Chapter 26: Carrot and Ox Tripe Stew
Translated by Crystal of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Old man Yang stayed in the hospital for a week before finally leaving. Before he did, he did a full check up and had the doctors approval. However, he was told to be mindful of his diet, after all, most stomach illnesses focused on food.
Old man Yang gave his assurance with a smile. After Shen Fu and Lin ShuYi finished packing, they got in a car and left.
“Ahh, it’s just a week away from home but why does it feel longer.” Old man Yang exclaimed standing by the door of his house.
“That’s because you love it here.” Shen Fu replied casually.
Old man Yang nodded then reached out to open his door, as he exclaimed with emotion, “You’re right, I lived here for so long, how could I not love it here?” The house had bore witness to everything for half of his life, it was his roots.
But just like Zhao XueMei said, this house looked pretty old, especially for modern standards.
This old, courtyard type house was uncommon nowadays. If it was closer to the city, then it would’ve been turned into a high-rise building. This area was the only place left untouched. They always talked about getting it renovated but for some reason never did and that affected the price of this place. Nowadays the housing price of S City was on a rise but only this place barely moved. It’s not unreasonable for Zhao XueMei to say that no one would buy this house even if he sold it.
Most youngsters these days wanted to live in the city so they wouldn’t buy a house out here in the suburbs. Old people wouldn’t want to move out of the house they lived in for years and middle-aged people wouldn’t buy an old house that didn’t have room for growth.
However, to old man Yang, this place was his paradise. He could plant some vegetables, raise some flowers, most of the time tending to his restaurant and go fishing when bored. If his wife didn’t die so early, he would never trade this life away for anything.
All the furniture was old, but even though they were old, they were treated with care. It was probably due to the fact that old man Yang’s wife died early, that he had to be the mom and dad for Yang JianGuo. Thus, he became good at everything, including housework. So, even though the house was old, it looked inviting and warm.
Ever since Yang JianGuo and his family moved away, this place became empty and two rooms became vacant. All of their stuff got moved to the city leaving only a bed and a dresser. Those were left behind by Zhao XueMei because she thought they were ugly.
Even so, old man Yang cleaned these rooms regularly, believing that when they came to visit, they would need a place to stay. However, it was never used once, even when it was New Years, they called him over, rather than coming back. When old man Yang wanted to return, as he couldn’t adapt to the city life, no one wanted to return with him. Zhao XueMei disliked the fact that she couldn’t buy anything she wanted to eat. Yang Xiao disliked the fact that there wasn’t a computer or internet. Although Yang JianGuo wanted to come back, Zhao XueMei would cry and whine about it so he slowly took it for granted to not return.
Even though he had been away for a week, the place was still clean. Even the two turtles raised by old man Yang got their water changed and were now sunbathing.
This was because Xiao Wan’s grandma asked for his house keys and said she would help clean the place before they came back.
The restaurant had been closed for a few days now but they weren’t in a hurry. Hearing that old man Yang was returning, his close neighbors all wanted to have a party for him to wash away the sickness. (接风洗尘去去病气 – kind of a dinner when guests arrive, but this time welcome his return) Normally they got together to drink for one reason or another, as everyone lived close to each other, so there was no excuse to deny it this time. Thus, when the three returned, they didn’t bother going to the restaurant and instead made something casual in old man Yang’s house. After that, they went to the supermarket to buy the ingredients for tonight’s gathering.
Old man Yang and Lin ShuYi picked the vegetables while Shen Fu told them what he wanted to eat with his hands tucked in his pockets.
Old man Yang just smiled without saying anything and grabbed everything Shen Fu said he liked to eat. Lin ShuYi wasn’t pleased and glared at him multiple times in secret. “If you like to eat so much then make it yourself, don’t just talk.”
Shen Fu made an ‘I’m innocent’ face and said to Lin ShuYi as he shrugged his shoulders, “Everything I said was nourishing for the stomach.”
Lin ShuYi took another look and without much surprise, carrots, Chinese yam, spinach, ox tripe, were all things good for old man Yang to eat. Lin ShuYi felt his brow untighten. The doctor said old man Yang needed to eat nourishing foods for his stomach, it seems like Shen Fu took it to heart.
Seeing that Lin ShuYi stopped talking, Shen Fu went up to tease him, “How about it? Aren’t I caring?”
In response, Lin ShuYi gave him an elegant eye roll and went after old man Yang.
Shen Fu stayed in place with one hand in his pocket and another on his lips. Tsk, tsk, tsk, that eye roll, very sexy.
For dinner, Lin ShuYi was the chef while Shen Fu helped. Originally, neither of them wanted old man Yang to help because he just got out of the hospital, but he couldn’t sit around so he got a stool and helped them with peeling as well as sorting out bad leaves. The three worked and talked, it was such a joyous scene to behold.
Old man Yang liked spicy food, but that wasn’t good for his illness, so dishes that were good for old man Yang, Lin ShuYi made sure they were mild. Stir-fried Chinese yam, spinach with vermicelli noodles, carrots and ox tripe stew, were all non-spicy. Even the cold dishes had only a bit of vinegar for flavoring. By keeping the original flavors of the ingredients, it was less likely to be agitating for the stomach. It was to the point that even old man Yang said he wasn’t this delicate.
Other than those, the rest were made to accommodate different tastes, after all, they had guests coming.
Before the cold dishes were mixed and the ox tripe cooked, all the guests arrived, each carrying something in their hands. The moment they saw old man Yang, they said, “You recovered? Good, good. That’s really good.”
Seeing that Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu were cooking in the kitchen, no one was surprised anymore. From their point of view, these two kids were like old man Yang’s real grandsons. No, they were more charming than his real grandson.
Xiao Wan also came, but those in the living room were from the older generation, even the younger ones were her dad’s age. Thus, she had nothing to say and instead went to the kitchen to find Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu. Seeing Lin ShuYi’s skillful cooking technique, she was so in awe that her jaws dropped, “Xiao Yi-Gege, you’re like the new generation of good men. Not only are you handsome, you can also cook. The one who gets married to you is going to be so happy.”
For once in his life, Shen Fu wore a funny apron. Seeing that he was a meter and eighty something centimetres tall and took up a lot of room in the kitchen, Lin ShuYi had chased him out. But, hearing Xiao Wan’s words, he came back in and while leaning on the cabinets said with a smile, “Yah, whoever marries such a virtuous wife will be real happy.”
Instantly Lin ShuYi’s eye daggers came at full force, but Shen Fu just ignored them with a smile. On the other hand, Xiao Wan was laughing her head off.
Lin ShuYi finally understood, you just can’t take this person seriously. The more you do, the more he teases. Thus, he turned around and pretended to ignore him.
Usually in their gatherings, old man Yang would take a few drinks but this time, before he even touched a glass, everyone said that this was a no drinking night, only food. For the whole night old man Yang had been all smiles, as if he got younger by a few years and said, “No can do. We finally got together, how can we not drink? But leave me out, I’ll be drinking the milk Xiao Yi bought. You guys drink, no one’s going home until you get drunk.”
His next door neighbour Lao Chen (old Chen) replied, “You’re devious, but sure, since I came for that expensive wine in your cabinet.”
Old man Yang laughed out loud, “Sure, sure.”
The room was lit with a warm yellow light as everyone’s laughter reached out far into the distance. This house hadn’t been this busy for so long. Old man Yang thought that he really made the right call. If he sold this house, where else was he going to get neighbors like these and kids like these. He couldn’t let them go, he really couldn’t let it go.
On the other side of the city, Zhao XueMei and Yang JianGuo just came back from her parent’s home. The door was locked and no one was home. Zhao XueMei called Yang Xiao, but no one answered, so she turned to Yang JianGuo, “Give your son a call. Didn’t we say we were coming back today? How come he’s not at home? It’s already this late, did he even eat yet?”
Yang JianGuo felt tired and didn’t want to move. For the past few days, they both stayed in the small hospital room. As Zhao XueMei laid on the extra bed, he could only sleep on the floor. Even though it was summer, it was still painful, sleeping on the floor for so long. So he replied, “He’s not a kid anymore, but you still treat him as one. How could he not know to eat?”
Zhao XueMei glared at him, “I’m telling you to call him, so just call him. Where did all this garbage come from?”
With a frown, Yang JianGuo went to his room to get the phone.
He called three times before it was slowly picked up by Yang Xiao, “Hey, whose there?!” He sounded irritable.
“Me! Where are you?”
The other side was filled with noise with the sounds of men shouting from time to time and then, there was the sound of something being knocked down (Mahjong). Then there was someone saying, “Hey, hand over the money, hand it over! A self-draw! Hahahaha!”
(To draw your winning tile from the wall, as opposed to winning off of a discarded tile.)
Before Yang Xiao answered Yang JianGuo’s question, he swore, “Fuck, I lost again!”
Yang JianGuo could already tell what he was doing and the angered burnt to a new height, “Yang Xiao you’re gambling?!!”
That was when Yang Xiao remembered his phone was still by his ear. Hearing his dad’s angry shout, he knew he fucked up. He quickly smiled apologetically, “Just playing around with a few friends. It’s not gambling, dad, don’t say it like that.”
Yang JianGuo didn’t bother hearing his explanation, there was no way he was playing with friends in that kind of a crowd. Most likely he was at a gambling house. He tried suppressing his anger multiple times before he was calm enough to say, “Xiao Yang, you get your ass back here right now!”
Then, he hang up.
Yang Xiao glared at his phone and anger fuelled from his heart as well. He already lost enough today but now he was going to get yelled out when he goes back. What kind of a life is this?!!
The man on the other side was still shouting with a hoarse voice, “Yang Xiao, quick, give the money, we’re just waiting for you.”
As Yang Xiao reached into his pocket he said, “Here, here, here, I’ll giving it to you, it’s not like I’m not, what’s the hurry.”
However, when he reached in, he realized that it was empty and couldn’t help but swear, “Shit, I lost it all?! What a shitty day!”
Hearing that he was out of money, the man wasn’t happy, and instead looked at the one beside Yang Xiao. The not-so-familiar friend of Yang Xiao, who brought him here, bent down and said, “Xiao Zi, you’re out of money again? I still have some, do you want me to lend you some?”
Hearing that, Yang Xiao’s eyes lit up. He lost so much and that game he was so close to winning, but the other guy was just one step before him, he really couldn’t be satisfied. Maybe if he borrowed some, he could earn it back. But just as he was about to grab that money, he remembered Yang JianGuo’s roar and backed down saying, “Not this time, not today, my dad called me, asking me to go home.”
The man’s face turned sour, but just for a brief moment and didn’t let Yang Xiao see it. Then he replied with a smile, “Okay, then let’s go back first.” Afterward, he turned towards the masculine man who sat across from Xiao Yang and said, “Hei Ge, then we will be going first. I’ll pay for the amount Yang Xiao lost. See you next time.”
The man waved his hand, “Don’t worry about it, it’s just this much, it’s fine if you don’t give it back. Think of it as me treating you to water.”
That round he lost about a thousand yuan but his pal just took it for himself and the other guy just let them all off. Yang Xiao felt that he really met some good people. Thus, he stretched his arm out to hug the other guy’s shoulder and said, “You’re a real bro.”
The man laughed, “Who’s who, don’t be polite with me.”
Yang Xiao then replied, “It’s just, I’m sorry for the money you lent me. I have been having shitty days.”
The man curled his lips up into a smile, “Don’t say that, we all have days with bad luck. Don’t you remember, you won pretty nicely in the beginning. It’s just a few days, we got a lot more to go.”
Yang Xiao nodded, he also thought the same. It was just bad luck these past two days, he would win it back, “You’re right, we got time.”