Scarring Jasmine-Chapter Six Secrets

04/18/2024 Thursday 46-53F Cloudy

Yu’s engagement party was two weeks away.

Wang sat in his armchair, looking out of the window. He was expecting someone. A gust of wind rose, blew in a tree leaf. It swirled around for a second, then fell heavily on his writing table. 

Wang picked up the leaf—It was a maple leaf, starting from its veins, had turned half red. A good omen, Wang thought, not only for his son’s engagement, but also for something else.

“Nowadays, the young kids never appreciate what they have!” He concluded. Perhaps it was because their lives were too easy, they could get everything they wanted without fighting for it. But in his youth, his life wasn’t like that, not at all.

When Wang was a little kid, his mother told him that his father was a bandit who later joined the troops of a warlord, and rose from there. Afterward the warlord was caught and executed by the opponent. Being the second in command, instead of rallying the rest of the force and avenging the death of the lord, Wang’s father dismissed the troops. The same night he snuck into the warlord’s house, killed his teenaged son, collected all the gold and jewelry, then abducted the warlord's concubine and daughter.

He escaped to a small southern town in Jiangxi Province and changed his name. With the warlord’s gold, he bought thousands of acres of land, settling down as a rich landlord. 

Wang’s mother was that warlord’s concubine. “I told you this because I want you to remember: Your father is an animal! See how he tortured that poor girl!” Her face twisted due to the hatred. That poor girl was the warlord’s daughter who, according to his mother, used to be incredibly beautiful. Wang’s father must have salivated about her beauty for a long time, perhaps he was even involved in selling his lord’s information to the enemy. Or else, how could everything happen so coincidentally? 

However, in Wang’s memory, that incredibly beautiful lady was just a skinny sad woman. All day long she stayed in her dark room, wearing a sullen look. Sometimes at night, he could hear her cry: “You bandits! Leave me alone!” “You killed my little brother, one day I will kill you!” But she never did--She died when Wang was seven, on a snowy morning two days after his father married a new concubine. The red double-happiness paper cuts were still pasted on the windows; Wang saw two men carrying someone wrapped in a blanket out of the house. A big bunch of hair fell from one end of the blanket; Wang knew it was hers, because only she had such long and messy hair. 

Wang stood still, watching the hair dragged ruthlessly on the snowy ground, black against white. He never saw her again.

Wang’s father married fourteen concubines, excluding Wang’s mother and that warlord’s daughter. He never liked Wang--He called him bastard. In fact, he liked none of his three elder sons, except for the fourth one—A one year old baby. The father announced that he would give all his money to his fourth son, because the kid’s mother was “a little charming bitch;” that was what his father called his fourteenth concubine. 

Wang was the second son. He had an elder brother who was six months older. One evening, the elder brother called Wang and their third brother to meet in his room. “We can’t let that old fart continue to act stupidly. We must take action. Otherwise, we will have to stay here forever penniless and take his insults!” 

The third brother asked: “Eldest brother, he has the money, what can we do?” 

“We three together lock him up and kill that bitch and her son in secret. He is a dictator; everyone hates him. We as his son have the right to take his money, nobody can say anything.” His plan was unveiled.

Wang was shocked, “But he is still our father! How can we do that to him, and to our youngest brother?” 

The eldest one clenched his fist, “A great man has to be heartless! We must fight for our own future. If you want to be enslaved by him, go ahead!” 

The third brother held the eldest’s fist: “I will follow you!” Then he turned to Wang, “You can choose not to do it, but you also won’t get your share! You’d better think it through.”

Wang joined them. That night when the father was in bed drunk, they burst into his room. The fourteenth concubine yelled out. Without any hesitation, the eldest brother slashed at her throat with a big sharp knife. Hot blood sprayed out, before the father realized what had happened, the other two brothers quickly covered his mouth and tied him up. Then they searched for the baby and found him sleeping in the next room. Wang hesitated. “Let me do it!” said the third brother. In an instant, a dagger was stabbed into that little innocent chest.

They cleaned up the scene overnight, locked their father in the basement, and paid all the others but their own mothers to leave. It took them quite a few days to sort everything out. When they finally remembered their father, he had been dead of hunger for at least two days.

That year, Wang was seventeen. After dividing the money, the three brothers headed in different directions. Wang took his mother to Suzhou and started a brand new life there.

Now his mother had passed away for almost thirty years, as did this secret. Years later when the three brothers reunited, they all had become important figures; especially his eldest brother, who was a senior secretary in the central government. None of them was willing to mention anything about the past. They convinced themselves and others that they were born in a reputable family; their father was a nice gentleman who died prematurely; they did inherit some money but their success was due to their own abilities. “Let’s drink to our father!” They always ended their reunion with the same toast. 

“My brother was right; a great man has to be heartless--Or we wouldn’t have today’s success.” Wang reassured.

However, this wasn’t his only secret.

This past Spring, he received a letter from his elder son Jin, who was in Beijing working for his uncle, Wang’s eldest brother. In the letter, Jin brought him shocking news:

“Yu lives in my old apartment on Zijin Road. Two weeks ago I failed to find him there, so I left a message, asking him to come to see me as soon as possible. But he neither showed up, nor called me on the phone. Last week I decided to go to that apartment again; since I still had the key, I took it with me. I met the doorman at the entrance and asked him about my brother. He told me that he just saw Yu come back accompanied by a young man. I thanked him, went upstairs, and rang the doorbell. Nobody answered. I unlocked the door with my key. He wasn’t in the living room, while his jacket was thrown on the floor. I heard men’s laughter coming from the bedroom, so I pushed its door open--There I saw two naked men in bed; the one on the bottom was Yu.

I didn’t know how to express this shock, therefore I left at once. The next day I found Yu at the gate of his college with that young man whom I saw the day before. I asked Yu to explain the whole thing to me in private, but he was offended and basically told me to mind my own business.

Later I found out that Yu had been with that man for quite a while. His name is Huisun Yang, Cantonese; and this is his last college semester.

Father, please let me know what I should do. Yu is too willful; he doesn’t listen to me at all. For Yu and our family’s reputation, we need to stop his stupidity.”

The letter slid from Wang’s hand. His mind instantly became blank. How could such a thing happen to his son? He was a tough man, while his son slept with another male—How could he accept it?

His response to Jin’s letter was simple, only one line: “Find two men to take Yu home right away. If he doesn’t listen, do it by force.”

Fifteen days later, Wang and his wife Qiao met Yu in the study. Wang waited until all the windows were shut and the door was closed, then spoke: “We heard from Jin about you and that guy. Your mother thought that it was my fault: I shouldn’t have forced you to focus on your schooling and not to make any girlfriends. I admit it. Now you are home, let’s never mention it again. I have talked with your mother; we will start to look for a wife for you. Then you can concentrate on doing the proper thing.”

Yu cried out: “No, I don’t want a wife! I won’t marry anyone!” 

Qiao hurried to her son to soothe him. “Shhh, lower your voice. It isn’t something we shall let others know. We will find a good girl for you, a most beautiful one. Once you get married, you will understand the thing between a husband and a wife.”

“Mother,” Yu pushed away Qiao’s hand, “it isn’t that simple. Don’t you know? I am not interested in women; I love men!” 

Wang’s face turned red with anger, “You didn’t try it, how do you know it won’t work? That guy, Yang, right? He is dirty, he seduced you. You won’t go anywhere but stay in your room until you accept that what you did was wrong and disgusting and confess it to us; otherwise you will be ruined!” Wang walked out of the room, slamming the door behind.

Wang’s family spread their daughter-in-law inquiries amongst the relatives, friends, and matchmakers; within a couple of weeks, they got plenty of responses. Qiao secretly checked quite a few in person, but none of them was ideal. One day, Wang’s daughter Ying and her husband’s cousin came to visit the parents. When they sat on the veranda, Ying complained: “Mother, I have recommended three girls to you, but you and father turned them all down. Now I have no more for you.” 

The cousin was curious: “Aunt, what kind of wife does cousin Yu want?” 

Qiao raised her chin toward Wang: “It will never be Yu’s choice. Go ask your uncle, He is the boss.”

That day Wang was in a good mood. He wiped his forehead with a handkerchief and said, “Well, I think, mmm, number one, that girl should be very beautiful, so she can attract your cousin. Yu is a handful; number two, she needs to have a good character and reputation, be quiet and obedient—We don’t want someone who may cause trouble in the future; number three, her upbringing must be decent. Her family doesn’t have to be rich, or in a higher social potion like ours, but at least should be a middle-class family. Because only that kind of family has time and money to train the daughters well. If the family is too wealthy, most likely the girl will be spoiled; if they are poor, their girls will lack education and won’t behave appropriately…” 

“Father, you can’t say that! Are you trying to imply that I am spoiled?” Ying interrupted him and pouted her lips pretending to be annoyed. 

“I think so.” Wang pointed his finger at her nose. “You are spoiled by your mother, so is your younger brother.” 

The daughter shrugged as a sign of giving up: “Ok father. But where can we find such an ideal girl? Even an Emperor looking for his Empress cannot expect what you are asking for.” 

Then the cousin jumped in: “I do know a girl like that. She is in the same high school as me, but one grade higher. I met her several times; she was the most beautiful lady I ever saw. Her family must be decent, otherwise they couldn’t have afforded to send her to my school. Next week will be the last week of this semester; if you wish to see her, you all should come and wait at my school gate. I will show you which one she is.”

That was how they selected Jasmine. 

But there was another issue: Yu didn’t compromise. Qiao stayed with him almost every evening, tried all the ways she could to persuade him to accept his father’s arrangement, but Yu kept refusing her. Eventually, Wang ran out of patience. For the family’s reputation, he must save his son from that low, dirty, sick sin; and marriage would be the best solution. “Once everything is settled, with his mother playing good cop and I bad cop, he will have no choice but accept it.” Wang thought. Therefore, he sent his proposal to Bai; ten days later it was accepted; soon after that the two families reached agreement on the formal engagement date. 

Qiao broke the news to Yu. “I will not accept it!” Yu gnashed his teeth in anger, “You can lock me up, but you can’t make me attend the engagement party!” 

Wang felt exhausted. He walked into the family room and found Qiao knitting on the couch. Seeing him come in, Qiao pointed at a small parcel on the table with her little finger, “It is strange.” She said, “I just received this parcel from the messenger a few minutes ago. It is addressed to Yu but without the sender’s information.” 

Wang picked it up. From the stamp he could tell that it was sent from Guangzhou. 

“What’s the matter?” Qiao asked. 

“It is ok.” Wang waved his hand, “I will check what’s inside. Don’t mention this package to Yu.”

In the study, Wang opened the parcel. There were two new architecture books in it. He opened one at random; it looked all right. Then he turned the other one’s pages; again, nothing was found unusual. He felt somehow disappointed. He was about to re-wrap the books with the same wrapping paper, on the inside of which he noticed a few thin lines of writing. They read:

“My darling Yu. It took me months to find your address. I don’t know how many times I have seen you in my dreams. If this is the only way I can meet you, then I will accept it and still feel grateful. I am in Guangzhou now, my home city; and working with some wonderful comrades, who are eager to meet you (so do I, desperately) since I mentioned you to them often. If you see this letter, please do write back to me, see my address at the bottom. Then please come to me. If your family are giving you a hard time so you don’t have money to pay for the travel, let me know, I will manage it for you. 

Please be brave, break the barrier and embrace our happiness. We were made for each other. Back to me please!

Your love, Yang.”

“Sonofabitch!” Months of continuous stress and frustration enraged Wang. “Disgusting! How dare he have the guts to find my address and inflame my son! I must cut this devil off from Yu forever, so Yu has no mistaken choices to think about!”

Wang paced up and down, figuring. Accidentally his eyes caught one headline in the newspaper laid on his table: “SEVENTEEN REVOLUTIONARIES WERE EXECUTED YESTERDAY IN GUANGZHOU”. He picked up the newspaper. A faint sinister sneer crossed his face.

Now, Wang was still holding that maple leaf in his hand; he felt a little anxious that the person he expected had not arrived yet.  “It has been ten days; A Liu should be back from Guangzhou today.” He glanced at the clock: Ten minutes to four. Right at that moment, someone knocked on his door. “Come in!” He raised the voice. A man in a black gown and one pair of dusty shoes appeared.

He bowed to Wang. “A Liu, how is everything?” Wang examined the man’s face, then asked. 

“Boss, per your instructions, all is done. He was in jail when I left; tonight is his last night; tomorrow morning you will see the news.” A Liu answered. 

Wang nodded, “Anything else?” 

“In his apartment I found his address book, as well as some snapshots of our young master. They are all in this envelope.”  A Liu took an envelope from his pocket and put it gently on Wang’s table. 

“Nobody ever saw you?” 

“No boss, I did it myself; the police are reliable, they will get bonuses according to the number of such persons they catch; besides, the newspaper guy here knows nothing but the information I told him.” 

“Very well.” Wang was highly delighted, “You are very thoughtful. Go take some rest.” 

“Yes boss.” A Liu was about to turn around, Wang called to him: “I forgot. What’s the charge against him?” 

A Liu lowered his voice: “Revolutionary!” 

Wang crushed that maple leaf in his hand. That evening, he burned the whole envelope, the two books, and the wrapping paper. 


Popular Posts