Chapter 41: Brothers
When Chu Yuan Jiang suggested we go hiking, I agreed happily. I was happy that he was so spirited even though his legs were not in good condition.
“When I lost the use of my legs, I regretted not traveling much. Back then, while paralyzed on the hospital bed, I told myself that if one day I was able to stand up again, I would go hiking. I wanted to see the scenery from the peak of the mountain. Now that things are going in the right direction, I finally have the time and the mood.”
I found somewhere nearby that could maybe pass as a hill on the map. We called the activity ‘hiking’, but in reality, we drove most of the way along the mountain road, and only hiked up the last segment.
Yet, even that seemed a bit too challenging to him, so I offered to help. “How about I carry you up on my back?”
He panted heavily, leaning against a tree. A thin layer of sweat covered his bare head. He glared at the direction of the peak, his face looking positively ferocious, before he wiped his forehead. “Let me do it on my own. What’s the point if you carry me up?”
After a considerable amount of effort, we eventually reached the top. The height was not lofty at all, so when we looked down all we could see was the grass on the nearby hills. We couldn’t enjoy the pleasure of standing on top of the world.
Chu Yuan Jiang was about to collapse, so I quickly supported him and let him catch his breath on my shoulder.
Stroking his back, I couldn’t help but remember the mystical mountains that I had been to, with their crowded temples and family shrines, full of pilgrims lining up to burn incense and pay tributes…
I suddenly felt a little homesick.
Gazing at the barren land with boredom, Chu Yuan Jiang suddenly made an erratic remark, “My life is now complete. I have risen to where I am from nothing, and now I have even migrated abroad.”
That was unexpected and I didn’t know how to respond.
He let out a long sigh in the mountain breeze. “Junzi, I am so happy. Really.”
I took hold of his hand, convinced that something was off about him, but unable to tell exactly what. “I am glad that you’re happy.”
“I have let go of the past now. Of everything…….” He spoke quietly, looking at me deeply, “If anything happens to me again, I don’t want to be your burden once more.”
I was astonished, but somehow managed to maintain my smile. “What is this nonsense about?”
He walked closer to me and pulled out the jade laughing Buddha that was hanging on my neck. “I gave you this to protect you so that you could live a free life, not to chain you. Do you understand?”
I swallowed my saliva nervously. I understood, but decided to avoid the real topic. “The things you do…… Even if they’re against my values, as long as you’re making money, I have nothing to complain about. I won’t bring it up again in the future, okay?”
He put the jade pendant back under my collar and said nothing.
After a long silence, he finally spoke, “I need to go on a business trip. Don’t follow me this time.”
I looked up at him in shock. He flashed me a faint smile. “Junzi…”
My heart tightened. In fact…
In fact… both of us knew.
We had already known while he still laid paralyzed in bed.
I had to change the medicine for the wounds to his private part every day. He always buried his face in the pillow at those moments, and would neither talk to nor look at me.
When my fingers were inside him, it felt burning hot. And even though I had applied a generous layer of ointment on the surface, I felt my fingers were stuck in that warm place, and I just couldn’t pull them out. He was shaking uncontrollably, too…
But it could not be. We were brothers.
Brothers were for life. They are the ones that will never leave or betray you. If something changed, it would be a blasphemy against that ideal. It would become nothing……
I asked him quietly, “The place you’re going to, is it far away?”
“Yes,” he answered.
I smiled, feeling a bit empty inside. “Okay. I will accompany you to the airport.”
From Du Fu: 会当凌绝顶，一览众山小。When I reach the peak of the great mountain, all mountains will seem small to me.
Buddhist, Taoist, folk religion temples are usually built deep in the mountains because people believe deities live in the mountains and you need to stay away from the crowd for cultivation practice.
The pendant Chu gave Ou in Vol 1 Chapter 12 Disasters