“Li ge, I didn’t know. I really didn’t know!!” A slightly middle-aged man collapsed to the ground and begged, “I only thought he was someone that sold narcotics. I really didn’t know that he was one of Luo Dong’s subordinates! I really didn’t know!!!”
“Then, are you saying that I wrongly accused you?” Xiao Li slowly approached him, his entire body emitting a frightful aura. “You didn’t betray me. You’re just a bit stupid.”
The man was frightened to death as he propped his elbow on the ground and moved back.
“Li ge, I may be stupid, but I didn’t betray you… I’m only a bit stupid… please spare me…”
Xiao Li narrowed his sharp eyes and roared with a voice so cold that it could have not belonged to a living person. “Then be a bit smarter in your next life!!”
He raised his hand and pointed the muzzle of a black gun precisely at the man.
“Ahhhh!!!” A sense of terror raced into the man chest, and know that his life was on the line, he let out a blood-curdling scream which cracked his voice. He could feel his own stomach twisting in fear as he cried out piteously. “I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you! Li ge, I’ll tell you whatever you want to know!!”
“Take him out for questioning.” Xiao Li commanded, signaling his subordinates.
When a couple of subordinates came over and dragged the man out, there was a distinctive patch of water left on the floor.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk, look at this shit. He was really scared witless – to even piss in his own pants, geez.” Han Jia covered his nose while wearing a disgusted look before he called for someone to come tidy the mess. Then he walked out of the room with Xiao Li.
“Luo Dong is troublesome, but his recent actions aren’t too big. It’s a personal grudge.”
Xiao Li gave Han Jia a quick glance. “You have to be careful, he’s coming after you.”
“If so, he must also have the ability to do something.” Han Jia said with disdain as if it was something not worth it. But when he saw the stern expression on Xiao Li’s face, he smiled instead. “Okay, okay, don’t mention that old pervert. Hey, tell me about it, how did you guys play yesterday? The taste of that pretty little thing was pretty good, wasn’t it?”
“I sent him back home,” Xiao Li stately bluntly.
“Really? Are you a hero saving the beauty? Are you Lei Feng?”14 Han Jia ridiculed him, bumping his shoulder against Xiao Li’s again and again, “Let me tell you Xiao Li, you really missed out on a great opportunity! Don’t think that kind of trick can bribe a young beauty’s heart. Be careful of that beastly teacher as well. He’s definitely batting for the same. He must have had his eyes on his own student for quite a while——”
“That has nothing to do with me,” Xiao Li interrupted.
Not understanding what he meant, Han Jia stared at him and asked, “Then, what did you want me to do with him?”
Xiao Li remained quiet for a while before he eventually said, “Don’t look for him from now on. That kid did not look like he was willing to do it at all.”
“What bullshit are you saying? Who, who was fucking willing to, huh?” Han Jia stared blankly at Xiao Li and then the more he thought about it, the angrier he became. The anger was so intense, he could feel his own body trembling. He started to shove Xiao Li again and again, “I fucking said, who was fucking willing to do it? Tell me clearly, who was fucking willing? Besides cheap sluts, who would be fucking willing? Did I willing do it back then? Tell me! Huh!! Or are you saying, you were willing to back——”
“You need to calm down a bit.” Xiao Li grabbed his hand and dragged him to the side, “The situations are different. What are you going crazy for?”
Having Xiao Li yelled at him, Han Jia realized that he had lost his own self-control.
Xiao Li calmly collected his voice and looked around and apologized. “Sorry, Han Jia. I’ve disturbed your business.”
Han Jia snorted, his anger having somewhat dispelled. “Anyways, the business is not mine. But, do you really want to learn from Lei Feng or, or——”
Xiao Li gave him an explanation, “The teacher from yesterday is Xiao Yang’s friend.”
Han Jia stared at him in disbelief. “You, you just…” He was truly at a loss for words as he continued to exert all his energy into staring. “It’s honestly worth it to be your brother. The person himself hasn’t even appeared yet and you’re already helping his friend. You…” he let out another sigh, “You can’t be like this. With Xiao Yang around, you don’t know how to be heartless at all.” After thinking about it for a few more seconds, he talked again. “It’s possible to not involve in Xiao Yang’s affairs, but you’re just freaking stubborn. In any case, you can’t go back to the ‘righteous path’, being a criminal also has its good point, so why bother?”
Xiao Li didn’t say anything.
“Why don’t you study from me? Enjoy the present while you can Xiao Li.”
Han Jia patted Xiao Li’s shoulder and laughed with a flirtatious expression.
“Eat when you want to eat, sleep when you want to sleep and have fun when you want to have fun. That way, life is truly worth living!”
Early that morning, after Qi Xiuyuan had heartlessly deleted Xiao Li’s phone number, his heart felt empty and desolate… almost as if someone had reached in and ripped out all his emotions.
Even though he had always found it difficult to dial the number when he had it, now that it was deleted, he felt even worse. The pain was more surreal than he could have imagined. It seemed like, whether one of your secret desire was fulfilled or not was one matter, and actually having that desire or not was another matter.
Jiang Xiaoning had asked him several times about the so-called ‘person that helped him out’ which only made Qi Xiuyuan’s mood worse.
Over time, Jiang Xiaoning did not ask him anymore, but every time Qi Xiuyuan saw him, he would think of that person. It was to the point that even after the class ended, he still did not want to look at Jiang Xiaoning’s face.
The hardest times were at night, he had to try his hardest to let his mind be consumed with something else. But your desires are a reflection of your feelings. The more you suppress it, the more intense it will become.
For the past few days, Qi Xiuyuan had not able to sleep soundly which in turn made him extremely fatigued during the daytime.
Although his spirit was high during class, the moment it ended, his only desire was to lean against his office desk with moving before letting his brain become a blank sheet.
The group leader in the same research team as he was a kind older sister. That day, she said to him, “Xiao Qi, is there something going on at home?”
“No,” he quickly replied without bothering to lift his head off his desk.
“Are you sick?”
“Then, why have you been so restless this entire week?”
“Reading, ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’.”15
The older sister remained silent for about ten seconds before she hit Qi Xiuyuan’s head with a textbook. “You’re wasting money even though you don’t have much. I must’ve hit you too hard last time.”
She reached into her desk and pulled out a sheet of report paper and threw it over to him.
“There’s a seminar you should attend that taking place in Yuncheng county. There are tons of streams and mountains around the area that you can visit to calm down your feelings a bit.”
Qi Xiuyuan was all too willing since escaping from the city tantamount to escaping from the thoughts that plagued him.
Once he was in Yuncheng, he quickly engrossed himself in the water and mountains surrounding the area. For several days, he incessantly crammed his brains with new knowledge and kept his schedule packed. That way, he wouldn’t have any free time to think about the person that he shouldn’t.
Consequently, the people that went to the seminar all thought that he was someone who was unsociable. When there was a break in between the meetings, not only did he not go with everyone for a tour, he was also unwilling to stay in the hotel to play poker or chess with them. He always went somewhere alone and returned late at night covered in dust.
The day before the seminar ended, leaders and participants went sightseeing at a newly opened mountain terrain.
Since the mountain was high, everyone rode the cable car up beside Qi Xiuyuan who was already ahead, following the mountain path alone on foot.
It was unknown how long he walked, but the paths changed many times, instead of being just a straight line. To the side of the path was a simple and crude little shrine and sitting cross-legged in front of the temple was an old Buddhist monk.
There was an alms bowl held tightly in his hands and to the side of him was a red banner that read, ‘It’s fate to donate; protect yourself from calamity.’ Below those eight large characters were some small characters and brightly colored designs.
Suddenly feeling exhausted, Qi Xiuyuan sat down beside the old monk and looked at the pitiful alms bowl. There were only five cents worth of coins inside. He looked at the small characters on the red banner again. It concerned the cycle of karma and stated: what good results are there in the killing, what good results are there in hurting, what good results are there in lusting?
Qi Xiuyuan ended up staring at it for a long while.
The design on the bottom explained that after an evil person descended into hell, he will suffer all kinds of pains such as being struck by lightning, climbing mountains constructed by blades and then falling into a great cauldron filled with hot boiling oil. Aside from those were various other painful experiences that evildoers could face.
Feeling a burst of sharp pain charging incessantly into his chest, Qi Xiuyuan held his head with his hands. Within seconds, a burst of trembles overtook his entire body.
The old monk was scared for a moment from the sudden movement before he asked with a quivering tone of voice, “What’s wrong?”
Qi Xiuyuan shook his head. After what seemed like ages, he finally stood up and fished around for the money that he had brought with him. Altogether, there was a total of about ¥300. He placed it into the old monk’s alms bowl along with his wristwatch.
The old monk was dumbstruck. He stammered for words but couldn’t produce anything.
However, Qi Xiuyuan did not turn to look at him. He made his way down the mountain via the same path he had used going up without having the nerve to look at that red banner again.
Accompanied by the faint sounds of birds chirping and the light breeze brushing by him, he continued to make his way down.
Qi Xiuyuan slowly calmed down his breathing.
Since you are suffering this much because of him, why are you still so confused?
He took out his cellphone and pressed the number he had already deleted yet had long memorized by heart. His finger was right above the call button, but he didn’t press it. He hovered over it for a period of time, then he suddenly smiled.
Then, he loudly said to himself, “Qi Xiuyuan, are you even a man?”
14 Lei Feng [雷锋] – Léi Fēng (18 December 1940 – 15 August 1962) was a soldier of the Chinese army in Communist legend. After his death, Lei was characterized as a selfless and modest person devoted to the Communist Party, Mao Zedong, and the people of China. In 1963, he became the subject of a nationwide posthumous propaganda campaign, “Follow the examples of Comrade Lei Feng.” Lei was portrayed as a model citizen, and the masses were encouraged to emulate his selflessness, modesty, and devotion to Mao. After Mao’s death, Lei Feng remained a cultural icon representing earnestness and service. His name entered daily speech and his imagery appeared on T-shirts and memorabilia.
15 The Unbearable Lightness of Being – a novel by a 1984 novel by Milan Kundera, about two women, two men, a dog and their lives in the 1968 Prague Spring period of Czechoslovak history.
<The Unbearable Lightness of Being> opens with a philosophical discussion of lightness versus heaviness. Kundera contrasts Nietzsche’s philosophy of eternal return, or of heaviness, with Parmenides’s understanding of life as light. Kundera wonders if any meaning or weight can be attributed to life since there is no eternal return: if a man only has the opportunity to try one path, to make one decision, he cannot return to take a different path and then compare the two lives. Without the ability to compare lives, Kundera argues, we cannot find meaning; where meaning should exist we find only unbearable weightlessness. The uncertain existence of meaning, and the opposition of lightness and heaviness, the key dichotomy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, sets the stage for the entire novel.