Chapter 48: Lin Ye’s Story IV: The Truth
One day, after concluding some business negotiations, I was finally able to relax and wander around on the foreign streets aimlessly, and a small jewelry shop selling Islamic style goods caught my attention.
I browsed through the displays causally. The items were mostly trinkets, but I brought some for my wife and the newly-born daughter anyway.
In the end, showing I cared was more important than whether they actually liked them. My work kept me very busy and I was often away on business trips, which left little time for family life. Even during the postpartum yuezi period, my wife was taken care of by her parents in their house.
The store clerk packaged the several good luck charms I chose in exotic gift boxes, and asked me with a smile who I was buying the jewelries for. Hearing they were for my wife, he ran back to the counter and recommended I buy another item, one with a sapphire in it.
It was a piece of fine, azure gem embedded in a rather crudely made silver pendant. However, that special kind of austereness gave it an uniquely raw appeal.
“Blue represents sacred love,” said the clerk.
*** *** ***
When I arrived at the duplex apartment, an indescribable melancholy arose in my formerly tranquil heart.
It had been over a year. A year during which he had never contacted me, and I had never contacted him.
However, when I came back home this time,I suddenly thought that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to see him again. After such a long time, with my life so busy, even the strongest of feelings should be manageable.
I said to myself, It’s time to call an end to it.
The initial anger, sorrow and grievance then followed by the dreadful yearning and pain, had all passed. Reason had overcome the desire. My feet had found purchase on the right path, and I would not look back again.
My wife was a good woman. She must have known something, but she never broached the subject, opting to play her role perfectly and quietly wait for me instead.
To be honest, I even felt scared at first. I was afraid that once I got used to her, I would forget all that was engraved into my very core when I was young. But after a while, I knew I owed her.
Now that I could visit him calmly, I believed I was able to let go.
As I approached the security door, some workers were going in and out in the midst of trying to fix the elevator, so I walked straight into the building without using intercom. Having no other option, I started climbing the stairs with my farewell gift for him in hand, that inexpensive sapphire pendant.
I walked up the staircase step by step, my footfalls echoing in the empty space. A gentle sadness slowly grew in my heart, as I remembered the time when I was so reckless, willing to give up everything for love. And that craziness, was about to be buried by my own hands along with my youthful memories.
I stood in front of his door for a long, long time, before I made up my mind to ring the doorbell. However, instead of a reply, I heard a strange voice from behind me asking, “Who are you looking for?”
I turned around and saw a middle-aged woman wearing inappropriately fashionable clothes and thick makeup standing there holding a key.
I was a bit confused. “I am Ou Jiang Jun’s friend. He lives here, right?”
The woman shook her head and looked me up and down. “No. Nobody with that name lives here.”
“What?” I thought I might have misheard. I stepped back and checked the apartment number again.
She had already pushed me aside and inserted the key into the keyhole. “I have moved in here six months ago. No person like that lives here.”
He moved? Why did he not tell…
I started my car silently, and brought out the phone number that I had keyed in countless times, but never once dialed.
“The number you dialed is suspended, please try again later.” A cold, female voice came through the speaker in standard mandarin.
I drove to the company where he worked. I had not visited there for over a year in order to avoid him, and only had the finance director send me quarterly reports.
I walked to the top floor, and came across a director I knew in the hallway.
“Tell Ou Jiang Jun to come to my office.”
That director was surprised. “Boss Ou has resigned a long time ago.”
All the blood in my body froze. I tried to control my anger and feeling of humiliation. “When did he resign?”
“About… over a year? …I can’t recall when exactly…”
I immediately turned around and left him there, going straight to the CEO’s office, but, when I opened the door, I saw a stranger. The middle-aged man raised his head and frowned. “Who are you? Why did you enter without knocking?”
I was shocked. I slammed the door and stood in the hallway stupefied.
Everything I saw was so ridiculous, utterly beyond my understanding.
I felt like I had never truly understood this world before. Everything was strange, and I couldn’t make sense of myself…
I called a number. “Da Biao, come here right now.”
He arrived without much delay. I dragged him into the restroom, and had to take a deep breath before I asked, “What has happened?”
He lowered his head, but remained silent.
I pursed my lips – he had disappeared, and every position in the company had been filled with new people, but no one told me anything. The finance director even pretended to report to me every month…
Such a major change was definitely known to Lin Shao Hua. And to Da Biao too. Everybody knew, but me. Only me… I was the only fool.
I slapped the documents I just got against Da Biao’s face. “All of you are just trying to pull wool over my eyes, right? Where is he?!”
Da Biao raised his eyes. “Young Master, that Ou guy is just a jerk. He’s not worth getting so furious about.”
“Furious because of him?” I was amused. The swear words that I hadn’t uttered for a long time kept gushing out of my mouth in a torrent, “You fucking bastards, how dare you lie to me! Is it fun hiding things from me?”
Da Biao paused for a while before speaking again. “He had fled abroad with that Chu guy long time ago. They didn’t even pay off the court fines. It was Old Master who dealt with it, who decreed that you should focus on your career, and we shouldn’t let these things bother you.”
Da Biao’s words were like a big slap on my face, I felt like I was stabbed in the gut.
“Go fuck yourself!”
He gave me one final glance before leaving.
All the strength drained from my body with the click of the door closing behind me. I collapsed and slid down to the floor along a cubicle wall, my hands offering scant support… The shame of being used, the grievance of being betrayed, the anger of being deceived, and the sorrow of being abandoned, swallowed me up like a bottomless sea.
I buried my face in my palms, and my tears started to fall down freely.
It had been so many years, and I had everything in the world now, but I was still alone and lonely.
I suddenly remembered my childhood. Kids pointed their fingers at me, calling me a bastard. I had to follow behind them anyway because I had no other choice but to take all the ridicule and curses. I seemed to be born in solitude, and to belong nowhere. The kids bullied me openly, the adults deceived me with a smile.
The sympathy in Da Biao’s eyes, the hidden smirk on the manager’s face, and the blatant impatience of the middle aged man in the office, seemed to mirror my childhood self onto my current one.
I had expected that my forbearance and my power could finally buy me some of the warmth that I had been longing for all this time, but I didn’t expect that the warmth would turn into a knife aimed into my softest, least guarded place.
I staggered up, and released the thing I held in my arms into the toilet bowl. A light blue gem fell in with a splash.
I closed my eyes and flushed it down.
As the sound of water died down, I looked up and could finally see the color of the ceiling.
I calmed myself down, and wiped the tears off with a sigh. I knew the last bit of my innocence and my remaining dreams had died just now.
I smoothed my shirt in front of the mirror, and opened the door.
A middle-aged man, who I had met in the CEO’s office just now, trotted towards me in the hallway. He smiled fawningly, “Boss Lin, ai-ya, I am so sorry for treating you so rude just now, I didn’t know who you were…”
The director also spoke for him anxiously, “Boss Lin…”
I interrupted them both, “Nevermind.” Then I looked at Da Biao. “Let’s go.”
Also known as postpartum confinement, a traditional Chinese practice which lasts for typically one month after childbirth and includes a list of things the woman should and should not do.