Not once had he imagined that when she saw him, her eyes would hold no despair, nor pain or grief.
Since her parents now knew of Rong Ting’s existence, Song Yuan could put down the heavy weight in her heart. She had lost her memories, and for her to accept that she had had a child, and that that child had once again appeared before her, was very difficult. She wasn’t as optimistic and calm as she appeared on the surface. She was terrified–unsure of what to do, and unsure of the road ahead. It was just that her inner turmoil couldn’t be expressed in front of Rong Ting. He was still too young, too sensitive.
Now that her parents knew and expressed that they would help her and stand by her side to support her, she was finally, truly optimistic.
Although Chen Linjing and Song Haiping had divorced and nearly become sworn enemies, and after all these years it was for the sake of their daughter’s face1 that their conflict didn’t get too ugly, they were both people who had gone through trials and tribulations in the business world, and they wouldn’t go so far as to mix up their priorities. The two had a clear division of labor–Chen Linjing’s extensive network to deal with the matter of residence, and Song Haiping’s buddies2 to settle the matter of kindergarten.
They also had a heated discussion over Rong Ting’s going to school. Rong Ting, upon understanding what kindergarten was, vehemently insisted on going straight to elementary school. Song Haiping felt the same way.
But Chen Linjing and Song Yuan thought about it more thoroughly. Rong Ting should first adapt to kindergarten for a semester, and then go to elementary school in September once he was ready.
It was said that an arm cannot twist a thigh3. In the end, Chen Linjing and Song Yuan’s opinion prevailed.
Considering that it was getting colder now, and school had already started, the family decided to wait until after winter vacation to send Rong Ting to school. Rong Ting was extremely diligent, and he focused on reciting texts and practicing his characters. His favorites were the Art of War graphic novel and the collection of Tang and Song poetry4. He would get very excited every time he read them.
While Song Yuan went to work during the day, Chen Linjing and Song Haiping divided up the labor. The two would trade off bringing their work over for a week.
Song Haiping secretly asked Rong Ting on the sly whether he liked his grandfather or his grandmother more.
It put Rong Ting in a very awkward position, but to be honest, he liked his grandfather a bit more.
Although his grandmother treated him very well, he still felt that there should be propriety between men and women, and he was unwilling to get too close.
Song Haiping was extremely delighted after hearing this, and he proudly bought Rong Ting many snacks. Of course, snacks were also one aspect. Chen Linjing believed that children couldn’t eat too many snacks; if they ate too much, they would become picky eaters, and it wouldn’t be good for their health. Rong Ting was slightly afraid of her, and normally he wouldn’t dare to make any requests. So when he followed Chen Linjing, apart from the three daily meals, he could only drink milk and eat fruit. Yakult? Don’t even think about it.
Chen Linjing also complained to Song Yuan more than once, “That father of yours is really unfit to raise children. Fortunately, I was given custody of you; otherwise, you would have gone with him. I’m worried that he won’t have a limit in spoiling the child and won’t care whether it’s good or bad for the child.”
The days could be said to be relatively quiet and peaceful.
Rong Ting was also becoming more integrated into this time period day by day. He already knew how to play on the iPad and watch TV. But he was also a very self-disciplined child; even if he was curious and wanted to watch more, he wouldn’t watch for more than half an hour a day. The majority of the time, he read books, soaking up everything this era had to offer.
In the blink of an eye, Christmas was approaching. There was still more than half a month until Christmas, but many stores had already put up their decorations. The air was full of festive cheer.
Song Yuan had also hung up a penguin at work. She had just sat down with a freshly made cup of hot chocolate when a notification window popped up.
She froze for a moment.
Ji Junpei: “Yuanyuan, I’m coming back from abroad on New Year’s. I’m bringing some small gifts for you. Let’s eat together and hang out when you’re free.”
Song Yuan had had no shortage of suitors since she was young. In her twenty-two years of life, with the exception of a failed attempt at an early romance, the only one she had ever had a semblance of a relationship with was this one Ji Junpei.
Ji Junpei was a senior in her university. He was extremely popular at school–he was nice to others, he had good grades, and his reputation was excellent. She heard that he was the top science student in his province’s college entrance examination, and all the junior brothers and sisters called him the study god5.
Song Yuan had never been a study tyrant6. In high school, her parents had hired a very famous tutor, and she herself had studied desperately through the nights, using every possible method to keep herself awake.7. She had just barely gotten accepted into the university by the skin of her teeth, scoring just above the admission score. People like her basically had nothing to do with a study god, but there was one time that her parents weren’t free to pick her up, and she had to stay with her grandfather and grandmother for a bit during her winter break. She had asked for a carpool to get to the train station. Who would have known that Ji Junpei had also called for a carpool to the same station?
She had the feeling that Ji Junpei had a crush on her. Based on the direction things were going, it should have been a pure campus romance. But Ji Junpei was a few grades above her, and there was no spark. Then, Ji Junpei was admitted into a prestigious school overseas and won a scholarship… there weren’t many long-distance relationships that bore fruit, not to mention a relationship across countries. They had kept in touch for the past few years, but neither had pierced through the paper screen8.
She felt like this sort of international affair made her quite prideful. She certainly had a favorable impression of Ji Junpei, but not enough for her to confess first.
As for Ji Junpei, she guessed that he probably had the same thoughts as her.
If Rong Ting hadn’t transmigrated, if she didn’t find out that she had had a child, then according to logic and the flow of the story, after Ji Junpei came back, and if the two of them had the intention, there was a good chance that they would hit it off right away and fall in love.
“Thank you, xuezhang9.” Song Yuan only returned the message in a distant and polite manner.
She didn’t think she was ready for a relationship at this time, nor did she believe that Ji Junpei would accept Rong Ting.
So be it, then.
Although she had thought things through, she still felt a sense of loss.
She gradually began to realize that she could no longer like someone and start a relationship with them as freely10 as she used to, and that she had the biggest responsibility.
After work, Song Yuan drove home. On a whim, she pulled into a parking spot on the roadside and headed to a bakery.
She was in an inexplicably low mood. She wanted to eat sweet duck11!
Song Yuan was a regular customer at this bakery, and the clerk was already very familiar with her. Upon seeing her come in, the clerk very happily invited her to try out their new products.
“Miss Song, I had a hunch that you would come in today, so I kept a taro cheese dumpling12 for you. Give it a try.” The clerk was a young girl in her early twenties, and she was very cute and enthusiastic.
Song Yuan picked up that cute little dumpling and gave it a taste. Her eyes lit up, and she gave a thumbs up. “It has my favorite flavor, so delicious.”
She bent over, inspecting the display case, and pointed to a cake with a beautiful color. “Could you please pack up this strawberry cake? With two forks.”
The cake wasn’t very big–just enough for two people to eat.
Rong Ting’s favorite fruit was strawberries.
The clerk packed up the cake for Song Yuan and gifted her a small box of cookies. “Shifu13 made them for me, but I’ve recently gone on a diet, so I’ll give them to you.”
Their relationship was that of mutual kindness. One time, Song Yuan had come to the bakery and saw that the clerk had a pale face. She asked a few questions and found that the clerk was very uncomfortable due to her period, but there were too many things to do in the store, so she could only bear with it. After Song Yuan picked up the bread and left, she turned the corner and stopped by a pharmacy, bought ibuprofen and bags of ginger and brown sugar14. When she returned to the shop and handed these items to the clerk, this lovely young woman was so moved that the corners of her eyes were red.
“Thank you.” Song Yuan accepted the box of cookies and winked. “Actually, I’m also on a diet.”
“You’re on a diet, but you’re still eating cake,” the clerk laughed. “You’re so thin, you don’t even need to go on a diet.”
The two chatted for a moment, taking advantage of the empty shop. Then, hearing the sound of the bell as the door opened, picked up her cake box and prepared to leave.
She looked up and accidentally met eyes with the person who came in.
The man wore an ash-gray coat. He was tall and lean, looking to be over 1.8 meters15 tall. What was surprising was his hair.
His hair wasn’t long–it was a little bit longer than a buzz cut–but it was a sort of beautiful white color.
He was truly very good-looking, extremely handsome.
With just a glance, one could feel the powerful aura, the calm atmosphere around him.
All in all, Song Yuan had reached this age, and it wasn’t like she had never seen anyone more good-looking than this man. It was just that this man’s temperament was unique. Even if one didn’t know who this man was, one could still guess from his elegant air that he was either extremely rich or had status.
A senior member of the good-looks club, Song Yuan felt her legs grow weak with just a glance.
However, she still had her moral integrity. No matter how turbulent her heart was, she seemed calm on the surface. She withdrew her gaze and headed for the door, brushing past the handsome man with the white hair.
There were many youths who liked to dye their hair white nowadays. One of her friends had dyed her hair and said that dying one’s hair white was complicated and damaged the hair follicles. The process of dyeing was also very painful on the scalp.
As she pushed the glass door open, a cold wind rushed in. Song Yuan quickly walked over to the parking space.
Rong Heng’s pupils contracted, and he froze in place. He had wondered hundreds of thousands of times what it would be like to reunite with her one day.
Not once had he imagined that when she saw him, her eyes would hold no despair, nor pain or grief.
Just like when they first met. It had been during the rainy spring season. She held an umbrella and walked through a bamboo forest in a moon-white dress. She had a bright smile on her face, and her eyes were like stars, bright and clear.
At that time, he had concealed his name and identity and was good friends with her brother. That day, he had just happened to run into his good friend and was talking within their residence when he looked up and inadvertently saw her.
When their gazes met, he saw astonishment in her eyes.
Truthfully, she was different from what he had expected. She came to his good friend’s side and didn’t avoid him. She even looked at him in curiosity.
At that time, he was not as perceptive, and he didn’t notice the affection and indulgence hidden in his good friend’s gaze as he looked at her. “Zi Heng, this is the younger sister I mentioned in my letter to you.”
She had been rescued by chance by the general’s wife, who had once lost her beloved daughter. He had heard from his good friend that the general and his wife treated her like their daughter and deeply cherished her.
During their first meeting, when she looked at him, her eyes were full of amazement. Her eyes were clear, and one could see their depths with a glance–this was an innocent woman without a shred of shrewdness.
He appeared gentle and elegant on the surface, but in his heart, he was calculating her worth as he looked at her.
The general was highly respected in the army, and his friend was also capable. He had no confidants in the army, and he knew that the court he was set to inherit was riddled with danger16.
He formulated plans. He had calculated everything. He had calculated everyone’s hearts, but he hadn’t taken his own into account.
“Sir, what would you like to be? We have an event today,” the clerk came forward and said with a smile.
Rong Heng returned to his senses, a rarely-seen dazed look on his face.
Once he could react, he rushed out of the store with long strides and stood outside, but he could no longer see her.
 面子: standing or reputation, as opposed to her literal face.
Mianzi means a lot of things, and it’s difficult to convey all of that without going into detail, but essentially it’s the concept of honor, reputation, and respect(ability). The English term “losing face” is, indeed, of Chinese origins, although the term’s not used as widely in our daily vernacular, nor does it encompass as many concepts as the Chinese equivalent
 狐朋狗友: a pack of rogues; a gang of scoundrels
 胳膊拧不过大腿: the weak are no match for the powerful
 唐诗宋词: Tang poetry and Song, uh, poetry LOL There’s no indication that this is a title of a book, so it might just be referring to any anthology of Tang and Song poetry
The Tang dynasty (618-907) was considered to be one of the greatest ages for Chinese poetry, and its representative form of poetry is the 诗 (shi). While shi can refer to poetry in general, it also refers to a specific poetic style/tradition. Most shi have between 4 to 7 characters per verse, and the regulations of meter, rhythm, and tone can be loose or strict, depending on the specific form of shi. It’s hard for me to narrow the characteristics down further than this, because the different forms of shi really do seem to vary greatly in their rules.
The Song dynasty (960-1279) was also a time of great poetic/cultural advancements. The 词 (ci) is most typically associated with this period. Ci is a type of lyrical poem that uses a set of poetic meters derived from a base set (~800), each of which defines the poem’s characters per line and the arrangement of tones. The title, or cipai, of the poem was an indicator for rhythmic and tonal patterns, so many poems shared the same title despite the contents of the poems not being related to each other or to the title.
 学神: god of 学. 学 could mean to study/learn, or it could mean science. Honestly, both could work in this context :/
 学霸: slang for a top student
 头悬梁, 锥刺股: lit. with one’s head attached to a beam and stabbing one’s thighs with an awl; fig. to study diligently. The term describes two of many ways to keep yourself awake while studying late into the night (LOL but also ouch)
 捅破那一层窗户纸: to stop covering up or concealing what everyone already knows. In this context, DTR (define the relationship) might be a loose equivalent, although a DTR is more of a “what are we?” situation and less of a “we already know we like each other, so let’s make it official,” which is more of the vibe I’m getting from the phrase
[ 学长: one’s senior in school
 随心所欲: to follow one’s heart’s desires; to do as one pleases
 甜的鸭: ?? I don’t know why this is being sold at a bread shop but OK?
 芋泥乳酪团子: a round dumpling/ball made of taro paste (and?) cheese, I think
 师傅: master, probably referring to the baker/ store owner
 Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug. Both ibuprofen and ginger and brown sugar tea are common treatments/remedies for menstrual pain
 A little under 5 ft and 11 inches
 危机四伏: danger lurks on every side
Cheese: i was hoping to get some more translation work done this weekend since i had a day off, but its been so hot that i havent the energy to do anything except nap and laze around