It’s easy to get on a criminal ship but hard to get off
“Teachers, you’ve all worked hard. Come down and have a drink!”
Headmaster Zhang’s wife, Zhang Sao held two mugs in her hands as she led a tall and fair-skinned young lady with a thermos flask toward two young men.
Han Jia was in the middle of reinforcing the window frame. There was still a nail in between his lips when he waved his hand at the two approaching figures.
This year, the new volunteer, Cui Wei was standing on a ladder and holding onto the eaves as he watched the old teachers repair the roof. When he heard what Zhang Sao said and saw the mugs, he touched his head and said, “There’s no need.”
Contrariwise, it was Liu De Zhu who cheerfully answered. Without letting go of the small broom in his hand, he raced out of the classroom and impolitely took the mug and held it between his hands. Afraid of the hot water, he blew at it and took a drink.
When Han Jia came down, the water was already at the bottom of the mug. Liu De Zhu smiled and said, “I’m thirsty! Don’t do what I just did, wait until it cools down before drinking it.”
“It’s fine.” Han Jia said, not in the least concerned as he took the mug from that young lady. He did what Liu De Zhu did and blew into the mug and drank the water but nearly choked on it instead. Liu De Zhu couldn’t help but to laugh as he patted his back, but Han Jia avoided it.
He doesn’t know whether it stemmed from a kind of psychological compensation or not, but since he no longer used his body and life to do business, he would unconsciously want to show some masculinity. He wanted to learn how to talk and laugh loudly like others…he wanted to learn some crude manners from others—it was to the point that sometimes, even he himself, thought that it was too excessive. But he could never control it. It seemed, only when he did it was he able to prove that he was completely different from who he was before.
Soon, Liu De Zhu returned to cleaning the classroom. Zhang Sao also followed inside to help him. The tall young lady smiled at Han Jia, “Han Laoshi, I have good news to tell you.”
Han Jia looked up at her.
The young lady was all smiles as she looked at him, “Zhang Sao saw that I had a long-term plan to stay so she helped me find a place to stay in the village.”
Han Jia slightly frowned, “Big Reporter Yu, if I remember correctly, didn’t you want to leave?”
“I know you don’t welcome me, but if I just give up because I some difficulties, I wouldn’t come to such a poor and inhospitable to do interviews.” Reporter Yu’s attitude was both gentle and warm, “Also, can you not call me a big reporter? Just call me Xiu Jun. You know, I just became an official reporter recently!”
Han Jia looked at her for a while, “I heard that before you graduated from university, you wrote several sensational articles. Weren’t you already known as a star of the reporting world? Why are you being so modest? Say, is there a follow-up on the article about the migrant workers’ children? Don’t you need to follow up on that?”
“I have a colleague following up with an investigation on that already. Now, I found an even more newsworthy issue.” Yu Xiu Jun looked at him and smiled, “A mysterious person has unknowingly disappeared after donating a large sum of money to several schools in the west. Later, it has been discovered that he now resides in the mountainous area as a teacher with a meager salary and harsh living conditions.” Her eyes glowed as excitement appeared on her face, “If it works out well, first I won’t announce the identity of the mysterious person and launch a nationwide campaign to look for kindhearted people to hook in everyone’s appetite, then—”
Han Jia once again interrupted her, “Reporter Yu, you already said that many times. Look around—”
Yu Xiu Jun sighed and interrupted him. She pointed at the school building surrounded by the slightly dilapidated brick walls. “You also said it many times but I still came back. Liu De Zhu gave up his work in the city and came here to teach. He often entered the mountains and catch poisonous insects and sell it in order to support the construction of the school. Wang Laoshi would rather cross Baili Road every day to bring extracurricular class to subsidize families than to give up on the children here to teach in the city. Headmaster Zhang always get beaten up by the student’s parents for the sake of bringing kids that had dropped out to class…I understand what you mean, but Han Laoshi, every time you talk with me, I always wanted to ask you, do you know what social effects are? Only when one stands out from the masses, can one attract the attention of others. All the attention has been drawn to ordinary teachers in the west who dedicates themselves to education. People are already too familiar with it. It’s enough for them to just look at the titles in the newspapers. They won’t even glance down because the contents are always like that—the same. Even the most exotic delicacies will become unsatisfying one day. But what I want to offer them is something fresh, suspenseful, legendary and dramatic. You provide the ingredients and I will cook it. The table will then be full of mysterious dishes that will entice plenty of praises from the diners…”
“It also allows the chef to enjoy both fame and fortune,” Han Jia connected the sentence, “The ingredients will never come again.”
Yu Xiu Jun froze as she looked at him with a humiliated expression. Han Jia simply turned a blind eye, “Big Reporter…Reporter Yu, I believe I already said everything clearly, I don’t want to be your ingredient. I just want to live here peacefully. Go can go find someone else who will willingly open their chest and put it on the table for you.”
Hearing that, Yu Xiu Jun stared at him and bit her lower lips, however, her eyes were direct and packed with determination.
Han Jia raised an eyebrow. Just as he was about to say something, he heard Cui Wei shouting from the ladder.
“Wow, how awesome. A land cruiser!”
“What did you say?” Liu De Zhu stuck his head out the window.
“A nice car!” Cui Wei held his hand straight above his eyes and look out into the distant. “Isn’t it a new volunteer, how impressive!”
“What’s so impressive?” Came another voice from the roof, “I heard you came by plane.”
“That’s because my mother insisted on buying a plane ticket for me. In fact, my family is pretty ordinary. At the time, I—”
Cui Wei seemed as though he was afraid of being misunderstood and panicked to explain himself. But Liu De Zhu had already drilled out of the window and patted on the ladder. “Okay, okay, there’s no need to explain. Hurry up and come down, I also want to go up and see the cruiser. Hey, hey, don’t jump down. Just come down one step at a time, okay?”
Since they made such a fuss on the ladder, it caused a group of teachers on the roof to look down. They talked and laughed, bustling with noise and excitement.
“Han Laoshi,” Yu Xiu Jun grabbed his arm, “Let’s walk and talk.”
Han Jia glanced out of the corner of his eyes, and seeing that no one noticed them, he quietly turned and walked toward the door with Yu Xiu Jun.
“I’m not targeting you. I have my own goals that I have to reach.” Yu Xiu Jun said slowly, “Han Laoshi, I’ve seen people like you before, with the kind of experience that’s not so brilliance? How about we do a multiple-choice question?”
Someone called from the rooftop, “Xiao Hanwhere are you taking the young lady?”
Yu Xiu Jun turned around and smiled. Then while maintaining a poised expression, she continued to ask, “‘Only after countless calls did the mysterious person appear. The prodigal son abandoned the rich girl to volunteer teaching in the west,‘ that title is even better, or would, ‘Harboring ulterior motives, the tainted teacher mixed into the western teaching program; he cut off his own arms to help himself—the donor pretended to be the gardener as he had his own evil intentions’, attract more people?”
Han Jia also turned around and waved at the teachers on the roof while talking to Yu Xiu Jun, “It’s too wordy, unclear, and doesn’t hold any power. Is this the level of a star reporter?” He lowered his head to look at her, his voice was even gentler and warmer than hers. “Young lady, you’re making a deceitful person with an ulterior motive and malicious heart have no place to hide. Are you really not scared at all?”
Yu Xiu Jun quietly said, “I have some information about your donations that I’ve investigated during the past few months. There are also some other things…my friend over there has a copy of it as well. If something suddenly happens to me, my friends won’t be that easy to deal with.”
Han Jia snorted and whispered, “I don’t believe he has three heads and six arms.”
“I definitely don’t.”
Hearing the deep voice coming from behind them, Yu Xiu Jun immediately turned around and threw herself into the person’s arm.
However, Han Jia was startled and froze for a while before he slowly turned around.
He saw the black body of an off-road vehicle blazing beneath the sun outside of the slightly dilapidated school gate.
He saw that the young man hugging Yu Xiu Jun was tall and handsome with a cheeky expression.
“Han Laoshi,” Yu Xiu Jun smiled, “This is my boyfriend, Jiang Xiao Ning.”
Han Jia looked straight at Jiang Xiao Ning and used a smile that he considered being the calmest.
“Nice to meet you,” he said.
Laoshi – teacher
Xiao Han – the term ‘xiao’ means little/small, it’s a term of endearment for familiarity
三头六臂lit. to have three heads and six arms (idiom)/ fig. to possess remarkable abilities / a being of formidable powers