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Xu Zuocheng was so angry that he started to shake. Even the hand holding the bowl trembled. He fiercely stared at Xu Zhao like he had saved up tremendous power to wreck Xu Zhao and Xu Fan.
The neighbors couldn’t take their eyes off of Xu Zuocheng.
Xu Fan was scared and hid behind Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao fearlessly faced Xu Zuocheng’s gaze head-on.
Xu Zuocheng suddenly took the bowl and rushed towards the kitchen, and with a “thud,” he placed the large bowl on top of the chopping board. The chopsticks also landed with a “slap.” When Xu Zuocheng left the kitchen, his face was full of anger as he said to Xu Zhao with a stern voice, “Don’t expect me to help you cut your wheat in the east fields!”
The wheat in the east fields were allocated to Xu Zhao. That means they belonged to him.
Xu Zhao answered, “I never asked you to help.”
Xu Zuocheng raised his voice yet again, “Just cut them yourself if you can!”
“I’ll just cut it myself.”
“Fine, fine! Amazing! Xu Zhao, you’re amazing!”
Xu Zuocheng was almost angered to death by Xu Zhao. He didn’t think that a day would come where Xu Zhao would defy him and cause him to lose so much face in front of all these people. The problem was that he still hadn’t found the excuse to refute Xu Zhao. Not a single member of the Xu family stepped up to speak on his behalf. He…He angrily pointed at the Xu family and said, “No one is allowed to help him cut wheat.” Afterwards, he angrily stepped into the east side room of the tiled house.
A strange silence suddenly fell upon the Xu family’s yard.
The rest of the Xu family gave Xu Zhao a fierce look but since Xu Zuocheng was being unreasonable, the few people carried their bowls and exited the main hall, crestfallen.
Seeing that the fun was over, the neighbors left one by one. There was a bit of doubt in their hearts. It seemed that Xu Zhao was a bit different after jumping in the river.
Moments later, Xu Zhao and Xu Fan were the only ones left in the Xu family’s yard.
“Daddy,” Xu Fan cried.
Xu Zhao lowered his head to look at Xu Fan.
Xu Fan hugged Xu Zhao’s thigh and lifted his head to look at Xu Zhao to say, “Daddy, I’ll help you cut wheat.”
Xu Zhao smiled. “Alright.”
“I’ll help you cut tons of wheat.”
He really was a sensible child.
Xu Zhao patted Xu Fan’s head again and said, “Alright, let’s go ahead.”
“You can eat your fill today.”
“Daddy, you also need to eat till you’re full.”
Xu Zhao pulled Xu Fan into the kitchen. The kitchen was constructed of mud and had a straw roof, therefore, dust and soot frequently fell into the bowls from the roof pillars. That’s why during every mealtime, they had to wash the bowls by the well before eating. In order for Xu Zuocheng to steal the second bowl of noodles without being discovered, he specially went to the well to wash the bowls before going to refill his second bowl of noodles. Since he wanted to pretend that it was his first bowl of noodles, that’s why the large bowl sitting on top of the chopping board was already clean and didn’t have a trace of Xu Zuocheng’s saliva.
Xu Zhao scooped up the remaining three noodles and the thin green vegetables from the pot into the bowl, and brought Xu Fan to the thatched hut. When he was about to eat, he passed by the window of the thatched hut and heard the voices of the neighbors chatting. It seemed that they were talking about the Xu family.
“Didn’t the Xu family split the family1In the villages back then, families usually stayed and lived together until all the kids got married and were stable. This is because they couldn’t eat unless they worked today. After that, they would split the family and distribute the wealth between the kids, then the kids will have to pay a monthly stipend to the parents as living expenses. a long time ago?”
“Yep, but they still eat together. Each family has to provide ingredients and the old lady of the Xu family will cook it.”
“Why do they eat together? Won’t it save them a lot of trouble if they ate separately?”
“Probably to bully Xu Zhao. There won’t be enough to eat if they ate separately.”
“How do they bully Xu Zhao?”
“You’re so naive! For the land reform a couple years ago, didn’t they split it based on the number of people? Back then, the three Xu brothers each got one and four tenths mu of field based on the policies of the production team. At that time, Xu Zuocheng’s son, Xu Dawa2A lot of people in the villages have two names: a child name and a formal name. Dawa means ‘eldest child’ and parents will usually give their children ‘child names’ of numerical order (eldest son, second son, ect.) Their formal name will be used once they grow up., hadn’t been born yet. After Xu Dawa was born, do you think Xu Zuocheng’s one and four tenths mu of fields is enough to feed a family of three? It isn’t. He definitely found a way to take advantage of Xu Zhao. He kept doing it and bullied Xu Zhao until he turned into a bookish fool. Xu Zhao originally had one and four tenths, but it was slowly picked off until he was only left with the four tenths mu of the east fields. If then isn’t bullying, then what is it?”
“Xu Zhao didn’t fight back?”
“Rebel? Xu Zhao said himself that he didn’t eat a lot and was willing to have his one mu of field confiscated, leaving him with only four tenths mu. In any case, everyone ate together anyway.”
“Tsk, tsk. How foolish. And now he has provoked Xu Zuocheng. If they don’t eat together in the future, then there’s an eighty percent chance that Xu Zhao and his son might starve.”
“Exactly! I’ve seen Xu Dawa eat eggs many times before while Xu Fan anxiously looked at him. They never get a portion of the chickens, ducks, and pigs in their household. In fact, even one mu isn’t enough to feed Xu Zhao and his son. Look how skinny Xu Fan is. He doesn’t look like a two-year-old child at all.”
“Hahh, Xu Zhao will have hard days in the coming future.”
Xu Zhao will have hard days in the coming future—
Xu Zhao didn’t feel that he would have hard days in the future. He felt that his days were already hard. He didn’t have food to eat, water to drink, or even any money. Who knows if he might starve to death in the future? Moreover, the Xu family was always oppressing him and he had already suffered enough. But what could he do? What could he do?
After Xu Zhao and Xu Fan ate lunch, they grabbed the sickle and sat under the shade of the tree in the east fields, and thought about this problem. Not to mention four tenths mu, even if they had one mu, how could they have enough to eat after paying the grain tax? Wouldn’t they just starve to death? He couldn’t have been reborn just to die from hunger! He needed to find a way forward.
“Daddy,” Xu Fan said in front of Xu Zhao and called out.
“Mn,” Xu Zhao replied.
“Are we going to cut wheat?”
“I don’t know how to,” Xu Fan said.
“You don’t need to do it. You stay here and watch Daddy cut them.”
“Mn. When grandma and grandpa come back, I’ll ask them to help you.”
“Alright. Sit here and don’t run around.”
Xu Fan obediently sat under the shade of the tree, and used his tiny hands to pick up the scattered wheat grains on the ground. After picking them up, he stuffed them in his pockets.
It was only then that Xu Zhao realized that Xu Fan’s shoe had a hole and his big toe was poking out of it. He also saw that the crotch of his pants had been patched up so many times that the fabric was rubbed off, and Xu Fan’s little pee pee was even peeking out.
They were really poor.
Xu Zhao spit out a breath of anger. Cut the wheat first. Focus on cutting the wheat first, and then he could focus on everything else. Thereupon, he put on the straw hat, picked up the sickle, and walked into the glorious field of yellow wheat to start cutting it. In his past life, he grew up in an orphanage, so he was able to endure any hardships and was able to do any work. That’s why, something like cutting wheat didn’t pose a problem to him. While he was cutting, he heard hawkers shout from the road.
“It’s a sweet and frozen treat that will quench your thirst!”
“It’s a sweet and frozen treat that will quench your thirst! Four to five cents for each stick. It’ll quench your thirst and it’s cheap!”
Xu Zhao stood up when he heard this.
Xu Fan also excitedly said, “Daddy, they’re selling popsicles,”
Xu Zhao hummed in reply, but didn’t speak. Since he didn’t have any money, he wasn’t able to buy Xu Fan a popsicle on this hot day. However, he still turned his gaze to the pathway. There was a man riding a bicycle on the pathway selling popsicles. Numerous people shouted to the man to buy four or five popsicles. After collecting the money, the man pushed the bike to continue hawking. His eyes looked back and forth between the crowds, and they suddenly landed on Xu Zhao’s body.
“Xu Zhao,” the man yelled.
Xu Zhao, who wasn’t standing far from him, recognized the man as a junior high school classmate. His name was Cui Qingfeng and he used to live in North Bay Village. Later, he received help from his youngest uncle, and his whole family moved to the county town, and they were now living a good life. At this moment, Cui Qingfeng was wearing neat and tidy pale blue clothes, and he had a white towel around his neck. He was a very down-to-earth guy. When he saw Xu Zhao look over with an expression of surprise, his two eyes gleamed.
“Xu Zhao! It really is you!” Xu Zhao happily said.
Xu Zhao was very handsome. In the distance, he looked very delicate and pretty. Taking a closer look, he thought that Xu Zhao was especially pretty. Taking a long look, he was able to see that Xu Zhao was a stunning beauty. He was the kind of man that filled others with longing when they saw him. During junior high, there were numerous men and women who liked Xu Zhao. Cui Qingfeng also had secret feelings for Xu Zhao, but he was fat back then. He thought that Xu Zhao was too pretty and smart. He was like an unattainable dream.
He never dared get close to him and kept his love in his heart. In a blink of an eye, four to five years had already passed. He never thought he’d be able to see Xu Zhao again. Although Xu Zhao wore shabby clothes, he was even prettier than ever before, causing joy to fill Cui Qingfeng’s heart.
“Are you Cui Qingfeng?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Yep, it’s me. You remember me?” Cui Qingfeng shyly rubbed the back of his head and he was unable to stop the happiness from filling his heart. Xu Zhao actually still remembered him. It was something that made him extremely happy.
“I remember you, old classmate. Why are you selling popsicles?” Xu Zhao said.
“I was bored, so I thought I’d make some extra spending money.”
“You’re not attending school?”
Cui Qingfeng scratched his head again and said, “I’m not smart like my youngest uncle who devours books like they’re food. Studying? I’m bad at studying. I stopped a long time ago.”
“Oh,” Xu Zhao calmly replied.
“What about you?” Cui Qingfeng asked.
“I’m not attending anymore either,” Xu Zhao said.
“Daddy,” Xu Fan’s voice called out to Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao waved his hand to beckon Xu Fan over.
Cui Qingfeng cautiously examined Xu Fan’s appearance, then turned to Xu Fan and asked in surprise, “Daddy? He’s your son?”
Xu Zhao nodded. “Mn.”
“Then your son—”
Xu Zhao didn’t want to talk about this in front of Xu Fan. In this era of this world, although they accepted relationships between men and men or men and women, they didn’t accept having children “out of wedlock.” Feeling ashamed, especially since Xu Zhao didn’t know who Xu Fan’s other father was, he quickly said “he’s mine,” then changed the topic. “Your popsicle business isn’t bad.”
Cui Qingfeng went along with Xu Zhao and said, “It’s alright. I do it all by myself so it’s a bit tiring. By the way, what do you do at home?”
“Cut wheat or feed the pigs.”
“That’s true. Someone needs to watch the child. You probably don’t have time to do anything else.”
“Mn. Do you sell popsicles everyday?”
“Yep. However, since it’s just me, I can only go on this route.”
“How did you think of selling popsicles?”
“My youngest uncle was the one who suggested the idea of selling popsicles. He said that I didn’t know how to do anything else, so I might as well do this to gain some experience.”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Your youngest uncle is amazing.”
At this time, someone else came up to buy popsicles. Cui Qingfeng didn’t have time to say anything to Xu Zhao before starting the sale of the popsicle and collecting the money. Xu Zhao continued to cut the wheat. After cutting for a while, he saw that Cui Qingfeng was still busy, and a bold idea suddenly popped in his head. He then intently stared at Cui Qingfeng.
Poor Cui Qingfeng trying to flirt and Xu Zhao totally ignoring it lol.