Chapter 21: Jujube Millet Porridge
Translated by Karcessel of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The days passed by and the cold treatment continued on for over a month. Old Man Yang tried to call every day, but none of the calls ever went through. Things continued on like this, and Old Man Yang became more and more depressed.
Though knowing that unless this matter with Yang JianGuo was resolved Old Man Yang could not be happy, Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu still tirelessly tried to cheer him up.
These past days, Old Man Yang had a lot to think about. A house was not a living creature, but a person was. If he were really to cut ties with his son over a house, he would never have the face to see his wife again even in death. Old Man Yang kept thinking that if not for the fact that Yang JianGuo’s mother had passed away when he was so young, his personality would not be like this now. This was all because he grew up without a mother.
Along this line of thought, there was no point keeping the house. He didn’t have many years left to live in it any way, and if the house was sold, he didn’t think his wife would mind that much.
Old Man Yang ran this through his head for two nights, and came to a decision. He would sell the house. As for the restaurant, he would go with his original plan, and give it to Lin ShuYi. It wasn’t as if Yang JianGuo had any desires to run it himself, and Old Man Yang didn’t plan on moving away to live with them either. He would just rent some place nearby. As the saying went, a leaf always falls near its roots, and Old Man Yang was late in his years now. He didn’t have the youthful exuberance to go settle in another city. He thought spending the rest of his years peacefully watching over this restaurant would be just fine.
Mentioning his intentions to Xiao Wan’s grandmother earned him a harsh scolding. “I’ve always said your temper is too good. Zhao XueMei has been waiting on these exact words, and you’re just going to give in to her wishes like this…”
Old Man Yang sighed, looking at her. “But how could I lose my son over a house?”
Xiao Wan’s grandmother stopped talking. She really pitied the hearts of parents. No matter how awful a son was, there were very few parents willing to fully abandon him. Also, she thought that Yang JianGuo wasn’t really a bad person, he just married a bad wife. “Then are you planning to go find them in the city yourself?”
Old Man Yang sighed again. “Right now, they won’t even pick up my calls. If I don’t go looking for them, what could I do?”
“But if you really moved in with then, could you really stand Zhao XueMei’s temper?”
“I’ve thought it through, and decided I won’t be going to live with them. I’ll just rent a place nearby, and besides, I’m already this old, I couldn’t get used to a new place anyway. As they say, a leaf always falls near its roots. I’ll just pass the rest of my days here.”
Talking about this topic, Xiao Wan’s grandmother couldn’t help but feel quite sad. She didn’t know what to say, but she didn’t want to accept his decision either. Looking at the two children busily working away outside, she said, “Then what about the restaurant? You can’t be planning on giving this away too, right?”
“No, I won’t be giving it to Yang JianGuo. And even if I did, it would just be sold anyway. This restaurant isn’t very big, so I don’t think Zhao XueMei would want it either. I was thinking of letting Xiao Yi have it, to keep the craft alive.”
Truthfully, Xiao Wan’s grandmother had already guessed Old Man Yang would say this. He didn’t have any value for monetary gains anyway. It was such a pity that good people never receive good news. Old Man Yang had such a weak and useless son, still treating him so harshly in this old age.
“Aye, I think leaving it to him is a good idea too. Now, I’m going to say something, and before you dislike it, just listen: this child, though not related to you, I think is far more filial that that actual grandson of yours.”
Old man Yang grinned. “Aye, I think the same. It would be just great if he were really my grandson, I’d smile even if I were dreaming that.”
“Oh right. When do you plan on going?”
“In a few days. I’ve been feeling a bit of pain lately.”
“Pain?” Xiao Wan’s grandma looked Old Man Yang up and down. “Where do you feel pain? Do you want to go to a hospital to get it checked out?”
Seeing that she was about to go call Shen Fu and Lin ShuYi, Old Man Yang quickly waved his hand to stop her. “There’s no need to call them, it’s nothing important. My stomach’s just been hurting a bit recently. It’s probably because I’ve been so under the weather these past few days I haven’t been eating properly. I ate some jujube millet porridge today and it’s already much better. Don’t let those two kids know, or else they’ll get too worried.”
“Alright, if you say don’t say anything then I won’t say anything.” Xiao Wan’s grandma knew that these past few days while Old Man Yang had been feeling pretty bad, and that these two kids have tried their best to cheer him up. There was no need to let a small matter like this put them in a panic.
On Zhao XueMei’s side, she was watching the phone, waiting for Old Man Yang to deliver the house to their door when she found out that her mother was sick. They said her condition was so severe she needed to be hospitalized. When Zhao Xuemei received the call, she was in tears and immediately told Yang JianGuo to pack up so they could go see her in person.
However, though Yang JianGuo really was worried, he didn’t really want to go. In his heart he was still thinking about his own father, and wanted Zhao Xuemei to go alone. When Zhao Xuemei heard this, she exploded. “My mother is so sick she’s hospitalized, and you’re say you don’t want to go? What? So your father is important but my mother isn’t?!!”
Yang JianGuo was always afraid of Zhao Xuemei raising her voice, thus before she had even said two sentences, he relented. Backing down, he coaxed, “Lower your voice, I’ll go with you, alright? It’s just that I haven’t received any calls from my dad these past few days, I’m just worried about him is all. I had wanted to go back and see him, actually.”
Zhao XueMei was still angry. “See him? What is there to look at? If he didn’t call then he didn’t call, meanwhile my mother is sick, and you’re still thinking about your dad! I guess blood is thicker than water after all, because all the kindness my mother has shown you doesn’t seem to matter anymore.”
“You…” Yang JianGuo’s face was bright red, and had nothing to say in wake of Zhao XueMei’s tantrum.
Just before they left, Zhao XueMei gave Yang Xiao some instructions behind Yang JianGuo’s back. “If your grandfather calls, don’t pick up the phone. If he arrives at the front door, let me know. And don’t tell your father any of this.”
Yang Xiao was being left behind to watch the house, but at the moment, he was playing a video game on the side only half-hearted listening. It was only after he mumbled a verbal agreement that Zhao XueMei felt secure enough to leave.
Yang Xiao played his video games through noon, but then he got bored and called some of his friends over to play cards. Though he was already in his twenties, he didn’t have a job. After he graduated from university, he started living with his parents and depended entirely on their support. He complained that this job was too tiring, that job’s pay was too low, and every month he would take the money he begged Zhao XueMei for and go around eating, drinking, and playing. Recently he’d gotten into playing cards, and after winning a few small rounds, he was hooked. Thus, this time when he got bored, that’s immediately where his mind went.
Closing the door behind him, he had already forgotten his mother’s words.
Yang Xiao hadn’t been gone long when Old Man Yang arrived in his neighborhood.
Yang JianGuo and his family had been living in this neighborhood for several years now, but Old Man Yang had only visited their house a handful of times. When they were still buying the house, Zhao XueMei called Old Man Yang over to look around quite a few times, talking about how good the location was, how good the model and structure of the home was, how fast the homes sold. After the purchase was settle, he was no longer invited around so often. Not to mention, every time he did visit, there would be disagreements and disappointments, and gradually Old Man Yang didn’t even want to visit anymore. Old Man Yang sighed. Being honest, Xiao Wan’s grandmother was right. His son and daughter-in-law never called him to visit unless there was something they wanted from him.
Yang JianGuo and his family lived on the sixth floor. This neighborhood had already been around for quite a while, and was by no stretch of the imagination new anymore, but the prices of the homes here haven’t gone down in the slightest. That year when buying the house, all of Old Man Yang’s life’s savings weren’t even enough to pay the down payment. In the end, they had to beg and coax Zhao XueMei’s family for some tens and thousands of yuan. Now the area was even more expensive, with even second hand homes costing a fortune. However, this meant that Yang JianGuo and Zhao XueMei choose correctly, because no matter how they sold the home for now, they were set to gain. Old Man Yang comforted himself, thinking that if this, just sitting here, could earn the family money, then perhaps Zhao XueMei’s beauty salon could earn money too and they won’t end up all relying on Yang JianGuo alone.
Reaching the sixth floor, Old Man Yang bumped into the next door neighbors. They were an old couple, living with their son.Though Yang JianGuo had already lived here for so long, it was only the last time Old Man Yang visited that these neighbors learned he existed and their their neighbor had a father. The three people greeted each other and exchanged some words, hen Old Man Yang went ahead and knocked on Yang JianGuo’s door.
The old couple asked, “You don’t have a house key?”
Old Man Yang shook his head. The door remained silent. The old couple was about to go in their own house, but they stopped, watching Old Man Yang knock on the door again with no response. They opened their door wide instead, and stepped to the side, saying, “Old fellow, why don’t you come in a sit awhile? Perhaps they’re out right now.”
Having already come this far, and not knowing anyone else in this area, Old Man Yang could only accept the old couple’s kind offer. “Then I hope I won’t be too much of a bother.”
“What are you being so polite for? It’s no bother at all.” Walking into the home, the old woman went to cook, and the old man sat down to accompany Old Man Yang.
“Why didn’t you call your son ahead of time before coming to visit?”
Old Man Yang didn’t know how to explain that he didn’t have his son’s phone number, so instead he said, “I called, but something probably came up.”
At this time of the day, there really should be someone inside the house. Yang JianGuo should be off work already, and Old Man Yang specifically chose dinner time to come pay a visit because he was afraid that there might not be anyone home otherwise.
After waiting for quite a while without hearing any sounds coming from the home next door, the old man invited Old Man Yang to eat dinner. Old Man Yang couldn’t refuse the offer, so he gave them a box of the gifts he brought with him, and only then could he eat with a clear conscience.
Halfway through eating, Old Man Yang felt that pain in his stomach again.
At first, Old Man Yang didn’t pay it any attention because the pain had been coming and going pretty often lately, and usually all it took were some painkillers to go away. But this time, because he was away from home and didn’t expect the pain to come back now, he hadn’t brought any medication with him. Not knowing how to bring the subject up to the old couple nor wanting to be a bother to them, he could only bear the pain in silence. By the time the old man across the table noticed something was off, Old Man Yang was in so much pain that he couldn’t maintain his balance, and fell over onto the ground.
“Old man! Old man!”
Old Man Yang squinted vaguely at the figures moving in front of him with blurry eyes, and then passed out.