As June rolled around, so did the rain.
The scenery that it brought was surely a sight to behold, but for those who preferred the dry weather, it was not a welcome change.
Fortunately, it brought about a refreshing change in weather from the immense heat just weeks before.
On a business street over at Zhonghai, the air was filled with the scent of oil and smoke as a result of the savory dishes served by the local eateries. The huge neon signs lit up the street, stretching as far as the eye can see.
Rush hour soon commenced, and amongst the crowd was a young man in a short-sleeved shirt paired with trousers of two-thirds length, looking through modest eateries one by one. He arrived at a modest Szechuan eatery, which led him to pause for a few moments before finally deciding to enter.
It was naturally Yang Chen’s intention to stop by after work to talk to Ma Guifang about Mo Qianni’s situation.
Yang Chen was confident that regardless of how mad Ma Guifang was back then, time could have only watered down her anger. He believed it was just a matter of time before she gave in.
As he stepped foot into the eatery, Madam Xiang that had gotten noticeably more plump than the last time they met was right at the counter busy tapping onto a calculator, understandably tabulating checks and balances. She was visibly excited by Yang Chen’s surprise visit. “Oh, Yang Chen, you came! I bet you’re looking for Guifang right?”
Yang Chen gave his salutations before he continued with a smile. “Madam Xiang, have you seen my mother-in-law then?” Yang Chen noticed that his target was nowhere in sight.
“Oh she’s just busy helping out the kitchen, I’ll go get her.” Madam Xiang put down the calculator and was about to make her way into the kitchen, before Yang Chen halted her. “It’s alright, I’ll go, don’t worry about it.”
Madam Xiang understood his intentions as she agreed without opposition.
Yang Chen was slightly uneasy but nonetheless went into the kitchen with a smile on his face. He instantly picked up a pungent combination of vegetables with raw meats. It was nothing he couldn’t handle however. His focus went straight to the one person busy slicing vegetables at the innermost corner of the kitchen. “Mother.”
Ma Guifang at the time was busy cutting up some vegetables. She turned to look, only to realize that it was Yang Chen, which led to her reply filled with conflicted emotions. “Why are you here?”
“Hehe, nothing much. I just thought the sudden change in weather might’ve affected your health so I thought to stop by and pay you a visit,” Yang Chen replied with a bit of sweet talk.
“I’m fine, you can go now.” Ma Guifang brushed it off as she proceeded with cutting vegetables.
Yang Chen clearly had no intention to leave just like that as he licked his lips before he mentioned, “Erm… about that, I need to talk about Qianni.”
“There’s nothing to talk about between us. Everything that I need to say was said. I even brought myself to apologize to Boss Lin.” Ma Guifang was quick to emphasize.
Yang Chen forced a smile as he replied, “How can it end like that? Regardless of your reasons, I can’t just leave Qianni, not like that. If I abandon her as a result of your disapproval, then I would have disgraced her decision to choose me in the first place! I want to make it clear to you, Mother, that I can convince you that I will never mistreat Qiannii.”
Ma Guifang rebuked. “Never mistreat her you say? You have a wife for god’s sake! Unless you divorce Boss Lin, there is no chance that I would let you take my daughter’s hand! I will never have her as the third wheel in a relationship, no matter how much fame and fortune you can give her. It will never happen under my watch!”
Yang Chen was stupefied to witness Ma Guifang’s resolution towards this matter. He tacklessly scratched on the back of his neck before producing an awkward chuckle. “Mother, think about it. Your insistence on this matter would only put all of us in a bad position don’t you think? It wouldn’t hurt if you just hold your horses and try observing through a period of time, would it?”
“I’m telling you one last time Yang Chen, do not call me ‘Mother’ ever again! I don’t have a son-in-law and you will never be one!” Ma Guifang glared at him. “I’m drawing the line there for both your sakes! I don’t care how you see this, or how messed up your life is, but I want the best for my daughter. This is not the best for her! Is that clear enough for you?”
“Alright, let’s not talk about this for now.” Yang Chen was truly exhibiting the extent of his thick-skinned prowess as he walked towards Ma Guifang’s back as he chuckled, “Mother, I guess your back must be tired from all that work, why don’t I—”
“Don’t touch me!”
Ma Guifang taunted before she held onto her cutting knife and pointed it straight at Yang Chen’s nose!
“Yang Chen! I’m warning you one last time, don’t even try to change my mind. I will bet my life to make sure my daughter will never be a third wheeler! If you push me anymore I would even marry her off to some beggar on the streets!”
Yang Chen was dumbfounded. Facing Ma Guifang that was filled with rage, he felt himself getting weaker as he stood.
This is the mother of his lover, and despite all his persuasions, he understood clearly that all she was doing was for her daughter to be in a legitimate marriage, to never have to share her love with someone else.
As a result, regardless of her furious and powerful rants, Yang Chen could not bear to argue, understanding that he was the one at fault.
Ma Guifang was not An Zaihuan, nor Ning Guangyao. She was best described as a normal villager. Some might even argue that she was illiterate.
But despite her insignificance grand scheme of things, Yang Chen had never dared infuriate her or go behind her back.
A senior should be respected, not because of their age, or their knowledge and experience, but because of their selflessness towards the younger generations.
In Yang Chen’s eyes, a woman of her caliber was one he held in the highest regards.
Yang Chen was frustrated but he made sure it was concealed within as he earnestly pleaded, “I’m not going to give up. I understand that you’re still mad today, and that’s okay. I’ll come back another day. Your daughter is not one to make rash decisions on matters like this. Don’t you trust her judgment?”
Yang Chen’s strategy was simple. My presence might infuriate you today, tomorrow, or even the day after. But if I continue to keep this up, I’m sure one day I would definitely win your approval!
Ma Guifang was red as a tomato, but nonetheless kept her silence.
Right at this moment, over at the main hall of the eatery, a high-pitched voice echoed throughout the place. “Ma Guifang! Come out right now!”
Yang Chen was about the leave the kitchen before, but was now dumbfounded by the sheer animosity of the voice!
Ma Guifang turned pale as she placed the cutting knife down the chopping board. She wiped her hands on the apron and after a moment of thought, went out for a look.
Yang Chen followed closely behind, cautious at the potential ramifications of the situation. This person might be here to pick a bone with his mother-in-law, which could also be the perfect opportunity for him to prove his worth.
As they approached the front of the eatery, a plump woman, her hands on her waist, stood there with enlarged eyes and flared nostrils. Suffice to say, she was extremely furious about something.
Madam Xiang by the sidelines was in manic, seemingly terrified of this woman before her eyes as she could be seen choking on her own words.
Behind the menacing woman was a bald middle-aged man, comparatively skinnier, trying to calm the raging woman down. “What are you doing? Let’s go back now, don’t bring about more trouble to Xiang and her restaurant anymore alright? These are all our neighbors for god’s sake.”
The woman sneered as she glared at her husband, and upon seeing Ma Guifang’s appearance, started her fiery rant. “Ma Guifang, well aren’t you a sight to behold!”
Ma Guifang was seen with a warm smile as she too went up to that woman as she patiently asked, “Madam Zhou, what do you mean by that may I ask?”
“Huh?! How dare you ask me what all this means?”
And as Madam Zhou broke into laughter, she abruptly lifted her hand and went straight for a tight slap on Ma Guifang’s cheek!
A loud slap rang out as one side of Ma Guifang’s face was soon covered in a red print. She held onto it as she zoned out, almost as if that smack left her out of focus.
Yang Chen was not expecting the sudden turn of events. It was an act that had caught him completely off-guard, leaving him to deal with the aftermath. He was instantly fueled with rage!
How could someone assault his mother-in-law to his face? If Mo Qianni caught wind of this incident, she’d hate him to no end!
If this had happened behind closed doors, Yang Chen would’ve already returned the favor two-fold. But he managed to keep his temper in check as he went before Ma Guifang and stared the hostile lady dead in the eye. “You better have a good reason for hitting my mother-in-law, or I’ll lay waste on that nasty looking face of yours!”
Yang Chen’s interference immediately made the enraged wife reconsider her actions. But she bounced back soon after and sneered, “Oh, I see. Ma Guifang’s son-in-law is here today too huh? What? If you want to stand up for her, here’s your chance!”