Translator: QueenAng3l & Tranzgeek
Cheng Jia Yang
I took Qiao Fei’s form, resume, academic credentials and an application letter, and carefully looked it over. Only then did I realize that this was my first time seeing her handwriting, graceful and powerful, like her character. I edited her tiny mistakes, and returned it to my colleague responsible for education cooperation, he laughed: “Who is this, that makes you go to so much trouble?”
“My friend’s little sister.” I said.
Not after too long, the French University replied, to send its students a confirmation of their registration and housing guarantees. In the letter to Qiao Fei the University of Paul Valery asked her to arrive at the end of June to participate in a language fundamentals training during the break.
Thinking of it this way, the time had really passed quickly.
Last year June, we got together, strangers; and it had passed a year, and I had sent her away from my side.
Before, I had thought that we would never separate, but as of now, I had done the last thing I could for her, but no matter what, this woman had been by my side before, given me happiness, and given me warmth.
When I thought of it like this, I was driving on the road.
The car door opened, and the tree imprinted on my body left a mottled shadow.
I encountered a red light, my car stopped, and I looked to the side, it was the cinema that I had went to before. A guy and a girl held hands, and stood in front of the ticket window, like they were thinking about what movie they should watch.
The poster said that there was an old film that was replaying, 《Casablanca》, the man finally bid farewell to his beloved woman.
The end of the movie really made one feel emotional, the beautiful Ingrid Bergman tearfully said farewell forever to Humphrey Bogart, and said, please kiss me.
In the movie, women were pliant, and men were hard steel.
As for me, I was contradictory, it really made one feel irregular.
At this road, I U-Turned towards the Foreign Languages School.
I called Qiao Fei’s phone, no one answered.
I intercom called her under her dormitory but no one answered, as if repeating the scene from a year ago, a fellow classmate told me, Qiao Fei returned home to pack.
I went home and told my mom that I was going to France.
Mother said, Are you dreaming? Then go.
Really mom, it’s true. I showed her my signed visa. Look.
She said, You’re simply just taking something to deceive me. I’ve never even seen the People’s Republic of China passport before.
My father said, This is real. The neighbors also have children going to Japan to study. He came over and carefully studied my passport. He even attached my photo for me and signed my French Republic visa.
Do you believe it now? I’m leaving in two days. The school is sending me. I’ll return after a year.
They started worrying. France, it’s even more expensive than Shenyang right?
Mother said, How are you going to cover your living fees?
It will be provided by the government. Every month we get about 6000 yuan.
That much? The school gave you this opportunity? They asked.
I thought for a while. Mother, do you remember the older brother (close older male friend) who visited our house last year?
She said, I remember, did he help you do this?
I said yes.
Fei Fei, you must remember to repay others.
I nodded, but felt guilty inside. How could I repay Cheng Jia Yang? What did I have that he didn’t have?
I packed my suitcases and checked them in. Then I went alone on a train to Dalian. I sat at the beach in the city for a long time. I thought about that vacation, me and Cheng Jia Yang, talking softly on the airplane as opposed to holding hands, a night of passion. Lately it had become a person’s cherished memories with a loved one.
Cheng Jia Yang
I rode an airplane, and sat on a train and went to her hometown again.
When I arrived at her house, Fei’s father was there. I had seen pictures of him before.
Using hand gestures, I asked him where Fei was.
He wrote on a piece of paper with a pen that she hadn’t returned for long and had already left.
I suddenly sat down. The trip is long, don’t worry, empty, but it makes people feel tired.
Fei’s father poured me a glass of water. I thanked him, drinking it all at once.
I wrote words down for him, telling him that I was Fei’s friend, and that I wanted to see her before she left the country. Does your heart feel better?
Much better, thank you.
I have to leave to find her. This is some money, not much, please keep it.
He persisted in his refusal, pushing and shoving for a long time.
I had no other solution and finally took back the money.
I wanted to go back as soon as possible, to see her once more before she left. There are some words I hadn’t said and thinking about it now caused a terrible feeling.
In the little supermarket by Qiao Fei’s house, I found the boss and asked, “Are you familiar with the Qiao family in Building 5?”
“The couple is deaf? Their daughter is learning a foreign language?”
“Longtime neighbors. Is there something you need?”
I took out the money, “This is two thousand yuan. Sorry to bother you but could you send them ribs, fresh meat, on the weekends and holidays.”
The boss wiped his hands on his apron, looked at me, and thought for a moment, “Okay, I’ll give you a receipt.”
I took the receipt, finally accomplishing something.
I quickly went back. I saw one of Qiao Fei’s classmates who said to me, Didn’t she go home?
“She still hasn’t come back?”
“She already left for France, right?”
“No, no. We just helped her pack her suitcase this morning.”
I let out a relieved sigh. Fortunately she hadn’t left yet. I’ll just wait for her here.
But this afternoon, the Ministry suddenly assigned a task to me. I had to go in place of a sick coworker and go to Shanghai for the Annual Meeting of International Lawyers for simultaneous interpretation. It would be a two day trip.
But I couldn’t leave at this time.
“This is too sudden. Why did you just tell me? I don’t even have time to prepare.” I said to the director.
“You suddenly disappeared for three days and now you’re saying you need time to prepare?” He scolded me. He walked behind me and patted my shoulder. “Plus, I don’t have any other solutions. She suddenly got sick, what am I supposed to do? Plus the others didn’t prepare beforehand either. So it really must be you, small Cheng who goes.”
Seeing that it was like this, there was no solution. It was an order. I just had to pray that Qiao Fei wouldn’t leave in these two days.
Conferences were battlefields.
I originally pretended to be in a poor condition, saying that I didn’t even prepare so I wasn’t ready to go. I racked my brain, looking for a good excuse. Luckily, the Shanghai counterparts were pretty good. The effect of our translation collaborations could be regarded as ideal.
On the flight back, I thought I would just close my eyes for a while but I accidentally fell asleep. Feeling hazy, I had forgotten where I was. I asked the stewardess, she told me, “This is the Air China flight to Dalian.”
After I woke up, I realized it was a dream.
I suddenly remembered, and started laughing. Right, how did I not think of this? Would Fei have gone to Dalian? I went back, she must have also decided to go back. After I meet her, I will tell her to be careful on the trip, study diligently, and come back with advanced translation skills in order to earn lots of money for her and her parents. Would she have brought a lot of luggage? Fortunately I had an acquaintance at the check-in location so it wouldn’t matter too much if her bags were a little overweight. Did she bring any dried vegetables with her? Mushrooms, black fungus (Chinese “vegetable”, edible), okay, I would buy these for her. There was no need to bring toilet paper, I’ve already researched, and the price in France is similar to the one in China. But I probably shouldn’t say this, or else she’ll just say I’m nagging her again.
With this intention, I felt eager to go home. After getting off of the plane, a wind below my feet. I jogged out of the landing channel and boarded the company car.
The car had not yet left the airport when my eyes were attracted to a huge advertisement on a large bus across from me. The Herbal Essence shampoo girl. She had slightly amused cat-like eyes and black hair as shiny as satin. Like Qiao Fei.
My carelessness was once again the cause of another irreparable mistake. I didn’t look up once, I didn’t see Qiao Fei sitting in the bus, about to go onto the plane.