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Just as Siwa finished his fierce act, Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen had returned. Seeing their always crying Siwa acting fierce, Cui Dingchen curiously asked, “What’s going on? What’s he doing?”
Xu Fan turned his head.
Mother Xu was about to open her mouth to explain. Siwa, who thought that his backers were here, flattened his little mouth and let out a wail. He cried as he raised his little arms and ran toward Cui Dingchen. If it wasn’t for Cui Dingchen’s quick eyes, the little guy would have fallen again.
Before he could walk properly, he’d already started running.
“What’s wrong, little baobao?” Cui Dingchen hugged Siwa and asked.
Siwa leaned into Cui Dingchen’s embrace but didn’t know how to explain.
Cui Dingchen looked toward Mother Xu, “Mom, what’s wrong?”
Mother Xu explained the situation, then said, “He thought that I was going to hit Sanwa and was fiercely protecting him.”
Cui Dingchen laughed.
Mother Xu also laughed.
Xu Fan walked over and held Siwa’s small, meaty hand and said, “Siwa, Grandma won’t hit big brother. Grandma dotes on big brother. Grandma also dotes on Siwa. Don’t cry.”
Siwa lay in Cui Dingchen’s arms and looked at Xu Fan.
Xu Fan said, “Come down. Big brother will teach you how to write.”
Siwa immediately struggled to get down. After he was on the ground, he held his big brother’s hand and followed his big brother to the base of the wall. At this moment, Cui Dingchen found that his once snow-white wall had turned into a mess. It was filled with scribbles. It was obviously Xu Fan’s masterpiece. He looked at Xu Fan. The child didn’t think he did anything wrong. His plump little hand held Siwa’s hand as guided Siwa to write “1, 2, 3.” He even had Siwa read it out loud.
How could Siwa read it? The words he was able to say didn’t surpass ten, but Xu Fan insisted that Siwa could read it.
“Little brother, repeat about big brother: One.”
Little brother, it’s not not. Say one.”
“Aiya, it’s not not. It’s one. Repeat after big brother: one.”
Siwa’s eyes were like black grapes. He motionlessly stared at Xu Fan’s small mouth but still couldn’t pronounce the words, making Xu Fan angry. Xu Fan wrinkled his brows and said, “Why can’t you say it? Tis is one. Tis is two. If you say it once then you’ll be able to. Come here. Watch your big brother and repeat after big brother.”
Xu Fan was making things difficult for Siwa. Seeing this, Cui Dingchen hurriedly went forward to stop Xu Fan, telling him that Siwa was still young and couldn’t speak properly yet. Xu Fan looked at Siwa.
Siwa giggled and pulled on Xu Fan’s hand.
Xu Fan wasn’t angry anymore and started laughing. He pulled out a piece of chalk from his pocket. The two brothers scribbled on the walls together and were extremely happy as they drew. Cui Dingchen didn’t stop the brothers from scribbling on the walls and turned to help Mother Xu cook.
Seeing that neither Xu Zhao nor Cui Dingchen cared, Mother Xu let Xu Fan and Siwa continue with their scribbles. She entered the kitchen and continued to cook. With Cui Dingchen’s help, dinner was soon ready. It was cold noodles.
It was warm and white strained noodles. They were smooth and chewy. Mixed with some fried shredded meat, bean paste, mung beans, string beans, and adding just a little bit of sesame oil and balsamic vinegar. It was everyone’s favorite.
Everyone gathered around the small table to eat noodles. They placed Siwa inside the child’s walker and had him play by himself. However, Siwa pulled the walker toward the small table. His eyes were like black grapes as he looked at Big daddy, Daddy, and big brother. There was a “crash” as a wave of saliva came out.
“Daddy! Look, Siwa already drank his milk but is still hungry,” Xu Fan pointed at Siwa and said, “He’s even eating his hands.”
Siwa hugged his two meaty hands and nibbled on them. As he nibbled he stared at Cui Dingchen.
What a glutton.
Cui Dingchen couldn’t continue watching. He picked out two white noodles without any seasoning from the noodle bowl and placed them inside a small plastic bowl before handing it to Siwa. Siwa’s small hands gripped them as he ate. After he finished eating, he handed the small plastic bowl to Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen said, “Are you full?”
Siwa shook his head.
“You still want to eat?”
Siwa nodded while giggling. He looked very pink and tender, making Cui Dingchen like him even more. Cui Dingchen got another two noodles for Siwa and instructed him to stop eating after this. He ignored him and buried his head to eat. After he finished eating, he still wanted more. Only after his little belly that was under his dudou was bulging out and he was unable to eat anymore was he finally obedient and let his Big daddy wash his small, meaty hand and small hand. Afterward, he went on a walk with Daddy, Big daddy, and big brother.
It was currently early summer, so the breeze was still cool. It didn’t matter if the adults and children ate yet or not, they all went into the village to cool down, chat, walk, or play. As soon as Xu Fan and Siwa left the courtyard, they were very excited, especially Xu Fan. He pulled Da Zhuang and Da Ni’Er to the village to find the other kids to play with.
Siwa couldn’t walk by himself yet, but he could walk with the help of an adult. And so, his small, meaty hand gripped Cui Dingchen’s pinky finger and tried his best to chase after his big brother. As he chased his big brother, he saw that his brother was happily playing with the other big brothers and big sisters. He also wanted to join in and play, but he couldn’t find a chance to join. When he went up to join them, the group of children would run somewhere else again.
He could only pull Cui Dingchen as he chased after them again. After he caught up to them again, the children once again ran off to another pace. He cried out a few times but no one paid any attention to him. He could hold Cui Dingchen’s pinky finger as they stood to the side and watched Xu and the other children play hide and seek, eagle catch chickens, and red light green light. He was even happier than the children who were playing.
As soon as he saw Xu Fan running toward him, his eyes lit up. He excitedly shouted, “bwoter, bwoter!” But Xu Fan wasn’t heading toward him and had run off again. He was disappointed and waited for Xu Fan to once again run past him. He shouted again “bwoter, bwoter”, making Cui Dingchen secretly laugh. He squatted to the side and chatted with Xu Zhao and stretched out a hand for Siwa to hold.
While they were holding hands, Siwa suddenly let go and ran to Xu Fan with uneasy steps. As soon as he hugged the still running Xu Fan, the two brothers fell together. Cui Dingchen hurriedly went to pull the two brothers up.
Xu Fan, who was hurting from the fall, sat up and angrily asked, “Siwa, what are you doing?!”
Siwa looked at Xu Fan pitifully.
Xu Fan’s little face was puffed out. “You’re so annoying!”
Siwa drooped his head at the words and didn’t speak.
Xu Fan huffed and ran away.
Siwa sadly lay in Cui Dingchen’s arms and rubbed his small face on Cui Dingchen’s shoulder. He rubbed and kept rubbing back and forth.
He was sad again. Cui Dingchen hugged Siwa and said, “It’s alright. Your big brother isn’t mad. Siwa, don’t be angry either. Big brother will come find Siwa later. Ah, don’t be sad. Big daddy will take you home to listen to the radio, okay?”
Siwa hugged Cui Dingchen’s neck.
Cui Dingchen called out to Xu Zhao and the three family members headed home. Not long later, Xu Fan also ran over. When he got home, he called, “Little brother.”
Seeing that his little brother wasn’t in the main hall, he asked Cui Dingchen, “Big daddy, where’s my little brother?”
“Why are you looking for your little brother?” Cui Dingchen deliberately gave Xu Fan a hard time.
Xu Fan thickened his skin and asked, “Looking for my little brother to play. Where’s my little brother?”
“You still know to find your little brother to play with. Isn’t your little brother mad right now?”
“Mad about what?” Xu Fan had quickly forgotten. Just like two years ago when Cui Dingchen had gone out on a business trip for a month, Xu Fan had immediately forgotten who Cui Dingchen was. He only remembered that he drove a big car.
“What do you mean what’s he mad about? He wanted to play with you earlier and went to hug you. You fell down and acted mean toward him. Did you forget?”
“He hugged me and I fell?” Xu Fan raised his little face and said, “It hurt when I fell.”
“Oh, so you’re allowed to be angry but your little brother isn’t allowed to be angry?”
Xu Fan drooped his little head without speaking. He suddenly heard a small, milky “bwoter”. He lifted his head and saw Siwa holding Xu Zhao’s hand like he was drunk. He came down from upstairs. Ass soon as he saw him, he didn’t hold a grudge at all.
“Little brother!” Xu Fan happily ran over. His small, meaty hand reached out to Siwa’s plump little face as he said, “Little brother, don’t be mad a big brother. Big brother isn’t mad either, okay?”
“Okay.” Siwa’s “okay” was very clear.
“Then give big brother a kiss.” Xu Fan slightly bent down and leaned his face toward Siwa.
Siwa raised his head toward the small face and pursed his lips like he was going to kiss Xu Fan. It was just a shame that he was too small and couldn’t reach. He was very clever and went on his tip toes. As a result, not only was he unable to kiss Xu Fan, he pressed against the squatting Xu Fan, and the two brothers fell on the ground again. Neither of them got angry as they started laughing. When Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen came forward, Xu Fan had already helped Siwa up. He said to the two, “My little brother and I fell. We both fell.”
Xu Zhao laughed.
Cui Dingchen exposed a fatherly smile.
Xu Fan helped Siwa up and slowly helped him sit on the stool inside the courtyard. He pulled out a packet of pickled plum powder from his pocket and used his mouth to tear the bag open. He pinched the small spoon and scooped a spoonful of pickled plum powder for his little brother before scooping a spoonful for himself. The two children sat in the courtyard taking turns eating.
A while later, Xu Fan said, “Little brother, you’re small. You can’t eat too much. If you eat too much, your belly will hurt. T-t-then your big brother will eat two spoonfuls and you’ll eat one. Isn’t that right? Little brother, nod your head okay.”
Siwa nodded his head okay.
Afterward, Xu Fan ate two spoons while Siwa ate one. The brothers continue to sit in the courtyard. When Xu Zhao came out, the two brothers had two large mosquitoes on their arms. Xu Zhao slapped them away and brought the two brothers to the center of the courtyard. He instructed Cui Dingchen to fill a large basin of hot water, then stripped the brothers naked to sit in the basin to bathe.
“Daddy, little brother is very fat.” Xu Fan pinched Siwa’s arm.
Xu Zhao looked at Xu Fan, who looked like a suckling pig, and asked, “And are you thin?”
“I’m thin. I look very good.”
“Your little brother doesn’t look good?”
“Looks good, but not as good as me.” Xu Fan turned his head and asked, “Siwa, who looks better, you and your big brother?”
“Daddy, look, even Siwa says I look better.”
Xu Zhao was speechless and took the towel Cui Dingchen held out. He first wrapped it around Siwa, then grabbed the larger towel Cui Dingchen held out and wrapped it around Xu Fan and carried them directly into the west wing room. As soon as he was placed on the bed, Xu Fan called, “Little brother!”
“Ah!” Siwa replied from upstairs.
“Little brother, come here!”
Xu Fan raised his little head and shouted toward the roof. His shouted drifted out the window and to the second floor. “Little brother, come here and sleep with your big brother.”
“Little brother! Siwa!”
“Si—” Before Xu Fan could finish, Xu Zhao appeared at the door of the west wing room holding Siwa. He was naked earlier but now he was wearing his small dudou which exposed his small arms and small legs that looked like white and fat lotus roots. He was especially cute. His little face was clean and his dark eyes glittered like stars. He laughed as soon as he saw Xu Fan, revealing his little baby teeth. He was so adorable.
“Little brother!” Xu Fan shouted deliberately.
“Ah!” Siwa straightened his little bulging belly and agreed.
Siwa held his small belly and replied again, “Ah!”
Siwa leaned his little body toward Xu Fan and was placed on the bed by Xu Zhao. He instantly ran toward Xu Fan and hugged Xu Fan as he giggled. The brothers played for a while and later squeezed with Xu Fan to sleep. In the end, the brothers fell asleep together before Xu Zhao carried Siwa upstairs.
The next day, the weather changed. The day after that, some children inside the village got a cold or a fever. The once healthy Siwa also developed a fever. Although he was physically better now, his mental state wasn’t as good as usual. He listlessly lay in Mother Xu’s arms and watched Xu Fan come back from school. Even his reaction was mediocre.
Xu Fan put down his schoolbag and coaxed Siwa to be happy.
Siwa leaned into Mother Xu’s shoulder, his excitement fading.
“Little brother, look. This is a slingshot.”
Siwa looked over but didn’t react.
“This is a slingshot ball.”
Siwa glanced over again but still didn’t make a sound.
At this moment, Da Zhuang family’s lamb strolled over, as if looking for something to eat. Xu Fan pointed at the little lamb and said, “Little brother, look, it’s a little lamb. Baa~ Baa~”
Siwa pointed at the little lamb.
“Big brother will tell it to come over and play with you, okay?”
And so, Xu Fan immediately ran to the little lamb and first said to the little lamb, “Little lamb, I’m Sanwa. Yesterday, you ate m-my corn and I didn’t tell you to return it. How about you play with me and my little brother?”
“Baa~” the little lamb cried.
Xu Fan took that as an agreement and said, “Let’s go.”
As a result, the little lamb twisted his butt and walked away.
“Little lamb, don’t go.” Xu Fan chased after the lamb.
The little lamb shivered and gave a stomp, kicking Xu Fan to the ground. Xu Fan got a face full of mud. When he got up, the lamb had already run away. He angrily sat on his foot and raised his hand to rub the spot that hurt on his nose. His hand was a bit red. Suddenly a “wha” sounded.
Siwa was stunned.
Mother Xu quickly asked, “Sanwa, what’s wrong? Come here so grandma can see.”
Xu Fan’s small, meaty hand covered his face as he said, “My nose is broken. I don’t look good anymore. I won’t look good anymore.”
Mother Xu glanced at the tomato juice on Xu Fan’s nose: “…”