"20… 20 yuan. We don't have so much." Ding Jiayi felt the pinch, 20 yuan - that was a month of the family expenses. "Anyway, Zijin has a lot of pens and notebooks, can't she use them?"
Qiao Dongliang was both amused and angered by Ding Jiayi's words. "While Zijin has a poor learning attitude, she can have everything new. Nan Nan's results are so good and she can only use the leftovers from Zijin? Let me repeat. Give Nan Nan 20 yuan!"
"If we give her 20 yuan, what are we going to eat and drink for this month?!" Ding Jiayi was not happy to provide the money.
"Mom." Qiao Zijin whispered to Ding Jiayi, trying to dissuade her.
She finally felt it. Recently, Qiao Nan's behavior was so bizarre that it was causing her bad luck.
With her father's current attitude, her mother would never be able to override him no matter how determined she was. Qiao Nan would undoubtedly continue with her studies.
Since this was the case, Qiao Zijin thought that her mother might as well agree to this immediately. This might even improve her father's impression of Ding Jiayi.
Ding Jiayi pushed away Qiao Zijin's hands. "Zijin, I know you don't want me to argue with your dad, but please leave this matter alone."
Though he heard from Ding Jiayi that she did not have money on hand, Qiao Dongliang did not feel like questioning her on where his salary for the month went to. "If it's not enough, you can go to the bank to withdraw 100 yuan. That should do."
Nan Nan started school, so did Zijin.
As Zijin continued her studies, she certainly needed money. Old Ding could not possibly let her suffer. She would not give even one cent, not to mention 100 yuan.
At the mention of savings, all three women of the Qiao family became exceptionally quiet.
Qiao Nan need not say anything. The huge mess that her mother made would be found out sooner or later.
Ding Jiayi and Qiao Zijin had a look of guilt all over them. They dared not speak.
"Why are you standing there. Give me the chequebook. I will go to the bank with you tomorrow to withdraw 100 yuan." Qiao Dongliang stretched out his hands to Ding Jiayi.
Ding Jiayi was scared stiff. Her face turned slightly pale and she stuttered when she spoke. "No. Didn't you want 20 yuan? I will give it to you. We don't have to go to the bank."
To ensure that Qiao Dongliang dismissed the thought of the passbook, Ding Jiayi immediately took out 20 yuan from her pocket and threw it on the ground.
Qiao Nan's face was stiff. She took deep breaths. She remained silent.
She must continue with her studies. At this time, it was not easy to get her mother to give any money out. She must cherish this opportunity.
Qiao Nan continued to comfort herself with such thoughts, but as an adult with dignity, her eyes were all red, and her hands reluctantly moved to pick up the money.
Qiao Dongliang pursed his lips. "Old Ding, although it is not the time to to fight now, I don't think you want me to lift my hand against you!"
Ding Jiayi was at the top of her anger, she not only had to give the money, but also had to wait on the wretched girl, Qiao Nan, as if she was their ancestor. Why should she?!
Before Qiao Dongliang could flare up again, Qiao Zijin stood up without a word, bent down and picked up the money. She blew and patted it dry before handing it to Qiao Nan personally. "Nan Nan, please don't misunderstand. Mom definitely loves you, but she hasn't been resting well recently, and has a poor temper."
Unlike the past, Qiao Nan was not so easy to sweet-talk. If Mom continued with this attitude, whatever she said to Qiao Nan would not no longer have any effect.
Qiao Nan held on tightly to the money but did not speak.
"Nan Nan, let's go, Dad will get some egg noodles for you." Qiao Dongliang shot a look of disdain at Ding Jiayi. Despite being years older, she was not as sensible as her daughter.
Qiao Zijin was sloppy in her studies, Qiao Dongliang was of course angry and disappointed but he still loved his own daughter. Seeing that Qiao Zijin was more gracious and sensible than Ding Jiayi, his gaze quickly softened.
Standing by the side and watching, Qiao Nan sighed. They belonged to one family. The mistakes that Mom made were mostly "petty" ones; regardless of how angry Dad was, he would at most argue a little. It would definitely not be that serious.
To put it bluntly, her father was easy to appease.
As she was fully aware of this, after the rebirth, Qiao Nan only focused on protecting her own interests. She did not kick up a big fuss or sow discord between the couple.
"Dad, can you give me two eggs?" Qiao Nan perked herself up and smiled at Qiao Dongliang.
"Well, as long as Nan Nan likes it, not to mention two, three is also not a problem." Qiao Dongliang pulled Qiao Nan to the kitchen and rolled up his sleeves to prepare noodles for her.
Hand-made noodles are delicious, chewy and not sticky, topped with some shallots and two golden eggs, they were especially fragrant.
Having the freshly-made noodles, Qiao Nan smiled bitterly. The reason why her father personally went to the kitchen to prepare noodles were two-fold. First, to make up it to her and second, he hoped that she would forget what happened today and not take this matter to heart with her mother.
She did not expect her mother to become fair, nor did she expect her father to become firm in taking her mother in hand.
The only thing she hoped and strived for in this life was that she would study well, find a good job to support herself, have her own home and quietly live through her days.
As for her mother and Qiao Zijin, they could try to torture her as much as they would like to, but she would not participate with their ploys. She would earn her own keep and guard it jealously.
This dinner, the Qiao family had a particularly quiet meal.
Qiao Dongliang had only prepared the portions of Qiao Nan and himself, and Ding Jiayi had to prepare for Qiao Zijin and herself.
This was the first time that the Qiao family was divided into two tables. Except for Qiao Nan, the rest of the three parties felt strange and confused.
After eating the noodles, Qiao Nan washed her own cutlery, turned and returned to her bedroom and started reading.
When Ding Jiayi saw that Qiao Nan had only cleaned up after herself, she was so furious that she shouted at her.
Qiao Zijin quickly stopped Ding Jiayi and hinted at her by shaking her head. She silently mouthed two words - "The passbook".
These two words were Ding Jiayi's Achilles heel. Before this, Ding Jiayi was like a balloon that was ready to blow up anytime. Now, she seemed to be one that was out of gas and withering badly.
"Mom, let me wash up." Qiao Zijin endured the greasiness and discomfort while she immersed her hands into the water.
Ding Jiayi took the dishes out of Qiao Zijin's hands. "No, Mom will wash. My daughter does not need to do these rough chores. You just have to go back to your bedroom to rest… Zijin, the situation at home, Mom did not hide from you. Don't make your dad angry again and create trouble for Mom. Okay?"
"Mom, you can rest assured, it won't happen again." Qiao Zijin also began to regret letting her mother sell all of the textbooks. With none left, she could not even put up a pretence.
What Qiao Nan did not know was that Ding Jiayi had only intended to sell her books, and not those of Qiao Zijin.
Qiao Zijin finally graduated from junior high school. She hated the sight of those textbooks and was eager to get rid of them.
She even told Ding Jiayi - if she did not sell her textbooks, and Qiao Nan's books were gone, what if she asked to borrow from her?