Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
“Forget it. Forget it. I’m all alone, while they have several mouths to feed, and they have tough lives. I’ll just treat it as me helping her. Besides, it’s not like they won’t return me the money… Yes, she did say that she would repay me next month,” Lame Ma mumbled.
However, a month quickly passed. Lame Ma waited a few days but saw no sign of Ma Jiangping. He didn’t even receive a phone call from her.
Although Lame Ma didn’t depend on the twenty thousand yuan to live, it was ultimately his hard-earned money. If he’d agreed to give it away from the beginning, that would be fine since it would have been voluntary. However, he had only lent it to them, so how could he act as if it had never existed?
After waiting another two days, Lame Ma finally managed to get through to her on the phone. Before he even said a word, Ma Jiangping droned on about the weather, family, and everything under the sky except the matter of repayment!
Lame Ma tried hinting at it, but she pretended as though she didn’t understand him.
After hanging up, Lame Ma sat on his bed, looking at his bleak house. He felt the world turn colder.
Another day passed, and Lame Ma decided to deal his cards.
When he made the phone call, Lame Ma heard mahjong tiles being shuffled on Ma Jiangping’s side. It sounded very rowdy on her side.
Ma Jiangping also said that her family was visiting and that they were chatting while playing mahjong. Then, Ma Jiangping put him on speaker mode!
Lame Ma listened in and realized that there were many people. All of them spoke in unison as though they were greeting him. With so many people around, Lame Ma felt a little embarrassed to ask for payment. All he could do was exchange some pleasantries before hanging up.
Lame Ma waited a few days, but received no news. He called a few times, but the line was cut off before he could even say a word.
When Lame Ma finally found an opportunity to ask about the money, all he received was wailing as though death would be the result of repaying the money.
Helpless, Lame Ma could only continue waiting. This waiting went on for two months. In these two months, he felt suffocated to the point of not being able to eat or drink. His engraving skills also declined. It wasn’t because of the money, but of the social aspect of things!
The more the thought, the colder his heart felt. In his bitterness, he thought over the matter and finally went up the mountain to seek Fangzheng’s help. He wished to be liberated in spirit and mind.
After hearing Lame Ma’s recount, Fangzheng could not help but sigh. Fangzheng had never heard of Lame Ma’s situation in the past. Furthermore, Fangzheng wasn’t able to determine who was right or wrong from just listening to Lame Ma’s side of the story. He needed to see for himself to determine the actual situation.
With this in mind, Fangzheng got up and said, “Amitabha. Patron, This Penniless Monk is aware of your situation. Do you know where that relative of yours lives?”
Lame Ma wasn’t sure why Fangzheng asked such a question, but he still told him.
Fangzheng nodded slightly to express his understanding. “Patron, go home for now. This Penniless Monk will find you in two days and give you an answer.”
Lame Ma turned agape as though he wished to say: I want to know the answer now.
But when he saw Fangzheng’s calm eyes, Lame Ma was rendered speechless. Despite learning engraving from Fangzheng after all this while and being Fangzheng’s senior who had watched him grow up, to the point of even having hit Fangzheng’s ass, there was no higher or lower when it came to learning. The accomplished were the teachers. Lame Ma was already utterly convinced by Fangzheng’s unique views on engraving and his extraordinary skill. He honored Fangzheng as a teacher and naturally didn’t dare disobey Fangzheng’s orders. Hence, he returned a bow and indicated his understanding before heading down the mountain.
Once Lame Ma left, Salted Fish appeared without Fangzheng saying a word. He exclaimed. “Man! That man finally left! Indeed, once someone turns old, they start talking more. Why did he have to drone on and on over something that can be explained clearly in a few words? Does he think that playing dead is that easy? I almost froze to death!”
As Salted Fish spoke, he looked at the food on the plates, but the plates were already completely clean. When he looked at the rice on the plate, it was also cleaned out!
Salted Fish glared and lamented. “This is too much! Reverend, aren’t you going to do something about this? I played dead for this monastery. You can’t let me starve, right?”
Fangzheng looked at Salted Fish and shook his head slightly. He couldn’t be bothered with him and walked straight to the kitchen.
Upon seeing Fangzheng leave, Salted Fish felt even more pissed. He shouted. “All of you are bullies! How am I to live my days? All of you stop! As your ancestor, I’m telling you that you will regret this! Don’t bully the young!”
Squirrel looked up in a good-natured manner and asked, “You are already 90,000 years old. You aren’t young.”
Salted Fish was instantly left at a loss for words as he glared at Squirrel and hurriedly said, “All of you are looking at me with livid expressions today…”
When he said that, Fangzheng suddenly peeked his head out and looked curiously at him. He thought, “Has this salted fish changed his nature? Is he now humane?”
Hence he asked, “How’s it?”
Salted Fish glared at Fangzheng with widened eyes, and then looking at Red Boy who was cracking his knuckles before looking at Fangzheng’s pair of shoes, he shouted. “But all of you will be all smiles tomorrow!”
Fangzheng nearly vomited blood when he heard that. This darn fish really was as cowardly as always. Shaking his head, Fangzheng turned and left.
Salted Fish heaved a sigh of relief before sitting on the chair in a rather sorry state. He looked up at the sky as though he had lost all his dreams at that moment. There was only one thought on his mind—hunger!
Just as Salted Fish was feeling aggrieved, a huge bowl was placed in front of him with a thud. Following that, a fragrant smell inundated his olfactory senses. Then he heard an indifferent voice. “Eat this. Make sure to eat on time in the future.”
Salted Fish was taken aback. Seeing the huge bowl of rice and food in front of him, he was stunned. He scratched his fish head and felt his mental processes lacking. When had this monk become so kindhearted? He turned to look at Fangzheng, who had left the room, and smacked his lips. He wasn’t sure what to say.
At that moment, Red Boy jumped onto the table and said, “There weren’t enough bowls. Master got me to reserve a portion for you when scooping the rice. Whoever came last would eat from the pot. However, Master said that with your character, you would definitely be last… Do you think Master would really let you starve? Sigh, to think you have lived for so long…”
With that said, Red Boy walked off as well.
At this moment, Squirrel came over and scratched his head. “Wow. To think that so much was left for you. I even helped stash a rice ball for you…”
With that said, Squirrel fished out a rice ball from his tiny pocket and placed it in the huge bowl. Although the rice ball was tiny, Squirrel was tiny to begin with. This touched Salted Fish.
Salted Fish opened his mouth, wishing to thank him, but he ended up saying, “This bit of rice isn’t enough for an ancestor for me. Since a little guy like you can eat so well, leave it for yourself.”
Once he said that, Salted Fish regretted it. He originally wanted to thank Squirrel and offer to let him eat a little, but what he said ended up sounding offensive.
For the first time, Salted Fish felt bad for his problematic mouth.
Indeed, Squirrel was taken aback as he asked sadly, “Is it too lousy for you…”