"Xiao Qiao, your pay is pretty high. Why would Nan Nan need to work? Nan Nan's results are good, yet you wanted her to discontinue the nine years of compulsory education and to start work, is everything alright at home? Did your wife spend all the savings at home when she came to ask me for help to enroll the elder daughter into The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China? Xiao Qiao, I always taught you to be pragmatic. As the saying goes, "There are three hundred and sixty five trades, and every trade has its master". If she is not good at studying, she can consider other options. Is it appropriate to spend all the hard earned money on the elder daughter and to sacrifice the future of another daughter? It's useless to reach for what is beyond one's grasp, instead one should be earnest and down-to-earth. One should act according to one's ability. Teenagers nowadays are flippant and not down-to-earth. Xiao Qiao, why would you have this shortcoming as well? Don't forget, you were a soldier!"
After listening to Uncle Lee's wise and earnest words, Qiao Dongliang was lost for words.
He could understand every single word that Elder Lee said. But when they formed into sentences, they seemed foreign to him.
"Uncle Lee, it was through your help that Zijin was able to enroll into The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China?" Qiao Dongliang paused for a moment before he asked.
"Xiao Ding came looking for me. She would like me to make a phone call. She was the one who made the other arrangements. Xiao Qiao, you should know my temper, I would never do these things. Even if it was for my son or my daughter. You grew up with them, have I helped them out in similar ways? Xiao Qiao, do you know how disappointed I was in you at that time?"
Uncle Lee sighed.
When Ding Jiayi came looking for Elder Lee to help out with Qiao Zijin's matters, Elder Lee was not very willing to help. He had always disliked these dealings.
Even for his biological son and daughter, he wanted them to carve out a path by themselves. Yet he had to resort to getting in through the back door for someone else's daughter. Elder Lee really wanted to turn Ding Jiayi down.
"Elder Lee, I had no idea." Qiao Dongliang rubbed his face. Old Ding did such a thing behind his back and resorted to these methods to enroll Zijin into The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China.
"I knew you were unaware. If you were aware, you would have stopped Xiao Ding from seeking my help." Uncle Lee nodded. After all he watched Qiao Dongliang grew up, he knew him well.
When Qiao Dongliang heard this, he felt slightly relieved.
"But Xiao Qiao, Xiao Ding is your wife. You had no idea what she is doing or what she is up to. Even when your elder daughter really enrolled into The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China, you did not say anything. This is what disappointed me the most. Xiao Qiao, you are a soldier. Now that you are no longer in the army, is your heart discharged as well?"
"Do you know what was on my mind then? I thought that fortunately you were discharged from the army. Otherwise, if you continued to stay in the army with your mindset, it's a small matter if you create troubles for yourself, but what if you dragged your comrades down as well? Xiao Qiao, you are the only person who can disappoint me."
Of course, Uncle Lee agreed to help as he had guessed that it was Ding Jiayi who made the decision to look for him.
Elder Lee was the one who introduced Ding Jiayi to Qiao Dongliang. If not for Elder Lee, Qiao Dongliang would not have married Ding Jiayi.
He had to help since it was Ding Jiayi. No matter how unhappy he was, he had to make the phone call.
But he had told Ding Jiayi there and then, that it was the first and only time that he would do her this favor.
Qiao Dongliang was furious and upset when he knew that Elder Lee was disappointed with him. He had thought that it was his wife who had created the trouble and it was his younger daughter who told Elder Lee of the situation at home, and that he ended up being so embarrassed all because of them.
But after hearing Elder Lee's words, he realized that he was the real problem. Elder Lee was disappointed by his behavior, it had nothing to do with his family.
"Xiao Qiao, tell me honestly, regarding what I said just now, did you think that it was Nan Nan who told Baoguo and Baoguo relayed it to me?"
At Elder Lee's questioning, Qiao Dongliang's expression turned grave and was red with embarrassment. He was speechless.
"Look at you, you do not have the attributes of a soldier. You did not look into it or probe and yet you jump to conclusions and declare Nan Nan guilty. When you were in the army, what did the officer teach you? They say Xiao Ding is biased. To me, you are biased as well. I did hear some stories from Baoguo. But for the rest, it had already spread around in the quad. Xiao Qiao, should you do some reflections?"
Since some time ago, the people from the quad came to know that Ding Jiayi sold Nan Nan's books and because of that she almost could not continue with her studies.
Everyone also knew about the fact that Ding Jiayi wanted the younger daughter to quit school and to start working.
Lots of the people from the quad saw Qiao Nan coming back with a stacks of old books from the thrift shop.
After seeing it with their eyes, the people from the quad all believed what they heard regarding Qiao family.
In other words, everyone knew what had happened at the Qiao family these past two or three months. It was a textbook example of what not to do.
"Spread?" Qiao Dongliang was dumbfounded. It was no wonder that the people from the quad gave him weird stares whenever he went work.
"Xiao Qiao, I am really disappointed in you." Uncle Lee could not hide his exasperation towards Qiao Dongliang. "Where is your heart? Why are you muddle-headed like a block of wood?"
"Alright, it's late. You should go back. Bao Guo told me that Nan Nan is very quiet at school, her character is just like what you said. This weekend send Nan Nan to my house. You do not have to worry about her meals."
With that, Elder Lee waved his hands motioning for Qiao Dongliang to leave.
He was annoyed and vexed. He did not want to see Qiao Dongliang anymore.
Actually when he visited Qiao's house to thank Qiao Nan, he had noticed the weird atmosphere then.
When Zhu Baoguo told him of the bad rumors circulating around the school regarding Qiao Nan, he had sent people to investigate.
He was shocked at the results. Lots of things had happened at Qiao family recently, and all were scandals.
Before school reopened, Qiao Nan was beaten by Ding Jiayi and dashed out of the house with blood dripping from her nose. After she was sent to the hospital by Qiao Dongliang, the doctor diagnosed that she was malnourished. Elder Lee was speechless when he heard about this.
The country was prosperous and the economy was doing well. There wasn't even famine here, why would Qiao Dongliang's daughter be malnourished? This was really…
Elder Lee clearly remembered that when he saw the two sisters that day, Qiao Zijin was polite, well dressed and good with words. She was someone who was good at networking.
One look at her and one could tell that she was doted by her parents. On the other hand, Qiao Nan had been standing behind her, not uttering a single word. If he did not mention, Qiao Nan would be like a shadow, going unnoticed by everyone. It pained Elder Lee to see this.
Two daughters, yet one had a plump face and looked radiant, while the other one looked pale and yellowish, silent and reticent.