Qiao Nan replied coldly. "I am full, I will go back to my room."
"Go ahead, there's no one to disturb you at home. Study hard, Dad believe that you can cope well." Qiao Dongliang now knew that tutoring Zhu Baoguo might affect Qiao Nan's studies.
At the Lee house, Qiao Nan could not concentrate on her studies. But back at her house, she could pay full attention to her revision.
Qiao Dongliang had told Ding Jiayi and Qiao Zijin not to disturb Qiao Nan when she was at home. He also forbade Ding Jiayi from asking Qiao Nan to help out with household chores. He wanted her to have all the time to study.
This was Qiao Dongliang's way of compensating Qiao Nan.
Since Qiao Nan could not help out, Qiao Zijin would have to do her share. It seemed like she also had some questions for her mother. "Mom, why did you stop me just now?"
"You are usually very bright, why would you do such a foolish thing now?" Ding Jiayi bent down and peeped outside, checking to see if Qiao Dongliang and Qiao Nan had returned to their rooms. She then lowered her voice and said, "Zhu Baoguo is known for his bad temper, everyone in the quad who hung out with him before was bullied by him. With people like Zhu Baoguo around, Qiao Nan will not be able to concentrate on her studies. He would not obey her as well. Qiao Nan has given her promise, if she does not do well in her middle school exams, it would be your Dad's fault. Your Dad cannot possibly blame us for this. As long as she does badly in her exams, I will be able to come up with ways to make her quit school to work. By that time, the three of us will work to provide for your college fees. You can go to the best college in the Celestial Empire."
"You could say that." Qiao Zijin pursued her lips in annoyance, with a hint of doubt in her voice. "But Mom, Grandpa Lee is a good man, he took care of Dad just because he was comrades with Grandpa. If Qiao Nan's studies fall behind after tutoring Zhu Baoguo, the Lee family and Zhu family would definitely do something about it. In any case, if Qiao Nan really did badly for her exams and wanted to work, it only take one word from Grandpa Lee to get her a good job."
No matter how hardworking and studious one was, it was useless compared to a word from a influential person. That was why Qiao Zijin did not put efforts in her studies. She felt that it was a waste of time to study.
"That would be wonderful." Ding Jiayi was beaming with excitement. "If Qiao Nan landed a good job, she would definitely be paid well. You can concentrate on your studies. I heard that lots of people who had good results went overseas to study. Though the expenses would be higher, if Qiao Nan has a high paying job, she would be able to provide for you."
Ding Jiayi painted a beautiful picture in her mind. This was the first time that she felt that it was a good idea for Qiao Dongliang to take on the private job on behalf of Qiao Nan.
Qiao Zijin laughed bitterly, go overseas to study?
With her current results, not to mention studying overseas, she would have to do well for the next two and a half years so as to get into a good college.
"Mom, Dad always placed a lot of importance on Qiao Nan and my studies. Why would he make such a decision?" Qiao Zijin could not understand Qiao Dongliang's attitude.
"Others might not understand your Dad, but I have been living with him for years, I know him inside out. Your Dad is indebted to Uncle Lee. He wanted to repay the debt of gratitude that he owed Uncle Lee. But he was discharged from the army when Qiao Nan was born. This has always been a knot in his heart. Now that he finally had a chance to mend his relationship with Uncle Lee and to repay his debts, your Dad was willing to sacrifice Qiao Nan's time for revision to help Uncle Lee. If taking the exams for someone else was allowed, he would even ask Qiao Nan to give up on her middle school exams and take the exams for Zhu Baoguo."
Her mother's words gave her a scare. Qiao Zijin asked in shock, "My—my—my—Dad will actually do this. If it's me, will he treat me in the same way?"
"No." Ding Jiayi said with confidence.
"Why?" Even if she might be an exception, Qiao Zijin had no confidence at all.
When she heard her mother's words, Qiao Zijin was worried that what if there was a day that she had to be sacrificed in order to return Elder Lee's favor, her father would treat her in the way that he treated Qiao Nan.
"Do you think that it's only your Mom who favored sons? Your Dad favored sons as well, If not, we couldn't possibly have a second child. Though he kept silent about it, he wasn't that pleased after I gave birth to you."
Ding Jiayi sighed. After giving birth to the elder daughter, she had been through disappointment and frustration. But she and her husband had stable jobs, the three of them would still be able to lead a happy life.
But in about two months after Qiao Zijin was born, Qiao Dongliang started to spend all his time in the army, coming with all sorts of excuses not to go home.
If Qiao Dongliang was to stay in the army and worked hard, aiming for promotion, Ding Jiayi would not have anything to complain about.
But during that period he committed several mistakes.
He was thought to be the most likely candidate to be promoted to battalion commander, but after he committed the mistakes, his promotion was delayed for several years.
On top of that, Ding Jiayi was antagonized by her mother for not being able to bear sons. She then decided to give up everything to have a second child, hoping that they would have a son.
As expected, after she brought up this suggestion, it didn't take very long or much persuasion for Qiao Dongliang to agree to leaving the army to have a second child.
Qiao Zijin was boiling in anger at the mention of the topic of having sons. But Ding Jiayi's words that followed after appeased her anger.
"After giving birth to Qiao Nan, your Dad was so disappointed that he was not in the mood to work. I told him we could always treat you as a son and give you all the support and guidance that we would give to a son. We could take in a son-in-law to bear the bride's family name. In that case, there would be no difference between a son and a daughter. That's the reason why you get to wear new clothes every year while Qiao Nan could only wear your hand-me-down and use those that you discarded. Your Dad never said anything about it or take the initiative to buy anything for her. That's because Qiao Nan would eventually get married and leave the family, but you would be staying with us. But I didn't know that your Dad would give her some money here and there, and that she would seize the opportunity to save up the money."
Qiao Zijin had no idea that there was more to it behind her differential treatment at home.
If her mother told her father that Qiao Nan should stay with the family and they would take in a son-in-law for her, would she and Qiao Nan be treated in a vastly different manner now?
Luckily she was the child that her mother doted on and Qiao Nan was not.
Qiao Zijin hugged Ding Jiayi's arm and said affectionately, "Mom, you are so good to me."
"Of course, you are the only one that I dote on. Don't disappoint me, keep up the good work. When it's New Year time, do well in your exams and make me proud." Ding Jiayi was delighted at her beloved daughter's affectionate gestures.
"Mom, don't worry. I will work hard." Qiao Zijin smiled, if her father saw her to be as important as a son, even if her results are not satisfactory, her father would not ask her to give up on her studies. This piece of news was akin to granting her amnesty.
To think that back then she feared that with her poor results and the lack of money at home, she might be the one who had to quit school and work. Hence she opened the windows in Qiao Nan's room in the middle of the night, hoping that Qiao Nan would come down with sickness, and she would be the only one at home who was still studying.