By the time Qiao Dongliang snatched the novel from Qiao Zijin, only then did she realize that someone had entered her room.
Qiao Zijin flushed with embarrassment and said to Ding Jiayi, "Mom, why did you enter my room without knocking!"
"What kind of nonsense novel are you reading!" Qiao Zijin had stopped at a page where there was some saucy material. Qiao Dongliang took a few glances and was exasperated. "Did you coop yourself up in your room to read this kind of novel?"
Giving Qiao Zijin no time to react, Qiao Dongliang spread his two hands and tore up the novel. "You refuse to let Nan Nan study, and yet you have spare money to buy this for Zijin. Old Ding, let me ask you, do we have money or not?"
Qiao Dongliang saw that the novel was not cheap, and there was the elder daughter's name on the book. It was undoubtedly hers.
"I… I…" Ding Jiayi was dumbfounded. Old Qiao wanted his daughters to be well-educated and to have a promising future, so as to make up for his regret of being discharged from the army. This was the first time that she had seen Old Qiao tear up their daughter's books.
"I didn't." Ding Jiayi hurried to explain. "I didn't give Zijin money and I never knew that she bought books recently."
Ding Jiayi felt that she had been treated unjustly. She had saved and scrimped at home and kept tight control on the meat and fish dishes at home in order to save some money to pull strings for Zijin.
She would never give Zijin extra money to buy these kind of novels.
Ding Jiayi had no idea what the novel was about. But judging from Qiao Dongliang's reaction, when he only took a glance and tore it into pieces, intuition told her that there was nothing great about the book.
Out of curiosity, Qiao Nan picked up the book on the floor, and flipped to the last page.
She has been sisters with Qiao Zijin for two lives. She knew all the small habits that Qiao Zijin had.
As expected, when Qiao Nan flipped to the last page, she saw some dates written on it. It dated back to more than half a year ago, around New Year last year.
Looking at the pages, there weren't brand new. It meant that Qiao Zijin bought it more than half a year ago, and she had finished reading some time ago.
Qiao Nan calculated the dates, and realized that it had been during the most crucial part of the year where Qiao Zijin was sitting for her middle school examination. Qiao Zijin had spare money, yet she did not spend it on revision books, but wasted it on this kind of novel. No wonder Qiao Zijin had not been doing well in her exams, and that she only barely managed to make it to high school.
Qiao Dongliang used to serve in the army, he was more insightful than others.
Just one glance at Qiao Nan's flipping actions and he knew what was going on. There was no need for Qiao Nan to say a word.
Qiao Zijin was sitting for her crucial middle school examination at that time, and yet she had the time to read novels. Thinking back on her results, Qiao Dongliang felt extremely disappointed.
Ever since he had been discharged from the army, he had pinned his hopes on his two daughters, hoping that they would have good prospects, and that was why he let them enrol in school.
He thought she was not as gifted but had tried her best, thus with the adequate results that she had, he had not scolded her at all for two whole months.
But now Qiao Dongliang knew the truth. Qiao Zijin did not put any effort into her studies at all.
"No wonder your results are less than satisfactory; this is where you have channeled your attention to." Qiao Dongliang was puzzled, at such a young age, how did Qiao Zijin know about these romance novels?
Thinking back on the near seventeen years that he had spent bringing up his elder daughter, she had never shed a tear for her Dad. Yet she had cried her guts out for that book. Qiao Dongliang felt awful.
But he could not take it out on his daughter, so he ranted at Ding Jiayi. "She was preparing for her middle school examination and yet she was reading this sort of immoral book. How could she possibly get good results?! Zijin's heart was not set on studying and you forced her to study. On the other hand, Nan Nan had been performing well all along, yet you wanted her to quit school. What do you mean by that?!"
Qiao Dongliang grabbed the book from Qiao Nan and threw it into Ding Jiayi's face.
Her face was not hurt, but her pride did. However Ding Jiayi could not rebut a word now. "Zijin, why did you…"
Why did she have to fumble the ball at such a juncture?
Ding Jiayi never imagined that her elder daughter would be reading novels instead of revising in such a crucial half-year period.
On the other hand, even though Qiao Nan wanted to study at home, Ding Jiayi would always order her around, asking her to run errands and to clean up the house.
Qiao Zijin still had a buzzing sound in her ears. She was totally baffled, scared out of her wits.
Whenever Qiao Zijin was reading, no-one in the house would disturb her.
In particular today, she made it a point to tell Ding Jiayi that she was going to study. As always, Ding Jiayi would not let anyone disturb her or go into her room.
Because there was Ding Jiayi around, Qiao Zijin read her novel without a care.
The story had reached a climax, Qiao Zijin was totally absorbed in the plot, sobbing terribly for the couple who were forced to stay apart by the wife of the male lead. Yet all of a sudden there were three people in her room.
As for the revision that Qiao Zijin was saying, the content of this book had no relation whatsoever to her junior high studies.
"No, no, Dad, you… you are mistaken, this book… I, I only read it after exams were over, not, not before that…"
Qiao Zijin stuttered and could not utter a proper sentence. But everyone could tell that she was trying to make excuses for herself.
Ding Jiayi came to her senses and went to Qiao Zijin's rescue. "Old Qiao, you heard it, though Zijin bought the book way before exams, she only read it recently. How she fared in middle school examination had nothing to do with this book. Zijin was so sensible, she would not do things like that."
"Never read before, does this look like a new book?"
"Dad, I never read it, but I lent it to my classmate!"
"Who did you lend it to?"
"I have lent it to Wang Hua from the next class." But Wang Hua has moved house four months ago. She did not even sit the middle school examination. Her Dad would not be able to find her.
"The one who moved, sister, since when are you on such close terms with the classmates from the next class?" Qiao Nan laughed. Qiao Zijin might be able to convince their mother, but definitely not Dad.
This was obviously Qiao Zijin's intention. Wang Hua had moved house and Dad had no way of verifying with her.
"You shut up!" Ding Jiayi shouted at Qiao Nan. "At this juncture,you are still adding fuel to the fire, Qiao Nan, what ill intentions are you harboring, if you do not know how to speak, just keep your mouth shut!"
Ding Jiayi was startled by Qiao Dongliang's darkened face.
"Dad, I have to enroll for school the day after tomorrow. Where are my school fees?" Qiao Nan tried changing the topic, the date for enrollment was just a few days away, would she be able to get her school fees? "Dad, I have used up all my pens and exercise books."
Qiao Dongliang let out a deep breath, "Give twenty yuan to Nan Nan."