Year 1996. Autumn.
Under the blue sky, pure white clouds leisurely floated by. The sun was scorching hot as before, shining its rays down, causing many to have nowhere to escape and no place to hide. Occasionally, a cool breeze would blow by, carrying with it a faint fragrance of fruits. It’s the harvest season.
In a not too remote or poor village lived around a hundred families. Most of their residence were bright and spacious. In contrast, an extremely unique residence was located at an unnoticeable area of the village. It caused many passer-bys to wonder with curiosity. Could people even live in there? What kind of people live in that house?
This residence only had two short thatch cottages which were made up of cogon grass and mud. Due to the long course of time with the continuous baptism of wind and rain, over the years the surface of the thatch cottages’ walls became rugged and riddled. The roof that was made of cogon grass kept swaying and moaning in the wind. It’s as if it was lamenting about its poor pitiful fate.
The residence had two falling apart old-fashioned windows. The bottom part of the window is fixed. To open the window, the top part of the window has to be lifted up. Among the many holes of the window frames, there was only two fairly complete glass with cracks on them. For the rest, part of them was covered with rough paper while the others were covered with torn plastic which would make flapping music in the wind.
The residence’s wooden doors which had already lost its primer caused users to dare not be too forceful, for fear of unintentionally damaging the door resulting in it to be beyond recognition. As people opened the door, it would issue out strange “creak, creak” sounds.
If not for the clothes that were outside drying on the rope which was tied to two stakes, it would really be difficult for people to believe that that residence was even home for people.
The house is actually home for a family of four; an old couple and their children, a son and a daughter.
Today Zousao, who is the most revered and welcomed by all genders and age in the village, arrived at the very residence even milquetoast would never blatantly dared to enter. Though deep down Zousao was worried that thatch cottages might really collapse, she still mustered her courage as she had no choice but to pay that family a visit. If by chance the thatch cottages really collapsed on her (not impossible), she really would be very unlucky.
In that residence, the strangest thing was that after experiencing several decades of wind and rain, the two thatch cottages which seemed to be on the verge of collapsing are still proudly standing upright. The thatch cottages would dance gracefully along with the wind and be drenched inside out in the rain. However, the thatch cottages could still stubbornly stand.
When Zousao was a distance away from the residence, the bright and cheerful noises could already be heard. This alerted the family of four to gather at the gate to welcome Zousao. The family of four were reverent and respectful as they felt fortunate to be able to welcome the noble guests to their home (usually very few people will patronize).
“Zuosao, please take a sit!” The hostess gently patted the heatable brick bed.
“Don’t need, I will stand”, Zousao loves cleanliness and is particular about it. The inside of the cottage was damp and gloomy. Zousao was afraid of dirtying her clothes so she stood near the door.
A petite girl gave a meaningful glance before placing a clean small cushion on the heatable brick bed. She patted the cushion and gently spoke, “Zousao, would it be alright if you sit here and speak?”
For a while, Zousao specially sized up the little girl before her fake smile melted into a sincere one: “Is this little sister Xiaodi? As expected, truly a treasure. A beauty just like a daffodil, many men will definitely be head over heels for you!”
The girl is Xiaodi.
Zousao’s praise caused a tint of red to faintly surface on Xiaodi’s cheeks. She shyly lowered her head and did not speak, giving off a feminine charm.
Zousao gave two dry laughs before saying, “Uncle, aunt, I’m here today for a reason. A huge joyous event will happen in your family!”
The family of four was confused. The family had been living in hardship, nobody would think that a joyous event would happen in the family. The host’s eyes widened in confusion. He questioned, “We are poverty-stricken. What do you mean by a happy event?”
Zousao lightly laughed, “Of course it will be an unimaginable happy event!” She looked at the handsome boy who was standing at one side, “Xiaomei, you didn’t inform your family regarding your relationship with Fengying? Fengying is the daughter of Boss Peng, the richest man in this village. Such a big thing but your family is kept in the dark?
The person Zousao is talking about is actually this family’s son. On hearing this, he was stunned and his first thought was, “I’m finished. Fengying’s father opposed the marriage and had sent for people to come to his doorstep.”
The rest of the family were stupefied. They understood the current situation. In the village, their family is the poorest while the future in-law is the richest. The disparity is just too large, like the difference between heaven and hell. How could both parties become in-laws? Impossible.
On seeing the family’s response, Zousao happily laughed, “It seems like none of you really know. Let me tell you all, I was specially entrusted by Boss Peng to propose marriage.”
Xiaomei was doubtful, “Isn’t Fengying’s father firmly opposed to it? How is it possible for him to suddenly change his mind? Also to take the initiative to propose marriage? Is it because he pity his daughter, that’s why now he is willing to support us two to be together?” Xiaomei wanted to add a final sentence but forcefully swallowed it back into his stomach. “Or is it he suddenly become more open-minded which result in his kindness and consideration?”
Xiaomei from the beginning had never liked Boss Peng. He even felt disgusted with Boss Peng even though Boss Peng would become his future father-in-law. But still only a bare minimal would like Boss Peng.
Zousao’s smile suddenly appeared to be more and more unnatural. “Oh ya! Boss Peng also said that he not just wants to allow his daughter to marry you, he wants to help your family to rebuild renovate your two thatch cottages into 4 BJ houses. He would also gift you a considerate amount of money. Isn’t this considered a huge happy occasion?”
Xiaomei was surprised, “Really?”
Xiaomei felt that he really ought to change his impression of his future father-in-law. He vowed to be filial to his future father-in-law.
“Of course it’s true. Boss Peng is worried that his precious daughter will suffer in this poor and harsh environment.” Zousao paused for a while and scanned across the rest of the members of the family before continuing, “However, Boss Peng has given a condition. Your family, Xiaodi, has to marry him to be his wife or else even if he died he would never allow his daughter to marry into your poor family.” Zousao softly ended her sentence.
Zousao felt that Boss Peng’s condition was unacceptable but because Boss Peng’s proposed reward was just too tempting. Boss Peng is willing to gift her a color TV and a priceless entertainment object if she completed her task. (At that time color TV is not universal)
On hearing what Zousao had said, Xiaodi was dazed. The condition was to have her marry a man who is older than her by 20 years? She was speechless. What’s more she already had a childhood sweetheart.
Xiaodi’s mother questioned, “But, not only is Boss Peng old, his reputation is also bad. He already had many intimate relationships with women from eight different villages located within ten miles radius. If Xiaodi were to really marry him, won’t she just be suffering unjustly? Also, Xiaodi is only sixteen.”
“Xiaodi is already sixteen and is no longer young. When I was sixteen years old, I already have Xiaocai (Xiaocai is Zousao’s son)! What bad reputation? They are all nonsense spouted by those good for nothing people. Boss Peng’s age has only just passed forty and he is still young and full of vigor. This is also the right time for his remarriage. He and his wife were already divorced for so many years and he has not remarried because he is worried that his daughter will be abused by her step-mother. Also, he is still young and strong, how can he still not have any women? You can only blame those women who tried to seduce him because they were attracted to his wealth. Which man can resist that temptation?” Zousao spoke as if what she said was the truth.
“The age difference is just too big!” Xiaodi’s father was unwilling.
“What are you all scared of? Boss Peng has already set such a good condition, many women would rush up to marry him. However, he is too lazy to look at them. In his eyes, there is only your family Xiaodi. He is a man who deals with huge business. Think about it, isn’t this the best of both worlds? There’s no need to overthink this.” The more Zousao spoke the more it felt to be a commendable thing.
Xiao Di’s mother still could not accept it. “Won’t this complicate the seniority?”
Madam Zou simpered: “What’s seniority? Nowadays who cares about this? You all can just call whatever you want. What’s the big deal?”
Zousao looked at Xiaodi and continued to say, “Xiao Di, if you marry Boss Peng, he will definitely treasure you and you will not allow you to suffer any injustice. Also, what Boss Peng has the most is money. You will be able to live your life in endless happiness and comfort. Your family will too do not need to stay in this rundown thatch cottages which might very likely to collapse anytime soon. How can you all be reluctant to marry off Xiaodi, especially when her husband is such a wealthy person? If Xiaodi married Boss Peng, all of you will only have an enjoyable days ahead. Plus Boss Peng told me that if Xiaodi did not marry him, he will marry Fengying off to somewhere far away. Xiaomei and Fengying will never see each other again. Such a lovely pair of couples to be harshly separated, what a pity. Now is a good chance. If you don’t treasure it, in the future, where can you find a person with such good qualifications?
After Zousao’s lengthy speech, the whole family was speechless, especially Xiaomei. He felt like he could see the end of the world. He loves his little sister. He did not wish for his little sister to sacrifice her happiness for him.
Zousao looked at the family of four. Her purpose was obvious. It was to talk about marriage.
“Uncle, aunt, since we aren’t strangers, I won’t be courteous in this. Other than the fact that both of you are disabled, in accordance with your family’s condition, I can only say that your family is impoverished and is unable to obtain anything you want. Let’s talk about Xiaomei. His looks are just so-so but his head is the flaw. In other words, his head is as good as a second-rate disabled (Xiaomei is 1.7m tall). How old is he already and he has never studied for a single day. He is simply illiterate. If I’m not wrong, he doesn’t even know how to write his name. Like this, what’s the difference between him and a blind person? I’m not here to frighten you but to state the reality. If you are to just rely on your family’s background, Xiaomei will definitely have to live his life as a bachelor.”
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