In the sunny office, Xiao Jianping looked at the newspaper with photos of the basketball game in his hand. He didn’t speak but he was obviously a bit depressed.
Sun Peiwei, who was usually frustrated with him, rarely relaxed his movements. He sat stupidly on the side and his expression was slightly complicated.
He took the time to go to the admissions office today to inquire about Pei Qingyuan. He thought that Xiao Jianping was simply thinking too much. He planned to go back to dispel Xiao Jianping’s thoughts after asking. He didn’t expect that the teacher of the admissions office really knew this high school student.
But in their records, Pei Qingyuan wasn’t from the 2nd High School but from Chengde High School.
Some time ago, Chengde High School reported the recommendation list of their new senior high school students and this name was prominently listed. He won first place in the National High School Students Mathematics Olympiad. So it is eligible for a recommendation.
Originally, this group of students would come to Jiangyuan University at the end of this year to take the recommendation exam. After passing this exam, which wasn’t too difficult for them, they would no longer need to face the pressure of the college entrance examination and could directly become a prospective college student at a top college.
However, just last month, Chengde High School specially contacted the admissions office of Jiangyuan University, saying they would cancel the recommendation of a student. The teacher of the admissions office hardly encountered this situation and asked the reason. Then the teacher got a reply that the student had transferred.
Sun Peiwei heard this and understood why this name was familiar.
It wasn’t uncommon to be recommended for a recommendations list, but it was rare to see a name being removed from it. It must’ve been mentioned by a teacher during a casual chat.
Okay, why did he transfer schools at this time?
He truthfully told Xiao Jianping what he had found out and couldn’t help sighing. “If he didn’t have the recommendation canceled then perhaps he might be able to become your student…”
“He is still eligible for a recommendation,” Xiao Jianping retorted. “What about the 2nd High School? Have they reported the recommendations list?”
“No, I don’t think the 2nd High School has ever had an Olympiad student so they didn’t think of this..” Sun Peiwei thought about it carefully. “It is because Student Pei didn’t say it himself and I guess the 2nd High School probably didn’t know about this. After all, Student Pei didn’t get the 1st place at the 2nd High School.”
Xiao Jianping frowned when he heard this and started pacing in the office again.
He thought about it and still felt it was wrong. He immediately called Chengde High School and asked if they had told Pei Qingyuan of the 2nd High School that he could still be recommended for admission.
However, only a cold reply came from the other end of the phone. “Sorry, this isn’t our responsibility.”
Xiao Jianping understood this meaning and said angrily, “This is related to the future of a student! How can you be so irresponsible?!”
However, the other person obviously wasn’t prepared to give him an actual response with a human touch and skillfully gave an official reply.
“Why did Student Pei transfer at such an important time during his senior year of high school?”
“It is affected by the student’s individual family reasons.”
“Family reasons? What type of family would let their child suddenly change environments at this time? He also transferred from Chengde to the 2nd High School. Is he willing himself?”
“Sorry, no comment.”
There was a beeping tone and Xiao Jianping had to put down the phone in disappointment.
On the table was the city evening newspaper from a few days ago, which was given to him by his son Xiao Xinchen with great interest. He said that the match with the 2nd High School was in the newspaper. The 1st High School might’ve lost badly and he was completely invisible, but it could still be collected.
Xiao Jianping originally felt very happy reading this newspaper. Now seeing this youthful picture again, he just felt irritated.
There must be reasons unknown to outsiders behind the sudden transfer and the exceptionally indifferent Chengde. Still, no matter what, it made the fate of a child suddenly go out of control.
This should’ve been a simple thing and effort should be rewarded.
Why did people always make things so complicated?
Xiao Jianping gripped the newspaper.
“Old Xiao, are you okay?” Sun Peiwei carefully observed his expression. “Don’t be too angry. Since you are a really good seedling, he can just work harder…”
“I’m going to call the 2nd High School.”
Xiao Jianping took a deep breath, raised his head and said it clearly.
“He will definitely be my student.”
Before Zhou Fang received a call from the school’s leaders, she had just finished a special home visit.
She hadn’t scheduled classes for this afternoon, so she sat in the office to sort things out. She glanced at the report card of the monthly exam and while feeling joyful, she also remembered her commitment to Pei Qingyuan.
-I have Ms Luo’s contact information. I will try to communicate with her and I hope she won’t bother you too much.
For the past few days, she was busy and hadn’t taken care of it. Zhou Fang thought that this matter couldn’t be delayed any longer. She immediately dug out her address book and called Luo Xiuyun.
After knowing that Luo Xiuyun happened to be resting at home because of illness and didn’t go to work, Zhou Fang decided to visit directly.
This type of thing wasn’t easy to communicate on the phone and she also wanted to see the situation of Luo Xiuyun’s home with her own eyes.
She took her bag, found the old residential area according to the address, walked through the low corridor and knocked on the door of the Luo house.
It was a very ordinary environment. It could only be said that there was a gap with Pei Qingyuan’s previous life, but it wasn’t too bad.
However, when Luo Xiuyun opened the door and invited her in helplessly, Zhou Fang was still a bit taken aback.
The coffee table in the living room was full of empty wine bottles and melon shell seeds. The ashtray was full of cigarette butts and why were there some on the ground next to it?
Luo Xiuyun’s complexion wasn’t very good. She noticed Zhou Fang’s gaze and quickly said, “I’m sorry, Teacher. I forgot to clean up. I’m not very comfortable today and have no energy.”
Zhou Fang had taught Lin Yan and remembered that this was a single parent family. However, there were clearly many men’s things scattered in the living room. She asked tactfully, “This is…?”
“It belongs to my brother.” Luo Xiuyun looked embarrassed. She covered her cough and said, “He was unemployed before so he lived here. I originally wanted to let him go out to rent a house when his job was stable, but he was fired from school a few days ago…”
It turned out that Luo Zhichang also lived here.
Zhou Fang thought of the middle-aged man with poor quality and was secretly happy about Pei Qingyuan’s decision to move out.
It was said that those who were close to ink turned black. It must be uncomfortable to stay with such an uncle every day.
Zhou Fang sat down on the sofa that Luo Xiuyun had cleaned up and said casually, “You are sick today. Why didn’t he stay at home to take care of you?”
Luo Xiuyun was stunned, as if she didn’t expect the teacher to ask such a question. She said in a low voice, “He… He went out to watch the game. He said I was noisy because I always coughed.”
Zhou Fang almost didn’t believe what she heard.
He was so old and was still eating and living in his sister’s house. He disliked his sister when she coughed loudly out of sickness and went out to play. The key thing was that she looked accustomed to accepting it all?!
…Forget it, Zhou Fang couldn’t listen to these messy family affairs any longer or she might have high blood pressure.
Zhou Fang decisively got to the point. “Qingyuan’s mother, I came to you today to talk about your son.”
“Yes yes.” Luo Xiuyun became excited when speaking of this. “How old is he? How can he run away from home like this? Teacher Zhou, did you persuade him to go home?”
“No, I didn’t.” Zhou Fang was speechless for a moment before asking rhetorically. “Have you ever reflected on yourself before accusing the child? If it was a normal family, would the child want to leave?”
Luo Xiuyun looked at her in a stunned manner. She opened her mouth for a long time before suddenly deflating.
“Yes, I did something wrong but he should give me a chance to make amends rather than walking away like this…”
“The opportunity to make up for it isn’t given by others.” Zhou Fang frowned. “A student in the senior year of high school needs a quiet and peaceful family environment. From what I know of your brother, he obviously doesn’t care about this and he will watch matches at home, right?”
Luo Xiuyun didn’t speak but nodded slightly.
“Then why don’t you let your brother move away? He is in his 40s and should have the ability to live independently. Shouldn’t a mother let her younger brother leave and provide a good environment for her son who is preparing for the college entrance examination?”
“But… But.” Luo Xiuyun retorted. “He didn’t tell me he felt it was noisy…”
“This is something that parents should take the initiative to consider!” Zhou Fang became angry. “Why do you have to wait for the child to open his mouth before you are willing to change? Just because he doesn’t say it doesn’t mean that the problem of noise doesn’t exist.”
After just a few words, Zhou Fang was aware of the situation Pei Qingyuan faced after returning home.
She couldn’t help asking, “Is your own son important or is it a younger brother who can run out to watch the game regardless of when you are sick?”
Luo Xiuyun’s face turned red when she asked this and snorted. “Qingyuan, his… his grades aren’t good so I thought the impact of the environment wouldn’t be so great…”
“His grades aren’t good?” Zhou Fang laughed almost angrily. “Who told you that his grades aren’t good?”
Luo Xiuyun raised her head and stared blankly at the teacher who had a stern face.
“O-Others told me…”
Her eyes carried a plausible hesitation and daze.
Others, what others?
Zhou Fang immediately took out the documents she brought from her bag. She originally planned to take them out to praise Pei Qingyuan when the atmosphere was better.
“This is the score for the first monthly exam this year. Qingyuan was first in his year and first in every single subject.”
The document listed high scores that Luo Xiuyun had never seen before, even on the transcript of Lin Yan, a former good student.
“This is the report of Qingyuan and the basketball team going to the city league to play. It was a very exciting match so it was in the newspaper.”
Facing these words that were completely beyond imagination, Luo Xiuyun’s mind didn’t work and she could only look stunned.
“In addition—” Zhou Fang felt this wasn’t enough. She simply took out her phone and turned to the photos in the album to show her. “This was taken quietly two days ago. Qingyuan was helping his classmates solve difficult questions.”
In the last row of seats in the classroom, several students crowded around Pei Qingyuan and lowered their heads to take notes seriously.
“He is a very good student and class monitor who is friendly to his classmates. I personally think that his score is likely to be the top in the city. How can you think that his grades aren’t good?”
“The basketball team… class monitor.” The fatigue brought about by the cold and the impact of the teacher’s words made Luo Xiuyun dizzy. She muttered these unfamiliar terms.
Zhou Fang abruptly said, “You don’t know anything, do you?”
She had been a teacher for 20 years. She had seen parents who didn’t care about their children and understood education as simply and rudely hitting and scolding them if they disobeyed. However, it was rare for someone to ignore their children to the extreme like Luo Xiuyun.
In particular, Teacher Zhou had dealt with Luo Xiuyun when she was Lin Yan’s parent. She was obviously very normal. Even if her education level wasn’t high. She would actively cooperate with the teacher’s work and worry about the child’s study and life.
“Have you ever really understood your son?” Zhou Fang’s heart was filled with strong injustice and she asked sternly, “The child was selfishly sent away by you when he was a baby and experienced many changes after returning. Have you ever taken him seriously?”
How could there be such a confused person?
Luo Xiuyun didn’t dare to speak any longer. She couldn’t answer any of these questions so she could only bury her head very lowly.
Zhou Fang was a teacher and a mother. She saw the various mentalities of countless parents and keenly guessed some of Luo Xiuyun’s psychological activities.
“Most people don’t like to accept changes. Compared with facing them directly, they prefer to avoid them. Thus, you chose to avoid your biological son who returned to your side. It seems that as long as you don’t ask, the problem won’t exist.” Zhou Fang sighed. “But have you ever wondered how he faced such a huge change all by himself? In addition, the source of all these problems was obviously you. You are the one who caused this situation.”
Zhou Fang cleared a space on the messy coffee table as she spoke. She wiped it with a paper towel and gently placed the report card and newspaper in her hand on it.
“This shouldn’t be said by a teacher to a parent, but I can’t help it. It is okay if you want to complain about me.”
Zhou Fang looked at the short, haggard-looking middle-aged woman in front of her with a serious expression.
She was weak, hesitant, went with the flow, didn’t distinguish right from wrong and would live her whole life in confusion.
This wasn’t the worst parent Zhou Fang had ever seen, but she was the type Zhou Fang least wanted to see. Parents who were extremely bad might make people decide to flee after waking up, but such a seemingly simple and ordinary mother would unknowingly assimilate her ignorant and naive self onto her child, passing on such a sad and hateful life from generation to generation.
“You are really too confused. You have been confused since changing your child over ten years ago. You have made a mess of your life and implicated two innocent children. I don’t know why the parents of the other family didn’t pursue legal responsibility but you shouldn’t feel that your mistakes have disappeared because of this. You have always made mistakes and you are still making mistakes to this day.”
“Qingyuan is now living independently. There will be teachers, friends and classmates there to take care of him. I think with your current state of mind, you aren’t suitable to contact him again. At the very least, until you understand what you have done, please don’t bother him. If you can’t love your child then at the very least, you shouldn’t hurt him again.”
Zhou Fang got up. Before leaving, she looked at the smoky environment of the living room and finally said, “Ms Luo, don’t be led around by others anymore. Your life is your own. No matter what you experienced later, do you remember your original thoughts in your heart?”
“Did you work hard to conceive and give birth, even taking the risk of exchanging your own flesh and blood with that of a wealthy family in order to make life like this? Is it to treat him like this over a decade later?”
“Rather than raising a child who never cared for you, you should reflect on your own life and stop making mistakes.”
The moment the words landed, Zhou Fang closed the door without hesitation.
After a long silence, Luo Xiuyun slowly reached out her hand. She trembled slightly and picked up the pieces of paper left by Zhou Fang.
On the black and white photo on the inside page of the newspaper, the familiar and unfamiliar figure jumped up and made a nice shooting posture.
Pei Qingyuan was very tall, much taller than her. He looked like an adult.
In a daze, Luo Xiuyun suddenly remembered that day many years ago.
Her seriously ill husband lay at home while she lay in the expensive delivery room with a bright window. She sweated profusely as she heard the baby crying. She smiled suddenly, happy and apprehensive.
The newborn child was wrinkled but her son was very beautiful. Before she did that wrong thing, he was almost reluctant to let her son out of his sight.
She didn’t have time to choose a name for him. It was because every day when she was waiting to give birth, she was calculating whether she had enough money left to last until tomorrow, wondering how long her husband would be with her or whether she should do what she should do.
The people coming and going in the hospital had a calm pace and didn’t need to worry about money. They walked into different wards with flowers and insulated buckets, except the one where Luo Xiuyun was located.
The moment she looked up, she could see a completely different world outside.
Thus, she gradually stopped struggling and obediently let herself be swept away by the increasingly noisy desires in her heart.
She secretly put down her unnamed son, kissed his forehead and whispered in her heart, “You will live a happy life, happier than your mother.”
Now 18 years later, in this small house where only she and her younger brother were left, Luo Xiuyun worked all day and often thought of a voice that seemed to suppress countless emotions.
“Mom, what will you call me?”
No, it shouldn’t be Qingyuan.
In front of the tear-soaked newspaper and the lingering smell of cigarettes, she finally realized this clearly.
She missed the day she named her son.
She also missed the day when she could call her son’s name again.