RERC Chapter 21 Meeting

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Sister Yun had a very good first impression of Xu Zhao, and after the momentary interactions with Xu Zhao these past few days, her impression of him didn’t decrease, but increased instead. She thought he was kind, educated, positively enthusiastic, humble, and polite. These were characteristics that most youths these days didn’t possess all at once. However, Xu Zhao was able to achieve it. Moreover, Xu Zhao was very handsome. People would feel happy just looking at him. He was also able to do business. He would bring new popsicles for Sister Yun to try from time to time. One could say that he treated Sister Yun very well.

Sister Yun’s thinking was that she was only recommending his popsicles to the section chief, that was all. She had recommended numerous other businesses to the section chief and the steel factory but none of them were as grateful as Xu Zhao.

Therefore, Sister Yun took a great liking to Xu Zhao and his son. And hearing that Xu Zhao’s father had a stroke and was hospitalized, that means they must be desperately lacking money. That was why Sister Yun didn’t wait for Xu Zhao to thicken his face to ask for the money, and took the initiative to say, “Did you want to get an advance?”

Xu Zhao was grateful that Sister Yun brought up this topic and furiously nodded.

“How much of an advance do you need?” Sister Yun asked.

“100 Yuan,” Xu Zhao replied.

“Just 100 Yuan? Isn’t that too little?” Sister Yun thought it was too little.

Xu Zhao thought about it then said, “Then how about a 150 Yuan advance?”

Sister Yun pondered for a second, then said, “How about I give you a 200 Yuan advance? 200 should be enough. In any case, the balance we owe you will all belong to you in the end. You can take as much of an advance as you like, as long as it’s still within the balance we owe.”

200 Yuan!

That would be amazing.

Xu Zhao was ecstatic and hurriedly said, “Thank you, Sister Yun. Then I’ll take the 200 Yuan advance.”

“Since you call me ‘sister,’ that means I can’t let you down,” Sister Yun said with a smile.

Afterwards, Sister Yun brought Xu Zhao to the steel factory’s finance department, and explained Xu Zhao’s situation to the accountant. The accountant had a very good understanding of poverty, and immediately reported the situation to the group leader. The group leader quickly agreed.

The accountant then happily helped Xu Zhao fill out the application for an advance payment of their contract. After Xu Zhao signed it, the accountant counted out twenty 10 Yuan bills, and handed it to Xu Zhao.

After Xu Zhao took the money, he first thanked the accountant and Sister Yun, afterwards, he returned to Cui Qingfeng’s home with the money and Xu Fan. He split the money and gave Cui Qingfeng 100 Yuan, then he very apologetically told him that he wouldn’t be able to return the owed 200 Yuan for now. It might be a little while before the money could be returned.

“It’s alright. It’s fine even if you don’t return it.” Although Cui Qingfeng said this with a laugh, he meant it from the bottom of his heart. It was alright even if Xu Zhao didn’t return the money. Not only was it because he liked Xu Zhao, it was also because the only reason he had this much money on hand this year was because Xu Zhao had given him some advice. Otherwise, if he (CQF) had continued purchasing popsicles from the popsicle factory and selling it in the villages, he wouldn’t even be able to earn 100 Yuan even if he sold all summer-long.

“That won’t do. I must return it,” Xu Zhao insisted.

“Well, alright. But you don’t have to rush. I’m not in urgent need of it. My youngest uncle prepared the money for my dad’s surgery a long time ago, and I usually don’t spend a lot of money. By the way, why did you suddenly ask for an advance from the popsicles? Do you not have enough for your dad’s medicine?”

“That’s not it. I want to construct a building,” Xu Zhao confessed to Cui Qingfeng.

“Construct a building?” Cui Qingfeng asked with shock.

“Yes,” Xu Zhao nodded.

“What kind of building are you going to build? And where?”

“I want to build a small tiled roof building on the intersection,” Xu Zhao replied.

“Are you talking about the intersection up front? Are you crazy?” Cui Qingfeng immediately shouted. “What’s the point of constructing a building at the intersection? The less money you have, the more reckless you become!”

“I’m not being reckless,” Xu Zhao said.

Cui Qingfeng angrily said, “This is being reckless! You barely have enough money to eat. Just look! You don’t even have new clothes, so why would you construct a building? You already have a house you can stay at!”

Speaking of which, Cui Qingfeng really felt sorry for Xu Zhao. He wanted to purchase new clothes for Xu Zhao numerous times, but Xu Zhao always refused. Moreover, he lent his 200 Yuan a few days ago, so now he doesn’t even have money to buy Xu Zhao new clothes. Xu Zhao didn’t consider his meals or clothes, yet he suddenly wanted to construct a building. This was just being reckless!

Too reckless!

“I’m not being reckless, I’m going to earn money,” Xu Zhao looked at Cui Qingfeng and said.

“If you want to earn money, then go earn money. What’s the point of constructing a building?”

“To make it easier to earn money.”

“…”

Cui Qingfeng didn’t understand. Not one bit. What did earning money have to do with constructing a building?

Xu Zhao could only patiently explain to Cui Qingfeng of his pain on making income during all four seasons of the year, unlike the popsicle business where it could only survive during the summer. Xu Zhao made many considerations before deciding on constructing a building; it wasn’t impulsive or reckless. He was really thinking about long-term profits.

Saying it like this, Cui Qingfeng began to waver. He remembered what his youngest uncle said: following Xu Zhao was correct. Therefore, he slowly calmed down, his tone becoming a lot more gentle as he said, “I’m worried you’ll be exhausted.”

Xu Zhao smiled a clean and bright smile that was extremely beautiful as he said, “I won’t be. Thank you for your concern.”

Cui Qingfeng was instantly mesmerized by Xu Zhao’s beauty that seemed to be filled with radiance. He blushed with shame and lowered his head.

Xu Fan didn’t notice anything abnormal about Cui Qingfeng. Seeing that Cui Qingfeng understood his words, he turned around and began work, taking the popsicles out from the molds—once they were packaged, they were stacked in the foam box, then tied to the back of the bicycle. Then, he turned to Xu Fan.

Xu Fan’s watery eyes stared at Xu Zhao as if he was saying “Daddy, I wanna go too.”

Xu Zhao thought that the weather was too hot and he was afraid the heat rash on Xu Fan that had just healed would flare up again. In his heart, he wanted to leave Xu Fan here, but Xu Fan was his son. His last name was Xu, not Cui. He had no good reason to have someone else watch over his child, so he could only say, “Get on.”

Xu Fan’s face immediately revealed a healing smile. The barely discernible dimples by the corners of his lips were very beautiful. Using his tiny legs, he padded to  Xu Zhao’s legs, and with very practiced moves, he reached his small arms to Xu Zhao.

Xu Zhao bent his waist, using an arm to scoop Xu Fan up, placing him on the front handlebars. Afterwards, his legs stepped on the peddle, and after saying a word to Cui Qingfeng, he rode to the grain supply station with Xu Fan.

The area near the grain supper station had a long line of ox carts yet again. However, these weren’t the same villagers as from yesterday.

Xu Zhao stepped down from the bicycle, looking left and right. Before he could even speak, Xu Fan, who was holding onto the handlebars shouted, “Selling popsicles! Does anyone want to buy popsicles? Three cents a piece! Selling popsicles!”

Xu Zhao: “…”

Sanwa was so energetic and enthusiastic.

Xu Fan was very enthusiastic as he asked the older man next to them, “Grandpa, would you like to buy our popsicles? It’s delicious.”

Xu Zhao: “…”

Sanwa could make conversation with anyone.

Under Xu Fan’s enthusiastic marketing, the grandpa took our three cents from his pocket to buy a popsicle, then sat under the tree to eat it. He looked very refreshed and satisfied, making the nearby villagers who saw jealous and eager to try it as well. Everyone was thinking that it was only three cents, which wasn’t much. Therefore, some people pulled money from their pockets to purchase one. There were numerous people who bought popsicles, and the others followed the crowd to buy one as well.

Not long later, Xu Zhao’s popsicles were mostly out. Xu Zhao carried the popsicles and guided Xu Fan to leave, when he saw Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng.

Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng were currently sitting on the butt of an ox cart. Since there wasn’t any tree shade in the current location, therefore the two directly sat under the sun, their brow beaded with sweat from the sun. Even so, the two had a face full of disdain and a proud look as they gazed at Xu Zhao, thinking that for the sake of a five Yuan monthly salary, he had to bring his child out to sell popsicles. It was embarrassing. Way too embarrassing. The two pretended not to know Xu Zhao as they tilted their heads to the side.

This was exactly in line with Xu Zhao’s intentions. Xu Zhao also didn’t pay attention to Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng.

Xu Fan pointed his finger at Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng, and when he was about to call out Eldest Uncle and Second Uncle, Xu Zhao covered Xu Fan’s mouth and said, “We don’t know. We shouldn’t pay attention to them either.

Xu Fan nodded, and whispered, “They’re bad people. They yelled and grandma and grandpa.”

“…That’s right.”

Xu Zhao pushed the bicycle and continued to circle around the grain supply station, selling the rest of his popsicles. Afterwards, he biked back to the Cui house to continue selling popsicles. However, since Xu Zhao needed to deliver lunch to Mother Xu and go back home to feed the chickens and ducks, Xu Zhao didn’t stay to eat at Cui Qingfeng’s home, instead, he took Xu Zhao back to South Bay Village. Mother Cui couldn’t force him to stay, so she gave Xu Zhao two bags of noodles, saying that her coworker’s family was opening a noodle factory and gave them to her to have a taste so he didn’t have to pay for it

They definitely had to pay but not much.

Xu Zhao wanted to refuse but he wasn’t able to. Therefore, he took the two bags of noodles and returned to South Bay Village. He cooked a handful of noodles, then grabbed a big bowl to take to Da Zhuang’s home, giving it to Da Zhuang’s family to eat.

This was a bowl full of wheat noodles. Da Zhuang’s mother and father were overwhelmed by favor and accepted, then used some small bowls to grab two bowls of noodles. They had Xu Fan and Da Zhuang squat before the small stool and use their hands to pinch the noodles to eat.

Xu Fan said, “Da Zhuang, these are my family’s noodles. My Daddy made them. Are they delicious?”

“It’s delicious,” Da Zhuang said.

Xu Zhao smiled when he heard this, then turned to speak to Da Zhuang’s father about constructing a building in the county town.

Da Zhuang’s father possessed the diligence, honesty, and simpleness of a villager. He and Xu Zhao had just talked about constructing a building yesterday and today, he had already gone to the nearby village to look for workers, asking for the price of bricks, and the like. He even helped Xu Zhao bargain the price, stating that 100 Yuan would be enough for the building. However, everyone was currently in the busy farming season and it wasn’t complete yet. Therefore it would take longer for the building to be constructed, probably about a week.

“A week is fine. I’m not in a rush,” Xu Zhao said. “Thank you, Brother Li.”

“Don’t be so polite. Aren’t you paying me a wage?” Da Zhuang’s father said with a smile.

“The wage isn’t a lot,” Xu Zhao said, embarrassed.

“It is, it is,” Da Zhuang’s father said. “I’ll prepare things today, then bring the shovels and strong men tomorrow to level the land.”

“Alright, thank you, Brother Li.” Xu Zhao hesitated for a moment before saying, “However, Brother Li, I’ll have to trouble you with something else.”

“What is it? Tell me,” Da Zhuang’s father said.

“It’s about the building I want to construct. Please don’t tell my two brothers. If they really want to know, tell them that it’s being built for my classmate. You definitely cannot tell them that I’m the one building it.” With Xu Zhao’s current situation of having to take care of his dad’s stroke, his mom’s worries, and his child out of wedlock, he was so busy everyday that he didn’t have time to land on his feet. He didn’t have any time to deal with Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng as well.

Of course, the entire South Bay Village knew that Xu Zhao and Xu Zuocheng, Xu Youcheng didn’t have a good relationship. And they knew that Xu Zhao had the same father as Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng but different mothers. And although Mother Xu treated Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng well, in the end, Xu Zhao was her blood related son.

Da Zhuang’s father also thought this way, therefore he thought that Xu Zhao had money to construct a building because Mother Xu had secretly saved it up. If Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng knew about this, a huge fight would  ensue, disturbing the peace. That was why Da Zhuang’s father didn’t investigate more on how Xu Zhao got that much money and directly said, “Don’t worry, I definitely won’t tell them. When the time comes, I’ll also let the others know that this is your classmate’s building.”

“Thank you, Brother Li,” Xu Zhao gratefully said.

“Xu Zhao, I think you must’ve gone silly from studying too much. You actually keep saying thank you in front of us now, treating us like outsiders,” Da Zhuang’s mother added on.

Da Zhuang’s father turned his head and said to Da Zhuang’s mother, “He didn’t turn silly. What do you know? He is a true intellect. This is civilized behavior.”

Civilized behavior! Using this phrase!

Da Zhuang’s mother immediately retorted to Da Zhuang’s father, “If I don’t understand, you think you understand? Don’t forget. You didn’t even finish the third grade.”

“You think you’re any better? Didn’t you only attend up to the fourth grade?”

“So what if I only attended the fourth grade? I know that 8 times 9 is 72. I wouldn’t have thought it was 70.”

“I made a mistake that time. I know it’s 72!”

“…”

Xu Zhao listened to Da Zhuang’s father and Da Zhuang’s mother bicker and couldn’t restrain his smile. Once the two stopped, Xu Zhao took Xu Fan and left Da Zhuang’s home and returned to their own home. He soaked the lump of noodles in hot water, eating in front of the kitchen. He opened his mouth to say to Xu Fan, “Xu Fan, go feed the chickens and ducks.”

Xu Fan immediately took action, skillfully closing the yard door, huffing and puffing to open the chicken covers, letting the chickens and ducks out. He quickly ran to the kitchen to grab two small handfuls of wheat, scattering it in front of the chickens and ducks, then running to the kitchen again to grab more. After running back and forth numerous times, he had the chickens and ducks eat there by themselves. Afterwards, he held his rumbling tiny belly and stood in front of Xu Zhao, watching Xu Zhao eat the noodles, he couldn’t help munching his small mouth twice.

Xu Zhao: “…”

“Daddy,” Xu Fan called.

“What is it?” Xu Zhao asked.

“Flour noodles are so good,” Xu Fan said.

“Mn.” Xu Zhao held the bowl, his head lowered as he ate the noodles.

“I already ate them with Da Zhuang,” Xu Fan said.

“Mn, I know,” Xu Zhao replied.

“But Da Zhuang said, said… He said he wants to eat more,” Xu Fan said.

He sold out Da Zhuang again! Da Zhuang sold out Xu Fan 100 times a day, and Xu Fan sold out Da Zhuang 101 times a day, and yet they were still the closest friends in the village. It was really inexplicable.

Xu Zhao looked at Xu Fan and asked, “Isn’t it you who wants to eat more?”

Xu Fan wanted to refute it, but he felt that he really did want to eat more, then said, “Mm, I want to eat.”

“Come in front of me,” Xu Zhao said.

Xu Fan took another two steps closer to Xu Zhao.

Xu Zhao used his chopsticks to point at Xu Fan’s tiny rumbling belly and said, “Look at how big your belly is already.”

However, Xu Zhao continued to eat a bite himself, then fed Xu Fan a bite. Xu Fan’s face was full of satisfaction as he ate.

After eating, the father and son tied up the small courtyard together, locking up all the doors, then visited the hospital to accompany Father Xu and Mother Xu before going to Cui Qingfeng’s home again. They took the popsicles to sell at the intersection so that Cui Qingfeng could sell them.

Xu Zhao borrowed a shovel to start filling in the small potholes on the intersection so that it would be easier for Da Zhuang’s father and the others to level the land.

While he was filling the holes, he suddenly heard someone call, “Xu Zhao.”

Hearing this, Xu Zhao raised his head, and seeing the person, he was immediately startled.


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I read in a lot of Chinese novels that buildings take like a week or so to construct… Is that true?? The buildings I’ve seen usually take like months! I am in awe.

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