Chapter 56 Tide of Apprentices
Just like a train without a final stop experiencing innumerable stations, experiencing countless people; Looking at the mountains, watching the rivers; Drift past. This was the life of a Daoist.
Both of my hands were latched onto the bus entrance not willing to let go. Father and Mother both strived hard to break my grip but I kept holding on. I kept struggling incessantly. Teacher Lin also approached the window and used her hands to cover her mouth, her tears flowing incessantly. As the train started I stopped struggling. My two hollowed eyes watched the train gradually get further apart. I could still see Teacher Lin who had walked to the last row and had been continuously waving at me from the behind the glass.
“Yangyang, Teacher Lin will come later. Don’t be sad.” Mother gently caressed my head feeling the pain of love.
I didn’t say anything, nor did I cry anymore. Teacher Lin had said that I shouldn’t become a man who would cry in the embrace of a woman. In the future, I will grow up and marry Teacher Lin to become my wife.
Father and Mother used all the money that I earned this year towards purchasing a home in Guangdong. They hadn’t intended on bringing me along, I also didn’t want to go with them. Towards that strange and distant city, I had an inexplicable fear. Perhaps, I still held some hope regarding Teacher Lin.
Father and Mother completed the double rush at home before leaving. I could feel that feeling of familiarity from before, blood is thicker than water. I could also feel that trace of mother’s love. However, when they left I didn’t have the same sadness as on the day when Teacher Lin left. [Author Note: Double Rush: Rush for Harvesting Early Season Rice, and Planting Late Season Rice][TLNote: Double Rush: Rush-harvesting and Rush-planting]
Father and Mother had brought a lot of things along with them. I loaded all the luggage onto Old Yellow’s back and saw them off to the Bus stop. Originally, Grandpa was worried that I would be sad. However, I remained very tranquil.
“You this silly child. Why do you not want to Guangdong with your father and mother? That is a big city and ours here is only a rural area. If you go there you would be able to have a hundred times more fun than here in the house. If you want to go, I will certainly have Father and Mother take you along.” Grandpa pulled me to a family noodle restaurant. One old and one young, both of them wanted a bowl of noodles.
I was eating the tasty and succulent noodles: “They are quite congested over there in Guangdong with several people in one room while we two live in one house. Even if we do not have money, we will gain even more this year. Next year, we will construct a building on our own, even if they buy their own apartment, they won’t be able to live as comfortably as us.”
“Yi? So this is the reason. It seems that my grandson thinks even more clearly than adults. My family has a Qilin!” Grandpa laughed.
Grandpa was very happy and wanted to carry me on his back on the way home. While being carried on his back I said: “Grandpa, after I grow up, I will buy an attractive car and drive you to wherever you want.”
“Good, our Yangyang is quite ambitious. Then Grandpa will be waiting for Yangyang to drive me around. Hahaha.”
One old man and one young, laughing all along the way. Unexpectedly I had forgotten the sadness that was brought to me by Teacher Lin leaving, I had also forgotten the sorrow of my Parents drifting further apart from me.
We were still some distance away from home when Red Autumn spotted us from afar. Circling atop our heads it kept chirping incessantly. I could hear the joy in its voice. I was somewhat envious of it. It could soar through the sky unrestrainedly and arbitrarily, but I had to undergo the sorrow of parting and pain of separation.
Red Autumn’s wife and children also came. Red Star even descended mischievously and dropping on the ground began to waddle on the ground studying me and Grandpa. Naturally, it wouldn’t drop onto my shoulders. Its claws were too sharp and they were likely to injure me.
By the time we could see the village, Black Bean brought along his harem to welcome us.
“There’s no one to look after the house, you came running here to do what?” Even though scolded Black Bean very much, but I was delighted in my heart. I caressed the top of his head with my hand. Black Bean also shaking his body and shaking his tail, even using its head to rub against my leg.
“Yangyang, if it goes on like this. Our house would turn into animal world.” Grandpa said with a smile.
Actually, there were even the three flowers in our family. Big Flower, Second Flower and Little Flower. They knew human nature very well. They were not any inferior in terms of intelligence compared to Black Bean. These three sisters were somewhat lazy and would generally not step a single foot outside the main entrance. They were most fond of lying down in the pen and sleeping during the daytime.
Old Yellow bore the burden of greatest responsibility. Very early in the morning, we went out onto streets together. It mooed at me when it felt hungry. At that point, I took down the bamboo basket it was carrying and took out the green grass from it before feeding it to Old Yellow. By the time, it ate the green grass to its satisfaction, I went to the big sweet potato vines. This was what it liked the most. It ate the sweet potato vines in big gulps while making crunching noises. It sounded as if it was felt that this taste was incomparable.
I hadn’t even entered the courtyard when I saw Li Lijuan along with her Grandparents standing outside our courtyard. Black Bean along with its three child brides was already standing at alert at the main gate.
Upon seeing me, Li Lijuan became somewhat bashful and hid behind her Grandmother Han Xianfeng not daring to come out. Li Lijuan’s grandpa Li Fangben walked forward.
“Second Brother, you’ve returned from shopping, ah.” Even though our two families didn’t share the same surname, but this kind of address had become popular in the village. Li Fangben was addressing his contemporary in our Huang family, my Grandpa.
“Aiya, it is Fangben, ah. You Husband and wife, both have come over. Come in sit, let’s sit inside the house.” Grandpa promptly and cordially invited Li Lijuan’s Grandparents into the house.
Li Fangben placed the basket on the ground. The basket seemed to be filled with eggs.
“This is?” Grandpa had thought that they had come to get some illness treated. Knowing that their family had financial difficulties, he wanted to find a chance to tell me to not accept their money.
“The matter is like this.” Li Fangben then told the original purpose of their visit.
Originally, Li Lijuan having not obtained good results had gone back and cried nonstop. Upon asking they came to know that my two apprentices had unexpectedly squeezed her from her second position to the fourth position. In fact it too was actually the good luck of Huang Shulang and Ma Jindong as the score difference was not big. However, Li Lijuan couldn’t accept it. There were so many problems in her house, but academic results were Li Lijuan’s only forte. She naturally knew that whether it was Huang Shulang or Ma Jindong, it was only after they became my apprentices that their studying ability became exceedingly heaven-defying. Therefore, she immediately struck upon an idea.
Li Fangben and Han Xianfeng after coming to know about the situation discussed it over and holding a basket of eggs came over.
Grandpa after listening to Li Fangben’s words smiled a bitter smile inwardly. The other people treated me like a treasure, while my parents treated me like grass.
“The children are just playing house, cannot be taken as anything genuine. Later, I’ll have Yangyang properly guide Juanzi. Since it is only children’s playing house, you also shouldn’t take it too seriously. You both can just take these eggs back.” Grandpa said.
“That is not possible. Apprenticing to a Master also needs to be done according to customs and rituals. Our Li Family is also a reasonable family. We cannot let others say that our Li Family didn’t observe proper ritual.” Li Fangben was firm in the part of offering as part of the ritual of acknowledging a teacher.
I spoke to Li Lijuan in the courtyard: “Li Lijuan, if you do obeisance and take me as your Master, then later you will have to call Huang Shulang Senior Brother. Are you afraid that Huang Shulang will bully you along with Ma Jindong?”
“I am not afraid. They wouldn’t dare bully me.” Li Lijuan said as if she was certain.
“Why?” I was somewhat sceptical.
“Because I am a Girl. Grandma said that once I grow up, I will be just as beautiful as Teacher Lin and I will be able to become your wife.” Classmate Li Lijuan said in earnest.
I scratched my head and then shook my head: “When I grow up, I will marry Teacher Lin. You may grow up and become as beautiful as Teacher Lin, but you will not be Teacher Lin.”
The talks of two young children discussing the major events of life would always end up somewhat irrelevant.
Grandpa on the other side was also happily discussing with Li Fangben. Although Grandpa had agreed to accept the basket of eggs for apprenticing, but he also requested Li Fangben husband and wife to accept my free treatment. Li Fangben husband and wife were actually young and were some years younger compared to Grandpa. They were only 50 years old, but due to debilitating illness, they seemed even older in comparison.
Grandpa made me treat the Li Fangben old couple and went to prepare the meal by himself. After that, he went to the courtyard to fetch two jin of rice wine which could be considered as the feast for apprenticing.
However, Grandpa and I were late to anticipate this matter. The next day, many people in the village had run up to our house with similar goals.
Huang Shulang, that fellow who used to come first from the last all of a sudden turned into a studying master. Ma Jindong also achieved similar successes and also turned into the cream of the crop in the class all of a sudden. This matter had already spread throughout the village. Li Lijuan’s family had taken the lead and the others still weren’t sure of coming to my house. Now, following their example, everyone was coming running to our house. Furthermore, there were even those studying in the third-fourth year but were thinking of having their child drop down to the second grade.
Grandpa also didn’t know how to deal with this matter so he simply left the power to make the decision to me: “You yourself see and decide.”
Grandpa was very much worried that if everyone was accepted then my studies would probably be affected. If they didn’t accept, then they would have to offend the entire village.