Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
The moment he entered the house, Fangzheng realized that Deng Xiao had someone else at home. It was a six or seven-year-old girl. She had two hair buns on her head and was sitting on the sofa watching television. Seeing so many people appear at her house, the little girl curiously looked over. Her eyes were fixated on Fangzheng when she saw him. As for her grandmother, Ma Guifen, she didn’t even look at her. It was as though she was more of a stranger to her than Fangzheng.
“Xiaoxue is already this big?” Ma Guifen looked at Xiaoxue in delight.
Xiaoxue looked at Deng Xiao in a daze before hiding behind Deng Xiao. She didn’t say a word, nor did she greet her.
Ma Guifen’s smile immediately froze a little.
Deng Xiao hurriedly patted Xiaoxue on the head. “This is Granny. Say hi to Granny!”
Ma Guifen immediately looked at Xiaoxue with a look of anticipation, eyes filled with infinite joy. She stood there waiting for the greeting.
Xiaoxue frowned and after a long time, she finally lowered her head and said, “Mommy, I’ll be working on my homework.”
With that said, Xiaoxue ran off.
Fangzheng could clearly sense that Ma Guifen’s smile froze as her eyes were filled with sorrow.
Deng Xiao was also somewhat embarrassed upon seeing that. She said, “Mom, the both of you haven’t met in a while. Xiaoxue was still very young back then and didn’t have much of a memory yet. Furthermore, she’s always been quite afraid of strangers. It will be better after you spend some time together.”
“Oh, it’s fine. I’m just relieved seeing the both of you are fine,” Ma Guifen said.
Deng Xiao invited Ma Guifen and Fangzheng to sit. She poured them some water and led Ma Guifen to take a bath and have a change of clothes.
Instantly, Fangzheng and Red Boy were the only ones left in the living room.
Red Boy smacked his lips. “Master, why do I feel like this mother and daughter duo seem like two strangers? Patron Deng doesn’t seem like an unfilial person, so why would their relationship be… so strange, really strange.”
Fangzheng picked up his cup and drank a mouthful. “It’s inevitable after being so far apart from each other.”
“It’s easy to get around these days with well-developed traveling infrastructure. As long as she has the intention, she can always return, right?” Red Boy was still perplexed.
Fangzheng sighed. “The infrastructure is well-developed, but the distance is still the same. A round trip can take two to three days. For white-collared workers in the city, getting two to three days of leave is almost impossible. It’s already pretty good if they can visit home once or twice a year. And when there are holidays, the entire country is celebrating them. Hence then there are traffic jams everywhere. The travel alone can take more than two or three days. Some people have the will, but not the ability to go home. Some have the ability to do so, but not the will. Bringing up children to take care of the parents in retirement only works when the children stay beside them. The filial piety of children who aren’t beside them is often hindered by problems stemming from reality. This is not something that can be resolved easily.”
“Then what about bringing the elder over?” Red Boy asked.
Fangzheng shook his head. “It’s not necessarily the case that a senior can grow accustomed to life in a big city.”
Red Boy was astounded as he mumbled. “I really don’t understand what the point is of relatives living their lives apart.”
Fangzheng sighed. “Everyone has different pursuits. Some people abandon their pursuit for wealth to remain at home to be filial to their parents. Some use the time gained from not being filial to their parents to work hard outside, working hard so that their descendants can all live in the city, and escape poverty. Who can say who’s right and wrong in this case?”
As the two conversed, Deng Xiao came out with Ma Guifen. The moment Ma Guifen came out, she rushed over to check her knitted bag before happily saying, “Thankfully, the vegetables only dried up a bit. Pouring some water on them and removing their outer skin should do. They’re still fresh on the inside.” As she spoke, Ma Guifen took out the food she had brought.
Red Boy and Fangzheng were curious. Why had Ma Guifen traveled all the way from southwestern China to Dawu, crossing more than half of China? What was it that made her go through all the effort just to bring it over?
Deng Xiao also looked at her in puzzlement.
Ma Guifen took out a bag of red dried chili peppers as she said with a smile, “Xiao Xiao, this is the wild chili you like the most. When it grew, I went up the mountains to pluck some. This year’s chili peppers grew really well. Take a look. Don’t they look good? They were sun-dried in October. I thought you would be coming back and that you could bring some back then, but in the end…” With that said, Ma Guifen’s eyes flashed a look of disappointment. However, she quickly said happily, “There’s also this. Peppercorns. They were grown in our yard. Back then, it was you who planted it with your own hands. Don’t you love the smell of this the most?
“Also, there’s this baby.” Ma Guifen took out something from the bottom of the bag like she was offering a treasure. It was a chicken that had been processed. It wasn’t too big in size, but it was meaty. It was obvious that it had been carefully taken care of.
Fangzheng was taken aback. Man, this elder actually carried along a chicken her entire journey? Wasn’t she afraid it would spoil?
Then Fangzheng saw the secret behind it. Ma Guifen had actually been carrying a few large ice bags! By now, the ice bags had already melted, but even so, Fangzheng was still shaken. The water must have made the bag weigh about ten kilograms! Together with all the vegetables and chicken, the bag wasn’t light at all.
Ma Guifen didn’t look up. She just kept taking out things from her bag as she continued speaking.
By the side, Deng Xiao silently stood watching. Her eyes had reddened as tears uncontrollably streamed down her face like broken pearls.
Before Ma Guifen was done taking out everything, Deng Xiao grabbed Ma Guifen and cried. “Mom…”
There was only this one word, nothing more. But this was enough to express her infinite longing, love, and emotions. It rooted Ma Guifen to the ground as she turned motionless.
This cry left Fangzheng and Red Boy feeling sour. Red Boy subconsciously pulled Fangzheng’s sleeve and wiped his snot.
Moments later, Ma Guifen snapped to her senses and smiled. “Xiao Xiao, why are you crying? Look at you. Let me wipe your tears for you.”
As she spoke, Ma Guifen wiped the tears on Deng Xiao’s face with a pained look. But this only served to breech Deng Xiao’s water gates even more completely as she cried again.
Red Boy looked up at Fangzheng, and Fangzheng looked down at Red Boy. There was envy in their eyes. How nice it was to have a mother!
Upon hearing the crying, Xiaoxue came out. When she saw Deng Xiao crying, she ran over to hug Deng Xiao, asking, “Mommy, why are you crying?”
Deng Xiao said, “Because I’m happy.”
“Xiaoxue, stay here with Xiao Xiao. I’ll go make dinner.” After saying that, she took the food into the kitchen.
Deng Xiao obviously couldn’t leave Ma Guifen alone in the kitchen. After saying a few words to Fangzheng, she went in to help.
Soon, a big red pot of hotpot was served. It was fragrant and spicy hot. Although Fangzheng and Red Boy couldn’t eat it, just looking at it and smelling it left their hearts warm. The two received vegetarian food that was especially made for them, but Red Boy kept staring at the food in the hotpot the entire time, drooling from the sight of the food.
When Ma Guifen saw Xiao Xiao and her granddaughter, Xiaoxue, eating happily, she also ate happily. Clearly, she was overjoyed.
Xiaoxue looked at Red Boy curiously and asked, “Little Brother, why aren’t you eating? Granny’s food is delicious.”