Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
After half a bell worth of time, Liu Qing finally stopped her tears.
She pointed towards the river and said to Zhang Xiaohua, “Xiaohua, look at the river. It began as a tiny stream, then flowed into the creek, which flowed into the river, which eventually grow wider and wider until it flowed into the sea. Just like us humans, the water has a path to follow, and its destination is the large open sea. If the river stopped flowing, what do you think will happen to it? It will become still, and smelly, and lose the meaning of its life. People are the same, we have to go through our birth, growth and death. That is the full meaning of life. I do not know much about those immortals, but for ordinary people like us, growing old and falling sick is part of life, and is a melody in a song.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked curiously, “Why can’t we live forever?”
Liu Qing replied, “Because we don’t know how to.”
She then continued to explain, “Look at grandmother, she is already over eighty years old. After going through so much storms in her life, from when she first learnt to speak, grew up, met your grandfather, formed her family and had your mother, up till when she watched your mother meet your father, and even see her grandchildren; she has already lived the full cycle of life, and should not have many regrets left. Thus, you should feel happy for her. Eighty years of life is more than what most people could have.”
Zhang Xiaohua raised his head and asked, “Then what should I do?”
Liu Qing stroke Xiaohua’s head and said, “What you need to do right now, is to pack your feelings aside and spend meaningful time with your grandmother, to let her enjoy her last moments in life beside her grandchildren, so that she will not have any regrets before she leaves.”
The darkness in Zhang Xiaohua’s heart slowly began to dissipate, and a smile appeared across his face she said, “Elder sister Liu, you sure know many things, and can explain them well so that even I can understand. If I were to tell these to my mother, she would surely hit me and say that I should not accommodate such thoughts.”
Liu Qing replied, “Everyone has their own way of expressing their thoughts. Your mother would do so because it is her way to tell you not to think too much, I am simply telling you the same thing in a different way. If you find it easier to understand, then you can turn to me for any other matters in the future.”
Zhang Xiaohua mischievously added, “Of course, I will have many things to tell elder sister in the future.”
Liu Qing said, “Mischievous rascal, lets hurry and draw the water. The sun is going to be high up in the sky soon, and your mother is going to nag again.”
Zhang Xiaohua stuck out his tongue and said, “Then let’s hurry. However, with you around, mother will definitely not blame me for going back late.”
Although he said that, Zhang Xiaohua still rushed to draw the water from the well, because it seems that his grandmother enjoys drinking the water from there.
In the following days, grandmother’s illness seemed to deteriorate even further, and she began to cough out blood. Just as Zhang Xiaohua had said, her illness was not an ordinary cold. At this time, Guo Sufei started to worry, she did not bother to complain to Old Chen, nor did she bother to take care of the injured family members. Instead, she hurriedly found a donkey wagon to bring her to the town to see a doctor. Zhang Xiaohua insisted in going along, but was forced to stay at home by his mother. As the head of the household, Zhang Cai naturally wanted to follow as well, and even though his leg was still injured, he could take the chance to see the doctor as well. Since there was limited space in the wagon, they had to leave this youngest, most doted grandson in home.
The horse carriage left early in the morning, so Zhang Xiaohua helped Liu Qing to look after his two injured elder brothers and do some housework. However, his mind was always on his grandmother, and he often sneaked glances to outside. Even though Liu Qing wanted to tell the three brothers that their grandmother will only arrive by nightfall, on seeing the anxious looks on their faces, she bit her tongue and silently did the rest of the housework.
Time just passed like that, and the sky outside slowly turned dark. Finally, Zhang Xiaohua saw the wagon which was carrying his grandmother back. He immediately jumped off his chair, ignored his two elder brothers, and rushed out of the house. In his hurry, he tripped over a stool, but he still left the house while ignoring the mess.
When he reached the entrance of the courtyard, the wagon has also arrived. The driver got off his seat, led the donkey to take a few steps forward, and tied it to the courtyard entrance.
There were three people wearing thick clothing while sitting at the back although their faces could not be seen clearly. Even before the wagon was stabilized to a halt, Zhang Xiaohua heard a deep cough and he hurtfully walked to the wagon and called “Grandmother~”. Unfortunately, his grandmother was still coughing uncontrollably and could not answer him.
Guo Sufei got off the wagon first, before asking Zhang Xiaohu who had just arrived to help support Zhang Cai down. Then, Zhang Xiaohua and Li Qing carefully helped the grandmother who had finished coughing down as well.
After Zhang Cai paid the wagon driver, the wagon sped off leaving the family standing there by themselves.
Liu Qing and Zhang Xiaohua helped the grandmother who was coughing on the way back into the house. While hearing her coughs, Zhang Xiaohua felt as if his heart has shattered. On the way, the grandmother said with difficulty, “Let’s go to the common room first, so that I can spend more time with you.”
Hence, the two brought her to her common room.
Guo Sufei looked out of her spirits as she walked behind, followed by Zhang Xiaohu who was supporting Zhang Cai, and finally Zhang Xiaolong who still had his clutch on in front of his chest.
The common room was not large, the atmosphere became stuffy, not to mention that everyone did not have a space to sit.
At this moment, the grandmother burst into another fit of coughs, and Liu Qing hurriedly poured a warm cup of water for her.
Liu Qing wanted to speak up to break the silence, but she did not know what to say.
Finally, the grandmother said, “The doctor in the town sure is not ordinarily cheap. Sufei-ah, we should not go there again. Each visit actually costs one silver, our family would have to take a long time to save that amount of money.”
Guo Sufei forced a smile and replied, “Look at what you are saying, mother. If you are sick, then you should see the doctor. Even if our family is poor, we cannot save on this money.”
The grandmother then continued, “I know in my heart what illness I have, and a doctor will be of no use. I already told you that I did not want to go, but you still insisted and wasted a good silver.”
At this moment, Guo Sufei’s eyes turned red, and she said, “Mother, you do not need to worry about us. Didn’t Zhang Cai go to see the doctor as well, we brought you along was because it was on the way.”
The grandmother took another deep breath, sipped on some water, and did not speak anymore, finally allowing Zhang Xiaohua to bring her back to her room.
When Zhang Xiaohua returned to the common room, his mother was crying softly while whipping her tears. His father was dejectedly taking a smoke, while his elder brothers and Liu Qing did not have a good expression on their faces as well.
Zhang Xiaohua already knew that his grandmother’s health was not in a good situation, so he did not asked about the doctor’s diagnosis and silently sat on a stool at one side.
After half a bell worth of time, Guo Sufei finally recovered some of her composure, and stopped crying. Seeing that Zhang Xiaohua has returned, she asked, “Xiaohua, has you grandmother fallen asleep?”
Zhang Xiaohua nodded his head, “Yes, mother. Grandmother is probably tired, she fell asleep as soon as she laid on the platform.”
Guos Sufei turned her head and asked Zhang Cai, “Children’s father, what do you think we should do? Should we go to a better doctor in the city?”
Zhnag Cai puffed heavily on his smoke, closed his eyes and said, “Sigh, did you not hear what the doctor said Mother’s illness is not an ordinary cough, but is due to old age and her body is unable to support itself anymore, so there is no treatment for her. Furthermore, can her body hold out during the trip to the city? The nearest city from here is Pingyang city, and even that is one full day’s worth of journey on horse.”
Guo Sufei became slightly more emotional again, and whimpered, “Then we should just watch her body fail bit by bit? And hear her cough like this every day?”
Zhang Cai laughed bitterly and said, “We do not have any other choice. Hasn’t the doctor said, someone as old as mother is already rare to find. For an eighty year old lady, our mother’s body is already considered healthy. I think we should follow his advice and let her rest well, eat well, and enjoy the rest of her time.”
Guo Sufei was also helpless, she knew that her mother has reached the end of her life, but she still harbored some hope in her heart, and would rather drag her to see different doctors from everywhere. However, in the face of the cruel reality, how much use is does hoping have?
Guo Sufei stared blankly at the little flame in the oil lamp as though deep in thought, and suddenly, she asked Zhang Cai, “Oh right, children’s father, the doctor talked about the thing mother ate. Why do I not know of it?”
Hearing her sentence, Zhang Cai raised his head and looked helplessly at Guo Sufei.
Everyone would not help but ask in unison, “What thing?”
Zhang Cai took another puff on his pipe and said “In the medicinal hall, the doctor already diagnosed your grandmother and said that he could not treat her. However, after your mother pleaded non-stop, he took another close look, and noticed that despite your grandmother’s poor condition, there was something nourishing her body from within, although it was not much. He said that it is probably because she ate ginseng or something equally nourishing recently.”
The whole household was dumbfounded, ginseng? How could the family afford something like that?