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It was Xu Fan!
Xu Zhao instantly became enraged. Xu Fan was too daring and disobedient. He ran out like this without a word in the middle of the night. Fortunately, he (XZ) saw him (XF). If he hadn’t turned back to glance at the village, or if he wasn’t attentive enough, he might not have discovered Xu Fan. Was that child planning on running behind him all the way till the county town? Never mind the fact that he could meet some bad people on the road, but what if he got lost while running to the county town?
Thinking about Xu Fan getting lost… Xu Zhao couldn’t stop a shudder as he turned around.
When his gaze landed on Xu Fan, Xu Fan was instantly happy as he called, “Daddy!”
Xu Zhao steeled his heart to discipline Xu Fan and said with a calm face, “Go back.”
Children appeared to not know anything, but they were very intuitive on adult’s fluctuation of emotions. The small on Xu Fan’s small face disappeared as he called, “Daddy.”
He still wasn’t listening!
Xu Zhao angrily picked up a tree branch from the ground and lightly hit Xu Fan’s buttocks.
Xu Fan stared at Xu Zhao in a daze.
Xu Zhao used the tree branch to point at him, and said in a stern voice, “You don’t listen to Daddy anymore?”
Xu Fan was scared and stared blankly at Xu Zhao, and pressed his lips together.
“Go back! Did you hear me!”
Xu Fan instantly turned towards the village and let out a huge cry from his mouth, crying as he ran towards the village. He occasionally turned back to look at Xu Zhao. Seeing that Xu Zhao didn’t follow him, he stopped and let out a huge sob.
Xu Zhao raised the tree branch.
Xu Fan used his short legs to wobble forwards two steps.
Xu Zhao didn’t raise the tree branch.
Xu Fan stopped crying.
“You just don’t want to get beaten, is that right?” Xu Zhao held the tree branch and headed towards the village.
Xu Fan sobbed as he ran forward, his short legs running very quickly.
There happened to be some neighbors sitting under the tree shade to cool off, and they saw Xu Zhao carrying a tree branch walking in the walk while Xu Fan cried as he ran in the front. While running, he would often turn back to look. It was like this all the way back to Da Zhuang’s house.
Xu Zhao used the tree branch to poke Xu Fan’s small butt and asked, “Xu Fan, didn’t I say you can’t follow me since it’s the middle of the night? Don’t you know how dangerous it is at night?”
Xu Fan stood in a corner crying.
Da Zhuang’s mother stood to the side, persuading Xu Zhao not to hit the child.
Xu Zhao was very angry. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what would happen if Xu Fan got lost. It was too dangerous, so he ruthlessly said, “Just try following me again. I’ll spank your butt till it swells up.”
When Xu Fan heard this, he faced towards the corner, far away from Xu Zhao as he quietly cried.
Xu Zhao finally dropped the tree branch, then said a word to Da Zhuang’s mom before turning again to leave South Bay Village. He didn’t ride his bicycle away immediately, instead, he sat on the bike and waited on the road for 10 minutes. One he confirmed that Xu Fan didn’t follow him this time, he finally peddled again, heading to the county town. However, he still glanced back every couple seconds, afraid that Xu Fan was disobedient again and followed him yet again.
However, this time, Xu Fan didn’t follow him.
Xu Zhao rode the bike all the way to the County Town Hospital Center, then carried the cloth bag into Father Xu’s patient room. Father Xu was already awake inside, but his mouth was still skewed and his eyes still slanted. When he saw Xu Zhao, he opened his mouth to say something but could only let out an indistinct grunt as he drooled uncontrollably.
Mother Xu quickly brought up a towel to wipe him.
“Mom, what is Dad saying?” Xu Zhao asked.
“He’s talking about Baobao, Sanwa,” Mother Xu said.
Baobao was Sanwa. Mother Xu called Xu Fan Sanwa, and Father Xu called him Baobao or Sanwa. However, to the current Father Xu, saying Sanwa was a lot harder than saying Baobao. He hadn’t seen his grandson in a long time and really missed him.
“You came by yourself? Where’s Sanwa,” Mother Xu asked.
“I left him at Da Zhuang’s house. Da Zhuang’s mom is helping me watch him,” Xu Zhao replied.
Father Xu finally stopped speaking, as if he now felt at ease, and quietly watched Xu Zhao.
“Sanwa didn’t chase after you?” Mother Xu asked.
“He did,” Xu Zhao replied.
“Did you hit him again?”
Xu Zhao touched his nose. Changing the topic, he asked, “Did Dad eat yet?”
Mother Xu also didn’t mention Xu Fan again and said, “He ate the hospital food. It’s really expensive so he has to eat it.”
“Did you eat yet?”
“I brought you some food and it’s still hot. Mom, you should know what to do?”
Mother Xu’s eyes instantly watered. She didn’t raise her biological son in vain. She forced her tears back as she breathed through her nose, and opened the enamel jar to see two pieces of meat. She immediately said, “Why did you bring me meat? I won’t eat it. You and Sanwa should get it.”
“Mom, you get it. Xu Fan and I already ate.”
“You guys should eat more. Look at how skinny you are. Sanwa is also very skinny.”
“I can just make more when I go home. You should eat.”
Mother Xu lowered her head to eat the multi-grain steamed buns, salted vegetables, and drink the mixed porridge. Afterwards, he took the enamel jar to wash it.
“I’ll wash it,” Xu Zhao said.
“I’ll wash it.”
Mother Xu washed the enamel jar and returned it to Xu Zhao.
When Xu Zhao put the enamel jar back into the cloth bag, his hand accidentally knocked the cover of the enamel jar off, revealing the two pieces of meat from earlier. It laid completely intact inside the clean enamel jar. Xu Zhao always thought that he was indifferent to feelings. Regardless if it was romantic, familial, or friendship, he was always indifferent to it. However, he currently felt a strong emotion inside his heart that caused his eyes to water. He didn’t say anything and closed the lid to the enamel jar. Once he calmed his emotions, he finally turned to Mother Xu and said, “Mom, I’ll leave first. I’ll come back tomorrow.”
“Okay, I’ll send you out.”
“I’ll send you.”
In the end, Mother Xu sent Xu Zhao off at the hospital entrance, then said, “Xu Zhao, I plan on discharging your father in two days.”
“Why?” Xu Zhao asked.
“I can take care of him at home,” Mother Xu said.
“Mom, is it because there isn’t enough money?”
“That’s not it. The doctor said he needed to stay in the hospital for half a month, but it was best if he could stay for a full month. How could we stay at the hospital for that long? Look, we have to pay the grain tax soon. And if it rains, we’ll have to plant soybeans. I—”
“Mom, don’t worry. Leave everything to me,” Xu Zhao cut off Mother Xu and said. “Dad’s illness isn’t a small matter. All Dad has to worry about is staying in the hospital to receive treatment and care. I’ll take care of matters at home. And don’t worry about the money. I’m making money everyday. It will definitely be enough for Dad to stay in the hospital. I’ll also handle the grain tax, as for planting the soybeans, I’ll plant them with Da Zhuang’s family once I head back. There’s nothing to worry about. You just stay here to accompany Dad. If you get bored, then go take a walk. Can’t we tough it out for half a month?”
Mother Xu didn’t say anything.
“Mom, this is what’s best for Dad, and for our family. Listen to the doctor,” Xu Zhao said.
Mother Xu glanced at Xu Zhao, her eyes instantly reddening.
Xu Zhao comforted Mother Xu with a couple sentences before riding the bicycle and leaving the hospital. It was completely dark at this time, and the summer wind blew over a layer of coolness. There were still a few vendors near the hospital selling snacks and other things. Seeing them, it didn’t feel lonely anymore. Xu Zhao’s heart also wasn’t lonely, but just felt a bit of pressure. This kind of pressure grounded him.
He had parents and a son.
His parents needed him and his son needed him
He was looking forward to the future more than he ever has. As long as he worked hard, everything would become better. As he peddled the bike, he thought about how to use the piece of land he purchased today to make money.
“Fried dough twists! Fragrant fried dough twists! It’s fragrant, crispy, and crisp! Two for a dime.”
A voice suddenly broke off Xu Zhao’s train of thought. He turned his head to look over to see a fried dough twists seller who was pushing an ox cart. He originally planned to only buy one fried dough twists, but he suddenly remembered how he had hit Xu Fan earlier. He felt very apologetic, thus spent a dime to buy two fried dough twists. Putting them inside the cloth bag, he biked back to South Bay Village. When he arrived at South Bay Village, not even planning on returning home first, he directly went to Da Zhuang’s home. Inside Da Zhuang’s thatched hut, there was the glow from the kerosene lamp.
Xu Zhao stood inside the courtyard when he heard Da Zhuang’s mother’s voice, “Sanwa, how about we go to sleep?”
“No.” This was Xu Fan’s voice.
“Look, Da Zhuang’s already asleep.”
“I’ll wait for my Daddy.”
Xu Zhao’s heart warmed. He stood outside the fence and called, “Xu Fan.”
As soon as he called out, Xu Fan came running barefooted, carrying his new shoes. “Daddy!” he happily shouted.
Da Zhuang’s mother followed behind and opened the courtyard gate.
Xu Fan happily pounced on Xu Zhao’s leg and said, “Daddy, you’re back!
“I’m back.” Xu Zhao lifted Xu Fan into his arms and pulled out a fried dough twists from the cloth bag to give to Da Zhuang’s mother.
“What’s this?” Da Zhuang’s mother asked.
“Fried dough twists. I bought two. One for Xu Fan and one for Da Zhuang.”
“That won’t do. It’s too expensive. Have Sanwa eat it himself.”
“One will be enough for Xu Fan. Thank you for helping me look after Xu Fan for so long.”
“Please take it.”
Xu Zhao firmly pushed the fried dough twists into Da Zhuang’s mother’s hand. Afterwards, he carried Xu Fan in one arm and used the other to push the bicycle home. The path home was pitch-black, and all that could be heard was Xu Fan insistently calling, “Daddy.”
Xu Fan kept calling out like this till they arrived home.
When they got home, Xu Zhao lit the kerosene lamp, and the father and son sat in front of the big table.
Xu Zhao pulled out the glistening yellow fried dough twists and gave it to Xu Fan.
Xu Fan let out a “wow,”
“Eat,” Xu Zhao said.
Xu Fan lifted the fried dough twists to Xu Zhou’s mouth and said, “Daddy, you eat too.”
“You eat first.”
Xu Fan took a bite of the fried dough twists, then lifted the fried dough twists to Xu Zhao’s mouth again.
Xu Zhao took a breath, turning to Xu Fan, who was contently eating the fried dough twists, and asked, “It’s already so late. Why aren’t you asleep yet?”
Xu Fan smacked his lips as he ate the fried dough twists and said, “I was waiting for Daddy.”
Waiting for Daddy—
A two-year-old child could wait for so long. These long-lasting feelings were completely unlike him (XZ) and the original Xu Zhao. That was because the original Xu Zhao wasn’t someone to have such consistent feelings for so long. Xu Zhao didn’t continue to think about it and asked, “Xu Fan, were you mad at Daddy earlier?”
“Why would I be mad at Daddy?” Xu Fan blinked his large watery eyes and asked.
“Because Daddy hit you while we were on the street.”
“It didn’t hurt when Daddy hit me.”
Xu Zhao helplessly smiled, then asked, “If it had hurt, then would you be mad at Daddy?”
Xu Fan tilted his head and thought for a second before saying, “Because you’re my Daddy.”
Yes, because he was his Daddy. Because it was Daddy, even if he was yelled at or beaten by Daddy, as long as he felt Daddy’s love, then he wouldn’t be angry. He would always love his Daddy.
Xu Fan smiled and patted Xu Fan’s head as he said, “You have to listen in the future. If Daddy says you can’t run around, then you can’t run around. Got it?”
“Mn,” Xu Fan nodded.
“Otherwise Daddy will really hit you.”
Xu Fan nodded again.
Xu Zhao was finally relieved.
The next day, Xu Zhao went to the hospital a bit earlier to send food. Xu Fan obediently stayed home to play with Da Zhuang and didn’t try to follow him. Xu Zhao delivered food three days in a row when it finally became the day where they had to hand in their grain tax. Xu Zhao mentioned it to Cui Qingfeng ahead of time and had him make the popsicles by himself. He had to hand in his grain taxes first.
Early in the morning, each household of the South Bay Village borrowed large scales from each other, then weighed it in accordance with the grain tax amount. They loaded it in the sack and placed it on the ox cart, and pulled the carts one by one to the grain supply station in the county town. Xu Zhao was also among them.
Xu Zhao and his parents only had three mu of land, so they only had to hand in 130 catties of grains for the grain tax. Originally, he could have carried the grains to the grain supply station on his bicycle, but the 21st century had already gotten rid of grain taxes, so he wasn’t clear about the process of handing in the grain tax. Therefore, he placed his 130 catties of wheat onto Da Zhuang’s family ox cart and took turns with Da Zhuang’s father to pull the cart towards the county town. Beside the wheat, Xu Fan and Da Zhuang were also on the ox cart.
Xu Fan and Da Zhuang were around the same age and started playing together from when they were young. They visited each other in the village all year round with their grandmas. If they weren’t playing together, they were squatting in front of Blacksmith Li’s courtyard together to listen to the story told on the radio. Therefore, even though the two were young, they were able to speak very well. Of all the kids of the same age inside the village, Xu Fan and Da Zhuang were the two that stood out the most.
“Da Zhuang, have you ever been to the county town?” Xu Fan asked Da Zhuang.
“I went there when I was younger,” Da Zhuang said.
“I went there when I was younger, and I’m heading there now,” Xu Fan said.
“I’m also heading there now!” Da Zhuang said.
Xu Zhao and Da Zhuang’s father laughed when they heard this. They didn’t know what to do with the kids and listened to the two children chatter all the way there. As they talked, they even said some lines to a drama, causing the adults to not know if they should laugh or cry. 15 minutes later, they finally reached the county town’s grain supply station. When they arrived at the grain supply station, it gave Xu Zhao quite the fright.
The usually desolate grain supply station currently had a long line of ox carts waiting outside. Each ox cart was full of grains. They could only wait for the carts to enter the gain supply station one by one to have their grains weighed, and to turn their grains in for a grain tax form.
Xu Zhao and Da Zhuang’s father had no choice but to sit on their ox cart and wait.
At that moment, a black compact car suddenly pulled up from the road, instantly attracting everyone’s attention.
Xu Fan is so cuteeee
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