Chapter 01 Peasant Name Is Easy To Raise
Zhang Jiaohua, was born in 1985 of the Lunar Calendar, 14th of July. 15th July of the Lunar Calendar was Zhong Yuanjie. Zhong Yuanjie was commonly referred to as the Ghost Festival. In rural areas, every year people offer sacrifices to their ancestors before this day. Zhang Jiaohua’s parents were also farmers. In the family, he was the eldest and was also the youngest. Since the first child of the father and mother was a boy, according to the family planning policy, they could only have one child. On the Meizi’ao reservoir dam, there was a coarsely written line in chalk: The son ran to find Father, Father ran to tear down the house.
The reason that Zhang Jiaohua was called Zhang Jiaohua was because, Zhang Jiaohua’s grandparents believed that choosing a cheap name would make him easier to raise. Jiaohua, or rather “JiaoHua Zi (Beggar)”, was originally only a childhood nickname. Who would have known that at the time of the 90s census, Zhang Jiaohua’s parents were not at home, and the village branch secretary, Zhang Dechun, chose that day and Zhang Jiaohua’s childhood name straightforwardly became his formal name. The people of the village were not so pretentious towards names. The name that was entered into the household register also didn’t have the inclination to go and have the name changed. Zhang Jiaohua became Zhang Jiaohua’s formal name. [TLNote: Ok, this made me spend quite some time, but it was worth it for the lulz. Let’s break down 张叫花 or Zhang Jiao Hua. Zhang means a sheet of paper or flat object, Jiao Hua or 叫花 is (imo) shortening of the term 叫花子 which means Beggar. Also 叫(Jiao) means shouting, and 花(Hua) means spending money. So, you can see how cheap the name of MC really is]
Originally, Zhang Jiaohua’s childhood was not any different compared to an ordinary village brat. He ate the same food and had the same diet. He would play around and acted like a spoiled child towards his parents, and towards his Grandpa and Grandma, he would behave like a despot. He would get into fights and scuffles with the other village brats and steal one mao from his parents to go and buy a popsicle. He would pick grapes to eat from the grapevine in Zhang Jiujin’s house, and go to the mountains to fish out birds nests… Just the same, just the same, there was nothing unusual in any way. However, Zhang Jiaohua, at the age of six years, experienced an unusual event that completely changed his life path.
Children from poor families were able to handle households early, and Meizi’ao children learned from an early age to help their parents with household chores and farm work. Zhang Jiaohua was no exception. When he was five years old, he was responsible for preparing the food in the house, sweeping the floor, pulling hogweed, gathering firewood, and cow herding. It was not that Zhang Jiaohua became sensible early, but rather in Meizi’ao village, as long as a child was not an imbecile and not foolish, then by this time, they would have to work.
Taking the cattle for grazing up the mountain at first light, letting them graze for one-two hours, then returning home for breakfast. Then setting out at around 4-5 PM in the afternoon, and only coming back when it was dark. Oxen were the most precious draft animals in the rural areas. At that time, one family couldn’t raise an ox. Several households collectively raised one ox. An ox would have had to tend to about ten-twenty mu large field. If you needed the ox to work, then usually you must let it eat its fill.
Certainly, as far as Meizi’ao brats were concerned, the ox herding time was perhaps their lifetime’s most beautiful period. Because during ox herding, as along as the oxen were rushed up the mountain, the brats could play around absolutely unrestrained. Of course, if the ox accidentally ran down the mountain and ate up other people’s seedlings in a large area, then they would not be able to escape the grasp of other people. Definitely, they would be pursued by that house, demanding compensation. Within the time of a meal, there would unavoidably be a fight. However, the moment the scar healed, the pain was forgotten. The next day, vigorous and lively and full of fresh blood, the brats would continue doing things in their own ways.
Summer time, it was the most enjoyable time for baby ox herders. Although while going out, the parents would warn them repeatedly, in all kinds of ways, to not – in any circumstances – bathe in the pond. However, in the mountains, the brats became Sun Wukong and were capable of overturning the heavens.
Frequently, Zhang Jiaohua would go ox herding along with a group of brats having the same surname and form a large family. Although they were all contemporaries, but they were not at the same seniority. In Meizi’ao, the brats would often call the adults uncle.
Gouwa, amongst the six people, ranked the highest in seniority. The other few people would call him 18th Uncle. Jinhu, Fugui, Xiaoshuan, Mancang, contrary to what one might expect, were all peers of Zhang Jiaohua. [TLNote: Jinhu = Gold Tiger, Fugui = Riches and Honor, XiaoShuan = Little Cork, Mancang = Full Warehouse]
Jinhu was the eldest and was two years older than Zhang Jiaohua. At the time of the accident, he was eight years old and in first grade. Mancang was the youngest and was one year younger than Zhang Jiaohua. Fugui was one year older than Zhang Jiaohua. Xiaoshuan and Gouwa were similarly older than Zhang Jiaohua.
On that day of the mishap, Jinhu was enjoying the summer vacation, not even a few days after Zhang Jiaohua’s birthday, on the fifteenth day of July as per the Lunar Calendar,.
During that time, without any reason, Zhang Jiaohua became especially sleep every day, yawning while walking everywhere.
On that afternoon of the day of the mishap, going to the mountain, Zhang Jiaohua was no longer able to keep his eyelids lifted. He looked for a tree shade and lay down to sleep on the grass.
He also didn’t know how long he slept, but Zhang Jinhu ran over at once and kept pushing Zhang Jiaohua.
“Jiaohua, Jiaohua, get up quickly! Jiaohua, Jiaohua, get up quickly!”
Zhang Jiaohua barely opened his eyes, moved his body a bit, then went to sleep again.
Zhang Fugui also came running over, and forcefully pushed Zhang Jiaohua.
“Jiaohua, Jiaohua, get up quickly, come take a dip with us.”
This time, Zhang Jiaohua responded in agreement, “Ok.” But his body moved a bit, and again laid down to sleep.
The remaining five children all came running over, calling out incessantly.
“Jiaohua, get up!”
“Jiaohua, come with us quickly to catch fish in the pond.”
“Jiaohua, quickly come.”
Zhang Jiaohua, from the beginning, couldn’t keep his eyes open. He also didn’t know why he was feeling so sleepy. He was able to hear the voices of his several little friends quite clearly and he could even feel their movements, but, he was utterly incapable of opening his eyes no matter what.
Zhang Jiaohua was finally awakened by his father, Zhang Youping.
Zhang Youping had come, and raising Zhang Jiaohua onto his thigh, he began spanking his butt heavily making “pipa pipa” sounds.
Zhang Jiaohua was aching enough to die, and this enabled him to come to his senses. Seeing Zhang Youping, he knew that he was in trouble. He thought that his water buffaloes had gone grazing on other people’s grain.
“Father, ah. I later wouldn’t dare go to sleep while cattle herding. Mother, ah. Come quickly and save me, ah. I really couldn’t help but go to sleep.” Zhang Jiaohua began crying loudly. He still didn’t know what exactly had happened after all.
Zhang Jiaohua’s mother, Liu Qiaoye, came forward to protect her son just like a mother hen, displaying her astonishing valiance, “My child hasn’t done anything wrong, why are you beating him?”
“They all came out for cattle herding together, Jinhu and the rest are dead. How can I possibly face their parents? What could I possibly tell them?” Zhang Youping said painfully.
“This is an accident. It’s not Jiaohua’s mistake.” Liu Qiaoye said with a much gloomier voice.
“Mother, ah. What happened to Jinhu and them?” Zhang Jiaohua asked in a perplexed manner. He only remembered that those five kept shouting about going to take a bath, but he wasn’t able to open his eyes. If he wasn’t so sleepy, he would also have gone to the pond to loaf around.
“Jinhu and all drowned to death. It got dark, but you all didn’t return home. After work, we all came out to search and discovered the cattle in the fish pond. Their clothes were placed ashore. We groped around for a long time, except, by the time we pulled them out, they were all stiff. Seeing the absence of your clothes, we knew that we would be able to find you here!” Liu Qiaoye, speaking up to this point, also couldn’t help but wail.
“Jinhu and them are not dead! They are all here. Jinhu, you all, why aren’t you speaking!” This sentence of Zhang Jiaohua made a cold sweat run down the backs of the Zhang Youping husband and wife couple.