[Chapter 072] “Bian Bian you’re so gentle.”
Bian Jie took a sip before opening her mouth again, “Mister Yuan, now that you’ve appeared so suddenly in our home, I’d like to ask what your plans are? Do you wish for Xiao Yuan to recognise you as his father?”
This was what Yuan Shuo wished for. He was his and Bian Ting’s child, of course he wanted Bian JinYuan to call him dad. But, he turned to look at Bian JinYuan.
Bian JinYuan sat still as he looked at him in silence. His eyes were unflinchingly calm without a ripple of emotion.
He hadn’t known about Bian JinYuan’s personality when he heard about him from Lu XiangMing, only that he was a sensible, obedient, helpful, and good kid. Back then, he had thought that Bian JinYuan was a gentle introvert. After he met Bian JinYuan and held a conversation with him, he realised that his assumption had been truly wrong.
Bian JinYuan was sensible, obedient, and helpful, but he was a child who was matured beyond his years. He possessed his individual views and opinions, and was even more prideful than Bian Ting. To him, numerous things weren’t worth seeing, let alone matters of the heart.
Yuan Shuo had imagined a hundred different ways of reuniting with Bian JinYuan, and a hundred expressions that Bian JinYuan would make upon seeing him. He had conjured up fury, resentment, delight, and even helplessness. But what he had failed to imagine was apathy. Still, this was the expression that Bian JinYuan had directed at him, not a ripple of emotion in sight, as if what he had heard was not “I’m your father”, but someone who was asking for directions.
Yuan Shuo had never encountered such a child. He didn’t understand him, and so he wasn’t able to ascertain if Bian JinYuan was willing to recognise him as a father.
“Do you wish to recognise me as your dad?” Yuan Shuo asked.
Bian Jie turned to look at him.
Before Bian Ting passed, she had left a letter to her son and to her younger sister. The letter wrote: If he meets Yuan Shuo before he turns 16, then you can give him some advice; if he meets him after he’s 16, then let him make his decision, you just have to support him.
Bian JinYuan was about to turn 18 in another two months. And so, this decision was his to make.
Under the gazes from the two adults, Bian JinYuan calmly opened his mouth to say, “I don’t need one.”
He looked at Yuan Shuo, his words as calm as his expression, “I’m living well now, and don’t need the role of a father. You can talk to me if you want; you can meet me if you wish; but I don’t find it necessary for me to call you ‘dad’ or to move in with you.”
“I don’t hate you, but I’m also unable to muster up any other emotions for you. Mister Yuan, I don’t wish to call a stranger ‘dad’, and I also don’t wish to live together with a passerby. I’m sure you understand this point.”
Yuan Shuo slowly nodded, “Alright.”
He said, “But we can slowly get to know each other better.”
“But I’m not curious about you at all, and I don’t wish to understand your past and future,” Bian JinYuan said coolly.
Yuan Shuo fell silent as he looked at him.
“That’s it then,” Bian JinYuan smiled and poured himself a mug of water, “We’ve lived our separate lives for so many years, each of us have been living well. Let’s continue in this manner for the rest of our lives.”
“How could this be,” Yuan Shuo disagreed, “I didn’t know about you before, but now that I do, I can’t just leave you alone.”
Bian Jie barked out a laugh, “Mister Yuan, let me remind you that when I asked if you had plans to be married in the future, you said that you’d see. This says that there’s a possibility that you would get married in the future. So, do you mean to let Xiao Yuan look on at your happy family in the future? Do you think that’s appropriate?”
Yuan Shuo shifted his gaze back to her and said sternly, “If Xiao Yuan is willing to recognise me, and if he doesn’t like the idea, I’m willing to remain single.”
Bian Jie nodded, “That’s right, mister Yuan loves your freedom a lot. Perhaps a bachelor’s life is what mister Yuan truly desires.”
Yuan Shuo said helplessly, “Xiao Jie…”
“I’m not close to mister Yuan, mister Yuan can call me by my full name.”
Yuan Shuo: …
Yuan Shuo felt that this person was very different from what he had heard about her! Bian Ting had clearly described her younger sister to be gentle and caring, but how was this gentle and caring?!
“Bian Jie,” Yuan Shuo started, “It was my fault regarding my relationship with your elder sister. I had not stated at the beginning that I had no intention to marry, and caused her to be troubled. However, I also hadn’t known that your elder sister was pregnant with Xiao Yuan, and that she had even given birth to him. If your sister had told me, and if I knew about his existence, I would never have let her take care of him alone.”
Bian Jie scoffed, wanting to retort but thinking better of it. She turned to look at Bian JinYuan and whispered, “Xiao Yuan, go buy a bottle of alcohol, we’re out. Buy a bottle to entertain mister Yuan.”
Bian JinYuan understood that she wanted him to leave the conversation for a bit and stood up to exit the house.
Bian Jie waited for Bian JinYuan to leave so that he was out of earshot, before saying, “Of course not. You would have told her to abort the child before he was born. This was something that you’d do, is it not?”
Yuan Shuo could tell from the moment that Bian Jie opened her mouth, that this was a Feast at Swan Goose Gate✤ that Bian Jie had prepared for him in order to seek justice for her elder sister. It was only due to the presence of Bian JinYuan that she wasn’t able to say so many things. Now that he wasn’t here, he also spoke about the matters of the past without restraint.
“What you said was based on the premise that I knew about it, when in fact I was left in the dark! Your sister and I didn’t plan to have children so soon when we were together. We had both just graduated for a year, and so we had been using birth control. That’s why I completely didn’t know that she had gotten pregnant!”
“Afterwards when we fought because of our differing values, she wanted to end our relationship while I wanted the both of us to cool off. What I thought of as a normal fight turned out to be her leaving. She left without a word, cutting me off so cleanly, and not even bringing anything with her. By the time I found out that she had left, I didn’t even know where she had gone.”
“But you didn’t search for her, did you? You had her phone number, a way to contact her, yet you hadn’t given her a phone call, right?”
“I had thought about looking for her, but what could I say if I found her, that we would marry? I couldn’t. Say that we should continue this kind of relationship? She wouldn’t agree. Even if I had found her, she wouldn’t have agreed to continue our relationship that had no future in marriage, while I was unable to promise marriage at that age. I couldn’t look for her.”
“If you weren’t able to promise marriage, then why did you pursue her in the first place?” Bian Jie said angrily, her eyes glistening with tears as she looked at Yuan Shuo, “You were the one who chased after her, yet you had never mentioned that your relationship wouldn’t end in marriage. You only told her that you had no intention to marry after you’d been together for three years. How dare you have the gall to say so! Those were her best years, the most relaxing age of her lifetime. She loved you so much that she committed to giving birth to Xiao Yuan even after you broke up. But you, you didn’t even want to marry her, then why would you pursue her in the first place!”
Bian Jie burst into tears.
She had never been a particular strong person. She didn’t like arguing or fighting, but she hated Yuan Shuo, and so she was able to attack him with such harsh words. Even so, she felt more sympathy for her sister’s suffering, so she wound up crying.
She didn’t understand just why Yuan Shuo would pursue her sister if he didn’t like her, but if he did, then why was he unwilling to marry. It wasn’t as if they were to get married straight away, so why was he so unwilling.
Yuan Shuo looked quietly at the person sobbing in front of him. In that moment, he didn’t say anything.
He retrieved a tissue from a pocket and handed it over, “I’m sorry,” he said, “you’re right, I let her down.”
Bian Jie didn’t take the piece of tissue from him. She pulled out a few pieces of tissue from the tissue box on the coffee table to wipe her tears.
“You let her down,” she repeated.
“I won’t involve myself too much in Xiao Yuan’s business,” Bian Jie said softly, “I respect his decision. I won’t stop him if he wishes to recognise you. If he doesn’t, then I won’t advise him either. That’s how it is.”
“Alright,” Yuan Shuo nodded.
“Bian Jie, it doesn’t matter if you believe me or not, but I’m truly wanting to do good by Xiao Yuan. Your sister is the only person I’ve ever loved. I truly love her, it was just that I really didn’t have any intention to get married back then. After she left, I met a lot of people, but I wasn’t able to love anyone else like I have her.”
“The second year after she left was when I missed her the most, and when I tried to call her. I thought that we would get married if she was willing to give me another chance. But when I tried calling, the number was no longer in use. I tried calling several times, and even went to search for her, but I couldn’t find her. She hadn’t gone to the city that she had told me about before, nor did she give me any other way to contact her. I wasn’t able to find her in the end,” Yuan Shuo said softly.
Bian Jie listened quietly and mulled in silence before saying, “She waited for you for a year. You hadn’t reached out to her, and so she changed her phone number to start a new life. That year, my parents were already getting on with age, as they had us when they were old. Not long after Xiao Yuan was born, she moved in to take care of them and Xiao Yuan. It was only when my parents passed away, when Xiao Yuan was two years old, that she left our maiden home.”
Bian Jie wiped her tears, “She lived well, even after leaving you. She had even been courted, but she had rejected them.”
Yuan Shuo acknowledged, “I guessed as much. She had always been an opinionated and independent woman. She was very popular even in school.”
A quiet fell in the room as the both of them stopped talking, and the tension in the air slowly dissipated.
After Bian JinYuan came back from buying alcohol, he sat down in the yard for a bit. A rectangular stone bench was erected against a wall in their yard. Occasionally, passersby would sit on it to rest, but it was the first time that Bian JinYuan had sat here before.
He looked up at the starless sky and took out his phone to give Lu YunFei a call.
Lu YunFei was in the middle of doing his holiday homework. He picked up the call and asked, “What’s up?”
“What are you doing?”
“What else, of course I’m doing homework. What about you?”
“I just came back from the store, I bought alcohol.”
Alcohol? Someone from Bian JinYuan’s house drank? Lu YunFei asked curiously, “There’s a visitor at your home.”
“Mmm, the cheap father who suddenly appeared.”
Lu YunFei was instantly intrigued, “He wants you tor recognise him? I’ve even helped you to ask about it. Wow, Bian Bian, your dad is really quite awesome. My dad said that he lives in B city and is wealthier than us. And he’s still single, with no wife or lovers, so there’s no other children in existence.”
Bian JinYuan: …
“You found out quite a lot.”
“That’s because it concerned you,” Lu YunFei said naturally, “So, what are your thoughts? Do you want to recognise him?”
“I don’t think so,” Bian JinYuan said, “there’s no need to.”
Lu YunFei nodded, “That’s true, our Bian Bian is so awesome on your own already, there’s no need for such a dad.”
Bian JinYuan smiled, “Then you still went to find out so much about him.”
“Know yourself and know your enemy, and you will never be defeated. Do you think that you’re the only one who has read Sun Tze’s Art of War? I’ve read it too. No matter if you recognise him or not, we won’t go wrong if we get a clear picture of the situation.”
“You’re right,” Bian JinYuan said as he smiled.
The both of them chatted for a while before Bian JinYuan looked at the time and ended the conversation to go back home.
Bian Jie and Yuan Shuo had already regained their composure, and were even able to hold a conversation harmoniously.
Bian JinYuan handed the alcohol over to Yuan Shuo and reminded him, “Take it back with you to drink, drink driving is illegal.”
Yuan Shuo hurriedly put down his hand that was about to open the bottle and replied, “Alright, Jin Jin is very considerate.”
His own surname was Yuan, and calling Bian JinYuan ‘Xiao Yuan’ felt weird to him, so he gave him another nickname.
Bian JinYuan didn’t mind it, and sat down to eat.
After they finished their meal, Bian Jie said, “It’s getting late.”
Yuan Shuo indicated heavily, “I’ll be leaving then, I’ll treat you all to a meal another time.”
“No need,” Bian Jie said.
“Not seeing you off,” Bian JinYuan said.
Yuan Shuo smiled at him and, holding the bottle that he had bought for him, left.
After Yuan Shuo left, Bian Jie started to clean the table, and Bian JinYuan helped her out.
Bian Jie asked him, “Are you really not going to recognise him?”
“There’s no need to recognise him,” Bian JinYuan said.
Bian Jie smiled, “You don’t seem to hate him either.”
She understood this child whom she had brought up. If Bian JinYuan hated Yuan Shuo, he wouldn’t even have let him step foot into the house.
Bian JinYuan fell silent for a moment before saying softly, “Mum didn’t hate him.”
Bian Jie’s hands paused in the middle of her cleaning up. Bian JinYuan looked at her, his voice gentle, “Small aunt, do you still remember that my mum handed me a letter before she left?”
Bian Jie nodded.
“She said that he didn’t know about me, and that he was innocent in this regard. Mum actually didn’t want me to hate him.”
Otherwise, she wouldn’t have specially written this sentence out.
He remembered that his mother had once said that he was born out of love, the blossoming of her love that had materialised. His birth was not just Bian Ting’s love for himself, but also Bian Ting’s love for Yuan Shuo.
And so Bian Ting hadn’t wanted him to hate Yuan Shuo. That was why she had made sure to say that Yuan Shuo was innocent when it came to this point.
And that was also why he didn’t hate Yuan Shuo.
However, despite his lack of hate, he also didn’t possess the like that Bian Ting had held for Yuan Shuo. Therefore, what he could do was to continue talking to him and accept Yuan Shuo into his home. Beyond that, Bian JinYuan couldn’t do, nor did he want to.
“I won’t go over to him,” Bian JinYuan looked at his small aunt, his calmness describing his point of view, “I won’t stop him if he wishes to see me, but I won’t go to see him, and I won’t go over to him. It doesn’t matter if he needs me or not, but I definitely don’t need him.”
Bian Jie heard his steadfast words and nodded, “As long as you’ve made your decision, I’ll support you whether you recognise him or not. Because,” she raised her hand to pat Bian JinYuan’s head, “no matter what you choose, you’re still my nephew.”
Bian JinYuan reached out to hug her and said softly, “Mmm.”
With the new week, Yuan Shuo persisted in giving a call to Bian JinYuan everyday, asking if he could have a meal with him? If not, then I could check again tomorrow. He no longer appeared at Bian JinYuan’s school gates, because Bian JinYuan had indicated that he didn’t appreciate his unexpected presence the second time that he had done so.
Yuan Shuo felt that this side of him took after Bian Ting. He obediently stopped his actions and made sure to give his son a call to make plans. Still, a large portion of the time, he would be heartlessly rejected by Xiao Bian.
Yuan Shuo didn’t understand, “Jin Jin, are you that busy? I’m already planning three days in advance.”
Xiao Bian said coolly, “I’m about to be a year three student.”
Yuan Shuo immediately shut his mouth. Year three students were the busiest group of people.
And so Yuan Shuo started to give his son enriching supplements and revision papers, even suggesting, “How about I buy a house for you.”
Xiao Bian continued to be just as aloof on this matter, “It’s not necessary, recall that, don’t go overboard.”
Yuan Shuo sighed, thinking that his son seemed to be more of a tyrant CEO than him. This was truly a matter of the student surpassing the master, as expected of a child borne between himself and Bian Ting! So amazing!
Yuan Shuo stayed in X city for a month, yet his son didn’t really care about him, while the small aunt didn’t relent in letting him visit his ex-lover’s grave. Still, he continued to wait for the day when his son was willing to visit Bian Ting together with him.
He really wanted to visit Bian Ting. Ever since meeting Bian JinYuan, the memories of his youthful romance with Bian Ting rekindled like a fire raging across the plains, constantly resurfacing like waves crashing against the shore.
One night, Yuan Shuo woke from a dream. He lay frozen on his bed as he replayed the scenes from his dream. It was the scene of their breakup, which was also the first time that he had told Bian Ting that he had no plans to marry. He liked her, loved her, but he did not want to marry.
Bian Ting had looked at him in disbelief. After a long while, she said, “No, you may like me, but you don’t love me. At least, you don’t love me as much as you claim you do.”
She said, “I love you Yuan Shuo, that’s why I want to marry you. But you’ve never even considered marriage. When you think about it, you’re the one who doesn’t love me enough.”
She had always been one to get straight to the point, and never shunned her own emotions. She would honestly tell Yuan Shuo that she liked him, and would also cut ties cleanly when they broke up.
Yuan Shuo had always had her on his mind. Whenever this particular memory resurfaced, he would immediately get another wave of memories to wash it away. But he knew that he still thought of Bian Ting. Every word that he had told Bian Ting was true. He had never lied to her. Bian Ting was the only person he had ever loved. This was why he had only been surprised when he found out about Bian JinYuan, and had not felt anger at the deception. Only surprise, and an inkling of joy.
He reached out to wipe his face, it was cold.
Yuan Shuo finally prepared to leave at the beginning of October. He had initially wanted to leave only after Bian JinYuan celebrated his birthday, but couldn’t go against the nagging of his old man from home who called him ten times a day. In the end, Yuan Shuo had no choice but to head home first.
“I’ll come back for your birthday,” he said, “Do you want anything for your birthday? I’ll buy it for you.”
“No need,” Bian JinYuan said coolly as he ate his meal, not a semblence of a father-son relationship as he expressed, “there’s also no need to rush back for my birthday. I’ll have classes, and will be having a meal with small aunt. I won’t have time for you.”
Yuan Shuo: …
“I could have a meal with you and your small aunt, we could celebrate your birthday together.”
“You could consider it,” Yuan Shuo tried eagerly, “I could treat you to whatever you want to eat, and then take you out shopping, as well as anything else you wish to do.”
Bian JinYuan looked at him coldly, “Do you think I want to?”
He didn’t. Yuan Shuo thought that his son didn’t seem like the type to like shopping. Sigh, he was different from his mum in this regard. Bian Ting loved to shop.
“Then I’ll still come back in time,” Yuan Shuo insisted.
Bian JinYuan didn’t care, “Up to you.”
After their meal, Yuan Shuo took him home and gave him a thin coat, “It’s about to be autumn, remember to wear more layers.”
Bian JinYuan didn’t reject this gift and bid him goodbye.
“And so your cheap father has left,” Lu YunFei sat under the tree and chatted to Bian JinYuan as he memorised vocabulary.
Bian JinYuan sat beside him, replied with an “Mmm,” and continued to test him on vocabulary.
“You don’t really hate him, do you?” Lu YunFei asked, “If you did, you wouldn’t even talk to him.”
“There’s nothing to hate,” Bian JinYuan said.
Lu YunFei looked at his calm demeanour and suddenly smiled. He scooted closer to Bian JinYuan to say, “Bian Bian you’re so gentle.”
Bian JinYuan looked up in confusion.
Lu YunFei smiled at him, his eyes sparkling.
He had never seen Bian JinYuan express extreme emotions after knowing him for so long. Most of the time, he was a picture of serenity, and would let out a gentle smile whenever he encountered someone or something he liked.
Even though he didn’t look too easy to interact with, and he truly was cold at times, he still emitted a gentle warmth. He wouldn’t feel inferior just because of his family background, and wouldn’t feel sorry for himself because he didn’t have his parents by his side. All of Bian JinYuan’s emotions did not hold hate, envy, grudging, or any dark thoughts.
He lived honestly without a shred of scheming, as clean as water running through fingers.
This Bian JinYuan was someone whom Lu YunFei felt was very precious.
“Bian Bian you really, are such a good person,” Lu YunFei said warmly.
Sorry I missed out on updating last week! Between my assignments and threat of nuclear war, I really didn’t have the time or mood to translate this depressing chapter in time. Anyway, I didn’t have the bandwidth to participate in your takes on the previous chapter, but I loved reading all of your opinions! I hope that this chapter helped shed some light on their relationship, and why both parties chose to do what they did.
✤ Feast at Swan Goose Gate is a historical event where a power struggle took place at said feast (Wikipedia article). I think in this context it simply means that Bian Jie had prepared this meetup in order to hash things out.