Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Fangzheng said, “Table manners! No one is snatching the food from you! Lower your ass. Don’t lift it up!”
Lone Wolf disingenuously changed directions and sat. He tried his best to lower his head to eat! However, the fellow kept a look out as his eyes darted around to ensure that he was not snuck up on again.
Fangzheng looked back at Monkey who was still stealing the fruits, and struck Monkey on the head. “Jingzhen, use this pair of chopsticks.”
Monkey had been focused on stealing the fruits and had no idea what Fangzheng had used the chopsticks for. Realizing that his master was showing care and concern for him, and most importantly, that Fangzheng did not appear to have noticed that he was stealing fruits, he immediately took the chopsticks while feeling guilty and took a mouthful of vegetables with it. He ate quite happily.
Lone Wolf had his neck stretched out this whole time, and upon seeing this he narrowed his eyes and grinned. He was content. Indeed, doing something bad would be met with punishment. To have such a deceitful master meant that mistakes would be met with such sleights of hand! However Lone Wolf planned on telling his adorable Junior Brother Jingzhen after he was done with his meal, out of goodwill of course.
Fangzheng then took a look at Red Boy who was always the one that made him worry the most. He was immediately amused…
He saw a young girl sitting beside Red Boy. She kept putting food into his bowl while the brat was blushing. For the first time, he was sitting there obediently and eating slowly… From the look in the little guy’s eyes, Fangzheng knew that the child was not romantically moved, but he had clearly turned shy for some inexplicable reason! From the looks of it, this brat had a back story… Fangzheng planned on digging up the reasons when he had the time or he would not be able to suppress his inner gossipy nature!
Fangzheng enjoyed his meal and after he was satiated, he blessed Yang Hua’s other child. Then Fangzheng prepared to return to the mountain with his disciples.
At that moment, music began sounding from the dilapidated elementary school that stood a distance away from the village. Firecrackers went off as they undulated with the music. The Two-people Rotation’s tunes began to fill the entire village.
Red Boy asked out of curiosity, “Master, why aren’t we watching?”
Fangzheng shot a glance into the distance and shook his head. “We aren’t going!”
“Master, it seems to be bustling with activity. I really want to know what’s happening.” Squirrel stood on Fangzheng’s shoulders as he tiptoed, trying his best to look into the distance.
Lone Wolf added a line too. “Master, we have never seen it before.”
“Do you really want to watch?” Fangzheng thought about it and indeed, it was quite a rare experience. It would also be a good thing to let them experience it.
The moment Fangzheng asked, Monkey, Squirrel, Lone Wolf, and Red Boy nodded in unison.
“Alright then, let’s take a look.” Fangzheng nodded and led his disciples to the school.
Before arriving, they saw large parasols propped up by the school’s entrance. There were long electrical wires laid out, and a huge fridge was placed there. On it was a plaque: “Cold drinks, ice cream, and ice-chilled beer!”
They walked into the school, and the lecture stage inside had turned into a performance stage. It had been this way all this while. Whenever a movie was played in the village, or if the Two-people Rotation teams were invited to perform, they would use the stage. After the school was closed down, this place had become the activity center.
“Master, this school is pretty nice. Why was it closed down?” asked a perplexed Red Boy as he looked at the dilapidated school which had short buildings and shattered window panes. The tables and chairs inside were covered in a layer of dust.
Fangzheng said, “Look at the people sitting in front of the stage.”
Red Boy looked over and saw many people sitting there with their own stools or benches. However, few of the people sitting there were young. Most of them were in their fifties and sixties. The younger ones were just two or three years old. There were only a handful of older children, and they were running around with a bunch of younger kids.
Fangzheng said, “With the progression of time, the young people in the village will head to the big cities in a bid to earn more money and for better career prospects. They live and work in the big cities, and they become rooted there. When they get married and have children, they will also naturally raise their children in the big cities. More and more people from the village leave, and few people return. The ones that remain are the elderly who can’t bear to leave their hometowns. Some of the elderly will help the young adults take care of their children, but once the children are older, they will be sent to the cities for school. Back when I was young, there were two classes in this school. Each class had more than thirty students. It was quite lively back then…
“As children, we were deemed little scourges by the villagers. We caused destruction wherever we went. We would chase after chickens or dogs, throw mud bombs at the walls, dig out tunnels in the straw, and dig traps in the snow piles. We caught many people by surprise with this. But now… There are few children of schooling age in the village. Even if the school continued operating, there would only be a handful of students, so why would they keep it running? In the past, there was a school for every village or two. Now, there’s one school for more than a dozen villages. Therefore there are many schools like this that have been abandoned.” When Fangzheng finished his explanation, he sighed.
Red Boy rocked his head as he asked, “When these elderly are gone too, wouldn’t that leave the villages empty? Would a few villages have to merge together?”
Fangzheng did not reply to him, but he knew that what Red Boy said might very well happen. When that happened, what sort of sight would it be? Fangzheng always believed that people were the basis of a society’s existence. Without people, nothing else mattered.
At that moment gongs could be heard as they sounded three times, which attracted everyone’s attention.
Meanwhile Yang Hua ran over to entertain Fangzheng and company. He had reserved a seat in front. In order to not block the audience behind, the first three rows were on the ground that was covered with newspapers.
People behind were either sitting on folding stools or sitting on stools that were turned on their side. Further behind, there were tall stools which were placed upright, as well as people standing. As for the people on walls and trees, they were not considered part of the ordinary audience.
After Fangzheng sat down, Yang Hua gave him a gourd. Fangzheng thanked him profusely.
Although Yang Hua had prepared a lot of food, there were also some villagers doing business. They sold ice-cream, beers, beverages, and mineral water. They practically sold everything, from melon seeds to the spicy snacks known as latiao. With the children running around noisily and the people on stage constantly testing the audio equipment, it was quite a din. Yet it appeared bustling with excitement. The atmosphere was just nice.
Finally a bald man went on stage. After testing the microphone, he said loudly, “Dear villagers, brothers and sisters, my benefactors, I’m Fifth Zhao, Zhao Liuguang. I’m here to greet all of you!”
“Will you kneel down?”
There were rowdy cheers from offstage. Clearly, they were all very familiar with Fifth Zhao.
Fifth Zhao roared with laughter. “I, Fifth Zhao, kneel to the heavens, the earth, and in the middle, I kneel to the renminbi 1 . As long as you throw a few billion at me, I won’t mind kneeling. Come on, crush me with your money!”
Everyone tsked in unison.
Fifth Zhao continued. “Alright, I, Fifth Zhao, am bald and hairless. I’m not as handsome as hunks and not as fragrant as chicks. So I won’t be embarrassing myself. Now, let me ask everyone. Do you want to see a pretty lady or a strong and mighty man!?”
“Man!” Everyone shouted together.
“You embarrassing clowns! All of you brought your wives, right?” cursed Fifth Zhao jokingly.