“Yuan Hai, come here. There’s news.” The secretary’s voice sounded. Yuan Hai sternly exhorted Yuan Xingxing not to venture out, to which she agreed. Only then did Yuan Hai go to the secretary, but when he was done, he realized Yuan Xingxing was gone.
Yuan Hai was about to charge over to find his family when he heard a walkie-talkie transmit an exclamation. “Yuan Hai, run! Flood! A huge flood!”
The secretary exclaimed, “Darn it! A levee upstream has collapsed! Quick, run!” He ran as he shouted through his loudhailer. The villagers ignored everything and ran. It turned into utter chaos.
Yuan Hai turned anxious as he tried to run upstream. His family was still up there!
Screams echoed out of the walkie-talkie as someone yelled, “There’s a landslide! You can’t go up the mountain. Run the other way! Ah! The water is rushing towards us!”
All that was left was the gushing sounds of water before it went silent.
At that instant, Yuan Hai’s mind went blank as he turned stupefied. All he knew was to run. He wanted to run over to find them. That was his only thought.
At that moment, two soldiers ran over and tugged at him while calling out to him. However he did not hear a thing. All he did was run, to which the two soldiers had no choice but to knock him unconscious. They then lifted him and ran up a nearby hill.
The scene changed again.
Yuan Hai was kneeling by the riverside alone, his eyes filled with grief. Standing beside him was the village secretary who was smoking. “Hai, don’t be sad. The living have to shoulder the hopes of the departed. You won’t let the two of them watch you wallow in sadness in the netherworld, right?”
Yuan Hai did not reply.
“Shuilian has been laid to rest. She left in peace, but Little Xing was really a pity. She hasn’t been found” With that said, the secretary cried as well as he mumbled, “What a good girl she was.”
Yuan Hai remained silent.
The secretary continued, “Hai, I know you are sad. I’m sad as well, but we have to live on no matter how sad we are.”
Yuan Xingxing lowered his head before finally speaking. “If I had not indulged Xingxing that day, and if I had stopped the two of them from coming, this wouldn’t have happened. All of this is my fault. Both of them are gone. I can’t see any reason or hope to live on. It’s driving me crazy.”
“Hope?” The secretary fell into deep thought.
Yuan Hai lowered his head and did not say a word. His eyes were filled with thoughts of suicide.
The secretary patted Yuan Hai’s shoulder and said, “I’ve heard of stories where people were swept away by floods for dozens of kilometers, and even so they survived.”
“Oh?” Yuan Hai looked up at the secretary immediately, wearing a hopeful expression.
The secretary nodded in affirmation. “I’m telling you the truth. The water is heartless, but there are too many possibilities. The corpses of many have been found, but Xingxing hasn’t been found. Perhaps she’s still alive.”
“Still alive?” The glint in Yuan Hai’s eyes brightened.
The secretary smiled. “Perhaps she’s still alive. I want you to work hard at finding her. Perhaps you will find her one day. Who knows?”
The moment he said that, Yuan Hai stood up. He plunged into the river, giving the secretary a fright. Just as he was about to stop him, he saw Yuan Hai swimming! Then he dove deep down
It was unknown if it was a coincidence or the real deal, but when Yuan Hai surfaced again, he was holding onto a red scarf caked in mud!
“Secretary, this is Little Xing’s!” exclaimed Yuan Hai in excitement.
“That’s right. That’s Little Xing’s. Yuan Hai, live well and do a good job finding. There will always be hope.” The secretary smiled and tapped his smoke pine before returning to the village. He knew that Yuan Hai would not give up until he found Xingxing.
However the secretary never imagined that although Yuan Hai was happy after finding the red scarf, he would turn mute the next day. No one knew why he went mute. No matter what anyone said to him, he would only nod and reply with a grunt. He did not speak again.
Gradually people spread rumors that Yuan Hai had become mute because he was too sad.
The scene changed again.
The seasons had passed, and it had been twenty years. Yuan Hai spent nearly every day working, and in his spare time he would punctually head to the Dong River in the morning, noon, and at night. He would prepare a tray of Yuan Xingxing’s favorite dishes and pour them into the river. He would scour the Dong River again and again to search for that hope that was nearly nonexistent. He began drawing, and his skill improved. He handed out an increasing number of pamphlets, but he never wrote any words, nor did he have anyone write on it.
Fangzheng let out a long sigh after seeing all of this. He finally understood everything. Yuan Hai could speak, but he was ridden with guilt for agreeing to Yuan Xingxing years ago, which resulted in Yuan Xingxing’s and He Shuilian’s departure. Therefore he had stopped speaking. He deliberately did not write, for he was afraid that if he wrote too much, others would understand his intentions and actually help him search for her, only to receive confirmation of Yuan Xingxing’s death. He had searched the river for twenty years, and it could be said that he had finished scouring it in its entirety, but he continued searching, all for that hope that was nearly nonexistent. However it had to be said that it was the only hope for him to live on! This was a man that lived in hope but was infinitely close to despairing pain!
Having realized this, Fangzheng dispelled A Golden Millet Dream and turned to leave. Fangzheng was unsure how he could help Yuan Hai. Reviving the dead? Clearly, that was impossible. Give him the brutal reality? That was equivalent to sending him to his death! After being weighed down by a yoke for twenty years, once a hope that lasted twenty years was demolished
“Master, where are you going?” Red Boy quickly chased after Fangzheng when he saw him leave.
Ouyang Fenghua followed closely behind. After some thought, he retold Yuan Hai’s story to the two of them. Red Boy fell silent, while Ouyang Fenghua cried after hearing the story.
Red Boy said, “Master, can we not come into contact with such fools?”
Fangzheng and Ouyang Fenghua each hit him on the head.
Fangzheng was fine, but Ouyang Fenghua held her hand in pain as she grumbled, “Is your head made of metal?”
“It’s harder than metal.”
Ouyang Fenghua nodded before asking, “Venerable One, do you wish to help him?”
Fangzheng nodded and said yes, but he had no idea how to begin.
“I think he needs hope, more hope.”
However, Red Boy said, “Hope? So what if we give him more hope? The greater the hopes, the more despair there will be when the truth is revealed.”
This was precisely what troubled Fangzheng. Despite a long discussion, they failed to figure out anything.
Finally, Fangzheng came to the abbot quarters once again and recounted what he knew to Zen Master Sunglow before saying vexedly, “Zen Master, This Penniless Monk wishes to help him, but has no idea how to do so.”
Zen Master Sunglow smiled. “Because this very mountain has had me rightinside1.”
Fangzheng was taken aback as he stared at Zen Master Sunglow who smiled and asked, “What are you?”
“A monk,” replied Fangzheng subconsciously.
Zen Master Sunglow nodded. “That’s right. You are a monk. You have given up the mortal world and are a monk. But now you have placed yourself back into the mortal world and are blinded by it. Like that, how are you to see everything clearly?”