Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
The moment that was said, Salted Fish’s fin immediately froze in mid-air. He thought, “Why is someone coming at this moment? Can’t they f**king let a fish eat?”
Although One Finger Monastery had more than one animal, monkeys mimicked humans to begin with. Everyone only found Monkey to be especially intelligent when he ate with chopsticks. Squirrel wasn’t even as tall as a pair of chopsticks, so he naturally didn’t use them. He sat there, eating a rice ball he was hugging. In regards to that, everyone just found him adorable. As for Lone Wolf, he stuck his head into a food basin for his meal, completely in line with what people expected.
However, who had ever seen a fish loitering above shore? Who had ever seen a fish use chopsticks before? And who had ever seen a fish that had been salted into a salted fish do the two aforementioned matters? It was completely inexplicable!
As such, Salted Fish instantly felt several pairs of eyes looking at him. Their gazes seemed to say: “You’re dead if you get discovered!”
Salted Fish rolled his eyes as he yearned to curse. However, in consideration of the situation he was in, he could only hold it in. He immediately displayed his peerless divine power—playing dead!
His eyes rolled back, he threw his chopsticks, and lay there motionless.
Squirrel prodded him out of curiosity and mumbled. “How hard…”
Lone Wolf mumbled. “This is the best animal at dying from a collision I’ve ever seen.”
Monkey shot a glance at Salted Fish and said lightly, “This is just acting in character.”
As they spoke, a person came to the door. Everyone looked over, and it was none other than Lame Ma!
“Amitabha. Patron, is there something?” Fangzheng was puzzled as well. In the beginning, Lame Ma came up the mountain almost daily. Later, Lame Ma learned a little too much, causing his skills to not be able to keep up with the theory he learned. Therefore, he had to completely digest what he had learned and become thoroughly skilled before visiting again. However, as this period of time grew longer, it resulted in Lame Ma coming up only once a week. The last time Lame Ma had come was three days ago, so why was he there again?
Fangzheng focused and discovered that Lame Ma had a bitter expression. His wrinkled face looked worse than usual.
Upon hearing Fangzheng’s question, Lame Ma looked bitterly at Fangzheng and said, “Abbot Fangzheng, I’ve encountered some trouble. After thinking it over, I think only you can help me.”
Fangzheng got Jingxin to bring Lame Ma a chair before asking, “Trouble? Patron, why don’t you tell me.”
Upon hearing that, Salted Fish nearly jumped up. As a fish, even while dead, he had his eyes open. Therefore, he could see everything clearly. Although Fangzheng was speaking, Lone Wolf, Monkey, and the rest were still eating! He saw the food rapidly decrease as his heart bled in pain. He yearned for them to scram.
He originally hoped that Fangzheng would lead Lame Ma out to carry on the conversation, which would allow him to continue his meal. But now, from the looks of it, this was the prelude to him starving… As he took in the fragrance of the food, he felt even hungrier. For the first time, he realized that being a soulless salted fish couldn’t be too bad in comparison.
“Sigh, it’s a long story…” Lame Ma sat down and sighed before slowly recounting.
Half a month ago, Lame Ma had just returned from his lessons on the mountain. He was in a good mood having had many of his questions towards engraving answered. He bought two bottles of sorghum spirit, cut up a huge slab of streaky pork, and planned on having a good celebration at home.
As it was early winter, the weather was cold. With the school still under construction, Lame Ma didn’t have any students present.
Even the elderly carver, Jiang Zhou, had left with his disciples.
Alone, without children or wife, Lame Ma returned to his rather bleak home.
However, when he came to his doorstep, he was surprised to discover two children in his yard, a boy and a girl. They were running around the yard with two bamboo poles, chasing after an elderly hen.
Lame Ma frowned and thought, “Whose children are these? Why are they causing trouble at my place?”
Hence, Lame Ma walked over, incensed. He shouted. “Stop!”
The two children looked up and saw a fierce-looking man walking over angrily. They burst into tears and immediately ran out. Before long, he heard a woman’s voice from inside his house. “Second Brother Ma, why are you being petty with children at your age?”
As the voice spoke, a woman came out! She had a long face and short hair. She looked quite energetic with the down jacket she wore. However, her pair of narrow eyes looked like a straight line. The way she looked at people was as though she was peeping through a crack in the door. She was obviously not someone to be messed with!
“Second Brother?” Lame Ma was taken aback. He had already forgotten how long it had been since someone addressed him as second brother! Lame Ma was the second child of his family of three sons. His parents died early, and the family split early. His elder brother toiled to take care of the family and ended up dying early of an exhaustion-related illness. After his younger brother left the village to work, they lost contact. He could remember that due to his poverty and inability to marry, all his relatives severed ties with him. When he couldn’t eat, he relied on his neighbors’ help. Back then, he felt that although the world was huge, he was without a single relative.
Now, to have someone call him second brother, it suddenly made the memories he had sealed since a long time ago resurface. However, none of the memories were beautiful.
Lame Ma carefully sized up the woman and seemed to recognize her as his second paternal uncle’s daughter. Calling him ‘Second Brother Ma’ wasn’t wrong.
“You are?” Lame Ma still asked.
“I’m Ma Jiangping! Don’t you remember me anymore? Back then, your family came visiting mine, and we skipped rope together.” Ma Jiangping acted like they were close as she immediately came over and smiled.
Lame Ma thought, It’s really her!
However, with years of zero contact, Lame Ma’s memories of Ma Jiangping were nearly gone. To see a relative so suddenly, not only didn’t he not show any joy, he even had a sense of wariness and unfamiliarity. However, since she was family, he couldn’t chase her away. He nodded in response and forced a smile. “So it’s you, Jiangping. What brings you here?”
“I missed you after not seeing you for all these years. Second Brother Ma, it’s rather cold outside. Come, let’s talk inside.” With that said, Ma Jiangping pulled Lame Ma into the house.
Lame Ma frowned, thinking, “You really don’t think of yourself as an outsider! That expression and the way you speak sound as if this isn’t my home but yours!”
Although Lame Ma wasn’t very happy, he still entered.
The moment Lame Ma entered, he realized that she wasn’t alone. On the stove bed sat a young couple, apparently the parents of the two kids. There was also another man seated there whose age made it likely he was Ma Jiangping’s husband. An entire family of three generations was present!
The moment Lame Ma stepped in, everyone greeted him. It was quite a bustle, but Lame Ma ultimately found it odd. It was his house, but these people gave him the feeling like he was a guest! It was extremely awkward. Then, when he scanned his house, he immediately felt infuriated!