Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Squirrel scratched his head adorably. “Salted Fish, are you feeling better already?”
“Yes…” Salted Fish nearly squeezed the word out of his clenched teeth, and after dragging it out, he added an inaudible, “… my ass!”
Squirrel exclaimed happily. “That’s great!”
When Salted Fish heard this, he immediately had the urge to cry, thinking, “How can there be such an adorable fatty in this world?”
After their meal, Fangzheng looked at the snow in the sky. Having sat in the temple hall the entire day, the only people who had come were some villagers from One Finger Village, in order to take a look at the situation. According to the villagers, many villages’ roads had been blocked and were untraversable due to the heavy snow. Even the roads to the county city only had one bus which operated in the morning, yet it too stopped operating. It was said that operations would continue only after the snow was cleared as they were afraid of accidents.
With regards to this, Fangzheng could only helplessly shake his head. Such situations happened annually, and Fangzheng was already used to it. However, in past years, One Finger Monastery didn’t have many visitors to begin with, so he hadn’t really had much thoughts on it. But this year, looking at the lifeless monastery, he felt a little bored.
“How boring…” Salted Fish yawned as he swam inside the Heavenly Dragon Pond.
Lone Wolf yawned when he saw Salted Fish doing so. Same for Squirrel. It was contagious as even Monkey and finally, Red Boy too, yawned…
At that moment, there was only one feeling in the monastery—boring!
Fangzheng sat in the yard and did a count of the time before he sighed and returned to his room.
Seeing Fangzheng looking dispirited and listless, the disciples exchanged looks and guessed at Fangzheng’s situation.
Fangzheng ignored what was happening outside and walked into his room. Picking up Zen Master One Finger’s photograph, he placed it on his legs and looked at it silently. After a long while, he muttered, “How cold it is…”
Having said that, Fangzheng put away the photograph and rummaged through his cabinet for some paper and cotton before walking out of his room.
“Master, what’s that for?” Red Boy looked at the paper, cotton, and scissors in Fangzheng’s hands in curiosity.
Fangzheng looked up into the sky and said, “It’s cold, so I’m making clothes.”
“Making clothes? Master, you know how?” Red Boy asked in surprise.
Squirrel came over and said, “Master, I’ve never seen you make clothes in the past. Can you make me a set? I feel as though the fur I have this year is less than what I had last year.”
“Master, aren’t you always wearing the same monk robes? Why are you planning on getting more clothes this year?” Lone Wolf was curious as well.
Monkey watched the buzz too. As for Salted Fish, he secretly came over when he heard the conversation. Seeing Fangzheng holding so little cotton and paper, he immediately laughed. “What kind of clothes can you make with this bit of paper and cotton? It’s perhaps only enough for a squirrel. Why don’t you make a set of gloves or shoes for an ancestor like me?”
Fangzheng ignored him and sat down. Taking a deep breath, he quietened down.
Seeing Fangzheng acting like this, Salted Fish, who wanted to make another quip or two, knew better than to speak. The few of them stood around Fangzheng and watched, their eyes filled with wonder.
Fangzheng moved the scissors across the paper in seemingly random motions, outlining the shape of clothes. Then he used the scissors to cut out a shape. Then he cut a few more shapes of clothes of different styles—down jackets, long-sleeved shirts, huge monk robes, and a Kasaya. All of them had two copies.
After cutting the shapes, Fangzheng placed the two identical sets together and got a few grains of cooked Crystal Rice. Squishing it into a paste, he smeared it across the edges of the clothes. After the corners were glued together, he stuffed cotton in from the edge which hadn’t been glued. Following that, he used a tiny bamboo pick to make the cotton distribution uniform before sealing it with the gluey paste. Finally, as though he wasn’t assured, Fangzheng used thread and needle to sew the edges.
With that, Fangzheng was done making a tiny set of clothes. He lifted it up and observed it against the sun before nodding in satisfaction.
After putting it down, he followed suit and made the other sets of clothes, numbering a total of eighteen, with which he filled a tiny basket.
Squirrel went over and sized up the clothes, mumbling. “Even I can’t wear them. Master, do you have some other squirrel around I don’t know about? That’s not right. No squirrel can wear this…”
Red Boy looked at the clothes and asked thoughtfully, “Master, who are these for?”
Just as he said that, Salted Fish scoffed. “Can’t you tell? This isn’t for the living. It’s for the dead!”
The moment that was said, Lone Wolf, Salted Fish, Monkey, and Red Boy looked at Salted Fish in collective astonishment.
Salted Fish curled his lips and felt especially smug. See that? This is the benefit of living long and being knowledgeable! No matter how good these brats can fight, be conceited, and eat, so what? They are still ignorant and mostly clueless!
Salted Fish coughed and said, “If I’m not guessing wrong, you celebrate the Winter Clothing Festival over here, right?”
Fangzheng was surprised when he heard that as he returned with a question. “You celebrate it too?”
Salted Fish laughed out loud. “Of course. Although our worlds are different, there are still similarities. Mount Numinous also celebrates the Winter Clothing Festival. On Winter Clothing Festival, the weather turns cold, and that is especially the case for the underworld. Therefore, Mount Numinous always sends some clothes to the ghosts in the underworld for them to warm themselves. But in this world of yours, there apparently aren’t any ghosts. What will you be doing with those?”
The others looked curiously at Fangzheng as well.
Fangzheng said, “Tomorrow is indeed the Winter Clothing Festival. Ours is a bit different from yours. Quite different actually, I must say. The origins of our Winter Clothing Festival have nothing to do with Mount Numinous, but they do have some relation to the legends on the street.”
Realizing that Fangzheng was about to tell a story, his disciples had their curiosity piqued.
On such a cold day with no one around, the mountain was blanketed by snow. A lot of the joy had been siphoned away by the cold, and with all of them bored, to have a story to listen to naturally left them rejoicing.
Salted Fish sat down as well. Although he was like an old gangster, he still enjoyed listening to stories. However, there was nothing commendable about the way he sat. He didn’t sit properly with his fins on his body, nor was he sitting upright like a frozen sculpture. Instead, he leaned against a chair like a slush of mud. As Fangzheng looked at him, he found his posture extremely familiar. Finally, he smacked his forehead and thought to himself, “Isn’t this the Ge You Slouch 1 ? Did Ge You actually learn it from Salted Fish? Was this actually the Salted Fish Slouch all along?”
However, Fangzheng didn’t have the time to study the problem of Salted Fish’s sitting posture. Instead, he began talking about the Winter Clothing Festival.
The Winter Clothing Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day, Hungry Ghost Festival and Xia Yuan Festival were the four ghost festivals of China.
However, compared to the other three festivals, the Winter Clothing Festival wasn’t that well-known. Many people didn’t even know what the Winter Clothing Festival was, or why it had such a name. However, the older generation took it seriously, because it was a day with a special meaning.