and dad had both left, he softly said, “Erge, ersao, don’t bother about those people, and just concentrate on recovering. If there’s anything you need for the winter, like firewood, don’t worry. I will prepare it for you.”
Liu Hong also nodded her head. “That’s right, mum, dad and the villagers are all very clear! What character a person has, was very clearly exposed! Don’t bother yourself with those people!”
Liu Changgeng coughed and said, “Forget it, let’s not talk about that.” He lowered his head to look at the few children standing, each with white faces, obviously anxious. He deliberately laughed widely and stretched his hands to call them. “Liu Shu, Liu Lin! What are you standing around for? Xu’er, come up the kang.”
Liu Xu’er quickly clambered atop the kang and was about to slide next to dad’s side when He shi stretched out her arms to hug her. She suddenly burst into tears.
The atmosphere in the house became extremely embarrassed. Liu Changshi didn’t know if it would be better to stay or leave.