Chapter 4: Arc 1: Rural Love 4 – Not Equal to a Woman
Every family in the village had a large group of chickens, ducks, geese, and a pig. They would be slaughtered after New Year to ensure a good year ahead. If the pig went missing, then the year would not be good.
So the position of pigs was very high in every household. Everyone put in efforts to feed it so as to fatten it.
Huang Dan was afraid of pigs, but he liked to eat pig kidneys. On the way back, his eyes kept peeking at the waist of the pig.
The pig in front of him twisted its butt, completely unaware that it was being thought of in someone’s mind.
Chen Jin Hua was negligent to let the pig escape while she was feeding it. She limped, grabbed a stick and went out. Having not seen the pig, she then went to look for the village head to have him to do a broadcast and call her son back to look for it.
When she saw her son arching his arms as he carried the pig, Chen Jin Hua’s heart that was suspended, returned to its original place as she gasped for breath and sat down on the threshold. She patted her thigh and shouted, “Run and run, run more and we will slaughter you tomorrow!”
The pig continued to twist its fat body around.
Li Gen’s house was on the edge of the old locust tree in the eastern side of the village. It was a different route from Huang Dan’s house. He walked lazily in the sun with his hands in his pocket.
Huang Dan stood at the door; he had been in this world for several days. There were many people who liked to hang their keys in the village. The men hung the keys around their waists and the women around their necks.
None of them gave him the same feeling Li Gen gave him.
Li Gen was tall, his body was strong, when not covered by clothes, his muscles lines were very beautiful, as if they were carved. His back was always straight, his waist was narrow and his buttocks were perky. The bunch of keys that was hanging on him, helped to give off his unique scent as he walked.
No one else could achieve this.
Every time Huang Dan saw Li Gen, he unconsciously looked at his buttocks first and felt that the keys had a lot of good fortune in terms of love affair.
Chen Jin Hua let Huang Dan drove the pig into the pigsty. Huang Dan’s line of vision left Li Gen’s buttocks and transferred to the butt of the pig. Comparing them, Li Gen’s buttocks were still nicer to look at. He silently smacked his face and grasped the stick that was lying against the wall and waved, “Go in.”
The pig arched at the doorside, ignoring him.
Huang Dan said, “If you don’t go in, I’ll hit you.”
With that, he raised the stick and posed like he wanted to fight, seeing that the pig was ignoring him.
Huang Dan used all his strength to send this big brother pig to the pen. He grabbed his gown and wiped the sweat on his face; it felt like he was in a steaming sauna. Summer, please quickly go away, this is too hard.
Lunch was originally a plate of leek, the pickled radish that never seemed to finish, and there was an additional braised carp today.
Huang Dan ate and pondered whether he should go to Li Gen’s house everyday. He Wei’s mouth was foul, but he was good at fishing.
In the memory of the original owner, there were similar fragments. He Wei was slightly famous in the river field, because he liked fishing, and when he finished fishing in one pond, he would move on to another pond to fish. He not only ate it himself, but also generously gave it to his neighbors. He enjoyed a good popularity.
It didn’t necessarily have to be fish, anything else was fine too. Bacon sausage, salted fish, melons, fruits and vegetables were all good.
Wu Cui Ling refused to accept it. He Wei threw it away and Huang Dan picked it up. It was reasonable and there was nothing wrong with it.
Huang Dan liked to eat the meat on the belly of the fish, with less spines and more tender meat, but the original owner did not like it. He preferred the back of the fish with the most spines since he was young, and did not touched anywhere else.
The miraculous thing was that the original owner often choked on the fish bones, but he still loved the back of the fish very deeply and he ate it unwaveringly.
Huang Dan couldn’t afford to make his mother suspicious. He went to pick the meat on the back of the fish and ate it. He used his tongue to search at the fish meat in his mouth. He was already very careful, but he didn’t think that there was still a fish that escaped the net.
“How many times has Mom told you, don’t think about stuff when you are eating fish, don’t eat fish when you are thinking about stuff, you just don’t listen.”
While babbling on, Chen Jin Hua placed a big rice ball in her son’s bowl, “Swallow it.”
Huang Dan glanced at the rice ball. “I’d better go and drink vinegar instead.”
“Why are you drinking vinegar? Rice balls work.” Chen Jin Hua used the chopsticks to stir the leek and gave Huang Dan a big serving. “Fishes have small thorns on their backs. Eat the rice ball first, then eat this, it will be almost all right.”
Without swallowing the rice ball, Huang Dan got up and went to the kitchen to find a vinegar bottle to drink vinegar. Still not being able to get it out, he went outside and pressed on his tongue to induce vomiting. The fish’s spine was brought out along with the food residue that rushed out. He sighed and went back to take the jar to gargle.
Chen Jin Hua asked her son, knowing that the fish’s spine had already been removed. “Dong Tian, where did the fishes come from?”
Huang Dan’s mind turned, there were about two or three turns. And he told the truth.
Chen Jin Hua listened without any surprise on her face. “He Wei used to be your Da Gui Ge’s tail. They went everywhere together. Your Da Gui Ge is no longer here. Helping others would be because he must feel nostalgic.”
“Your Cui Ling Jie doesn’t appreciate He Wei’s sentiment because she’s afraid that people will say things in a bad way, which will spoil her reputation.”
Chen Jin Hua poured the fish soup on the rice and mixed it. “There are a lot of gossips in front of the widow’s door.”
Perhaps she remembered something from the past, she sighed.
Huang Dan unintentionally said, “Mom, I think He Wei likes Sister Cui Ling.”
Chen Jin Hua turned over the fish as she looked for fish vesicle in the stomach. With an unsurprising tone, “Your Cui Ling sister went to the university, can read and can also write poems. She is also an honest person, it will be abnormal if nobody likes her.”
“If you find your mother a daughter-in-law that’s half like her, Mom will be able to die in content.”
Huang Dan looked at the middle-aged woman, her face had no traces of skin care products. Her face was covered with the vicissitudes of wind and sunshine, all spread out and smeared on every wrinkle in the corners of her eyes.
In the memory of the former owner, his father had died early, his mother brought him up, but he was not close to her as he could not stand her nagging.
One issue was repeated over and over again, from this year to next year, the following year, it was endless.
Huang Dan could not understand whether nagging was a common disease of many mothers, or was it just Chen Jin Hua’s personal habits.
He had no mother, no father, he only had a housekeeper.
Pulling back from his thoughts, Huang Dan said, “It’s hard to find someone like Sister Cui Ling.”
“Yes, your Auntie Wang’s luck is good, others could only express their envy at the side.”
Chen Jin Hua put her chopsticks on the table and suddenly straightened her face and said, “Dong Tian, before you get married, you have to change your character.”
“Look at Ying Xiong. He’s not much younger than you. Every day he’s like a fanatic, laughing and joking. You stay with him more and ask him to call you when he goes out to play.”
Huang Dan closed his lips and showed his disgust. “What’s so fun about the village? I might as well stay at home.”
“What can you do at home? You can’t hatch chicks.”
Chen Jin Hua began to nag.
It wasn’t long before Huang Dan did what the original owner would do at this time, smashing the bowl and entering the room, as the door was closed hard.
He stood by the door, listening to the movement of the hall, and there was no sound of anger.
Her son had always acted like this as soon as he was not happy. As a mother, it was a habit for her, she was too indulgent.
Huang Dan sat down at the bedside. His housekeeper was quiet and seldom laughed. He specially looked for information about introverted personality.
Most introverts felt inferior, were self-conscious and disdained the opinions of others.
This group would erect a defensive wall to protect themselves, but when it came to areas where they were good at, or people who they trusted, they would relax their guard and talk endlessly.
They refused collective activities, always in the fear that the crowd would reject them, or there would be conflicts, but when left alone with someone , it would be different, they would speak a lot of words.
Introvert and extrovert was not literally so different, the boundary was very blur.
Because extroverts tend to be lonely in their hearts, they are just afraid of being isolated, thus pretending to be lively.
Huang Dan scratched the mosquito bump on his arm and rubbed it with saliva. Like Wu Cui Ling, Li Gen had graduated from college, and his knowledge was not the same as that of other people in the village.
Moreover, the original owner had been working outside, and only stayed for a few days after the Spring Festival before leaving again. Li Gen went to a university in another place. After graduation, he stayed in a big city to work, and had only returned to the village two years ago.
There was no interaction between them. Li Gen was not familiar with the original owner. At most, he listened to other people.
If he was suspicious, Huang Dan also had a set of words to deal with his suspicion.
At present, the most important thing was to find out the murderer of Li Da Gui.
After a while, Chen Jin Hua’s shout came in from the window, and Huang Dan went to the rice bed with her as if nothing had happened.
Huang Dan went out with a straw hat.
The sun was so bright that it was impossible to catch a glimpse of it.
His face was hidden in the shadow of a straw hat. He shooed away some chickens and turned the rice on the ground with a fork.
These tasks were done by the original owner, there were still half of the fields left and he died.
Chen Jin Hua turned to the other side. Her movements were sharp. When she was young, she must’ve been a girl who was liked by her elders and was diligent and able to do things.
It was hot, windless, the yellow ground was burning, if one urinated here, it could be quickly dried.
He wiped the sweat from the hollow part of his eyes and rested under the big tree.
Every family had a rice bed, right in front of the house.
When Huang Dan and Chen Jin Hua had come out to turn rice, the next door family busily chewed on a root placed in their tongue and gossiped that Huang Dan was not filial.
Huang Dan did not pay attention to them, because the original owner’s reaction was to turn a blind eye to it.
He unhurriedly went to a corner of the rice bed to flip the rice and said, “Mom, go back, it’s too hot.”
Chen Jin Hua pointed at the two stakes around the rice bed and said that they were unstable and swaying fiercely. She asked Huang Dan to find a brick and pat it at the soil.
Huang Dan, “…”
Can we just not bask under the sun and pat the soil?
He frowned and went to look for bricks.
The wooden stakes had the tendency to fall easily when it was shaky. When the stakes fell, the net on it would be useless. Then the chickens would come in and eat the unhulled rice.
In the end, Huang Dan would be nagged to death by his mother.
After returning to the house, Huang Dan took off his patched jacket and put it at the end of the bed. He would wear it in the afternoon after he dried it.
He’d have to wear dirty and old clothes when farming. He could not wear the good ones, but the original owner had no good clothes.
At about one o’clock in the afternoon, Huang Dan set out as the sun was shining brightly. He sat in the shade near the ridge, holding grass in his mouth. It was crisp and slightly sweet.
The air in the countryside was better, and the native grass was more fragrant than the residential area.
Huang Dan was leaning against the tree. He did not know if Li Gen would come.
He was just looking around and the said person appeared.
Li Gen did not wear a straw hat. He was wearing his old clothes which he wore in the morning. He also had the bamboo mat marks that were pressed out on his tough face when he took his afternoon nap.
Huang Dan envied him, he could not take a nap. As soon as he laid down in bed, he was so hot that his back started sweating.
No air conditioning, no electric fan, only a cattail leaf fan, it seemed that he got to understand the essence of the sentence “a calm mind naturally cools” in this world.
Li Gen kicked Huang Dan. “Go, why are you not cutting the rice and just lazing on the floor?”
Huang Dan sat up and patted the soil on his ass. “Ge, I’ll definitely help you next time.”
Li Gen didn’t take it seriously.
The farmland was divided according to the population. The unfinished farmland was the largest, with two acres.
Huang Dan worked really hard to settle the previous 80 % of the field. It was really impossible to depend only on himself for the entire field.
He looked at the man. The sickle was sharper than his.
Li Gen also looked at it. “Didn’t grind?”
Huang Dan said, “I forgot.”
Li Gen, “…”
Someone passed by the ridge and saw Li Gen in Huang Dan’s field. He felt like he saw something new.
Huang Dan vaguely heard “Chen Jin Hua’s things were not sent in vain”.
Those people thought that Li Gen was willing to help him because Chen Jin Hua had a good relationship with his mother and sent a lot of things to his home.
As the saying goes, When you eat food from others, you will speak good words to them.
Li Gen had no choice.
Huang Dan also did not entangle himself in this, he was satisfied as long as he had a labour force on the line.
In the moment of distraction, the sickle cut a hole in his forefinger and blood gushed out on the spot.
Li Gen, who was already cutting in front of him, heard the noise and turned his head to see the young man squatting in the field, his sickle falling at his feet.
Li Gen was about to make a joke but he found that the young man was crying, and his face turned astonished.
“With such a big hole, even Xin Xin won’t cry. Why are you crying with tears all over your face?”
Xin Xin was a five years old toddler.
Li Gen’s mouth twitched and he sneered, “Okay, stop pretending, just go to the ridge and sit down. Those who didn’t know might think that I had hit you.”
Huang Dan was really not pretending. During his third grade of primary school, the whole class was running in the field. The boy next to him fell down and even pulled him along.
Both of their knees were scrapped . The boy ran on like nothing had happened. Huang Dan sat on the ground, don’t even mention about running, he could not even stand up.
From that time onwards, Huang Dan made experiments secretly as well as on public occasions. The result was that his pain nerve was different from that of ordinary people. He could not estimate how much the difference was though.
He breathed in deeply. Huang Dan felt very painful. He didn’t understand that this body was not his own. Why was the pain tolerance level not normal?
“Mr. System, why is this?”
The system said, “Sorry, this humble one has no authority to answer you.”
Huang Dan fell down and his buttock was pressed on the rice stub. His forehead was sweating in cold sweats and his face was blue with no presence of blood.
Li Gen frowned, he was someone that often got cut; as someone who did not feel anything when he bled, this was just a scrape on the finger, was it that painful?
Huang Dan cried more fiercely, and his throat gave out a voice filled with repressed pain.
Li Gen was shocked. He took his cigarette out of his pocket, put it in his mouth, and went to light the matches.
With a click, the match sliced open and burst into flames. Li Gen bowed his head and lit his cigarette. He threw the match away and it bounced into the field.
He pondered in the rising smoke; he had not heard that the youth had this problem.
Had someone beaten him until he grew a problem at the construction site?
Li Gen squatted down and clicked his tongue twice with disdain. “You’re not even equal to a woman.”
With that, Li Gen put up one arm of the young man around his shoulders and half-hugged him as he carried him from the field to the shady area on the ridge.
Huang Dan closed his eyes and frowned tightly. His face was covered with sweat and tears.
All those who could see could tell that he was in pain, yet he did not cry out.
After a few drags of smoke, Li Gen threw the towel around Huang Dan’s neck to the pond.
A rough touch covered his face, Huang Dan breathed the sweat on the towel, the water vapor, and the tobacco smell.
His ears were buzzing and he also didn’t pay attention to what the man was saying. But it shouldn’t not be any good words.
He didn’t know how long it took for the pain to weaken, Huang Dan was feeling better, but his face was still pale.
He sucked the blood from his finger wound. In between, he felt so painful again that he even convulsed.
Li Gen looked like he was seeing a neurotic.
A moment later, Huang Dan turned his head back and looked at the man who was leaning on the tree smoking.
Li Gen, with a sulky face, squinted, “Look now, Lao Zi was scared by you two times, and if there’s a third time, you’re resigned to fate!”
Huang Dan’s eyes flashed. The original owner did not have this problem. He had to destroy the atmosphere and remove the focus of the topic from himself before Li Gen thought too deeply about it.
“Ge, smoking is harmful to the health, it will leave a bad taste in the mouth, and also bad for the teeth. As time goes on, the teeth will become black.”
Li Gen’s face turned red and then green, and he gave a cold smile, “I now know why you don’t even have a single friend.”
Huang Dan drooped his eyelids.
Li Gen thought that he was hurt, but he heard the young man say, “I don’t need friends.”
It was quiet under the tree.
When Huang Dan took a glimpse at the rice in the field, his nerves tensed immediately. He called Li Gen to help him. He could not waste his time in vain.
Seeing the young man walked into the field, Li Gen’s forehead twitched. He was dying from the pain just now, but now he was all right again.
Now that there was a big workforce, Huang Dan was much more relaxed. He could not help sighing at the rows of rice at the men’s feet. Some people were born to be capable.
When the sunset was in the west mountain and the sun rays sprinkled on the horizon, the field was only left with a corner.
Huang Dan cut off the last handful of unhulled rice and said to the man sitting on the spike of rice, “Ge, do you want to eat at my house?”
It was like this in the village. Anyone who helped anyone had to treat a meal at least, but he knew that Li Gen would not go.
Li Gen wanted to go home and stew eggs for his mother. Even if Wu Cui Ling stewed out a flower, she would not eat it. She only wanted what her eldest son stewed.
Sure enough, Huang Dan heard Li Gen’s refusal.
He did not bother showing courtesy . He just said, “Ge, thank you for today.”
Li Gen stared at the youth and left without saying anything.
Huang Dan went back and told Chen Jin Hua about Li Gen’s help. Everyone in the village saw it. He had to say this.
Chen Jin Hua went into the house and brought out a pack of cigarettes in her hand when she came out and prepared to go to Li Gen’s house.
Although they belonged to the same village, the human favor was clearly remembered, what should be returned must be returned.
The rice crops lay in the field and slept all night. The next day, it was sunbathed, and then it would be picked up on the rice bed.
This time, Huang Dan was alone. He put a towel on his shoulder and carried two bamboo baskets on his shoulder. He ran from time to time without resting.
Because he would not be able to get up if he took a rest.
In the last few trips, Huang Dan’s legs were shaky and he almost broke his teeth from all the gnashing.
He threw the pile on the rice bed and laid down together. Damn it, this task was finally done.
At night, after Huang Dan fell asleep, a small bag with 11 written on it floated in his mind and his consciousness instantly awoke.
At the next moment, the voice of the system sounded, “Congratulations, Mr. Huang, on getting 11 points. As your last credit was 50, offset 11 and you still need 39.”
Huang Dan said, “Oh, okay.”
“Mr. System, is there any way to correct my pain nerve?”
System, “Sorry, this humbled one has no authority to answer you.”
Huang Dan thought that the system might be just a new person or an assistant.
“What about the fireworks from last time? Give it to me.”
Not long after, Huang Dan’s mind popped, a large group of colorful fireworks exploded, condensing into three words: You can do it.
It was better if Huang Dan waited for the points to drop. This was more practical.
The village was divided into batches of rice, and the head of the village contacted the person in charge of the rice machine. The money was collected door to door.
When Huang Dan came here, he really realized what was meant by ‘At noon hoeing up the crops in the sweltering sun. Sweat dripping onto the soil beneath the crops.’
He looked at the golden rice grains in the rice bed, and his mood was close to a painter finishing his artwork.
Chen Jinhua pushed up the hualm, not letting Huang Dan handle it.
In his spare time, Huang Dan went to the riverfront next to a mountain forest. He had been there twice, but he did not see He Wei, nor did the other party appear in the village.
Last time Huang Dan overheard He Wei’s cursing, it didn’t look like he would give up.
He wandered around at night, listening to gossip, bumping into many things that would happen after dark.
For example, the daughter-in-law of this family had an affair with the man of that family, and the daughter-in-law of that family was exchanging glances with the man of another family.
For example, Wu Cui Ling would go alone to the ridge or the pond. She would not do anything else. She would stand in the moonlight and read poems. She was full of emotion, very devoted in her reading, she would even sob because of the description in the poems.
Huang Dan also noticed that Li Gen would come out and smoke a cigarette beside the ditch at about □□, with an unusual silence in the shadow of his back.
Night was more fun than the day.
During the day, it only felt hot and tired. Huang Dan had to help Chen Jin Hua to sun the unhurlled rice, water the fields, and there was still the late rice. He had to transplant rice seedlings, pick out seedling targets, and there were still leeches in the fields.
This was the memory of the original owner. Huang Dan sincerely did not want that day to come.
One night, when Huang Dan came back from the river farm and passed through the hills and woods, he saw a man on the ground, he was He Wei who drank too much.
Huang Dan went over, “He Wei?”
He Wei lay unconscious, he was surrounded with an alcohol smell that choked the nose, as if he was soaked in a wine vat.
Huang Dan’s eyes narrowed. Suddenly he said, “Looking at Brother Da Gui’s face, I’ll send you back.”
As soon as the name came out, He Wei muttered, “Good that you’re dead..”
Huang Dan asked, “What did you say?”
He Wei shouted loudly, “Good that Li Da Gui died!”
In the moonlight, Huang Dan observed the distorted face of He Wei, there was a murderous intent. These were not words said when drunk.
Did he do it? Or did he knew something?
Huang Dan put on an angry expression and tone. “Why do you say that of Brother Da Gui? Isn’t he your good brother?”
“What fucking brother!”
He Wei laughed, “Li Da Gui, you are a fool, serves you right that you died, Lao Zi has long thought…”
At this time, Huang Dan’s eyes twitched violently, there was someone behind!
He moved his nose and smelled a wisp of tobacco. It was the Qixi cigarette brand. Li Gen smoked them.
Huang Dan did not turn back.
The smell of the tobacco grew stronger and stronger, accompanied by dull footsteps, as it wrapped Huang Dan from behind and he leaned away silently.
With his back to the moonlight, Li Gen’s expression was vague. He grabbed He Wei’s collar, as he dragged him to the pond and threw him with great strength.