Kid: Zaizai, why is it your dad who picks you up every day? Where did your mom go?
Zaizai: My mom has gone to a faraway place.
Kid: Your mom must be very pretty.
Zaizai: En en, Dad says Mom is the prettiest. She has dark hair, eyes like grapes, a high nose and red lips, a gentle voice and a sweet smile!
A long time later, Mr. Qin comes to pick up Zaizai.
Kid: Zaizai, who was the strange uncle who picked you up yesterday?
Zaizai (with an unhappy face): …My mom.
Kid: Your mom is so tall, oh, she looks like a dad.
Mr. Qin: ……
When the Christmas campaign was finished, Lu Ying went to work early in the morning with high expectations, only to be told by his supervisor that his bonus was cancelled.
At that moment, a female colleague hurriedly came to the supervisor: “My son’s kindergarten is holding a New Year’s Day show tomorrow, so I have to take half a day off tomorrow morning to attend.”
“Okay, there are a lot of school activities these days, so if you want to take time off, make sure you do it in advance. Each person can only take half a day and no one will be allowed to take time off when the New Year’s Day campaign starts on the 29th,” the supervisor instructed everyone.
The people working in the shopping mall were basically family people. Who didn’t have children in kindergarten, primary and secondary school? These days schools had a varied schedule of activities, with parent-teacher meetings, competition shows, spring and autumn trips, etc., a must for every parent. For working parents who didn’t have the elderly to help at home, it was a source of both comfort and frustration.
The New Year’s Day show was one of the annual large-scale events. If parents didn’t attend, the children would be disappointed since everyone else would come. So those who had to work usually took time off to go. Lu Ying did the same thing every year.
In the evening, as he and his son were having dinner, the teacher announced in the class WeChat group that the kindergarten’s New Year’s Day show would be on the 27th of this month, which happened to be a Saturday. It was a day off for the kindergarten children and some parents would also be off work that day. The kindergarten’s arrangements were very considerate.
Lu Ying was curious about his son’s performance, “What is Zaizai going to do that day?”
Lu Zaizai said proudly, “Our Senior Class 3 is going to do two performances. We’ll do a chair dance! And sew clothes.”
“Wow, a chair dance, that sounds cool.” Lu Ying blinked, curious, “What is sewing clothes?”
Lu Zaizai frowned and explained solemnly, “How come you don’t even know that? Let me tell you. Ahem!” The little fat guy cleared his throat and tried to recite it with proper pronunciation, “The thread in the hand of a kind mother… Wait, I’ll go get a shirt!” He jumped off the chair and ran to the bed to grab a prop and come back.
Then, with one hand squeezing the prop and one hand moving, he opened his mouth and started again, “The thread in the hand of a kind mother is the coat on the wanderer’s back. Before he left she stitched it close… Is gratitude enough for all the sunshine of spring?”(1)
Lu Zaizai recited the entire poem clearly without missing a word, and also paired it with the dancing gestures of sewing clothes. Lu Ying understood and immediately clapped his hands, giving his son a big praise: “Awesome awesome! You memorised it very well!” It was just that sewing clothes movements were probably hard to describe.
Silently snatching his trousers back from his son’s hands, Lu Ying entered the class group to reply, “Roger that! I’ll be there for the New Year’s Day show.”
Lu Ying didn’t expect to receive a personal reply from the teacher: “Zaizai’s Dad, we have arranged for Lu Zaizai to be the host of the New Year’s Day show. There will be a total of six children as hosts, all of them appearing in separate time slots. So can you see if you can provide Lu Zaizai with a suit to wear? The kindergarten has a suit, but Zaizai is not the right size. Zaizai’s Dad, you need to prepare it as soon as possible!”
Lu Ying directly sent a voice message, “Teacher, is it true that Zaizai is going to host the show?”
“That’s right! The etiquette teacher has been rehearsing with the children every day recently. Zaizai has a very good memory and a very stable personality, and he’s a little man who doesn’t have stage fright at all. However, you should teach him more about maths. He is very good at recognising Chinese characters and learning English, but he is really insensitive to counting.”
The teacher’s reply made Lu Ying happy and full of pride. As for being bad at maths or whatever, just ignore it! The existence of mathematics is to obliterate human nature, so it is not something that people should learn!
It was normal for Zaizai not to understand, his dad didn’t understand it when he was a kid either!
Why didn’t Zaizai inherit a certain someone’s maths genes! (艹皿艹 )
Lu Ying hurriedly placed an online order for a small suit that his son could wear, and it arrived the next day, perfectly in time.
The next day when he went to work at the shopping mall, Lu Ying met his supervisor and raised the matter of taking half a day off on the twenty-seventh. He didn’t expect the supervisor to look embarrassed and shake his head, “Xiao Lu, I just came back from a meeting at the top. It was specifically said there that from today onwards no employee would be allowed to take time off, and everyone would have to wait until after the busy New Year’s Day.” It was a normal arrangement, but the supervisor felt that things were strange. Manager Zhang’s words were righteous and reasonable, but how could he feel that some people were targeted?
“Didn’t someone ask for leave the day before yesterday?”
“Yes, but I can’t help it. Manager Zhang has me under her thumb.”
Lu Ying sighed: “Then I’ll take a compensated leave on the 27th for the whole day.”
The supervisor shook his head again: “Xiao Lu, don’t give me a hard time, the situation now is that no one is allowed to be missing, and it’s not even possible to take a compensated leave. If we don’t have enough staff, we’ll have to recruit part-time staff. Bear with it for a few days, it’ll be easier next week.”
Lu Ying calmly responded, “Where does Manager Zhang’s family live again?”
“Huh?” The supervisor was confused.
It was getting cold, so he wanted to go and give Manager Zhang’s husband a hat, a green one(2).
Of course, Lu Ying… couldn’t do that!
Since there was no other way, Lu Ying could only entrust the little Zaizai to his godfather. Fortunately, Ji Xiaofeng had the time and liked his godson very much. Over the years, whenever Lu Ying needed Ji Xiaofeng’s help, Brother Ji never refused.
On the day of the New Year’s Day show, Lu Ying went to work listlessly. Ji Xiaofeng kept pushing him: “Go quickly, be careful, if you’re late, they’ll deduct money. I said I would be Zaizai’s parent today, what’s with your expression?”
Lu Ying muttered, “A godfather doesn’t smell as sweet as a real father. Isn’t that right, Zaizai?”
Ji Xiaofeng was not pleased: “Godson, tell me, does your father smell sweet or does your godfather smell sweet?”
Lu Ying was full of confidence: “What nonsense!”
Lu Zaizai rolled his eyes at the two foolish fathers, then tilted his head uncertainly and said, “It should be Mom who smells the sweetest. Li Sitian said so!”
Ji Xiaofeng cursed, his face full of disdain.
Lu Ying also was unhappy, “Your mom sprinkles a lot of expensive water all over, of course she smells better than me.”
Lu Zaizai muttered, “So my mom must have gone to heaven like Li Sitian’s mom, right? Li Sitian’s mom went to heaven. I heard that place is especially beautiful and far away. Li Sitian’s mom is growing flowers and raising butterflies in the most beautiful garden in heaven!”
Lu Ying choked and Ji Xiaofeng laughed.
Lu Ying, who felt he dropped a rock on his own foot, said awkwardly, “Well, yeah, your mom went to a faraway place.” It’s not heaven.
Lu Zaizai sighed quietly, “I wonder if I can go to heaven to see Mom when I grow up and get on a plane.”
Regarding the issue of Zaizai’s mother, Lu Ying was very clueless. All these years he didn’t know what answer was best for the child. Zaizai was getting older and had more and more ideas. He would have his own thoughts, and adults couldn’t just muddle through anymore.
“Why do you want to see your mother?” Is it possible to miss someone when you’ve obviously never seen this person? Lu Ying was anxious.
Lu Zaizai was depressed, “Li Sitian said his mom is lonely growing flowers in heaven and misses her little baby at home. Can’t we go to Mom and catch butterflies with her?”
At a young age, why do you have so many troubles?…
Lu Ying was speechless. Could he say that his son was just his little baby, all by himself? The so-called mother did not even know about him and naturally would not miss him.
Lu Ying stroked his son’s head: “I can’t contact your mom because I lost my old phone, and plane tickets are too expensive to buy. Don’t miss your mom anymore.”
Ji Xiaofeng, as a temporary parent, approached the New Year’s Day show quite dutifully, recording every bit of Lu Zaizai’s participation. Lu Ying was very busy until noon and could hardly wait to open his phone at lunchtime, eating while holding it and smiling.
The smile on Lu Ying’s face slowly faded as he watched his son’s video. Recently, his son had obviously grown taller; his fat face was slightly more elongated than before, and he had unconsciously lost some of his babishness, resembling that person even more.
“The show is over, the kindergarten is closed in the afternoon, I will take Zaizai home directly. Come and pick him up after you get off work.”
Lu Ying quickly asked, “To Dr. Hu’s clinic?”
“Good.” He was happy for his son to go to Dr. Hu’s place to get acquainted. After all, Dr. Hu was Zaizai’s midwife and attending doctor. If Brother Yang was the example Lu Ying aspired to follow, Dr. Hu was the goal he would never be able to reach! Even Grandpa Lu admired Dr. Hu. But Dr. Hu had an eccentric temper; except for Ji Xiaofeng, he wasn’t friendly to anyone, and if someone wanted to seek treatment, everything would depend on Dr. Hu’s mood. More than six months ago Lu Ying brought his desperate landlady’s family to the clinic and Dr. Hu gave face to the patient, but later… cursed Lu Ying senseless.
Ji Xiaofeng took his godson to Qiushan Street, the oldest part of Qixia Town. The old street was hidden in between the bustle of high-rise buildings, making it difficult for cars to get in from the outside and out from the inside. Over time, cars stopped coming there and the whole street was filled with leisurely pedestrians and the shouts of various stall owners.
Dr. Hu’s clinic was tucked away in the middle of a dilapidated old street.
As Ji Xiaofeng led his godson, the two of them strolled, eating along the way, before finally stopping in front of an inconspicuous shop that was not big and didn’t even have a decent signboard. There was only a canvas hanging in front of the door, which said ‘Dr. Hu’s Clinic’ written in cursive.
The door was open, and Ji Xiaofeng stepped straight in: “Lao Hu, what’s for dinner?”
“Brother Xiao Ji, Doctor Hu is not in.” An elegant old man wearing glasses came out, holding a dustpan, “Doctor Hu said he wouldn’t be back for the next few days. There’s a batch of herbs on the mountain about to be ready and he has to keep watch.”
Ji Xiaofeng frowned, “Then I’ll go to the mountain to look for him. Elder Xu, I won’t distract you from your work.”
The old man had just turned around when two more people came in from the street. Elder Xu looked up and sighed helplessly, “Doctor Hu is not here, you should go away. There will be no consultation for the next few days.”
Ji Xiaofeng’s gaze suddenly fell on the face of the woman at the head of the group; this lady was much older than she had been years ago, but he would recognise her even if she turned into ashes. He immediately decided not to leave and see what happened next.
It was clear that the woman didn’t recognise him. She said to Elder Xu with an expression of disappointment, “Then may I ask when I can make another visit to Dr. Hu? I sincerely want to ask him to look at my son and the consultation fee will definitely satisfy Dr. Hu. In fact, my main purpose is to have him visit my home to look at the feng shui. Can you see if you can help me…”
“What’s wrong with your son?” The woman’s words were suddenly interrupted by Ji Xiaofeng.
Elder Xu gave the young master a strange look; the bright sparkle in those dark, wild eyes was not a good sign.
Mrs. Qin was slightly displeased when she was interrupted.
“My son is not sick.”
Ji Xiaofeng snorted, “He’s not sick and you’re asking my Doctor Hu to see him?”
Elder Xu answered, “The lady’s son is indeed not sick, so it is impossible for Doctor Hu to visit. Madam, you should go back. Don’t come next time.”
Ji Xiaofeng said curiously, “Really not sick?”
The old man nodded, “All of her son’s recent test results were shown to Doctor Hu, and from the results it looks like he is indeed not sick and is very healthy.”
“Then why is there no child?” Mrs. Qin couldn’t help but ask loudly.
The slightly younger woman next to her said hurriedly, “Doctor, please help my sister. Any consultation fee is absolutely fine. Not to mention the million the Wang family gave, we are willing to pay ten million, just ask Doctor Hu to do it, do you think it’s possible?” The information they had on Dr. Hu had gone through a rigorous investigation. It was well known in the upper class circles of Guanlan City that the youngest member of the Wang family had been kidnapped at an early age, brutally abused and turned into a waste person. Today’s medicine couldn’t make him normal again. But there was still someone who had done it, and it was Dr. Hu here.
Qin Zhuopu couldn’t have a baby?
Ji Xiaofeng howled and hastily covered his mouth… to hold back his laughter. He squeezed Lu Zaizai’s hand so hard that it turned red. Lu Zaizai looked at the two strange grandmothers curiously while nibbling on a candy cane.
“Your son is infertile?” Ji Xiaofeng asked, grinning.
Mrs Qin held back her displeasure: “He’s quite normal.”
“Then you should ask the doctor to take a look at your daughter-in-law.”
Before Mrs. Qin could say anything, Elder Xu sighed, “Their family doesn’t have a daughter-in-law, and the ones they paid for abroad are all excellent ‘mothers’. It stands to reason that the success rate of IVF should be very high when both parties are fine. The fact that it has failed six times does seem a bit strange. Can’t you get your son to come over and show himself?”
Ji Xiaofeng’s eyes widened again: “…Oh, since IVF doesn’t work, why not try natural conception? Sometimes it depends on fate if a child comes or not.”
Elder Xu nodded, “That’s right, instead of blindly seeking doctors to look at a son who is not sick at all, you should find him a proper wife.”
Mrs. Qin’s face looked unhappy and frustrated. If this method could be implemented, why would she bother so much!
“I really have no choice but to ask for Dr. Hu’s help, not only because he is an excellent doctor, but also because he has extraordinary skills. I want to try if there is any other way to resolve the difficulties of our family.”
“Even if I have to pay a hundred million, I’m willing!”
Lu Ying finished his work and went to the lounge to check his phone as soon as he could.
The message was particularly eye-catching.
“Your son is worth a hundred million!”
- Wanderer’s Song by Meng Jiao
- Wearing a green hat = being cheated on