Chapter 2: Viral News

“Hua Hua?!” Tan Yuan looked at Hua Jin in surprise. Just one embroidery alone already had them working overtime, but with several highly priced custom orders they recently received, how can they possibly manage to fulfill it? 

Seeing Tan Yuan’s strange expression, the middle-aged man guessed that the other party might be hesitant to take his business. He lowered his shoulders and rubbed his hands, and ingratiatingly whispered, “I-I’m willing to pay extra, if you accept…”

“I’ll show you our catalog.” Hua Jin handed the catalog to the man, without giving a quotation. He took his time carefully telling him about the different embroidery methods and how long each one would take.

The man listened very carefully and flipped through the catalog and the actual designs. He thought it over and then chose an embroidery method that could be done in about a month.

When it was time to do the payment, the man took out a dirty old wallet from his jacket’s inner pocket featuring an absurdly large knock off logo. While counting cash, the man embarrassingly said, “I don’t like paying with my mobile phone. I heard that there are many viruses on the Internet and if you’re not careful, your money might get stolen.”

Nowadays, most young people in the big cities like to pay with their mobile phones. Even when just buying snacks from the roadside, they’d scan their phones to pay. He was worried that his old-fashioned ways may put off the other party.

“Cash is great. It feels better to actually have it on hand.” Hua Jin gave the man a copy of his payment receipt. “I’ve put down the numbers of my colleague and I. Please feel free to contact us if you need anything.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you all.” The man repeated his thanks three times. He put the receipt in his wallet and quickly made his exit.

“Hua Hua.” After the man left, Tan Yuan started to air her concern. “Previously, someone asked if you’d rush the work if he paid three times more, but you said no. Now, you’re getting less money for an even bigger embroidery job. Is it that great to be from the same hometown?!” 

“Even if he is from there, it’s not worth the hard work. Did you know that staying up late is the chief cause of occupational injuries?” She stretched out her hand and took the opportunity to caress Hua Jin’s face. “Such a pity that this jade-like face is so beautiful–even a woman can’t help but be moved.”

“Thanks for the compliment, but I won’t be falling for you so you better give up.” Hua Jin slapped Tan Yuan’s claws away, and shoved her tea cup onto her. “Quickly make your flower-painted jewelry box to pay obeisance.”

“Yes, my Queen.” Tan Yuan smiled and went back to her workbench. She didn’t have much talent in embroidery. Her mother has even told her that though she’s been embroidering for 10 years, her work still had no spirit. She could only ever be an embroiderer, never a master. Hua Hua was different. She only learned Shu embroidery from mother at the age of 19, but in just 5 to 6 years, her embroidery already had the inkling of life in them. Imbued with Spirit Energy as mother puts it–work that even the ancestors would approve of. 

Tan Yuan was very happy about this. Her mother’s craftsmanship has finally found a worthy successor. Personally, she preferred to make lacquerware, so she’s been making them together with her father over the last few years. 

Whether it was lacquerware or embroidery, both were traditional crafts. They shared many artistic notions, but were also very different from each other. The biggest problem facing the industry was that many masters were already old, but many of the younger craftsmen and craftswomen had not been cultivated enough to take up their mantle. Thus, many techniques, including those of embroidery, have been lost.

Therefore, in the eyes of Gao Shu Lan, Tan Yuan’s mother, Hua Jin was the real seed of their traditional art, Shu Embroidery–its one and only successor. Not her, the very daughter she gave birth to.

To give Hua Jin as much time to practice doing her embroidery, Tan Yuan has put it upon herself to man the counter and greet customers of the store most of the time. After the store closed for the evening, Hua Jin would always be invited to Tan Yuan’s house for a late-night snack, but would always insist to go back to her own home in the end.

Though Tan Qing and Gao Shu Lan always invited Hua Jin to stay the night, she’d always decline, stating that she didn’t want to trouble their family. But really, she was most afraid about Aunt Gao’s marriage nagging, so she made any and all excuses to slip out. 

Although it was past 10:30PM, the city was still bustling with activity. Hua Jin walked the streets, looking up the brightly lit buildings, and felt the liveliness of a thriving metropolis. 

After she had walked some distance, Hua Jin stopped to rub her aching knees. She took out her phone to check the time, and upon seeing it decided that she didn’t really want to wait for the bus anymore, so she simply made a booking for a car online. 

It was already well past rush hour so many drivers were definitely willing to accept her booking. The map on her booking app showed her car would arrive in 5 minutes. 

Putting her phone away, Hua Jin found herself near the edge of the sidewalk which she quickly stepped away from. Seeing many cars whizzing past her on the road, feeling she was at a safe distance from them and feeling her mood was good, she started to hum a song.

A few drunk men tottered towards her, shoulders hooked. When they saw Hua Jin, they whistled a few times as inebriated dolts often do. 

Hua Jin didn’t yell at them or recoil in fear. She just gave them a quick glance, secured her hold over her bag, but then just continued to play with her phone. 

Seeing that they failed to get a rise out of Hua Jin and that there were other pedestrians along the sidewalk, the drunks decided that they weren’t interested anymore and sauntered off. 

Only when she saw that they were already far away did Hua Jin delete the ‘110’ on her phone’s dial. She put the personal alarm device on her right hand and the long antique hairpin on her left back into her bag.

Who has lived alone for years and not learned a thing or two about dealing with hooligans?

Women embroider the land gently, Men scare the hoodlums away. Hua Jin felt she was an abnormal woman, since she could both embroider and scare away would-be ruffians in this day and age.  

The booked car arrived quickly. Hua Jin got on the back seat, while the driver reminded her that there were water bottles available for free if she was thirsty. She thanked him, but did not even touch the bottles of water. Seeing that his passenger was not one to talk, the driver decided to remain silent as well, just turning on his radio for traffic announcements.

The broadcast said that there was a car accident on a certain road that has caused traffic congestion. Pedestrians and vehicles were advised to avoid going through that route. 

“Luckily we just passed the intersection right next to it. Otherwise, we’d have had to take a long detour.” The driver sighed in relief, but having remembered that his female passenger seemed to not want to talk, he refrained from speaking further. He really just was a bit chatty. That’s probably his only problem. He had once gotten a bad review because he talked too much, so since then, he’s learned to restrain his chatterbox mouth. 

“Well, lucky we’re lucky.” Hua Jin gave a curt reply.

“That’s not it.” The driver blustered proudly. “I’ve been lucky since I was a kid. Even dogs wag their tails when they see me!”  

Hua Jin was too flabbergasted to reply for a while. The example the driver gave was just too out there. 

When the driver found that Hua Jin wasn’t all that averse to conversing, he stopped holding back his great chatty self and proceeded to talk about recent topics he found interesting. Hua Jin also realized that there were guys like this driver hidden everywhere who were very in the know. There were some things that even she, an Internet savvy person, couldn’t understand on her own could be thoroughly explained by them. Simply fascinating. 

When they passed the vicinity of the car accident, Hua Jin could only make out the sound of numerous ambulances and police sirens from a distance. Nothing else could be heard.

Arriving outside a residential building, the driver stuck his head out his window to get a better view. He found the alleyway was narrow and small, with the walkway a bit uneven. “Miss, we’ve arrived at our destination. Please don’t forget to give me a 5-star review.” 

“Okay.” Hua Jin pushed the door open and got out of the car. She had only walked a few steps when she found the walkway suddenly illuminated. She turned to see the talkative master had not driven away, but instead had turned on his headlights to light her way across the alley.

Hua Jin stopped walking and thanked the driver.

The driver closed the door and window, so he couldn’t hear what Hua Jin said. Seeing her turn around, he waved to her and motioned her to go home quickly.

The driver had closed his door and window, so he could not hear her thanks. Seeing her turn around and thank him, he just motioned her to quickly go home already. 

It was not easy for a young woman to be outside at night. If this kind of trivial matter can ensure the safety of a person, he just regarded it as accumulating virtue for himself. 

Walking through the dark corridor of her apartment building, Hua Jin heard Sister Qin roaring. Was she scolding her child again?

The building that Hua Jin’s rented apartment was in was a single-row, old fashioned condominium. There were only 6 floors in total. Each room had a kitchen and a bathroom, and all shared a spacious balcony that connected the whole floor. There were rumors of the building’s imminent demolition, but nothing has happened for 2 to 3 years. Most of the people living in the building were tenants from all over the world. They were polite to each other, but due to their vastly different schedules, most were destined to not develop too deep a friendship with their neighbors.

Going up to her floor, when Hua Jin was just about to insert her key through her door, she heard bowls being broken next door. She turned her head and listened carefully, but there was no sound of a crying child.

She’s heard from Grandma Chen downstairs that Sister Qin was a local here. Her husband gambled and sometimes even cheated and beat up people. She divorced him and moved back in with her parents, together with her son, but because her son was being bullied by her brother’s children, she moved out again.

Perhaps the pressures of life had worsened her temper and that she couldn’t help but scold her son. Be that as it may, Hua Jin has never seen her act violently against him. Whether she was right or wrong, Hua Jin thought it wasn’t her place to judge.

Even after a few minutes of Shu Embroidery in the house, the ruckus next door has yet to cease. Hua Jin sighed helplessly. She got up and loaded a small bowl with green dates from the refrigerator and went out and knocked on Sister Qin’s door. 

“Sister Qin, I bought these fresh green dates yesterday and they taste good. I’ve brought some of them for you and your son to enjoy.” After Sister Qin opened the door, Hua Jin didn’t enter. She only glanced towards the boy, sitting quietly on a shabby sofa, apparently unhurt. His clothes weren’t even ruffled.

“Thank you.” Sister Qin looked at Hua Jin and accepted the bowl. She quickly took the bowl inside and came out again just as quick. The green dates were gone, but in its place were a few pieces of sliced pineapple. “These pineapple slices were what I pickled today. They are very sweet. Have some too.”

“Thank you.” Hua Jin took a bite and as advertised, the pineapple was sweet and delicious, with no sharp sourness at all. When she returned to her apartment, the loud noise from next door had ceased. It wasn’t too long until it became completely quiet. 

The mother and son must have fallen asleep.

She yawned, turned on the lights, and started embroidering the big red dragon and phoenix quilt.

What she promised had to be completed even if she had to stay up late. 

An hour later, she got up to walk a few steps around her room. A media app on her phone suddenly sent her a notification titled, “His life makes you sympathize, but its life makes you cry.”

She clicked on the notification and read the contents. It was about a rich man and his pets when traveling. Because he didn’t want his pets to suffer in the cargo hold during flights, he decided to just go to their destination by private jet.

“Viral News!”

2 thoughts on “Chapter 2: Viral News

  1. Thank you for translating this. I made a pick up request but I didn’t think it would be this fast !

    Like

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