CALLING the SONS HOME
Translate: Nancy | Edit: Sae
For the past couple of days, since there were no urgent matters that needed to be rushed in the military compound, Gu Wei Ting was left relatively free to attend to his own affairs. For some indiscernible reason, he was suddenly interested in going to Bai Luo Yin and Gu Hai’s depraved nest for a look.
When the front door was pushed open, a rather oppressive atmosphere could be felt permeating the entire room, leaving a dull scent to roam around. Perhaps, the scent lingered since the windows had not been opened for such a long time.
Once Gu Wei Ting pulled the window curtains to the side and cracked the glass frame up for a look outside, he was met with a bustling commercial street, crowded with an endless stream of cars and people maneuvering at every direction.
As he let his eyes travel out a bit further, he noticed a vehicle driving into the neighborhood. His heart suddenly tightened when two people emerged from within the car, but when he took another glance, those silhouettes had disappeared, leaving only the noisy streets to infiltrate his ears.
On the balcony sat several pots of flowers that had started to wilt. The once colorful and blooming plants had now lost half of its luster in a competition to match the room’s dull atmosphere. The watering can that was thrown outside was still there, but after freezing and thawing throughout the entire winter, its shape was now deformed.
Gu Wei Ting scanned the rooms with his curious eyes. On the kitchen countertop were tableware such as cutlery, glassware, and dishes, all of which were in a set. All the seasonings were sorted and placed properly in a small overhead cabinet. The lid of a jar containing the salt was still open as it was before and the salt itself had already become small hardened lumps. A small spoon was resting inside the jar, silently waiting to be used.
Letting his eyes linger on the jar for a few seconds longer, Gu Wei Ting couldn’t even start to imagine what it would look like if Gu Hai used his two big hands to hold such a small spoon. What was even harder to imagine was how could Gu Hai calmly stand here, cooking and working on such extremely tedious and trivial things.
Then his eyes moved to the side. The once green vegetables had long withered and any remaining leaves that had given it a glimmer of life now weakly collapsed at the edge of the basket. The vegetables inside the basket were in a sorry state as well. Speckles of dark spots were scattered all over the surface of the potatoes, making it even more evident that it had already gone moldy a long time ago. The eggplants, on the other hand, had shriveled and decayed until it was the width of a little finger. The only remaining thing that did not seem completely bad was an onion. Although it still looked good, once Gu Wei Ting picked it up, he realized that the outermost layer of the onion that sat on the basket has become rotten, slippery and muddy.
When he opened the fridge, there were all kinds of cooked meals, soft drinks, marinated meats, and vegetables……all of which were tightly squeezed in there, but nonetheless, they were very neatly stacked. Perhaps before being forcibly taken away, they had wanted to prepare an extravagant lunch, but unfortunately, there was no time.
Gu Wei Ting made his way towards the bathrooms. Fortunately, both bathrooms were still very clean. The toilet cover was changed to a brand new one before they left and contrary to some of their sloppy behaviors, the bathtub was thoroughly cleaned after every use as well. Strangely, there was bald duck sitting silently on the vanity unit. Originally, the duck had a luscious lock of feathers but someone’s fidgety hands plucked it all off.
Stacked neatly on the shelf were a set of toiletries arranged for two people. A bottle of face wash was practically full while the other was nearly empty. It was clear that the two used these skin care products interchangeably and didn’t differentiate which was “mine or yours”. For them, whichever belonged to either didn’t matter since they belonged to each other.
Gu Wei Ting picked up the toothbrush holder and carefully examined the details on it. Printed on the surface of the cup was an image of Gu Hai. The Gu Hai permanently embedded there had an adorable and mischievous pout; an expression that deserves a good belting. On the other cup was an image of Bai Luo Yin wearing the same mischievous expression. Gu Wei Ting placed the two toothbrush holders next to each other, and as expected, the two pouted lips joined into a kiss.
Seriously, I don’t want to admit that these two idiots are my sons!
With just one glance, it wasn’t hard to notice that the bedroom had been tidied since it was a lot neater compared to the last time he came over. There were only one thick comforter and a long fluffy pillow laying comfortably on the bed. Judging by this simple arrangement, it was easy to guess how the two usually slept. When he pulled open the bedside cabinet to the left, there was a box of condoms with every possible color inside, and in the cabinet to the right was a box of lubricants containing every possible flavor.
After a while, Gu Wei Ting sat on the bed and gazed quietly around this small yet warm and cozy bedroom. Contrary to his stern expression, there were all types of emotions circling his heart.
It was already the ninth day since they had arrived in Tibet. Gu Hai and Bai Luo Yin spent most of their time running around and exploring every well-known scenic spot. Occasionally, when they were tired, they would stroll along the small streets in order to gain more knowledge of the local traditions.
When Gu Yang called, Gu Hai and Bai Luo Yin were sitting on a boat with leather plastered on the side, in the middle of Lake Yang Zhuo Tong Cuo, enjoying the view of the beautiful mountain landscape around them.
Today, the wind that blew across the lake was unusually strong, making it somewhat uncomfortable when they opened their mouth to breathe.
“Hello?” Apart from the howling wind, Gu Yang didn’t hear anything else.
Gu Hai also used all of his strength and shouted loudly, “Ge, what’s up?”
“Your dad agreed not to interfere with the two of you anymore. Hurry up and come back.”
“What? What did you say?”
Feeling quite lazy to repeat himself again, Gu Yang hung up the phone immediately after.
As the strong wind continued to relentlessly fly by them, Bai Luo Yin quickly pulled up his collar which covered half of his face. Then he helped Gu Hai pulled him up a bit too.
Once Gu Hai put his cell phone down, he couldn’t help but ask, “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know. All I heard was my dad something, something, then the call disconnected…….” Shrugging his shoulder slightly, Gu Hai placed the phone back into his pocket. Not in the least concern, he said a few more words, “Don’t worry about it. If he wants to chase us down, then he can do just that…… master, please steer the boat further out!”
Two days later, Gu Yang called again, “Have you arrived in Beijing yet?”
Still, in a daze from being unwillingly pulled out of his sleep, Gu Hai faintly answered. “What do you mean, ‘have we arrived in Beijing?’”
“Don’t tell me you two haven’t left yet?”
“Left? Left to where?”
Gu Yang’s tone immediately hardened with an icy touch. “Where are you guys now?”
“In Tibet!” Gu Hai said as he yawned and sat up.
“I’ll give you three days. Pack up now and get on the plane back to Beijing immediately.”
In just a split second, Gu Hai’s exhausted mental state sobered up, “Return to Beijing? What would we return to Beijing for?”
“Don’t tell me you didn’t hear anything I said when I called two days ago?”
“I was on the lake when you called. The wind was too strong that day and plus, all the birds were chirping so loudly around us. I didn’t hear what you said clearly at all. Can you say it again?”
Humph! Gu Yang snorted coldly, “Looks like you’re living a carefree life.”
Heeding him no attention, Gu Hai glanced down at Bai Luo Yin who was still sound asleep and gently caressed his body. Then he lazily asked, “What exactly is going on?”
“Your dad has agreed not to interfere with the two of you anymore. He has given you five days to return. He said he must see you by then. You two already wasted two days so there are only three days left. Leave as soon as possible.”
Gu Hai laughed grimly, “You’re setting up a trap, aren’t you? You don’t have any good intentions!”
“Who’s setting up a trap? Stop the nonsense and get come back immediately.”
The hand that Gu Hai employed to slowly slide up and down Bai Luo Yin’s body suddenly came to a stop before his expression finally returned to its normal color.
“Are you really telling me the truth?”
Gu Yang snorted then laughed again, “Is there anything exciting about tricking someone with your IQ?”
Having momentarily forgotten that his hand was still on Bai Luo Yin’s chest, Gu Hai abruptly gripped the sensitive skin too hard. The sudden pain immediately dragged Bai Luo Yin out of whatever dream he was having. But just before Bai Luo Yin could erupt like a volcano at its boiling point, Gu Hai hastily stretched his hand out to stroke his hair a few times. In just a few seconds, the gentle sensation lulled Bai Luo Yin back to sleep again.
By the time Bai Luo Yin woke up again, Gu Hai was already sitting in an upright position on the chair beside the bed with a rather anxious expression outlining his stern face.
“What’s going on?” Bai Luo Yin vaguely remembered hearing Gu Hai talking to someone on the phone earlier this morning.
Gu Hai let out a sigh, “My dad won’t interfere with us anymore.”
Bai Luo Yin’s expression was rather calm as he slowly sat up and quietly shoot Gu Hai a glance, “Then, what are you still worried about?”
“I don’t know.” Gu Hai’s gaze slackened, “I just think it’s quite boring now.”
Giving him another glance, Bai Luo Yin put on his clothes, got off the bed, then lazily dragged his legs to the bathroom. Within seconds, he walked back out with a mouth full of toothpaste and looked squarely at Gu Hai. There was a hint of warmth and unwillingness in the way his gaze fell on the person in front of him.
“Actually, I don’t really want to go home either, hehe……”
Gu Hai stood up and walked towards the bathroom. With a similar lazy like expression to that of Bai Luo Yin, he leaned his body heavily against the doorframe. A ray of light touched with a mischievousness appeared in his gaze.
“How about we stay here for a few more days?”
“That’s enough.” Bai Luo Yin rinsed his mouth, “You don’t want to return home?”
The corner of Gu Hai’s lips perked before he said a couple more words, ‘I have conflicting thoughts’, then he listlessly walked back.
When Bai Luo Yin finally came out of the bathroom, Gu Hai was already sprawled on the big bed, groaning as if he was in pain over some sort of imaginary nonsense that he had just contrived. Seeing him like that, Bai Luo Yin also lied down beside him and grabbed his hand.
The two that had been suffering together then howled and wailed dramatically about their grievances.
A moment later, they suddenly jumped up and began to excitedly pack their belongings.
We’re going back home. We can finally go back home!!
Regardless of how beautiful the scenery here is, it does not belong to us.
Like spurring a horse to its full speed, Bai Luo Yin and Gu Hai tried as fast as they could to get home. However, by the time they returned, it was already the end of April.
When Bai Han Qi learned that Bai Luo Yin was returning home, he stood outside of the house every day with high expectation. His expectation for his son’s return was so high that his neck had grown quite long. So long that it could surpass that of a giraffe. Finally, the son he longed for was actually returning.
Before long, the two returned to their own respective home.
In order to see Bai Luo Yin as soon as possible, Aunt Zou did not go to the restaurant today. She had even taken the measure to go out and purchase grocery early in the morning so that the kitchen table was crowded with plates of food. After quickly finishing, she began to hover at the doorway without any restraint. She remained there until 2PM before she finally saw Bai Luo Yin’s shadow came into her line of sight. With just one glance, her tears immediately began to roll down uncontrollably.
“My child, you must have suffered a lot out there, haven’t you? Look, your little face is all burnt now. Just look, you’re so dark, so dark…”
Bai Luo Yin actually felt embarrassed to admit to his family that he was tanned from leisurely traveling and relaxing.
“Quick, go over and see your grandparents. Your grandma cried the entire night because she didn’t see you on New Year’s Eve. She even thought something had happened to you. No matter what we said to console her, she wouldn’t listen.”
Bai Luo Yin’s heart sank as he hurriedly walked towards his grandparent’s room.
The moment Grandma Bai saw Bai Luo Yin, she burst into tears just like a little child, “Grandma thought you had died….” she muttered between sobs.
Looking at her, Bai Luo Yin didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He quickly began to coax her, “Grandma, aren’t I here now? During New Year’s, I had to go to another province to participate in some activities. It’s a very important activity that the school organized, and if I didn’t go, they wouldn’t let me take the university entrance exams.”
Grandma Bai asked again, “Didn’t you even miss grandma?”
At those words, a twinge of pain couldn’t help but squeezed its way into Bai Luo Yin’s heart. He held Grandma Bai’s hand tightly and said, “Of course I missed you. I missed you every day.”
However, from the look of it, Grandma Bai appeared to have not heard what he had just said. She incessantly asked the same question over and over again, “Didn’t you even miss grandma?……Didn’t you even miss grandma?……Didn’t you even miss grandma?……”
Grandma Bai said each of these words very clearly, to the point that even she was unsure of how many times it must have circled her frail mind.
By now, Bai Luo Yin was on the verge of tears. He got up to get a towel to wipe Grandma Bai’s sullen face.
Grandpa Bai, on the other hand, could only draw back the corners of his lips into a small smile once he saw Bai Luo Yin’s face. His stroke complications were more apparent now as he could only mutter ah and smile some more at his grandson, unable to say anything else.
Just as Gu Hai’s car entered the neighborhood, he immediately saw Gu Yang standing at the entranceway to his residential building. Gu Hai sat in the car and began to smile at him, but Gu Yang instead stared at him with an expressionless face. Gu Hai got out of the car and walked towards Gu Yang.
“How did you manage to get so burnt?”
To that, Gu Hai merely grinned from ear to ear, “How bright looking is this skin tone.”
Gu Yang sneered coldly, “Your teeth are so white.”
After a few more words of exchange, the two walked side by side into the elevator. As the elevator rose, Gu Yang cast Gu Hai a glance to which Gu Hai also returned a glance. But then their eyes met. Their gazes seemed rather incompatible like that of fire and water. Perhaps they both recalled the incident regarding village chief Gu and the spineless coward.
Once they reached the doorsteps of the house, Gu Yang finally spoke, “Your dad is inside.”
Gu Hai’s footsteps halted for a moment as he gazed vigilantly at Gu Yang.
“What? You’re already at the door, yet you’re still afraid it’s a trap? Where did all of your guts go?”
Gu Hai groaned coldly, then walked in.
At that moment, Gu Wei Ting was sitting on the sofa in an upright and still position. His expression did not change much even after he saw his son whom he had longed to see returned.
“Dad.” Gu Hai faintly called out.
Gu Wei Ting did not respond. It was not clear whether he heard it or whether he was unwilling to acknowledge Gu Hai’s presence.
Still hearing no response, Gu Hai grabbed his luggage and went into his bedroom. Then he placed his things down and changed into some comfortable clothes before walking out to get a glass of water. It only took him a few seconds to gulp down the entire glass.
“I said I won’t interfere with you two, but it doesn’t mean that I will support you either. If you want my approval, wait until your next life.”
Gu Hai secretly voiced to himself.
I don’t need your approval. Just if you don’t bother us then that’s enough.
Even though Gu Hai had those thoughts, he still responded out of courtesy, “Thank you for your understanding dad.”
After hearing that Gu Wei Ting’s expression took a slight turn for the better as he glanced at Gu Hai. In fact, he had been secretly observing Gu Hai the moment he stepped through the door. It was just, he didn’t openly stare at or give Gu Hai a proper look.
Gu Hai wanted to thank himself for taking a trip to Tibet because the trip had led Gu Wei Ting to believe that he had endured such hardships to the point that he did not eat well and had to sleep outdoors in the cold nights. Altogether it probably seemed like he did not spend any pleasurable times there. If Gu Wei Ting knew that Gu Hai had spent his days like he was on a romantic honeymoon, he reckoned that his father would send him away to serve a death sentence in a fit of fury.
“Let me ask you, what plans do you have regarding university?”
“I don’t have any plans.” Gu Hai answered honestly.
From a short distance, Gu Yang looked at Gu Hai with a gloomy expression.
Unpleasantness eased its way into Gu Wei Ting’ gaze, “You don’t have any plans? Then, what do you want to do? Are you just going to take the university entrance exams? With your ability, even if you beat yourself to death, at best you’d only make it into a third-rate university. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”
Gu Hai doesn’t have the slightest interest to discuss this matter with Gu Wei Ting. Even if he spoke his mind, Gu Wei Ting wouldn’t understand. He might as well keep his mouth shut and do whatever he wanted to do instead.
“Put the cigarette down now!” Gu Wei Ting shouted loudly in rage.
Without any other option, Gu Hai put the stick of cigarette back into its package.
A second later, Gu Wei Ting pointed his finger directly at Gu Hai, “I’ll give you a suggestion. Either you enlist or take an entrance exam to become a national defense cadet. If you stay in China, these are your only two choices.”
“Can you stop criticizing and telling me what to do with my life?”
Looking at Gu Hai’s attitude, Gu Wei Ting immediately became angry, “I’ve already given you all the freedom that I could possibly give!”
Just as Gu Hai was about to speak again, Gu Yang interrupted and spoke first. “Uncle, let’s wait until after the university entrance exams are over before discussing this matter again. Let Xiao Hai rest for a couple of days first.”
Gu Wei Ting’s cold and sharp pupils stared intently at Gu Hai for a long while before he finally stood up to take his leave. But once he got to the door, he abruptly stopped. Then without even turning his head around, he said, “I’ve removed the two boxes from your bedside cabinets!”
It was only after Gu Wei Ting had entered the elevator did Gu Hai realized what he meant and reacted. He gritted his teeth roughly together and shouted while fuming with anger:
“Old – perverted – thief!”