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Chapter 13: Kids These Days… How The Hell Are They Even Raised?


Yi Xin trembled with fear as he explained why they’d come, but when Professor Lan heard that Zheng Tan had gotten fleas, he just laughed and exclaimed, “Serves him right!”

Despite saying this, Professor Lan still went to get medicine for Zheng Tan, and Zheng Tan followed him into the room.

As for Yi Xin, he was to mop the kitchen floor.

Professor Lan was a retired staff member of the Chu Hua University’s Life Sciences department. Even though he’d retired and no longer taught, he still had a lot of influence in the life sciences department. At the same time, even though he wasn’t teaching, several companies had hired Old Geezer Lan as a consultant at a very high salary, so he had a lot of connections with several companies. That was why, even though Old Geezer Lan’s home was very plainly adorned, his net worth shouldn’t be underestimated.

Professor Lan always had a taut face, which gave others the impression that he had a bad temper and was too serious. From time to time, Professor Lan would take a stroll past the life sciences department, and during the practical session for the botany course, the old man would occasionally drop by to help direct the troops. When this happened, the younger instructors voices’ would get weak, never mind the students themselves, who wouldn’t even dare to breathe loudly.

It was no wonder that Yi Xin stuttered when he saw Old Geezer Lan. He’d gone through the Chu Hua university system, and the year he’d taken the botany course had left an extremely strong impression of Old Geezer Lan in his memories. So Yi Xin was very curious. Old Geezer Lan wasn’t the type of person to care about what other people thought of him. Even if the current chair of the life sciences department were present, Old Geezer Lan might not necessarily give him face. In other words, Boss Jiao definitely wasn’t the reason for him to be acting like this. Therefore, why was Professor Lan so restrained towards his Boss’ cat?

In actuality, Old Geezer Lan was behaving this way because Zheng Tan had once done something for him by chance. A month previously, when Zheng Tan was going down the stairs for his walk, he ran into Professor Lan’s wife, Mrs. Di. Mrs. Di didn’t have a very good heart, and at the time, she was helping an old lady from another apartment unit lift some heavy items. On the way back up the stairs, she suddenly felt her heart acting up, but it was the middle of the day when everyone was in class or at work. Even more was that Old Geezer Lan was on a business trip. When the old lady had just managed to fish out her medication bottle, her hand twitched and let go; subsequently, it rolled down the stairs. In her current state, she had difficulty even taking a single step. In the end, Zheng Tan ran down the stairs and brought the bottle of pills back to Mrs. Di.

Mrs. Di promptly took her meds and recovered quite quickly. Ever since then, Mrs. Di would laugh every time she saw Zheng Tan. If Mrs. Di had been home today, Old Geezer Lan wouldn’t have dared to yell at Zheng Tan. To outsiders, the old man’s temper was pretty bad, but inside the house, he’d be the one to get yelled at by his wife. Naturally, when guests were present, his wife would still help him save face.

As such, Zheng Tan wielded the support of Old Geezer Lan’s wife, so he wasn’t afraid of Old Geezer Lan’s taut face in the slightest.

Old Geezer Lan took out two bottles. One contained liquid, while the other had powdered medicine.

The liquid medicine was for use in Zheng Tan’s baths and could prevent him from getting fleas when he went outside to play. Zheng Tan had used it in the past, but after using it up, they’d never gone back to Professor Lan to get more because it was such a hassle. As for the powdered medicine, it was meant for him to rub his body with. These things couldn’t be purchased other than from Old Geezer Lan, as they had all been personally acquired by the old man. It was guaranteed to be safe, pure, and natural; even if a cat licked it, it’d be fine. Though, Zheng Tan had never licked his own fur, so that wasn’t much of a concern.

The old geezer poured a little of the powdered medicine into his palm, then proceeded to rub it into Zheng Tan’s fur.

Zheng Tan turned his head to look at the fur that had been messily disheveled and raised an eyelid at the old man. The old man didn’t make a sound, and after he finished rubbing the powder in, he slowly closed the bottle, put it back, and brushed Zheng Tan’s fur back in its natural direction. After he’d finished smoothing it out, he gave him two heavy slaps, nearly flattening Zheng Tan.

“If I were to sold this tiny bit of medicine, I’d make enough to buy a house full of cats. Aren’t you lucky to be getting this for free? When are you going to help me out in that flower bed?”

Professor Lan didn’t expect the cat in front him to understand. He was just speaking his thoughts out loud, whilst slapping Zheng Tan a few times in revenge.

Zheng Tan wiggled his ears, shook out his fur, and ignored the old man that was talking to himself. He walked out of the room and prepared to head back.

Outside of the room, Yi Xin had already finished mopping the floor and was sitting rigidly by the sofa. Even a fool would be able to tell that he was nervous.

Professor Lan gave the two bottles of medicine to Yi Xin, then went back into the room to grab a small brown glass bottle. “These two bottles of medicine are for the cat. I won’t tell you how to apply it, asking your advisor should be fine. This brown bottle has insecticide that’s 10X concentrated. You’ll need to dilute it on your own before you use it.”

After saying this, Professor Lan opened the main door, hinting that they should leave.

“That… Thank you, sorry for the trouble!”

Yi Xin summoned the courage to say thank you, grabbed the three bottles, and followed Zheng Tan out of the door.

It wasn’t until they’d returned to the Jiao residence on the fifth floor that Yi Xin let out a breath of relief.

Zheng Tan had also become much more relaxed. After managing to resolve the flea problem, he felt completely at ease and leisurely opened a bag of roasted fish fillets to eat.

However, before the two could relax too much, there was a sound at the front door.

Hearing the frequency of the knocks, and the clamor at the front door, Zheng Tan was instantly able to guess who was at the front door. He gazed up at the ceiling. When would they ever have some peace and quiet?!

Yi Xin had no idea who was outside however, until he opened the door.

There were three little boys at the entrance, all about the same age as Jiao Yuan. They were all in sixth grade at the elementary school affiliated with Chu Hua University, and they all lived in the eastern residential quad. The group would frequently play together. Zheng Tan recognized them, but Yi Xin didn’t.

Not waiting for Yi Xin’s inquiry, one of the little kids blurted out, “Who’re you?!”

The question was like a heroic statement of justice. One of the sturdier looking children even shuffled around in his backpack and took out a small rolling pin that had been gnawed on by rats, assuming a defensive stance.

Seeing that these three children were obviously on guard and suspected him, Yi Xin tried to desperately demonstrate his amicability and explicitly put on a rigid smile. It took him five minutes to explain his own identity, and he even fished out his graduate-student ID.

The three brats huddled together to look at the picture of Yi Xin on the graduate-student ID, then glanced at Yi Xin in front of them.

“Is the person in this picture really you, bro? He clearly looks more mature than you.” The child with the rolling pin asked, but immediately afterward  stopped and happily remarked, “Hey, I was unexpectedly able to use the vocabulary term, ‘mature’.”

“I hope you remember to use it in your next essay. Maybe you’ll be able to get 90 points, or maybe even more.” Another child said as he returned Yi Xin’s graduate-student ID.

The group of three walked into the living room and glanced at Zheng Tan who was peacefully laying on the sofa. At this point, they finally calmed down, as the cat wasn’t behaving strangely. This meant that this person called Yi Xin really was an acquaintance, so they sat down on the sofa one by one.

Yi Xin saw that the sofa no longer had any room left, so he carried over a chair from the dining table.

The three boys who were sitting on the sofa stared in unison at Yi Xin, who was about to sit down. Their stares baffled Yi Xin because they were looking at him as if he’d done something so terrible it could offend heaven.

Zheng Tan saw this scene and gave a long sigh. He jumped off the sofa, went to the fridge, and jumped up to pull open the fridge door.

“Wow~~.”

“In the end, Ash was the one who knew his manners!”

“To even know about hosting guests. My friend Mr. Yi, even a cat knows their manners compared to you.”

Yi Xin, who’d been criticized, was stunned. “…” If this were my house, I’d understand, but the problem is that this is Boss Jiao’s house. Even when this father has but a single bag of snacks, this father is cautious; this father is a guest too!

The strongest one of the kids moved the fastest, and in a blink of an eye he was digging around inside the freezer with much familiarity.

“Xiong Xiong, I want the mango flavored one! Last time I was here, I saw Jiao Yuan hide one in the very back. Just search around a bit!”

“I want the apple flavor!”

Yi Xin’s face twitched. This was simply the act of devils invading a village, wasn’t it?[1]

Xiong Xiong used his chubby hands to dig around inside of the freezer until he managed to pull three popsicles out.

Seeing the three children gnawing on the popsicles as they sat on the sofa, Yi Xin asked, “My three little friends have come over because…?”

“My grandpa said that there were people here, and we also noticed that Jiao Yuan hadn’t come to school for several days, so we came over to ask about it.” The child who’d rebuked Yi Xin for not knowing his manners replied.

“Eh? Your grandpa?”

“My grandpa is Lan Tiesu.”

Yi Xin: “…” He had trouble maintaining his smile.

Lan Tiesu was Old Geezer Lan’s name.

Of these three children, one was Professor Lan’s grandson, Lan Tianzhu. One was one of the chemistry department’s professor’s son, Su An. The last and sturdiest looking one was called Xiong Xiong. Zheng Tan didn’t know what his background was, just that his family had some powerful sponsors, and that they were very close to the university’s president.

All Yi Xin knew about his boss was that they’d left the province for business, but he didn’t know any of the details. So when he was explaining this to them, he just told them that the Jiao Family had some things to do and that they’d be gone for the week.

“I see.” Xiong Xiong wasn’t that happy after hearing Yi Xin’s explanation, but it wasn’t often that he came by. His mother had recently stopped letting him eat very many cold sweets. If he walked out like this and was caught, he’d be scolded, therefore it was better if he left after he finished his popsicle.

After thinking about it for a bit, Xiong Xiong asked Yi Xin, “Are you in the life sciences department? I have a question.”

Yi Xin sat upright. “Go ahead.”

“I heard that, if you don’t eat breakfast, your body will reabsorb stool.[2] Is this true?”

Zheng Tan was lying on the sofa with his eyes closed to nap, but he perked his ears to listen.

Su An and Lan Tianzhu looked at Yi Xin with curiosity, waiting for his response.

The smile on Yi Xin’s face somewhat fell apart, but he still treated the question educationally. After thinking about it for a bit, he replied, “Strictly speaking, this isn’t true. After food enters the small intestines, nutrients are digested and absorbed from it. The remaining waste then enters the large intestines and is discharged successively in the form of both urination and defecation. However, the large intestine isn’t like the small intestines; it doesn’t have the capacity to absorb things. At most, it can absorb moisture and things like inorganic salts. Therefore, even if you don’t eat breakfast, the nasty stuff in your large intestine won’t be reabsorbed. This is why the what you’ve said is incorrect.”

“I just knew that my mom was scaring me again!” Xiong Xiong angrily retorted.

“You can debate it with your mom.” Lan Tianzhu suggested.

“No way, I’ll be forced to kneel on a washboard.” Xiong Xiong sounded disheartened.

“Kneeling on a washboard is nothing. Two days ago I was forced to kneel on a keyboard, and wasn’t allowed to get up until the spacebar had fallen off.” Su An, who was gnawing on his popsicle to the side, said.

“What for?”

“I wanted to test whether aqua regia could really dissolve gold, so I threw my mom’s gold leaf earrings inside and it worked.”

Zheng Tan, Yi Xin: “…” This failure of a child!

“Because of this, my dad forbid me from ever going to his lab again, and my mom took away my allowance for a month.” Su An humphed.

“Actually…” Lan Tianzhu rubbed his chin, thinking. “Isn’t corporal punishment of children against the law? I’m pretty sure that you two can call 110.”[3]

“It’s no use, I’ve tried it before.” Xiong Xiong angrily replied. “After I called them, my mom made me kneel on an even bigger washboard.”

Zheng Tan, Yi Xin: “…”

“Damn it, kids don’t have human rights!” Xiong Xiong said sorrowfully.

Lan Tianzhu shot him a glance. “Watch your language.”

“Damn it, kids don’t have human rights!” Xiong Xiong said once again.

Zheng Tan, Yi Xin: “…”

As Xiong Xiong said this, he pulled up the legs of his trousers, allowing the group of them to see the red marks that had been left on his legs.

Zheng Tan, Yi Xin: “!!”

“Your mom’s so brutal!” Both Lan Tianzhu and Su An choked on their saliva.

“Nuh-uh,” Xiong Xiong said happily. “I pinched myself until I was red like this, so it’d look like my tears were more realistic! My mom’s really soft-hearted, so she reduced my one hour of kneeling to fifteen minutes~”

Zheng Tan, Yi Xin: “…” What the hell are you happy for! What’s there to be happy about?

Listening to the three rotten kids chatter amongst themselves, Zheng Tan felt that, when he was their age, he was really freaking naive.

As for Yi Xin, he was feeling rage inside himself at this moment; kids these days… how the hell are they even raised?

After the three brats had finished eating their popsicles, they reluctantly grabbed their backpacks to leave. Before they left, they warned Yi Xin and Zheng Tan. “Recently, there’s been thieves in the quad, so be careful. There’s already been several families stolen from, so don’t lose your door card, and don’t let people that you don’t recognize into the building.”

After the three children left, Zheng Tan and Yi Xin finally felt that the world had calmed down.

After boiling water for the cat, drying its fur, rubbing it down with medicine, and even entertaining guests… after all this, he was both mentally and physically exhausted. Yi Xin resolutely decided that when Boss Jiao got back, he’d definitely ask for a raise! Definitely!

Zheng Tan didn’t care what Yi Xin thought. He was tired right now, and these past two days had been crazy enough. Remembering Wei Leng’s words, Zheng Tan decided that he’d go for a run tomorrow. By eight o’clock that night, Zheng Tan had already gone to bed, which was extremely rare for him.

Yi Xin used Boss Jiao’s computer to finish revising his thesis. When he looked at the time, it was already two o’clock in the morning. He stretched his body, turned off the computer, and went to sleep on the sofa in the living room. As he passed Gu Youzi’s room, Yi Xin peeked inside, and thanks to the light from the living room, he could see the child-size bed that was in the room. Inside it, a large Garfield plushie lay in the center of the crib, which the black cat was currently laying on top of. One of his legs was curled up, while the other was pressed horizontally over the cheap biscuit-shaped face of Garfield. He was sleeping soundly.

Yi Xin’s lips twitched. What a terrible sleeping posture!

In his dreams, Zheng Tan dreamt that he gained incredible strength and that he captured the thief.


Footnotes:


[1]The main reference is to Japanese soldiers in WW2 pillaging the village taking whatever they want. There is also a game and film about this.


[2]In Chinese, earwax and sh*t is basically the same word. Therefore this word here has a double meaning. Xiong Xiong means “earwax”, but Yi Xin takes it to mean “poop”


[3]911 in American Terms

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