Chapter 3 – Enlightenment
“Zhai… Brother Zhai?” Qiao Nan called out to confirm the man’s identity.
“Yes,” Zhai Sheng replied coldly.
Upon confirming that she had not recognized the wrong person, Qiao Nan breathed a sigh of relief. Same as Qiao Nan, Zhai Sheng belonged to the group of children who stayed in the same quad. He was different to everyone else.
He had done well since he was a child. Not only had he studied well, he also had a good physique and joined the army early. Unlike others who simply gave up their studies to join the army, Zhai Sheng continued to study and juggled both. He had not only participated in various fitness regimes in the camp, but he had also attained a Higher Diploma.
Because Zhai Sheng had both qualifications and experience, he progressed very quickly in his career based on his own ability without relying on his family, until he had attained the highest position. Even Qiao Nan’s mother was often proud to have lived in the same quad as Zhai Sheng.
“Thank you, Brother Zhai.” After recognizing the prominent man in front of her, Qiao Nan realized that her nose had stopped bleeding and her hands were clean. However, her clothes were still red with stains in the chest area.
The person who had helped Qiao Nan to stop the nosebleed was, of course, Zhai Sheng.
“No worries. You just took the medicine and you need to rest. Sleep for a while.” Zhai Sheng nodded coldly and started reading the document, written fully in English, that was in his hand.
When Zhai Sheng said that, Qiao Nan felt drowsy. Upon closing her eyes, her body collapsed and she fell asleep in seconds.
Zhai Sheng looked up while reading and saw that Qiao Nan had fallen asleep. He took the thin blanket and covered her. While one was sleeping, the other was reading a book. There was a harmonious atmosphere as they were together.
This sleep took up the entire afternoon for Qiao Nan. When she woke up, the drug had taken its effect and also caused her to break out in a sweat. When she opened her eyes, Qiao Nan obviously felt more comfortable.
“You’re awake.” Upon hearing Qiao Nan’s movement, Zhai Sheng’s eyes lifted and looked at Qiao Nan’s face.
“Thank… thank you, brother Zhai.” Gazing at Zhai Sheng’s eyes, which exuded an aura of power, Qiao Nan felt stressed and stuttered as she spoke.
“Are you afraid of me?” Zhai Sheng asked. From memory, Uncle Qiao’s younger daughter did not stutter.
“No, no,” Qiao Nan said with some guilt. She was thinking that there were few children in the quad who were not afraid of this face of Zhai Sheng.
She clearly recalled that when Zhai Sheng was about 10 years old, his face was small, fair and tender. In other words he should turn into a fair and handsome boy 20 to 30 years later.
However, since Zhai Sheng had joined the army, his fair face had tanned significantly with exposure to the sun, and it looked more scary than when he was a child.
“It’s late now.” Zhai Sheng did not expose Qiao Nan’s lie.
Qiao Nan’s face was white. Her two small hands were nervously clenched into fists on both sides. “Well, then I am going home,” she said.
Seeing the pitiful expression on that small face of Qiao Nan, he was reminded of the kitten that he saw when he was out on a field mission during a rainy day in autumn. His heart softened and said “If you face any troubles, you can come to me.”
Qiao Nan looked at Zhai Sheng with surprise. “Sure. Thank you, Brother Zhai.”
Thereafter, Qiao Nan was embarrassed to stay in Zhai Sheng’s house any longer. She had to return to her home.
Not long after Qiao Nan left, Zhai Sheng’s elder sister Zhai Hua returned home. Zhai Hua sat on the sofa and was about to ask Zhai Sheng why he had come back, when she saw blood on the sofa and was shocked. “Zhai Sheng, are you hurt? What happened?”
“No.” Zhai Sheng frowned. “The blood was left by the younger daughter of the Qiao family.”
“Wait, no, why do you have blood on your clothes too?!” Seeing the blood on both Zhai Sheng’s chest and sofa, Zhai Hua eyes flashed sharply. “Zhai Sheng, tell me honestly, did you bring a girl home? Were you so eager that you couldn’t wait until you were in the bedroom?”
Zhai Sheng’s wooden expression changed.
As he looked at the excited Zhai Hua, he sneered and said, “If mom and dad knew that you were reading this type of book, what do you think would happen?”
“Oh, today’s weather is really hot. I did not see and don’t know anything, my brother. I am going to take a shower.” Zhai Hua’s face turned pale. She dared to be rude in front of her brother. But in front of her parents, she was as obedient as a rabbit.
As Zhai Hua was going to take a shower and Zhai Sheng softened his raised eyebrows to continue with his book, Zhai Hua’s face blocked his view. “No matter what, we are siblings. Are you really not going to tell me which girl you ruined? Our family does not tolerate a rogue like this. If the girl comes knocking at our door, your reputation will be ruined. It would be hard for you to continue working in the army. Since you slept with her, why don’t you marry her?”
In the face of Zhai Hua’s untrue accusation, Zhai Sheng said only one word. “Scram.”
Thereafter, he went back to his room without a care about Zhai Hua’s reaction. He changed the clothes that had been stained with Qiao Nan’s blood to avoid causing further misunderstanding.
Qiao Nan was heading towards her house with a heavy heart.
After the fever subsided, Qiao Nan’s head was more sober. She recollected the memories of that entire year.
Qiao Nan was born into a respected family.
It was just that her grandparents did not survive through the 1970s. After their death, her father joined the army with the help of her grandfather’s good friend, and married Ding Jiayi.
The older generation were usually patriarchal, especially Ding Jiayi. When she gave birth to her first child – Qiao Zijin, Ding Jiayi consoled herself that she would bear a son next.
When Ding Jiayi was preparing to have a second child, a national planning policy was launched.
In order to have a son, Qiao Dongliang and Ding Jiayi were expelled from the party and lost their cradle-to-grave jobs. They were pregnant with a second child but it was their younger daughter – Qiao Nan.
This year would be Qiao Nan’s third year at the high school. Qiao Zijin had taken the middle school examination and would be enrolled in high school soon.
Qiao Nan attended school earlier in the morning. Nevertheless, Qiao Nan had always performed well and was consistently ranked top in school. On the contrary, Qiao Zijin’s results in school were not good. Qiao Zijin was dissatisfied about this.
In the previous life, Ding Jiayi lied to Qiao Nan. She said the family’s money was depleted because she was sick. Even the money for Qiao Zijin’s school enrolment was borrowed.
But a few years later, Qiao Nan found out that their savings had not been used for her medical expenses. It was her mother who had taken it to use for bribery for Qiao Zijin’s sake.
Since her fever had subsided a lot, Qiao Nan breathed a sigh of relief. At least in this life, her mother could no longer hold her to ransom with her illness.
In this life, regardless of the situation, she would not quit her studies and work to support Qiao Zijin. She would lead a life of her own!
When Qiao Nan reached home, Qiao Dongliang was pushing his bicycle home as he was off-duty during this time.