I still remember the time when He Li and I had yet started dating. Sometimes, he would come to the nightclub where I worked and sat down to listen to the songs sung that night, only to tell me to sit beside him.
At that time, I insisted on standing aside. “I’m just a waiter.” Even the male hosts would only accompany the female customers to drink.
He would then smile and press me down onto the chair he pulled out. “Who wants you to drink with me? Let’s listen to the songs together.”
For that whole night, we ended up actually listening to the songs sung.
I still remember a singer wearing a bright silver dress sitting in the middle of the stage, looking like a mermaid bathing in the moonlight. She gently closed her eyes and sung a nameless song:
At the very beginning, you flicked the morning dew off my hair while leading me through a path of blossomed flowers;
At the very end, you said you like her black eyes, leaving me behind without even turning around.
After work, he also accompanied me to supper and ordered two bowls of mushroom beef porridge. As I love to eat mushrooms, He Li would use his chopsticks and carefully pick out his mushrooms to put them into my bowl.
During that period of time, I was still feeling down, so I always ignored his expressions of love. Despite my indifference though, he actually managed to persevere.
After eating supper, I would feel sleepy and wanted to head home. He Li would then always insist on sending me back.
I refused. “I want to walk back so I can digest what I ate.”
“Such a coincidence. I also want to walk to digest my food too.” He made up his mind to stick to me. “I will inform my assistant to drive the car back for me.”
At around three o’clock in the morning, he and I would walk side by side along the street as vehicles occasionally passed us on the road.
On the way, I heard a loud noise, and before I had time to react, He Li had already hugged me to his chest. Dirty sewage water was splashed onto us. Despite He Li standing in front of me, I was still drenched.
There was also a crackling sound as the bricks on the sidewalk burst out one after another, jumping as high as a person.
He Li quickly pulled me back. I was stunned as I looked at the abruptly collapsed road and the gradually falling water pipes. After a while, I recovered my voice, “What’s going on?!” I had a dull expression on, and I didn’t even have time to panic either.
To that, He Li only fished out his mobile phone and called the police.
A firetruck quickly arrived, and the whole road was cordoned off. Because a vehicle had sunk into the road in the front, the firemen were conducting an emergency rescue.
Both He Li and I ended up sitting in the back of the firetruck with towels around us as we were soaked thoroughly.
I was so cold that I sneezed and grumbled to He Li, “To be with you is really bad luck. We just had to meet with a water pipe rupture.”
He Li smiled bitterly and looked as if he was suffering, “JiYu, you’re really heartless. I nearly died to save you.”
When he said such words, I immediately felt guilty and kept quiet.
Just earlier, when he was protecting me, he was hit in the back by the flying bricks from the sidewalk.
Fortunately, after a while, He Li’s assistant arrived in a hurry.
He Li told him, “Give me the key and take a taxi home. The fare will be reimbursed on Monday.” The tone he used was like giving an order.
The assistant was also stunned on the spot.
When I got into the car, I looked back and saw the assistant still standing pitifully in the same place while being blown by the cold winds. His boss had asked him to take a taxi home on a cordoned-off street at around 3 a.m in the morning.
“You’re definitely a bad boss, ordering people around in the wee hours of the weekend and leaving him on the streets. Your subordinates must really hate you.”
He Li didn’t take it seriously and said, “I pay him a huge salary on time every month. What could he be dissatisfied about?”
“People are not machines. If you act as a tyrant with your employees like this, be careful that one day he can’t help but revolt and overturn his inhumane boss.”
He Li laughed, “As long as the benefits are good enough, there will be other people coming to take his place if he leaves.” He was not concerned at all.
He Li had always been like this. He always thought that people only had interest in monetary benefits, and all exchanges were simply monetary. He didn’t think that the weak were worthy of feelings and respect.
Such a person would not know what love was.
At that time, I ended up returning to his nearby apartment with him.
“The way back to your place has been blocked, and it’s too far to take other roads. Why not return to mine?” With such words, I didn’t have any reason to disagree with He Li.
When we reached his apartment, I borrowed one of his bathrooms to take a bath. When I came out, he was already sitting there watching the entertainment news replayed on the TV. A female star was discovered to be the illegitimate daughter of a rich man, and a group of unrelated people had sat together to dig up her family history dating back to eighteen generations.
The world really had nothing better to do.
He Li patted the spot beside him and called me to sit down, “JiYu, come here.”
I sat down and yawned, “What are you doing? If you don’t go to bed now, it’ll soon be morning.”
With a painful expression, he replied, “My back hurts so much that I can’t sleep.”
My imposing attitude immediately weakened, as I no longer dared to show a trace of impatience. I guiltily asked him, “Then what do you want to do? I will accompany you.”
He raised his eyebrow as if he was in disbelief. “Really?”
“Really,” I nodded sincerely.
He gently smiled and slowly came closer to me. He then whispered into my ear, “I want to kiss you.”
When I raised my head, we made eye contact. His eyes seemed to be looking into my heart.
The best memories I had ended here.
I couldn’t bear to look back on what happened after that, wishing to be able to eliminate those memories.
I also didn’t know why I suddenly thought of a girl who I used to study with.
She was a cheerful and lively girl who sat next to me. Her smiles were like bright sunshine, making it feel as if it was sunny every day. Everyone couldn’t help admiring her, thinking what a carefree girl she was.
However, I had seen her cry before.
One day after school, I played football with my classmates and returned to the classroom very late. Everyone else was gone, and she was the only one left. Sitting in her seat, she didn’t see me standing at the door.
I then heard her whisper an old poem. However, before she finished, tears suddenly rolled down her face. She finally covered her face and fell on the table to cry painfully.
I didn’t know what happened to her. For a moment, I stood there dazed before I quietly stepped back and shut the door for her.
When the other boys came back one after another, I stood in front of the door, preventing anyone from entering.
“Pei JiYu, what are you doing? Get out of the way!” The boys started making a ruckus.
I could only blush as I remained silent, not getting out of the way.
At that time, I was only 14 or 15 years old, and already knew that I had to protect girls. I couldn’t let anyone see her crying alone.
In the end, it was the girl who opened the door and came out. Tears were still in the corners of her eyes as she said to me softly, “Thank you.”
Because of this, news spread wide in the school that the girl and I had a love affair.
After so many years, the girl’s name, voice, and appearance had become fuzzy, but the poem she recited that day was still fresh in my mind.
If life was just like meeting your lover for the first time, why would it become autumn winds and sorrowful paintings?1The first part of the poem was “人生若只如初见，何事秋风悲画扇”. It was saying that when one meets their lover for the first time, it would be sweet and blissful before turning into the sadness of their current separation.
Your feelings were the ones to shift, but you refute that it was just easy for love to change between lovers2The second part was “等闲变却故人心，却道故人心易变” which was saying that the other partner had a chance of heart but gave the reason that it was just easy for the feelings between lovers to change..
I could finally understand that girl’s feelings when she was crying till she was hoarse at her table.
-I managed to find out that the poem was by Nan Lan Xing De, a Qing dynasty Chinese poet who is famous for his ci poetry. The name of the work is “Mu Lan Hua (literally ‘magnolias flowers’)” and it depicts the scene of a couple breaking up (the female was the one being hurt while the man was the one causing the hurt). It also uses several flowery references (in Chinese) to show the hidden bitterness the female had towards the male for being forsaken.