Chapter 2: Hand in Hand, Let’s Go to Nursery School
Xiao Tu has had a big appetite since she was small. When she was three, she could already eat two bowls of congee at once, causing her mother to worry. If things continued like this, even if she ate all their savings away, it was still a small issue. But what would they do if she became fat? Mother thought it over for a night and finally decided to only let Xiao Tu eat one bowl of congee for a period of time.
This was difficult for Xiao Tu. She dryly stared at the empty bowl and chattered, “Mama, eat food….”
Her mother steeled her heart, took her daughter, and faced her towards the door, “Be good, go play at your godmother’s place.”
As Xiao Tu waddled her towards Ling Chao’s home, she turned her head and hoped for another bowl of congee.
At that time, Ling Chao was almost two years and eleven months old. As Xiao Tu entered, his mother was feeding him congee. A giant bowl of congee was placed in front of him, but he refused to eat.
His mother was anxious to the point of sweating, trying to coax him, “Chaochao be good, eat!”
When Xiao Tu heard the words, her eyes saw green.
“Godmother, Tu Tu wants to eat too!”
Just as Ling Chao’s mother was worried about her son not eating, she saw Xiao Tu appear. Her eyes lit up, and she thought of a plan! She filled a big bowl full of congee and passionately called Xiao Tu, “Little Tu, come eat and show Chaochao. Wow…looks really delicious!”
Xiao Tu ate in a messy manner, half of her face covered in congee.
Ling Chao stared at her without blinking, licking his lips from time to time. After a while, he couldn’t resist anymore. He turned his head toward his mother and said: “Mama, eat.”
“Great!” His mother happily gave him a bowl of congee.
Due to this incident, Ling Chao’s mom happily welcomed Xiao Tu to come over and eat. Xiao Tu was also very happy; once it came time to eat, she would immediately go next door. Gradually, her mother began to notice something.
“Honey, do you feel that recently our little Tu hasn’t been asking for more food?”
Her father was repairing the radio at that moment. Without even raising his head, he said, “Isn’t this a good thing?
“What’s good about it? These past few days, after eating she would run to her godmother’s place. There is definitely a reason for this. It could be that she is eating at the Ling family’s home behind our backs!”
Her father impatiently raised his head: “You really are something. If our daughter likes to eat, then just let her eat!”
“What do you understand? When a child is small, they absorb everything and grow bigger. If by chance her figure becomes disfigured, and we need to make more clothes, will you provide the money?”
Her father thought for a bit and felt it was reasonable, “If you are really worried, just send our daughter to nursery school. There, the meals will be fixed, so she certainly won’t overeat.”
Her mother thought this was a good idea. Immediately the next day, she went to the nursery school and signed Xiao Tu up.
Xiao Tu was extremely unwilling, but because her mother commanded it, she didn’t dare refuse. After trying to run away a few times, she still obediently went to nursery school.
Luckily, after a few days, Ling Chao was also sent to study at the nursery school. Furthermore, they were placed together in the same class.
Actually, the reason was quite simple. Ever since Xiao Tu had started nursery school, Ling Chao stopped eating again. His mother became worried and couldn’t think of any other method, so she sent her son to nursery school with Xiao Tu. She even specifically instructed the child care worker to have them eat together during mealtime.
This error in this decision would cause all of Ling Chao’s food to be taken by Xiao Tu later on. This got to the point that one time, Ling Chao was so hungry that he had no strength to even get up from his seat. On the other hand, Xiao Tu was full of energy every day, even livelier than at home.
Ling Chao’s silence then became known.
Fortunately, after this incident, the nursery worker noticed. To prevent the parents from filing a complaint, every time it was mealtime she would give more food to the two of them.
Finally, Ling Chao no longer had a hungry stomach, and Xiao Tu was able to eat even more.
The nursery school had even more food to eat than at home. This had spoiled Xiao Tu. Every morning she would go to her mother and ask to be brought to nursery school. Sometimes her mother would be busy washing the clothes and preparing lunch that she would forget to bring her. Xiao Tu would then cry and complain.
In order to prevent her new skirt from being ruined by her daughter, she asked Ling Chao’s mother for help. Every day, when Ling Chao was brought to school, Xiao Tu would also be brought along.
At that time, Ling Chao’s mother would ride a 24-inch long Phoenix bike. Ling Chao would sit in the front and Xiao Tu in the back. Both of them would ride front and back every day with Mrs. Ling to nursery school. When they passed through an alleyway, the old ladies who spent the day there would make jokes.
“Mrs. Ling, you’re bringing your son and daughter-in-law to nursery school again?”
Mrs. Ling smiled bashfully and stretched out her hand to hold onto Xiao Tu who was about to fall, thinking to herself, ‘Can’t let my future daughter-in-law be harmed!’
Speaking from a certain point of view, Mrs. Ling was a woman with very good foresight.
Just like this, Mrs. Ling would send the kids off and bring them home using this lousy bike. Whether it was wind or rain, she took care of the two kids for years until the bike broke when the kids were moving up to the upper class.
With the only means of transportation broken, Mrs. Ling decided to walk to school with the two kids. Their homes weren’t too far away from the school. They just had to walk forward, go down an alley, and then follow along a brook for a bit until they reached their destination.
At that time, Xiao Tu walked really fast. Xiao Tu would be bouncing and skipping ahead while leaving behind the slow Ling Chao. Mrs. Ling had then requested that the two of them hold hands when walking.
Unwilling, Ling Chao, placed his hands behind himself and hid behind his mother.
Xiao Tu didn’t care and would do whatever her godmother had ordered. If her godmother told her to hold Ling Chao’s hand, then she would definitely not let her godmother be disappointed. Thus, in one large stride, she moved behind Mrs. Ling and grabbed onto Ling Chao’s hand.
The first time holding hands with someone of the same age was very soft and comfortable.
Ling Chao struggled for a bit, but since he couldn’t break free he finally compromised.
As a result, every day morning and night, people full of energy would see, a little girl strutting on the road, holding a little boy’s hand under the morning red clouds or the setting sun. The boy appeared to have an unwilling face due to embarrassment as he followed the girl. Following behind the two was a kind and young married woman. Watching them, a smile would appear on the onlookers’ faces.
Warm rays of sunlight shone on them. One big, two small, three people’s bodies dragging three long golden-colored shadows…
One day, the three shadows were missing one, leaving only the two small shadows holding hands by the riverside.
As it turned out, when school ended that day, the always punctual Mrs. Ling wasn’t there to pick them up. The two children waited at the school entrance for a long time until all their friends had left with their parents. Even then, Mrs. Ling hadn’t shown up.
Xiao Tu got up front the stairs, holding Ling Chao’s hand, “Let’s go, we’ll get home ourselves!”
Ling Chao opened his mouth, wanting to say something, but was already dragged off the stairs by Xiao Tu.
The road home was very short, but to the two five year-old children, it seemed endless. Holding hands, they slowly walked along the riverbank. Early autumn, the water limpidly flowed over the riverwall, and the cicadas on the tree branches sang their final songs.
In a small voice, Xiao Tu said: “Hurry up a bit, let’s not have godmother worry.”
Ling Chao refused: “Why do you always listen to what my mom says?”
Xiao Tu tilted her head and thought for a bit, seriously replying, “Because she is my godmother.”
Afterward, Ling Chao didn’t ask any further.
By the time they arrived home, the sky was already dark. The door barely cracked open and faint sounds of an argument could be heard.
Xiao Tu pulled on Ling Chao’s hand, wanting to go inside. Suddenly, the door opened, and Mr. Ling walked outside. He turned his head back and said: “I don’t care if you agree or not, I’m going to temper myself!” After speaking, he turned his head and saw Xiao Tu and Ling Chao with alarmed expressions.
Ling Chao weakly called out, “Dad……”
When Mr. Ling saw his child, as a thirty plus man, his eyes suddenly turned red.
“Tu Tu, your godfather needs to leave for some time. From now on, Chaochao will be in your care, okay?”
Xiao Tu asked, “Godfather, where are you going?”
“Godfather needs to go to a really far and really big place. When I return. I will bring you guys chocolate.”
‘Chocolate? Could it be that very delicious stuff?’
Xiao Tu excitedly nodded her head, one hand holding Ling Chao, the other on her chest, “Godfather, you can rest assured, Tu Tu will definitely take care of little god-brother!”
Then Mr. Ling left. He didn’t return the second day. He didn’t return on the third day, fourth day, fifth day, sixth day… He continued to not return.
Afterward, Mrs. Ling continued to cry, to the point that she couldn’t attend to picking up or sending the children to school. As a result, every day Xiao Tu would hold Ling Chao’s hand and head out through the alley and along the brook towards school.
Until one early morning, Mrs. Ling suddenly stopped crying. She came out of her room, wearing a brand new yellow dress. Her eyes were puffy but she wore a smile, her eyes turning into happy half moons.
She said to Xiao Tu and Ling Chao, “Let’s go, today Mother will bring you guys to school!”
Xiao Tu happily clapped her hands and said, “Godmother, you are very pretty when you smile!”