Fangzheng looked at Huang Lanlan and said indifferently, “You have committed a heinous sin but still hope for Buddha to bless you with a child? Huang Lanlan, committing sins causes negative karma. Now that you are plagued by negative karma, how do you plan on conceiving? Being unable to conceive is only the beginning.”
When Huang Lanlan heard that, she felt a jolt through her heart. She kept the matter a secret. None in the village knew of it. Even her husband did not know. But Fangzheng’s words were full of certainty. There were definitely skeletons in her closet! Huang Lanlan knew that the monk must have known something…
Huang Lanlan glared at Fangzheng, “How much do you know about me?”
“If you do not want people to know, don’t do it.” He walked to the temple hall, “If you wish to have a child, think carefully about redeeming your sins. This Penniless Monk does not have a secret recipe. The only recipe is merit.”
Huang Lanlan chased up and yelled, “Fangzheng, what do you actually know?”
Fangzheng turned to look at Huang Lanlan, with his Wisdom Eye opened. He could see the negative karma on Huang Lanlan rise. At the same time, Fangzheng felt the Thousand-armed and Thousand-eyed Guan Yin’s powers from the Ten Thousand Buddha plaque behind him. It was different from child-giving powers. Fangzheng realized something as he borrowed the Buddha plaque’s power. He looked at the aura filled with bloodlust above Huang Lanlan’s head.
It suddenly changed into that of a person’s figure, one that was blurry but had extremely clear eyes. It was staring hatefully at Huang Lanlan. Fangzheng knew it was not a ghost or monster. It was just a manifestation of negative karma under the Wisdom Eye.
Fangzheng kept his face blank. “A human life.”
With that said, Huang Lanlan fell to the ground with a thud and could no longer stand up. She believed that Fangzheng had originally only made a passing remark but now she realized that the secret that only she knew had been discovered. Huang Lanlan cried, “It wasn’t intentional… I didn’t mean it. She fell into the water tank that day by herself. It was an accident.”
Fangzheng sighed, “Huang Lanlan, what you say to This Penniless Monk is useless. If you really wish to explain, go to the temple hall and tell it to Bodhisattva.”
Huang Lanlan cried, “Fangzheng, you will not report me to the authorities, right?”
Fangzheng did not say a thing. The heaven’s had rules and the human world had laws. He could determine a person’s right and wrong but the punishment was not something he would dish out unless necessary. Heaven’s punishment had befallen on her, preventing her from conceiving but that was not enough.
Fangzheng entered the temple hall and sat in front of the wooden fish. He pressed his palms together and gave a Buddhist proclamation before he began striking the wooden fish in silence.
When Huang Lanlan heard the wooden fish, she felt her heart palpitate. She looked up at the Bodhisattva plaque and sighed. She walked in and knelt on a mat as she said something silently. Scenes of that fateful day flashed in her mind.
With a thought, Fangzheng saw what was in Huang Lanlan’s mind.
Twenty years ago, Huang Lanlan and her good friend, Wei Shuqiao scaled the mountain to pluck wild vegetables. Huang Lanlan had invited Wei Shuqiao with the intention of murder. The reason was simple. Huang Lanlan and her present husband, Jiang Song were childhood sweethearts. She liked him from a young age but Jiang Song was secretly in love with Wei Shuqiao. Wei Shuqiao also gave Jiang Song mixed signals. In addition, the village was choosing a broadcaster. She lost to Wei Shuqiao in a competition. In her jealousy, Huang Lanlan pretended to befriend Wei Shuqiao and went to the mountaintop. She then pushed her down the cliff.
In order to avoid suspicion, Huang Lanlan jumped down as well. However, she had long made preparations. Therefore, she hung on a tree and was uninjured.
This matter caused quite a stir back then. Huang Lanlan had always enjoyed quite a good reputation. In addition, she had nearly died as well, so no one suspected her. Later on, Huang Lanlan and Jiang Song got married but were childless for more than two decades. Huang Lanlan’s temper turned more irascible because of her lack of children. From the village beauty to becoming an infamous shrew in the area. Her relationship with Jiang Song thinned as well. She always believed that the breakdown of their relationship was mainly because of their lack of children.
Fangzheng was not unfamiliar with Jiang Song. Before the new year, he had come up the mountain amid a heavy snow to offer incense. He came and left in a rush. Back then, Fangzheng had observed but thought nothing of it.
Fangzheng fully understood the karma that Huang Lanlan possessed. With a thought, he made Huang Lanlan feel like the world in front of her had collapsed. She appeared on the mountaintop. She happened to see her young self walking up the mountain with Wei Shuqiao. Furthermore, she was shouting, “Shuqiao, quick! It looks like there’s a lucidum there!”
Wei Shuqiao ran over out of curiosity.
“No! Don’t push her!” Huang Lanlan screamed with all her might. She had repeatedly screamed like that over the past twenty plus years but she knew that it was useless!
Indeed, Huang Lanlan reached out her arm and pushed!
“Amitabha!” At that moment, a Buddhist proclamation sounded. Following that, a monk appeared in midair, standing on a lotus flower. He looked peacefully at Huang Lanlan.
“Fangzheng?” Huang Lanlan was stunned.
“Patron, have you now realized your sins?”
Huang Lanlan knelt down and wailed. “I know my sins. I long knew of them. Over the past two decades, I have been having nightmares almost every night. I have been with Jiang Song but he has never been happy for even a single day. He would leave the village for work every year. Whenever he comes back, he would look at me like I’m a dead person. I don’t know if he knows what I’ve done but I know that he must have figured out something. We never had children, not because I can’t conceive but because he never touched me!”
“I don’t want others to know that he hasn’t touched me. I found it embarrassing. Therefore, I claim that I have problems conceiving. In order to make it look real, I seek superstitious recipes and pray to deities everywhere.”
“But, this isn’t what I wanted. This isn’t marriage. This is me living like a widow to a living man. I know this is retribution but I still think it unfair.”
Fangzheng shook his head. “You think it unfair, but does that mean the deceased Wei Shuqiao should find it fair? Huang Lanlan, your selfish love killed not only Wei Shuqiao but also your husband and yourself! Look.”
With a thought, two mirrors appeared in midair. The left mirror had a beautiful girl looking gentle and virtuous. She smiled like a blooming flower. In the right mirror, there was a village shrew standing at the entrance cursing like a mad woman.
The left girl wore simple and modest clothing but was beautiful. The right village shrew wore beautiful clothing bu looked ugly from every angle.
When the left girl chatted with a handsome man, her face blushed. The man looked at her with eyes filled with love. The right village shrew wore beautiful makeup but the other man did not even look at her.
The images continued and Huang Lanlan would look at the left and then the right. Her eyes filled with turbid confusion.
Fangzheng looked at Huang Lanlan. “How’s the left girl?”
“Beautiful. Her eyes are truly beautiful,” answered Huang Lanlan subconsciously.
“What about the right?” asked Fangzheng again.
“Ugly, as ugly as a rabid dog…”