Yang Hua asked doubtfully, "Really? One Finger Temple has been renovated? The village donated the money?"
"I'm not sure who donated the money but it really has been renovated. It was probably some rich man that went up the mountain to donate..." Yang Ping quickly diverted the topic and continued extolling One Finger Temple.
Yang Hua was at a loss presently so he considered any idea as a last resort. After the meal, he returned home and told his wife.
The day quickly passed and the next morning, Fangzheng woke up and cooked a pot of Crystal Rice to enjoy.
If not for the allure of the Crystal Rice, Fangzheng would not have woken up so early. However, after tasting Crystal Rice once, he had to have it again as soon as possible. He could not wait a single moment longer.
However, there was one thing that pissed Fangzheng off. Lone Wolf who usually went out early in the morning to search for food no longer went out. Instead, he would stay in the kitchen, waiting. The moment the rice came out of the pot, he would stretch his tongue out and stare at Fangzheng with a look of desire. If Fangzheng tried to ignore him, he would swing his tongue, causing saliva to fly in every direction... so that Fangzheng had no choice but to give him some rice.
After having his meal, Fangzheng continued cleaning the hall, wiping down the Buddha statue and cleaning the oil lamps. Those were his daily tasks.
On the morning of the third day, Fangzheng looked out at the empty door. He said with a sigh, "Ten incense offerings a month. When will I get a chance to complete this mission? It's already the third day. I wonder if anyone will come today. Seriously, Grandpa Tan, you guys came and didn't even offer any incense when you were here. Sigh."
Just as Fangzheng was lamenting the lack of patrons, he heard voices coming from outside. It was the conversation between a man and woman.
Fangzheng was immediately enlivened and pricked his ears to listen in.
"Yang Hua, you must be mad. Even a large hospital has said it's impossible. What use is there in burning incense and paying respects to Buddha? What era is this? Why are you still so superstitious!?"
"What are you talking about? What do you mean what era? Does Buddhism not exist in this era? Aren't there still temples? We are already at the entrance to the temple so refrain from saying such unpleasant things. If Buddha were to hear it, He might blame us and then we truly would be doomed," Yang Hua reprimanded.
The woman tsked and said, "I mean, if you're so serious about it, we should be going to a large temple. What use is One Finger Temple? One Finger himself was quite accomplished, but that young monk, Fangzheng, is someone we watched grow up. When his pants tore, I was the one who sewed them. Other than being able to eat, I haven't seen him accomplish much."
When Fangzheng heard that, he blushed. He never expected the people outside to be Yang Ping's elder brother, Yang Hua, and his wife, Du Mei. Du Mei left a deep impression on him. She could be nasty with her words but she didn't mean any harm. She was just blunt. However, she had punished him by smacking his buttocks several times in his childhood. Upon realizing how he would be meeting Du Mei in a moment, Fangzheng subconsciously touched his buttocks and felt a slight pain...
As they conversed, Yang Hua led his wife into the temple. When she saw Fangzheng, she said with a smile, "Fangzheng, we are here to see you. Look at what we brought you. The eggs that you love the most! There are also some pickled vegetables."
When Fangzheng heard that, his eyes immediately lit up. In the remote mountains, eggs were considered a luxury. And although pickled vegetables were made from cheap napa cabbage, there wasn't much made in the autumn season. Ignoring the long winter and the torture of having pickled vegetables for every meal, Fangzheng had not eaten them for an entire year. His longing immediately made the pickled vegetables turn into a delicacy, a treasure!
However, Fangzheng held his hands flat and said properly, "Thank you, Patron."
"Pa!" Fangzheng's bald head was smacked by Du Mei. "Patron? Darn kid, to think you even speak like a monk to me. No matter what you are now, you are the darn kid I watched grow up. Speaking of which, how long have you been up here on the mountain? Why haven't you grown thin? Come, have two of these eggs to nourish your body. The old hen just laid them early this morning. I cooked it..."
Fangzheng listened to Du Mei's nagging without being irritated. In fact, he felt a warmth he had not felt in a long time. He sighed inwardly. "It really feels good to have people care about you..."
When Du Mei was done with her blather, Fangzheng said, "Auntie, This Penniless Monk has already become a monk and can't eat eggs, meat, or fish."
"That's right. I told you that Fangzheng is already a monk. How can a monk eat eggs?" said Yang Hua. Then, he pulled Fangzheng to the side and grumbled, "You aren't aware of it, but when I said that we would come up the mountain to see you, she nearly killed that old hen of ours to make soup for you. Thankfully, I held her back or it would have been a waste."
Fangzheng smiled bitterly. Du Mei truly cared for him but Yang Hua was also a little stingy. However, Yang Hua was correct. Even if the chicken was cooked, he still couldn't eat it. It would have been a waste. The old hens in the village were needed for producing eggs and not for eating.
Du Mei pushed Yang Hua away and glared at him. She said, "What are you blabbering on about. Why? Are you like an old woman with so much nonsense to talk about? Fangzheng, are you really not going to eat the eggs? Nice, delicious eggs?"
Fangzheng had a bitter look on his face. He was not a three-year-old child anymore. Was there a need to make such an attempt?
Finally, Fangzheng rejected her offer, leaving Du Mei unhappy. "I went through so much trouble to bring these up, but this darn kid won't take them. It's so... infuriating!"
Fangzheng hurriedly replied, "I might not want the eggs, but I do want the pickled vegetables! That's something I haven't had in a long time. You have to leave them for me."
Only then did Du Mei beam.
Fangzheng took the pickled vegetables and asked, "Auntie, why did you come up here today?" Fangzheng actually already knew about the matter and had a vague guess. However, he wasn't confident about the efficacy of his temple.
Du Mei said, "Sigh, don't remind me. We haven't had kids all these years and we really want to have one. We've been to the hospital. We even tried voodoo recipes but they were all useless. Yesterday, and I've no idea why, Yang Ping had a silly idea knocked into his head by some donkey. He suggested for us to plead to Buddha up here for children. Tell me, if the hospital can't treat us, what good will beseeching Buddha do? Furthermore, even if we are going to implore Buddha, going to a bigger temple would be better. This temple of yours doesn't have anything, so how can it be of any use? The masters of those large temples have true ability. As for a kid like you, I know you too well. Even with your pants on, I know you have a birthmark on your buttocks..."
"Ahem..." Fangzheng turned embarrassed.
Yang Hua hurriedly pulled Du Mei to the side, "Stop blabbering. Are you done? How can you speak so badly of others in front of them? Do you even want to implore Buddha?"
Du Mei stubbornly said, "I'm airing my grievances to Fangzheng, not some stranger. Why? Fangzheng, will you be angry with me? Fangzheng, tell me. Are you angry?"
Fangzheng said helplessly, "No."
"See, he's not angry. Then, Fangzheng, tell me. Am I being unreasonable?" asked Du Mei.
Fangzheng shook his head and said, "Auntie, the size of a temple does not matter. It all depends on one's sincerity. Although my temple is small, it's very efficacious. The powers of a temple depend on you and not the abbot of the temple. As long as you are sincere, anything you do wish for will be granted."