Who will be the one to escort the groom?
Translate: Sae | Edit: Nancy | Proofread: anasofi
Since the last time she saw Gu Hai embracing Bai Luo Yin during the lighting exhibition, Yan Ya Jing’s spirit had been in a dissociative state. The feelings cannot be properly expressed, but in short, her perspective on life was completely overturned after that night.
Gu Hai had not appeared in front of her for many days already, and Tong Zhe no longer opposed her in any aspect. She could now freely go in and out of Gu Hai’s office, use his things as she pleased, and even take his position for the time being by sitting in his office chair to command all the staff.
The life she had dreamt of had finally arrived, however, she did not feel anything.
Having always thought that Gu Hai was not an ordinary person, for her to receive this level of treatment was enough to prove the significance of their relationship.233 Since the palatial lighting exhibition ended, and several millions of yuan were spent only to simply illuminate the path home for his lover, Yan Ya Jing discovered that her view of the world was too narrow and shallow. Her characterization of Gu Hai was utterly misconstrued to the extent that anyone would loathe him.
As it turns out, his love is that deep and intense.
That night, witnessing how Gu Hai hugged Bai Luo Yin while crying hysterically, Yan Ya Jing was abruptly awakened by sheer shock— her jealousy was only significant before Tong Zhe. But in front of Bai Luo Yin, the existence of any emotional turmoil was unnecessary, since the disparity was far too great; so great that she didn’t even have the courage to be jealous.
Seeing the background image on Gu Hai’s desktop preserved for over ten years as if it was only a day, Yan Ya Jing regretted her past actions. With such an obviously deep feeling of affection… why am I only noticing it now? If she had even known half a year ago that Gu Hai was madly in love with a person like this, to love a person to the extent that nothing else could fit within the seams of his heart, would she have now been disenthralled by these emotional predicaments from long ago?
If time could be pushed back to nine years ago, to the moment where she sat in the car and listened to Gu Hai’s tone, she would have not superficially placed all her attention on Gu Hai’s handsome face, but rather look more closely at the expression in his eyes. Would the one-sided love tragedy that lasted all these years not had betided?
Unfortunately, it was too late to change any kinds of possibilities, and her youth was thereby dedicated to a false perception.
Bang, bang, bang…
A sudden knock on the door interrupted Yan Ya Jing’s reverie.
She looked up and saw that handsome face of Tong Zhe debonairly drawing closer, one firm step at a time, while his eyes were still as perspicacious, and his smile robust as ever— to say the least. Yan Ya Jing could not fathom how Tong Zhe could still maintain such a haughty attitude after everything.
Does he have another high-profile character to capitalize on? Gu Hai has already gone into the arms of another man!
From the beginning until now, Yan Ya Jing had always classified his situation as being the same as hers. Tong Zhe had never admitted nor denied it. All of it was completely conspired by Yan Ya Jing’s misunderstandings. Let’s just hope she will wake up and face the reality soon.
“Here, the wedding invitation.”
Tong Zhe threw the invitation in front of her.
Yan Ya Jing’s hands trembled as she picked it up and saw how exquisite the cover was. The design on the outside was of two interlocked hands, offset by two rings with traces of having been ravaged by time. Yan Ya Jing recognized one of the rings as being the one that Gu Hai had given her for safekeeping at the restaurant in front of the company. At this point, Yan Ya Jing no longer dared to say the word ‘give’ since she finally understood the reason why Gu Hai was inexplicably jealous in such a situation and consequently gave her the ring.
When she opened the invitation and saw the picture inside, Yan Ya Jing still laughed like before, even though she was in this kind of hopeless mental state.
“Why would they use such a terrible photo as the background image of their invitation card?” Yan Ya Jing could not help but laugh. “Even if they wanted to find an old loving couple with joining hands, shouldn’t they choose a better-looking one?”
In front of her eyes was an elderly man and woman—one had a military overcoat draped over his shoulders with only two teeth remaining and the other was wearing a red cotton-padded jacket with a face full of wrinkles.234
“This is a photo of the two of them,” Tong Zhe said casually.
Yan Ya Jing was instantly blown away.
Upon a closer look, it really did fucking look a little like them!
What are these two doing?
Speaking of this, Gu Hai and Bai Luo Yin’s wedding photos must be mentioned no matter what.
The two had commissioned a celebrated wedding photographer, but a few sets of photos later, they completely shattered his reputation. First, they went to Qingdao and found the sea view room that they had rented back then and shot photos of Young Lady Bai and Village Chief Gu. As if dressing up wasn’t enough, they had to also shoot the photos in a series of phases, from when they were in the prime of their youth all the way to their old and gray-haired days. With such a request, the shooting took no less than a week, and the photographer’s lenses suffered an intense humiliation the entire time as if their time was wasted on such…
After that, they shot a set of military life photos, many of which were of only Bai Luo Yin— covered in mud, drenched in sweat, clothes all disarrayed. No matter what difficult situation he was in, it was shot as to show all the years of hardships that he had endured… but those were definitely not the last of it. The most intense shots were regarded as the sacrificial shots, and in the series, Bai Luo Yin enacted all the ways in which an Air Force pilot can meet with his death. Not only was he dressed up to look bloody and dreadful, but Gu Hai was also made to act as a brokenhearted husband mourning miserably at the side.
Then, they shot a series of nude photos, campus couple photos, family life photos… finally, they hired a famous director to create a romantic documentary with the two personally taking the leading roles as they reenacted their own emotional journey once again. They intended to show this during their wedding.
All other details of the wedding ceremony were still up for discussion.
Holding the invitation, Yan Ya Jing felt like she was dreaming. The fake invitation for hers and Gu Hai’s engagement was still locked up inside her desk, and that card was presentable ah! The Gu Hai in that photo was more handsome, carefree and confident ah! However, when that one was in her hand, it was cold and empty instead. Looking at this card again, if it was taken out for others to see, they would certainly not be able to hold back and laugh their heads off. But holding it in the palm of one’s hand, it exuded a nice and warm feeling.
Tong Zhe lit a stick of cigarette and sat opposite of Yan Ya Jing.
“Don’t smoke in front of me,” Yan Ya Jing remarked with a loathing expression. “I hate the smell of cigarette.”
“Good, let the smoke get to you,” Tong Zhe faintly said. “In case you are not clear-headed yet.”
For some reason, Yan Ya Jing felt that Tong Zhe was no longer a threat to her, however—she was nevertheless unwilling to admit defeat in front of him.
“I was clear-headed a long time ago.”
“Clear-headed a long time ago?” Tong Zhe had on a doubtful expression, “You were in an unrequited love for three years, right? How can you be clear-headed so quickly?”
“Three years?” Yan Ya Jing laughed bitterly. “It has been broadly nine years but narrowly five years already.”
Tong Zhe could not believe it. In this kind of day and age, where society was perpetually dominated by materialistic ideologies, how can such a thing as ‘unrequited love’ rival that of an overly consumerist world, especially when said unrequited love came from a fair, rich and beautiful, Ms. Perfect.
“Your stupidity would piss anyone off,” Tong Zhe said.
Yan Ya Jing snorted coldly, “Pureness is a woman’s most precious asset.”
“Thanks, but what I said was ‘stupid’.”235
In the blink of an eye, Yan Ya Jing threw the ashtray at him.
As if not wanting to keep his life intact, Tong Zhe continued to provoke her. “You are not still a virgin, are you? You haven’t tried to think up of every possible way to give yourself to Gu Hai in all these years?”236
Hearing that, Yan Ya Jing felt extremely abashed and bitter. If I had really given it to him, would I be in this situation now?
Seeing Yan Ya Jing’s expression, the cigarette clamped in between Tong Zhe’s fingers paused. Could it be that he had hit the mark? For a twenty-seven, twenty-eight-year-old woman from a wealthy family who was beautiful and precious to barely have any experience at all was beyond justice! But there was such a person with these qualities, and he had actually come upon her! No wonder, when Gu Hai had encouraged him to change jobs, he had said, ‘there will definitely be a pleasant surprise when you come over here’.
Should I lay the cards on the table and make it clear now?
While Tong Zhe was still thinking, Yan Ya Jing started to speak. “I was previously mistaken about your relationship with Gu Hai, but starting from today on…”
Tong Zhe waited quietly for Yan Ya Jing to finish her words.
“We can officially become best friends.”237 Yan Ya Jing looked at Tong Zhe and revealed a warm smile for the first time.
The corners of Tong Zhe’s mouth pulled back, best friends…
Gu Hai and Bai Luo Yin were still at home discussing their wedding plans.
The two had decided not to seek out a wedding planner and planned out everything by themselves instead; holding onto the idea that if they could use their own people, there was absolutely no need to waste money on hiring an outsider.
“Where did we leave it off at yesterday?” Gu Hai asked.
Bai Luo Yin yawned and said, “The wedding witnesses.”
“Wedding witnesses…” Gu Hai pondered for a moment, “How about my brother?”
Bai Luo Yin’s eyes widened immediately, “You want him to be a witness for the two of us? Would we even we able to get married?”
A mischievous smile instantly smeared across Gu Hai’s mouth, “I want him to personally witness our happiness.”
Bai Luo Yin snorted coldly, “You are moralless, but he is more so than you! If you really dare to give him our testimonies, he will have no qualms in reading it backward! Nope, nope, we cannot take any risks. Change it to someone else, how about Zhou Ling Yun?”
“Him?” Gu Hai glowered, “It would be amazing if he doesn’t bury a few bombs at the venue!”
“How can it be that dramatic?!” Bai Luo Yin tried to shield his superior’s shortcoming, “Our Major General is actually very kindhearted and honest. When I personally handed him the wedding invitation yesterday, he even laughed and said he will come to tease the newlywed!”238
“No!!” Gu Hai bore his fangs immediately, “I’m afraid he will torment me to death!”
Setting the list of witnesses to the side for the time being, the two started to discuss the topic of escorting the groom.239
Gu Hai declared on the spot, “Of course, I will be the one to escort you from your house!”
“Why?” Bai Luo Yin asked.
“Because you are marrying me ah!”240 Gu Hai exclaimed while wearing an expression that said, ‘that is to be expected.’
Bai Luo Yin hit the table and stood up, “Who said I am marrying you? It’s obvious that you are marrying me!!”
233 … the significance of their relationship – what she meant was not referring to love, but trust.
234 image inside the wedding invitation card looks something like that:
235 stupid (蠢chǔn)/pureness (纯chún) – Yan Ya Jing misheard Tong Zhe when he said ‘chun3’ which means ‘stupid or foolish’ for ‘chun2’ which means ‘pure/simple’; note the different character and tonal marks.
236 Actually, he said, “You haven’t thought of every possible way to give your ‘hymen’ to Gu Hai’s penis?’ But nope, that’s too vulgar to me. =.=;; especially since the word they use for hymen was technically ‘membrane’ and ‘lao er’, which means the second son of a family is the slang for penis…
237 best friends (闺蜜guī mì) – actually this term is specifically for friendship between girls, literally sweet/honey/close. Traditionally, a 闺(guī) was the place where unmarried women lived, and 蜜(mì) literally means “honey.” It is usually used to describe women, but in recent years more and more girls have used the pronoun on male friends, giving rise to the word “男闺蜜.” (male best friend)
238 v. tease the newlywed (闹洞房nàodòngfáng); it actually translates more to: ‘disturbing the privacy of the bridal room’ (Chinese custom where guests banter with and play pranks on the newlyweds). In societies that cherished virginity, wedding games that eased the newly married couple’s anxiety around their first night in the bedroom became popular. The Chinese custom of Nao Dongfang, put in place during the Han Dynasty(206 BC to 220 AD), is still practiced today. It teaches the couple about intimacy through a series of dirty jokes and games played by the families of the bride and groom. One such game sees an apple tied to a string and dangled in front of the couple by a friend or family member. The newlyweds both have to try to bite the apple, eventually leading to a kiss—often expedited by the friend moving the apple away at the last moment.
239 escort the groom (迎亲yíngqīn) – (of the groom’s family) to send a bridal sedan chair 花轎｜花轿to fetch the bride / to send a party to escort the bride to the groom’s house. This is for the escort of a bride, but we changed it to ‘groom’ as the couple are both men 🙂
240 The verb “marry” in Chinese has two different words particularly for different genders: Both “嫁” and “娶” mean “marry” in English. 1. 嫁[jià] – a woman marry a man; the subject is the woman; if the subject is female, use ‘嫁’. e.g. jià nǚér 嫁女儿marry off a daughter; jià rén 嫁人get married. 2. 娶[qǔ]：a man marry a woman; the subject is the man; if the subject is male, use ‘娶’.
Gender is an important aspect of marriage culture and it is reﬂected in the Chinese language. The character for “marrying out” a girl, that is, from the perspective of the wife’s family, is jià (嫁), and the character from the husband’s family’s perspective is qǔ(娶), meaning “getting a woman.” This pair of characters obviously indicates the subordinate social status of women in patriarchal Chinese history. This indication is even clearer in the still frequently spoken idiom Jia Chu Qu de Gu Niang Po Chu Qu de Shui (嫁出去的姑娘泼出去的水), meaning that a married daughter is just like poured water—she does not belong to her parents anymore but instead to her husband and his family. 泼出去的水meaning, ‘sth that cannot be retrieved’.
Gu Hai and Bai Luo Yin are both using the term qǔ, which as mentioned above is to get a wife/let a woman into the family, therefore, whoever qǔwill be seen as the ‘male’ (Alpha male).