Fangzheng went to the motorcycle before sitting down cross-leggedly to wait silently.
It did not take long for Yuan Hai to return. He appeared especially excited this time! He nearly ran out of the water and when he came in front of his motorcycle, he was instantly stunned. He never expected to see the monk he met yesterday. He looked at Fangzheng with a puzzled look, to which Fangzheng pressed his palms together. “Amitabha. Patron, we meet again. You appear very happy today. Did you find something?”
As Fangzheng spoke, he shot a glance at Yuan Hai’s swarthy hand. His hand clutched something tightly, as though he was holding onto something extremely important.
Fangzheng was perplexed. “Could it be that Yuan Hai’s daily dives are to seek treasure? Did I guess wrong?”
However Yuan Hai had no intention of sharing it with Fangzheng. Instead he nodded as a form of courtesy, put on his clothes, and rode off on his motorcycle.
Fangzheng looked at Yuan Hai’s departing back and shook his head gently. He did not follow him and instead returned to the monastery.
When Yuan Hai reached home, he parked his motorcycle and briskly walked back into his room. He finally placed the item that he had been holding in his palm carefully on the table. It was a golden item which reflected the sun’s rays. When Yuan Hai saw this tiny item, his face instantly turned infinitely radiant. He smiled very happily! He had already forgotten when the last time he smiled was, but today he was really happy!
However the smile was soon wiped off from Yuan Hai’s face. He carefully looked at the item, which was a badge, before he picked it up and ran to the wall that was plastered with pictures. He compared the badge with each photo and on one of them, his daughter stood in front of the school’s entrance, smiling brilliantly just as he had smiled moments ago. On her chest was a badge. The badge was golden in color with a red flag and Tiananmen on it. The one Yuan Hai had found looked beautiful too, but it was only golden. Although there was the red flag, but there wasn’t a Tiananmen!
Yuan Hai instantly slumped onto the bed and allowed the badge in his hand to fall onto the bed. He leaned back onto the wall and closed his eyes as he let out a lonesome whimper, something only he could understand himself. He did not know what to say either His thick hands kneaded his face, as though he could knead away all the pain by doing so.
He sat there for a long time, and only after an unknown amount of time did someone seek him for a job. He then left with his tools.
Fangzheng went out again on the third day. Ouyang Fenghua and Red Boy followed, to which Fangzheng did not object. The trio came to the riverside and looked at the ruins when Ouyang Fenghua suddenly said wistfully, “I never imagined these ruins to still exist after twenty plus years.”
Fangzheng was taken aback as he asked in passing, “Patron Ouyang, you know about this place?”
Ouyang Fenghua said matter-of-factly, “Yeah. My dad used to specially come here. He even wrote a prose here about the heartlessness of the river.”
Fangzheng had the thought of slapping himself. He had been seeking out clues everywhere, but he never expected one to be right in front of him without him realizing it! Woe him! He looked around and saw that Yuan Hai had not arrived. There was still time, so Fangzheng found a rock. He asked after everyone sat down, “Can you tell me about what happened here?”
Ouyang Fenghua noticed Fangzheng’s solemn expression and knew that he was being serious. She carefully recollected everything before saying, “I haven’t been here myself and have only heard of stories. There’s a photo album back at home, and in it are many pictures which Father took. A set of photos were from the Dong River’s flood from twenty years ago. I heard from him that there was a thunderstorm that lasted an entire week. As it rained cats and dogs, the Dong River’s water level rose sharply. The government immediately sent men to watch the river streams twenty-four hours a day, especially the Dong River.”
“The Dong River’s water level rose too quickly. The military and the local police all came, piling on all sorts of sandbags, but they could not match the speed at which the Dong River overflowed its banks. After three days and three nights of struggles, they had no choice but to give up. Therefore they organized to evacuate the villagers en masse.
Later, the flood swept through many villages and plantations. I heard from my father that many farmers cried really tragically. They lost their houses and land. There was almost no hope for them for the remaining year Sigh.”
“The government should give some aid, right?”
“Yes, but it’s pointless no matter how much is given. Their viewpoints are rooted deep in their heart. There’s nothing worse for them than not having a house left,” said Ouyang Fenghua with a sigh.
Red Boy said mindlessly, “If the house is gone, wouldn’t it be settled by building a new one? What’s there to be sad about?”
Ouyang Fenghua smiled bitterly. “The attachment which people from that era have for their houses is not something modern people can imagine. I remember that my father saw some people who were evacuated sneak back to take their things when they saw that the flood had not arrived. However the flood did come and washed everything including them away”
Red Boy was baffled by the reason for the people’s actions. Were their things more important than their lives? When he thought of this, he could not help but recall the men on the battlefields from before.
“Amitabha.” Fangzheng pressed his palms together and gave a Buddhist proclamation. It was a way for him to give the people who perished in the flood years ago a sending.
“Patron, do you know more?”
Ouyang Fenghua shook her head. “No, I wasn’t very interested in these matters, so I didn’t probe deeper. However, it would be useless to ask anyway. It was too chaotic back then. I guess even my father didn’t know much either.”
Fangzheng was just about to speak when he heard the sound of a motorcycle. He knew that Yuan Hai had arrived.
Fangzheng stood up and looked back. Indeed, Yuan Hai had come to the ruins on a motorcycle once again. He no longer looked as excited as before and instead had a baffling sense of tenacity to him.
“Master, what is he persisting for? Why does he come here to dive daily?” Red Boy was really perplexed by Yuan Hai’s actions as he just couldn’t figure them out.
Fangzheng shook his head. He was also unsure what Yuan Hai was up to, but Fangzheng still walked over.
When Yuan Hai saw Fangzheng, he did not hide. Perhaps after meeting him several times, he knew that the monk had no ill intentions. However why was he waiting for him every day? He was very curious.
Fangzheng came in front of Yuan Hai, pressed his palms together, and gave a Buddhist proclamation. “Amitabha. Patron, This Penniless Monk has met you thrice. It can be considered fate. This Penniless Monk can lead you in a particular direction. Perhaps you will be able to find the person or object you are seeking.
Yuan Hai looked warily at Fangzheng, but he did not reject him.
Fangzheng continued, “Sunglow Monastery’s Mahavira Hall consecrates the three incarnations of Buddha. Buddha’s Dharmic powers are immense, so if you were to pray earnestly, and tell your story in detail to Buddha, you will definitely gain something. It’s definitely better than diving day in and day out.”