President Cha and Zhenxiu hugged each other tightly. Tears flowed down her eyes unstoppably as she felt extremely emotional.
Zhenxiu cried so much that her eyes reddened. She kept whispering, “Grandma,” as if she wanted to talk about all the suffering she had been through outside, and her yearning towards her loved ones.
Feeling moved, the woman asked, “President, is she the child you talked about who hadn’t returned for a very long time?”
President Cha seemed like she had much respect for this woman, but she couldn’t speak a word as she was heavily sobbing. All she could do was to nod repeatedly and she hugged Zhenxiu’s small figure.
Smiling, the woman said, “I’m glad that she’s back. She must’ve suffered a lot outside, she should be considered a thoughtful child as well.”
President Cha stroked Zhenxiu’s black hair as she consoled her. She couldn’t be concerned with anything else anymore.
The woman turned around and smiled at Yang Chen apologetically. “Young Man, I’m really sorry. These two children are just worried about my safety, they actually don’t mean to do harm. I hope you don’t keep it in your heart. How would someone who was willing to visit the children during Christmas be malicious? You wouldn’t bear a grudge about it, would you?”
The indignation in Yang Chen’s heart somehow instantly vanished into thin air when he looked at the woman’s face which felt like spring breeze. He couldn’t help but to feel impressed by her. The attitude she held and the way she talked were exceptionally gentle, making it hard for people to get mad at her, just like an enormous force that landed on a sponge or a cow sculpture made of clay that entered the ocean and melted completely in a matter of seconds.
It was either due to her inborn nature or years of hard work of self-cultivation.
“Nevermind, I just came to visit the president and children together with Zhenxiu. I don’t want to be involved in too many things,” Yang Chen said in an indifferent manner.
“Do you think we’re afraid of you?!” Little Li widened her eyes in anger.
The woman frowned and spoke in a deep voice, “Was it still not enough?!”
Little Wen and Little Li saw that the woman looked like she was really going to get mad, and finally settled. They lowered their heads resentfully in silence.
The woman shook her head before sighing helplessly. She turned around and said, “President Cha, I won’t interrupt your time with the child anymore. You guys must have a lot of things to talk about. I still need to visit the orphanage in the next city, I shall leave now.”
President Cha let go of Zhenxiu and said, “Madam, please leave after eating here. The children are all thankful for the gifts you delivered.”
“My schedule is really tight, I can’t afford to delay it. Help me tell the children that I’ll come back during the new year,” the woman replied politely.
President Cha seemed to know that she was telling the truth, so she didn’t make her stay anymore. Bowing respectfully, she said, “Madam, I hope for your family’s good health in this new year.”
“How can you do this?” The woman smilingly held President Cha up. “I’m your junior, it’s more appropriate for me to bow to you, President.”
“I’m doing this on the children’s behalf,” President Cha said with a smile.
The woman took a glance at the entire courtyard with a faint smile for the last time before nodding at Yang Chen as a signal of goodbye, and bringing the two bodyguards out of the place.
Yang Chen nodded back at the woman. Regarding Little Wen’s and Little Li’s gazes at Yang Chen which implied a warning, Yang Chen took them all as sand that entered his eyes. He couldn’t spot any of them.
“Sir, I didn’t expect you to be here again. Good things always come when you come to visit. I didn’t think Zhenxiu would return together with you,” President Cha said with rich emotions.
Lifting the two plastic bags containing candies and other junk foods, Yang Chen smiled and said, “President, I’ll tell you why I brought her back later. I think it’s better to give the children their gifts first.”
“Aye, alright alright. The things you’re carrying must be really heavy.” The wrinkles on President Cha’s face moved when she smiled. She brought Yang Chen and Zhenxiu who just stopped crying into the place.
Outside the orphanage, at a deserted parking area, the woman stopped moving right before she wanted to get into a white Infinity car. She seemed like she was pondering about something.
She asked the two bodyguards behind her, “Did you guys ask for the young man’s name earlier?”
Little Wen shook her head. “We didn’t ask. What is it, Madam? Is it really important? If Madam wants to know, I can go and ask now.”
An uncertain feeling appeared in the woman’s eyes before she ridiculed herself. “I must be overthinking, how is that possible… Eh, you two haven’t even asked for his name and you drew out your guns? Is the gun supposed to be taken this lightly?”
“Madam, Chief told us to properly protect you. Especially for next year’s election, your safety cannot be compromised in any way at such a key moment,” Little Li said as she felt wronged.
The woman suddenly turned dull, as if she wasn’t concerned with the election. Without saying anything more, she slowly sat into the car.
At the same time, Yang Chen who followed President Cha inside the orphanage quickly understood who the woman earlier was. Isn’t she the woman in the biggest portrait in the walkway, the founder of the orphanage—Guo Xuehua?!
No wonder I felt she looked so familiar, and President Cha treated her with so much respect.
When he thought about it more, he felt that she must be inspecting the orphanages she founded at various places, and coincidentally came here today.
Seeing the person in real life, Yang Chen realized that portraits indeed couldn’t display a person’s true aura. The kind of heart-warming smile couldn’t be felt through the cold painting.
Since it was lunchtime, President Cha let Zhenxiu and Yang Chen eat together with the children. All of them got themselves seated at the huge dining room before happily eating away.
After that, President Cha naturally brought Zhenxiu to her office for a rather long chat as a warm welcome. When she found out that Zhenxiu had a small business of opening food stalls, and didn’t starve by the streets without warm clothing, she finally felt a bit better. She later asked questions like how Zhenxiu managed to know Yang Chen. Regarding the past of becoming a gangster and pickpocket, Zhenxiu certainly didn’t tell President Cha about it.
It wasn’t a matter of dishonesty, she was just afraid that President Cha may not be able to stand it.
Yang Chen took a short nap in the orphanage alone, but wasn’t feeling too bored, since the children would come to tease him. Some tried to draw turtles on his face while others wanted to tie his feet with a rope. Yang Chen didn’t know whether to cry or to laugh.
During the evening, it was the children’s homework session, which President Cha had to look after. Reluctantly, she sent Zhenxiu off after asking her to come visit often.
Zhenxiu ran back to Yang Chen’s side. Although she walked for the whole afternoon, she didn’t look any tired, but was energized and happy instead.
“You must be really happy after the chat. Wouldn’t it be better if you returned earlier?” Yang Chen asked with a smile.
Zhenxiu pouted. “I was afraid of getting scolded by Grandma earlier, and I didn’t feel confident to return at that time. If it wasn’t Brother Yang who came here with me today, I bet I still had to wait until next year or something.”
“Come back more often, the president is old already.” Yang Chen didn’t continue talking about it.
Zhenxiu nodded obediently as her eyes revealed sorrow.
“Brother Yang, can you go somewhere with me?” Zhenxiu suddenly asked.
Yang Chen initially thought that Zhenxiu planned to go back. He didn’t expect that she wanted to go somewhere else, but since he accompanied her out today, he naturally didn’t have a reason to decline her small request.
The place Zhenxiu wanted to go wasn’t anywhere special, but was merely the small courtyard behind the orphanage. There were slides, climbing poles, swings and other huge toys there. It was the place where the children from the orphanage usually played at.
Zhenxiu touched every equipment at the courtyard as she felt nostalgic. At last, she sat on a swing and started moving.
Yang Chen followed her and sat on another swing from the same row. Sitting on the swings, the entrance of the orphanage could be seen right in front of them.
“When I was young, I would come here to sit for a while almost every day. I’d always look at the sun fall from the end of the sky as I waited for Grandma to call us for dinner…” Zhenxiu sounded like she was talking to herself. “I would always dream of this scene at night, as if it happened just yesterday…”
Yang Chen listened to her silently. Zhenxiu who sat beside him didn’t seem like an eighteen-year-old girl currently. The grief between her brows wasn’t something children who grew up being loved by their parents could hold. It wasn’t something considered to be any excellent, but it caused people to not neglect this little girl’s strong mentality.
Zhenxiu turned her head and looked at Yang Chen with a smile before asking, “Brother Yang, do you know what I always thought about when I sat here every day?”
Yang Chen kept quiet for a while. “Were you possibly thinking what you were going to have for dinner?”
Zhenxiu pouted. “I’m not that gluttonous…”
“Then what is it?”
Zhenxiu smiled faintly as she looked like she was recalling something. “I’d always think… would there be a married couple, or a man, or a woman, who would walk in from the entrance… Then, they’d turned their head to look at me, and smile at me… I’d wait for the person to walk in front of me and tell me, ‘Little Girl, can you be my daughter?’ At that time, I’d certainly say yes, regardless of who they were. As long as they were willing to adopt me, I’d leave with them… Because, that was the only way I could have my own parents…”
Seeing that Yang Chen was staring at her, Zhenxiu bit her thin lip and said, “However, almost all of my friends around me were adopted except me. After that, I stopped thinking that way…”
Yang Chen remained silent. In his mind, he pictured a little girl sitting on a swing alone at dusk, staring at the empty entrance, day by day, year by year. It should be tough to get through the type of devastating days.
“Brother Yang, do you know why I don’t feel like studying or going back to school?” Zhenxiu asked softly. “When I used to go to school, once others knew that I was from the orphanage, they’d taunt me and say I broke out of a stone, and didn’t have parents. After that when I grew slightly older, my schoolmates in the junior high school weren’t willing to spend time with me. Some guys who weren’t willing to do their homework forced me to do it for them. If I refused to do so, they’d bully me, and even hit me… They’d hide my lunchbox and forbid me from eating…
[TL note: Breaking out of a stone is a reference to the classical novel Journey to the West where the Monkey King was born by literally bursting out of a stone.]
“Studying, to me, instead of saying I went for education, it was more like I went for a torture or torment.
“Brother Yang, I actually rode motorcycles with the bunch of people, became a thief, and constantly involved myself in fights in my junior high school. That was because if I didn’t fight back, they’d bully me more severely. I knew that I could only rely on myself, since I wouldn’t have parents to come help me. If I wanted to live in this world, I could only rely on my fists…”
“Zhenxiu.” Yang Chen turned his head and stared into Zhenxiu’s eyes. “Sit on the swing, don’t move.”
“Ah?” Zhenxiu didn’t know what Yang Chen wanted to do, but still obediently sat on the swing without moving.
Yang Chen stood up and walked out of the courtyard, then the entrance of the orphanage.
When Zhenxiu was still confused, Yang Chen walked back in again.
Yang Chen could be seen looking around for a while, as if he wasn’t familiar with the place. After that, he noticed Zhenxiu on the swing.
Yang Chen appeared to be slightly surprised as he smiled. Step by step, he walked towards Zhenxiu. He walked more and more closely before stopping in front of Zhenxiu.
Yang Chen squatted down and reached an arm out to hold Zhenxiu’s little hand which was rather rough due to work.
Yang Chen acted like it was his first time meeting Zhenxiu. He admired Zhenxiu’s face for quite a while.
“Ah… such a beautiful little girl. I’m reluctant to leave you after seeing you. Little Girl, would you come home with me? Although I’m too young to be your father, can you be my younger sister?”
Zhenxiu felt like her heart got covered by a wave of sweetness. She almost burst in laughter for the sudden appearance of such a happy and touching moment, but her emotions got raised to the peak. Her happiness got converted into teardrops, which fell onto the snowy ground like beads with a broken string, instantly melting the accumulated snow due to the heat…
“Why are you crying? You don’t look nice anymore when you cry,” Yang Chen said gently. “Answer me, do you wish to be my younger sister?”
Zhenxiu nodded forcefully. “Yes, I do.”
“You can’t only be pretty being my younger sister, you still need to get good grades. If I send you to school, you need to study properly, can you do that?” Yang Chen asked seriously.
Zhenxiu held back from laughing. She said in a childish manner, “But, Elder Brother, what happens if someone bullies your younger sister?”
“If anyone dares to bully my little sister, I’ll beat them to death,” Yang Chen said solemnly.
Zhenxiu finally couldn’t hold her emotions which were on the verge of collapsing anymore. She rushed into Yang Chen’s arms as she started sobbing, causing Yang Chen’s chest to be drenched with her tears…
Yang Chen lightly patted Zhenxiu’s back. Beside Zhenxiu’s ear, he said softly and seriously, “Zhenxiu, if you ever feel that everyone in this world is against you, you have to remember, there’s this person who would go against the entire world for you…”