Chapter 16: Speaking Incoherently — What do you mean, because I like men??
When the several aunties’ distinct complexions fell, Jian Yan pulled her mom to leave.
Walking upstairs, Jian Yan’s mom couldn’t help but ask her, “Look at the way you spoke to them just now; how can I get along with them in the future?”
Jian Yan countered with another question. “You still want to get along with them? All I see is them teaming up and going against you.”
“How is that going against me. Although sometimes their mouths are harsh, but ordinarily, we still have a friendship where we all go plaza dancing together.”
“…” Jian Yan was somewhat dumbfounded. “They say things like this, and you don’t get angry?”
“What is there for me to get angry about? They are like that because they know that their families’ daughters cannot compete with you in anything, so they can only seize this marriage matter to talk about.”
“I still think that you moving to my place is a good idea.”
“Do you have anything good? Not only will I not be allowed to go plaza dancing, it’s far from my workplace. Living here is convenient. Furthermore, they keep me company. Typically, we would go plaza dancing together, take walks, and gossip about our families. What is bad about this?”
Jian Yan said, “If you move to my place, I can keep you company.”
Jian Yan’s mom glanced at her and retorted, “Save it! Your days are so busy, how can you have the time to keep my company. You’re only just thinking about having me help you do the laundry and prepare meals, right?”
Jian Yan: “…”
Their room was on the sixth floor. After they walked to the doorway, Jian Yan’s mom unlocked the door and said to her, “You also have really good timing. Did you come knowing that I had bought many groceries today?”
Jian Yan laughed out loud. “Maybe my heart has a rhinoceros horn.1 What are you preparing to make today?”
“Since you came, I’ll add one more dish. I’m making Conger Chestnut Chicken, and then I’ll pan fry a few chive and fresh prawn dumplings. There’s also some yam at home, so I’ll brew Mei Ling Porridge. It’s better to drink congee in the winter to keep nice and warm.”
“Wow, then I have food luck.” 2
“If you want to eat earlier, then come in and lend a hand.” Jian Yan’s mom carried the groceries mentioned to the kitchen, letting Jian Yan come in to be her assistant. “You can knead the flour first. After that, break the soaked rice and the glutinous rice.”
“I’m yours to command.” Jian Yan took off her coat and washed her hands before beginning to help.
To one side, Jian Yan’s mom dealt with the chicken as she asked her, “I saw that your manhua is finished. These days you’re not busy anymore?”
“Mn, it’s okay. I recently began selling clothes at Starlight General Merchandise.”
Jian Yan’s mom was stunned for a moment. “What are you doing by going to Starlight General Merchandise to sell clothes?”
“To collect material. For my next manhua, I want to draw a female lead selling clothes at a general merchandise department store.”
“Oh…” Jian Yan’s mom nodded and then asked, “Then are you on leave today?”
Jian Yan said, “Today, I have an evening shift; it starts at 3:30PM.”
Jian Yan’s mom popped her head out of the kitchen to look at the wall clock in the living room. “It’s already almost 11:00AM. We need to work quicker.”
Mother and daughter busily worked in the kitchen until half past twelve, where they finally finished making lunch. Eating the nice and warm Mei Ling Porridge, Jian Yan felt incomparably happy. “In the end, mom’s food tastes the best.”
Jian Yan’s mom laughed and said to her, “Even if you continue flattering me even more, I still will not go over to cook for you.”
Jian Yan thinned her lips and pinched a recently pan-fried chive and fresh prawn dumplings between her chopsticks. “Oh~ yummy!”
“Eat a piece of chicken. Look at you, you look like you recently lost weight again.” Jian Yan’s mom placed a chicken leg on her plate.
Jian Yan said. “If I lost weight, that would have been great. I hope that I get so lost in earning money that I lose weight.”
“What preposterous logic. Girls nowadays all shout every day about losing weight. I want to see what they will do once their bodies become nothing but skin and bones.” Jian Yan’s mom handed her another chicken wing as she spoke. “You should eat more. I made so much food today that I can’t finish on my own anyway. I happen to have an insulated container here. Later, after you eat your fill, you can bring some food home.”
“Okay, okay.” Jian Yan was busy eating meat, but she didn’t forget to nod. “Mom…”
“Mn?” Her mom felt that she wanted to say something but was hesitating, so she raised her head to glance at her.
Jian Yan chewed the piece of meat in her mouth and swallowed. She looked at her mom and said, “If I really don’t marry my entire life, will you really not mind?”
Jian Yan’s mom’s eyes darkened. She sighed lightly before saying, “I naturally hope that you one day find someone you like and have a happy ending, but… Ai, this matter cannot be forced. If you find the sort your dad belongs to, you’re better off never marrying.”
Concerning Jian Yan’s dad, Jian Yan’s mom always felt a lot of self-blame. If she hadn’t had eyes without pearls3 and didn’t marry that kind of person, Jian Yan wouldn’t have had needed to suffer so much hardship as a child, nor would it have traumatized her into becoming as she currently was.
“Okay, okay, no mentioning him. You should eat more.” Jian Yan’s mom once again gave Jian Yan a pile of food, as if she was afraid Jian Yan couldn’t eat her fill.
Jian Yan glanced at her bowl, which was piled with so much food it looked like a small mountain. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as she said, “Enough, you act as if you’re raising a pig!”
“Yes. As a child, didn’t you always say that you were never satiated? Now you can eat more and make up for it.”
After they finished eating lunch, her mom also didn’t allow her to wash the dishes, so Jian Yan lay down on the sofa and slept for a while until 2:00PM. Her mom woke her up and gave her an insulated container. “I packed the food for you; eat it for dinner. I also packed some hot pickled mustard tubers for you. I made it, and it goes well with the food.”
“Oh, okay.” Jian Yan rubbed her eyes and stood up to dress herself in her coat. “Then I’ll leave now. I’ll come visit you again later.”
“Mhmm, drive safely.”
“Okay. Mom, you should also pay attention and take care of your body. It’s chilly, so don’t catch a cold.”
“I don’t need you to remind me; I’m not you.”
Jian Yan: “…”
She carried the heavy insulated container downstairs and drove her car out of this old-fashioned district.
When she went to work in the afternoon, her situation was significantly better than it was yesterday, but she was still slightly frightened and on edge. She was afraid to see Director He as she didn’t know what she should do.
Yesterday, she had just run away like that, which was very discourteous, right? Not only that, the other party was her superior…
After seeing off this client, it was finally time for dinner. Jian Yan carried the insulated container her mom gave her and walked to the dining hall to find a place to sit down. She opened the lid of the insulated container, and a delicious aroma of Conger Chestnut Chicken assailed her senses, also attracting the attention of her colleague at the next table.
“Wow! Jian Yan, you’re eating so well. Isn’t this Chestnut Chicken?”
“Mhmm, do you want a taste?” Jian Yan took initiative and pushed her lunchbox in their direction.
“Okay, okay!” Her colleague picked up a spoon to scoop out a piece of chicken meat, placing it in her own bowl before looking at her. “May I also have a fried dumpling?”
Jian Yan smiled and said, “You may.”
Her mom had really packed too much for her. She even suspected that her mom had packed all the leftover food into the insulation container.
Her colleague added another fried dumpling and returned to her seat, perfectly content. Jian Yan ate a spoonful of Mei Ling Porridge, which was still warm. She tasted a bit of the hot pickled mustard tuber her mom made, the flavor hot and numbing yet very savory. It indeed went well with the food.
Another person walked up to sit directly across from her. She believed that it was another colleague who wanted to come over to freeload food, so she raised her head to take a look and was stunned.
It was Director He.
She didn’t know when Director He began to feel strongly about eating in the dining hall. In short, he calmly carried a meal tray to sit across from her.
Ke—ke— “Director He.” Jian Yan covered her mouth to cough before greeting He Xiu.
He Xiu smiled at her and said, “Good afternoon.”
Mentally, she quickly thought of something to say to him, as she wanted to avoid any awkwardness. He Xiu, on the contrary, took the lead and found a conversation topic. “Your dinner today is really sumptuous. This is Mei Ling Porridge, no? Very fragrant and strong aroma of soy milk.”
“Mhmm, yes. This is Conger Chestnut Chicken. That is chives and fresh prawn fried dumplings. Do you want a taste?” After the words left her mouth, Jian Yan was slightly shocked. She unexpectedly invited a man to taste her food on her own accord.
I definitely must have wanted to diffuse the awkwardness, she thought.
“Mn…” He Xiu glanced at her lunchbox and used chopsticks to pick up a fried dumpling. “I’ll try a prawn dumpling.”
Jian Yan watched him take a bite, his tongue peeking out from between his sexy lips for an instant. “How’s the taste?”
He Xiu thought for a moment and said, “It feels somewhat different from the other day.”
Jian Yan’s lips quirked into a slight smile and asked, “Do you think today’s food is more tasty?”
He Xiu laughed. “So who made this?”
“My mom. I went to visit mom’s place today. She was in charge of cooking, whereas I acted as a helper.”
“Oh, so it’s like this…” He Xiu stared at the uneaten half of the fried dumpling at the ends of his chopsticks, seemingly thinking something.
Not knowing if it was her misperception or not, Jian Yan felt that his expression was suddenly a bit dark.
After He Xiu finished eating that fried dumpling, he silently ate the food on his own meal tray. Jian Yan also didn’t talk, the dining table suddenly appearing very peaceful.
Other colleagues wanting to come over and freeload from Jian Yan’s food, but once they saw that Director He was actually making no secret of him sitting across from someone else and freeloading their food, they had no better option but to silently swallow their saliva.
After nearly being able to see the bottom of the bowl of Mei Ling Porridge that she had been drinking, Jian Yan finally opened her mouth to speak. “That…”
He Xiu lifted his head to glance at her. “What is it?”
“Mn, yesterday…” Jian Yan felt that it was slightly too embarrassing to mention. “I apologize for suddenly running away.”
She originally thought that He Xiu had come over to seek her out to ask her about yesterday, but he hadn’t spoken of it at all.
He Xiu’s eyes moved slightly. He said, “It’s okay. I suddenly grabbed you. I’m still wondering if I had scared you or not.”
“Eh, this had nothing to do with you. It’s because of me.” Jian Yan thought for a moment and decided to clarify for He Xiu. “In fact, ever since I was a child, I really hated interacting with males. I don’t know if you realized it or not, but I studied in an all-girls school for middle high school.”
He Xiu nodded. “Mn, you wrote on your CV that you attended Lilac Girls Middle School.”
Jian Yan was a bit surprised. Did he memorize the CVs of all the staff?
“I first began my studies at a public middle school. After, because a boy pulled on my hair and I sent him to the hospital, my mom decided to transfer me to an all-girls school as a solution…” Her presently explaining something she did in her childhood to her superior with complete trust still made her slightly embarrassed.
He Xiu was also somewhat surprised. He didn’t expect Jian Yan loathing of boys to escalate to this degree. He smiled at her and jokingly said, “Fortunately, you didn’t beat me up yesterday. I’m grateful.”
Jian Yan truly smiled teasingly at him. “At first, I thought it was because you like men, so I didn’t have such a large reaction…”
“Wait a minute!” He Xiu interrupted her. “What do you mean, because I like men??”
He gou dan’s4 stupid face is hilarious hahahahahaha
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- Rhinoceros horns are reputed to confer telepathic powers ↩
- Moonclipse’s comment: The literal translation is mouth fortune, which is basically saying your mouth has the luck to eat good food… ↩
- “Rose-colored glasses” kind of thing; to be blind, to not know anything at all about the matters before them; figuratively meaning to have no sense of logic ↩
- Mentioned in other novels from this shared universe, gou dan is nickname suffix signifying a blessing for happiness/good luck ↩