Chapter 08 Catching Mudfish
“Jiaohua, Jiaohua, wake up. Precious son, why are you sleeping so heavily today?” In the morning, Liu Qiaoye was feeling very strange shaking Zhang Jiaohua who still hadn’t woken up. However, Zhang Jiaohua continued to sleep soundly inspite of it, while his breath remained vigorous and his complexion was also healthy.
Zhang Jiaohua opened his eyes, and upon seeing his Mother, regretfully said, “Mother, there was nice big chunk of meat, all of it was taken away by that Old Daoist Priest.”
Liu Qiaoye laughed gently, then used her finger to scrape her child’s nose, “What were you doing in the dream? Were you thinking of eating meat? When Mother goes to the market to buy 100 catties of corn, I will also bring back a jin of meat slice for you.”
“Mother, do not get the slice of butt meat, it doesn’t have fat. You must get meat from the waist, the fat is thicker.” At that age, the choice of meat to be eaten was made on thickness of fat, the thicker the fat the more popular it was. On the other hand, lean and thin meat was unpopular. Just like other families in the rural areas, Zhang Jiaohua’s family couldn’t eat meat several times in an year, but children were too greedy.
“Ok, got it. Now quickly get up, brush your teeth and wash your face. By the time Mother returns and prepared nice food, you this stinky brat would still be dawdling in bed.” Liu Qiaoye chuckled and then planted a kiss on her child’s face with a smile.
“Mother, last night I had a dream. I dreamed of paying obeisance to an Old Daoist Priest for accepting him as my Master.” Zhang Jiaohua gradually stood up, and then chased after his mother.
“Did he teach you Seventy-two transformations?” Liu Qiaoye asked smiling. [TLNote: 72 transformations is the ability of Sun Wukong from the “Journey to the West”]
“Why would he teach me seventy-two transformations?” Zhang Jiaohua scratched his head in a cute manner.
“Because you were Sun Wukong.” Liu Qiaoye still thought that Zhang Jiaohua after reading the Journey to the west picture book daily, had begun considering himself as Sun Wukong.
“Right, why didn’t Master teach me about transformation?” Zhang Jiaohua still hadn’t realized that he was being teased by his mother.
Teasing the cute looking Zhang Jiaohua made Liu Qiaoye bend over laughing. Ever since the day of the accident, its been a long time since the Mother and Child had such an unrestrained interaction.
Zhang Jiaohua was teased a lot by Liu Qiaoye, so while during meal time, Liu Qiaoye deliberately spoke to her husband, “We can’t have our precious son shut indoors. If such an intelligent precious child stays shut indoors, wouldn’t he get bored to the utmost?”
Zhang Youping nodded, “Fine, precious son, you can come with Dad to go catch mudfish.”
Zhang Jiaohua began jumping out of happiness.
Jinhu, et. al., also were exceedingly happy. Due to the possibility of getting to go outside. Also, don’t know why but these five were not at all afraid of seeing the sunlight.
While going out, Liu Qiaoye personally put on a bamboo hat on her son’s head, and also warned him repeatedly. Regardless of how others looked at him, in her eyes, her son was the world’s most precious treasure.
Zhang Jiaohua didn’t care for that bit of loving mother’s care. Wearing the bamboo hat, he followed behind his father jubilantly hopping along while carrying a deep bamboo basket.
Zhang Youping was an experienced farmer. He knew which of the ditches of Meizi’ao contained lots of mudfish. Meizi’ao was a relatively backward mountain village, therefore in this day and age, there was no one who used electric fishing equipment. The mudfish also weren’t a valuable object in the mountain village. So small, and so little meat, also didn’t have any fat. While cooking, it also required comparatively more oil. Therefore, it is not a popular thing in Plum hollow, many people prefer to eat bigger fish.
Zhang Youping along with child arrived at the foot of the mountain. There was a small channel, the current of the water was very thin. Zhang Youping used mud to block two ends of the channel, and then drained this sectioned off portion dry. Then started digging small ditches in the silt. Zhang Youping knew that the fat mudfishes like hiding in the fertile soil. Many mudfishes would come through the water, and after coming here, would reproduce with their later generations forming a home. Therefore, there were a lot of mudfishes concealed in the silt here.
“Son, bring the baskets to Dad here.” Zhang Youping had just opened the first lump of silt, and had a harvest. Gently breaking open the lump of sludge revealed inside a large mudfish.
The pleasure of catching a mudfish is far greater than eating a mudfish. Many years later, even when the person would be eating the mudfish, he still wouldn’t be able to speak of such delight.
Zhang Jiaohua seeing his father grab a large mudfish, also started having an urge to go up himself and get into the midst of the action.
“Father, ah. I can also come down and help you catch mudfish, right?” Zhang Jiaohua very anxiously looked at Zhang Youping, his little eyes revealed a radiance of imploring.
“Impossible. If you come down you will get dirty, and when returning home your father will surely get scolded by mother.” Zhang Youping found an excuse.
“Father, ah. A Man who fears a woman lacks prospects.” Zhang Jiaohua pointed out very earnestly.
“Hahaha. Father doesn’t fear women, father permits mother.” Zhang Youping was overjoyed, couldn’t decide whether to go back home to decide the issue of male authority with mother.
“Jiujin is just as big as me, his family’s parents let him go catch mudfish alone. You shouldn’t see me as being young. I am able to grab carps in the fish pond.” Zhang Jiaohua wasn’t paying attention, and at once spoke out his own glorious achievements.
The most taboo topic for Zhang Youping was the fish pond, the sudden death of five healthy and frolicking children from drowning, “Son, don’t ever mention the fish pond in front of me. You must not in any circumstances go to the fish pond. Understood or not?”
Zhang Jiaohua immediately began bargaining, “Father if you let me come down to catch mudfish, I won’t go to the fish pond to take a bath.”
“Fine, boys should do what they say. You should roll up your trousers, don’t dirty your clothes, or mother will scold.” Zhang Youping’s right eyelid had begun flickering incessantly. This flickering is because of wealth or is it because of disaster? [TLNote: It is commonly believed that flickering of eyelid can be an omen of wealth or calamity, depending on which side’s eyelid flickers. There are varying views on which leads to which]
Zhang Jiaohua slowly reached down to the ground in the ditch, the first step was good luck, unexpectedly his foot had stepped onto a mudfish. The mudfish below Zhang Jiaohua’s tender and delicate foot tried to wriggle out, making Zhang Jiaohua feel as if there was a finger that was tickling the soles of his foot. Zhang Jiaohua squatted down, and used both his little hands to grope around on the ground, before finally pulling out the mudfish from the soles of his feet. Indeed, there was a fat tail sticking out from the sludge, but it was swinging incessantly.
“Yi? Son is really fierce, in an instant caught such a big mudfish.” Zhang Youping promptly praised his precious son.
Zhang Jiaohua’s enthusiasm naturally grew higher, immediately he turned over the sludge. Digging out a lump of sludge, and pushing it aside to see if there was any trace of a mudfish.
At the beginning, the Father and son duo were very vigorous. However, after a while, Zhang Youping felt something wasn’t right. In addition to their father and son duo turning over sludge, there were invisible things that were turning over sludge. From time to time, a mudfish would emerge from the sludge and would seemingly fly into the bamboo basket. After discovering all this, Zhang Youping felt an ice-cold chill around him all of a sudden. His precious child still hadn’t escaped from the entanglement of those ghost children. Zhang Youping all of a sudden became depressed at this thought, no longer having the least bit interest in catching mudfish.
“Son, we have seized so many mudfishes. Let’s go home.” Zhang Youping said.
Zhang Jiaohua was playing around vigorously, his little face was already covered in sludge, just like a small tabby cat, hearing the words of Zhang Youping how could he agree, “Still so much of the cut-off section is left unturned. There are definitely a lot of mudfishes hidden inside. Father, ah, you must let me play for a while.”