Ding Jiayi was not ashamed of what she was doing, but that did not mean Qiao Nan could tolerate her actions.
Her mother had not changed at all in two whole lifetimes.
In her previous life when she was already working, her mother went to her workplace to find out her monthly salary. As soon as she received her pay, the first thing her mother would do was to search through all her pockets, making sure that she did not have any money left on her.
Not waiting for Qiao Nan to suffer from humiliation, Qiao Dongliang who had just returned from work witnessed the entire scene.
Qiao Dongliang put away his bicycle and shouted, "What are you doing!"
Qiao Dongliang pulled Qiao Nan to his side. Seeing that her arm has been pinched to a bright red, he was all the more angry. "What are you up to this time?"
Ding Jiayi was scared stiff, she pursed her mouth and did not say a word.
"What, have you lost your tongue?!" Qiao Dongliang bellowed. He used to think that his wife showed favoritism and favored the elder daughter. But now from the looks of it, it was not just simple favoritism. Old Ding seemed to dislike Nan Nan!
Nan Nan was already a fifteen-year-old young lady, yet she was treated like a thief, being forced to go through a body check. Wouldn't Nan Nan be hurting inside?
"Dad, Mom wanted me to hand over the extra three yuan left from today's school fees. I said I have used them to buy exercise books. But she insisted that I returned the books and get the money back. Mom said I could use the hand-me-downs from sister." Since Ding Jiayi kept quiet, Qiao Nan went on to explain to her father.
Ding Jiayi did not feel that she had gone overboard. But when she faced Qiao Dongliang, she felt ashamed and could not bring herself to say what she had done.
Qiao Dongliang was enraged. "Since Zijin's leftover stationery is still in good condition, she could continue to use it in high school. Why must you insist that she leave it for Nan Nan?
All along the younger daughter had been using her sister's hand-me-downs, her pencil was only a palm size long.
On the other hand, for every new school year, the elder daughter would have an array of new stationery, from pencil and eraser to exercise books. Qiao Dongliang was beginning to feel very upset about this.
If Old Ding wanted Nan Nan to be thrifty and frugal, increasing income while decreasing expenditure, Qiao Dongliang would definitely agree and be supportive of her.
But Qiao Dongliang realized that Ding Jiayi did not manage to increase income and she only requested her younger daughter to be frugal. What was more, she spent whatever was saved on the elder daughter. How would one say that this was being thrifty and frugal?!
"Nan Nan, don't pay attention to your Mom, let's go inside." Qiao Dongliang pulled Qiao Nan along with him into the house, not paying attention to the unreasonable wife who showed favoritism.
On one hand he persuaded Nan Nan not to harbor grudges, but on the other hand, his wife did not rein in her unreasonable nature. No matter how forgiving Nan Nan was, his wife should know her limits.
This would not do. He must have a good talk with Old Ding tonight.
Back in the house, Qiao Nan had a drink and said, "Dad, you must be tired after a day's work. I am alright, I am off to do some studying."
Qiao Dongliang looked closely at Qiao Nan's eyes, she really did not seem to mind whatever had happened just now. He felt really bad for her. "Nan Nan, your… your Mom, that's her nature, she gets muddle-headed as she grows older, don't take it to heart."
Qiao Dongliang hoped that Nan Nan would not blame her mother, however when he saw how unaffected she was, he felt really gloomy and depressed.
"Okay." Qiao Nan responded and carried her books into the house, all her thoughts on her studies.
Seeing the younger daughter left quietly, returning to her room to study, Qiao Dongliang did not feel good at all.
During dinnertime, Ding Jiayi fried a total of two eggs. Qiao Dongliang gave half of the eggs to Qiao Nan, making Ding Jiayi turn green with anger.
As soon as Qiao Dongliang put down his chopsticks, without a word, Ding Jiayi put half of the remaining fried eggs into the elder daughter's bowl and divided the leftover fried eggs with Qiao Dongliang.
At night, Qiao Dongliang tossed and turned on the bed, finding it difficult to fall asleep. He could not forget the overly calm expression that he saw in Nan Nan's eyes.
"What's wrong?" Ding Jiayi could not fall asleep either with his tossing and turning.
"Old Ding, what do you think of Nan Nan? Zijin is your daughter, and Nan Nan isn't? Aren't you worried that your behavior will hurt Nan Nan?
"It would be good if she wasn't my daughter. You would be a battalion commander by now, and I would still have a job!" Ding Jiayi, who was worried about finances, lost her temper on hearing what he said.
If she and Old Qiao still had a job, the savings at home would not be depleted after they were used to pull strings for Zijin, and she would not be so worried now.
A depressed Qiao Dongliang said, "We can't blame this on Nan Nan. It was our decision to have a second child. We gave up everything willingly, and yet you have shifted the blame onto Nan Nan?"
At the thought of his comrades from the same batch, every one of them valiant and heroic; and looking back on himself—an ordinary salary man—Qiao Dongliang felt suffocated as well.
But Old Ding wanted to have a second child, and he really wanted a son. They discussed and came to an agreement.
What they never thought was that after quitting their jobs and having a second child, what awaited them was not the son that they had dearly hoped for, but yet another daughter.
But after all, it was their own child. Yes, they gave up everything for this child and Qiao Dongliang could not deny that he felt disappointed, heartbroken and even dejected.
But life had to go on, and they had another child to bring up. Qiao Dongliang recovered quickly from his disappointment.
Nowadays men and women were equal in society. Women could hold up half the sky. If he put effort into bringing up his daughters, who would say that they were not as good as sons?
Qiao Dongliang had come to terms with it, but not Ding Jiayi.
She still dreamed of being the wife of the battalion commander, with a chauffeur to fetch her around. She also wanted a government job, a simple job with ample pay.
And all her dreams had come to an end when the younger daughter was born!
Ding Jiayi felt as if she had fallen from heaven to hell. Whenever she looked at Qiao Nan, she could feel bitterness and resentment in her heart.
"Who else to blame but her? This family was totally ruined by her. She has dragged down everyone with her. Shouldn't she sacrifice and make atonements?"
Seeing the agitated Ding Jiayi sat up in bed, Qiao Dongliang lowered his voice and pulled at Ding Jiayi. "Quiet down, do you want to wake the kids up? Just look at what you said just now, is that something one would say, why can't you tell right from wrong? I never knew that you bear such thoughts ever since Nan Nan was born. No wonder you treat Nan Nan in such a manner."
Qiao Dongliang finally found out that his wife harbored such thoughts towards their younger daughter.
"Old Ding, let me tell you, you can't blame Nan Nan for what has happened. Your way of thinking is dangerous. If you don't reflect on yourself and do some serious soul-searching, one day you will lose your daughter, Nan Nan."
"I don't believe you. I gave birth to her and brought her up. No matter how good or bad I treated her, she is my daughter in this life. She owes me and has to repay her debts!" She had married well and was the envy of everyone, but the birth of Qiao Nan had destroyed her whole life!