Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
As for the local students, they returned home daily. They were green with envy towards the other students who were like free birds. They had money and time, with no one to watch over them. Ignoring their studies, who wouldn’t be envious?
Of course Fangzheng was an exception. He had time, but no money. He couldn’t gallivant! The children in the city and Fangzheng lacked a common language. As for the children from the villages, they would go drinking daily, go to Internet cafes and bragged all day. Fangzheng had no money, so he couldn’t have fun. Therefore he was marginalized. He was ignored in the past, and now, he was still the one being ignored. All Fangzheng could do was smile wryly.
Just as Fangzheng fell silent and acted like he didn’t exist, a classmate suddenly @-ed him. “Is that Fangzheng? Welcome to the class alumni group.”
Fangzheng nearly wept when he saw the text. Finally someone had noticed him! Amitabha. He could still be considered alive! He was not ignored, how blissful!
When Fangzheng saw the name, Liu Dacheng (CEO Liu), a somewhat vague face flashed in his mind. If he recalled correctly, they were classmates in the first year of high school. They then became classmates again in the third year of high school. They did not mingle or interact much. Liu Dacheng was the kind of person who wasn’t considered an A-student, but neither was he an utter failure when it came to his studies. He could rank pretty well if he studied, but the moment he slacked off, he would join the ranks of Fangzheng and company. He was considered someone quite well-known.
Fangzheng replied: “Amitabha. It’s This Penniless Monk. Patrons, hello.”
“Haha! Fangzheng, you really became a monk?” Many people were stirred the moment Fangzheng spoke.
“Fangzheng, you mentioned that you came from a monastery. I never expected you to be serious.”
“Fangzheng, which monastery are you at now?”
“Are you still bald?”
“I heard that monks these days are very rich, so much that they are overflowing with money. They can eat meat and drink, and can even hit on chicks or drive luxurious cars. Fangzheng, you can be considered as the first one to join the workforce in our class. Impressive. We had poor judgment in the past. Now, we can’t envy you more.”
Fangzheng was instantly dumbfounded when the group began clamoring. What were they saying? Were they living in the same world? So rich that he was overflowing with money? Eating meat and drinking, as well as hitting on chicks? Even Zen Master One Finger and Zen Master Sunglow did not enjoy such treatment! Besides, if Fangzheng remembered right, he had mentioned that he came from One Finger Temple more than once. Yet all of them had forgotten! Indeed he was still that miserable person without any standing.
Hence Fangzheng replied, “This Penniless Monk does wish to lead a wealthy life, but This Penniless Monk comes from a tiny monastery. So there’s no way of doing so. At the moment, This Penniless Monk eats rice and vegetables every day. Life is miserable. It’s more like all of you are leading better lives, Patrons.”
“It’s okay. By the way, CEO Liu, what were you talking about previously?” Fangzheng was rendered speechless that just moments after he mentioned where he hailed from, a person named Chen Xiao changed the topic.
Then Liu Dacheng appeared and said: “What were we talking about? Oh yes. We were all classmates. If anyone needs a job, just tell me. My business is getting bigger, and I need some trustworthy friends. As long as you trust me, Liu Dacheng, join me! I’ll pay for your plane tickets, food, and accommodation when you come. As long as you have the ability, you can earn as much money as you can!”
“CEO Liu sure is generous!”
“CEO Liu, you sure are awesome. I’m still in school…”
Fangzheng shook his head in resignation when he saw this. Apparently he had become the neglected person again. However Fangzheng thought nothing of it. He was apart from society, and it was unlikely he had much common topics of conversation with them anyway. He smiled and did not take it to heart. He decided to just watch the ongoings calmly.
Everyone chatted, and the topic eventually focused on a female classmate.
“Qi Liya, I heard that your family is recently facing some troubles. Now that CEO Liu has made it rich, you can work for him and earn some money. Wouldn’t all your problems be resolved?” quipped Chen Xiao.
Everyone immediately echoed. Finally Qi Liya appeared.
“I think I can forget about it. I studied Chinese Studies. To be honest, I didn’t learn anything useful. I wouldn’t be of much help if I went…”
Upon seeing her name appear, a figure flashed in Fangzheng’s mind. She had been a somewhat frail girl who always sat in the corner. She was very soft in her speech, not because she had an inferiority complex, but it was just that she was a little timid. She would burst out crying the moment she was given a fright…
“Qi Liya, it’s okay. I’m lacking manpower now. If you have nowhere to go, come work for me,” said Liu Dacheng immediately.
Qi Liya replied after thinking for a moment, “I’ll think about it. I’ll discuss it with my family. If everything is alright, I’ll go over. I’ll thank you in advance, CEO Liu.”
“Haha, we are all old classmates. You don’t have to be polite.”
Then everyone began chatting again. Fangzheng watched with interest for a while. Most of it was revolved around Liu Dacheng, who would show off his house and luxurious car from time to time, which resulted in exclamations.
Fangzheng shook his head and silently gave his best wishes to Liu Dacheng’s continued success. For him to think of helping his former classmates after earning lots of money, he could likely be considered a good man.
In the subsequent days, Fangzheng led his days leisurely. He struck the bell, ate vegetarian, chanted, and watched the devotees stream in and out to consecrate Buddha. He felt immense satisfaction. Unknowingly, the devotees that came to One Finger Monastery had also begun to change. In the past, they were all villagers, but now many people from the county city were coming. However very few people came from Black Mountain City. It was obvious from the license plates of the cars that were parked at the foot of the mountain.
A week later, Fangzheng received a friend request while using his cell phone. He was surprised to see that it was Liu Dacheng! Fangzheng had quite a good impression of him.
The message he had sent for the friend request comforted Fangzheng. “Hi, my old classmate, Fangzheng. It’s been a while since we talked. Do you still remember me? Liu Dacheng! I looked at your photo album; you have really become a monk!”
Fangzheng tapped accept, and the two officially became WeChat friends.
Fangzheng was surprised that Liu Dacheng immediately sent a smiley face as a greeting.
Fangzheng immediately replied with an emoji with pressed palms.
“Fangzheng, long time now see. I heard you are an abbot. You are doing pretty good, huh?” Liu Dacheng spoke like they were close.
Fangzheng replied humbly: “Amitabha. It’s still not bad. The days are a little austere, that’s all.” He obviously could not say that he was eating Crystal Rice and drinking Unrooted Clean Aqua daily, right? Humility was a virtue, so he refused to posture.
“Is that so?” asked Liu Dacheng.
Fangzheng replied: “You are apparently doing pretty well. Nice. Where are you now?”
“Me? I’m in the Bei River in the south that borders the sea. It’s earmarked by the government, so it’s quite nice.”
Fangzheng smiled. He had heard of the Bei River. It was indeed a river that flowed into the sea, and there was a coastal city. However it was close to an exaggeration to say that it was earmarked by the government. It was not far from Haicheng, and with Haicheng in the way, it would be too difficult for the city to fully develop. However it was ultimately still a large city, larger than Black Mountain City. One Finger Village was completely incomparable to his city.