Chapter 5: Li Xiao Man
Their Alma Mater was the same as the past, nothing much had changed besides the people who went there; 4 years of their youth was spent there creating unforgettable memories.
Under the shade of the trees were many of their juniors silently reading, Ye Fan and his classmates felt as though they had travelled back in time and the distant memories three years back were racing through the minds.
After graduation, a majority of the class had were busy with their works and aspirations and besides Ye Fan and a select few, this was the first time the others had come back to their Alma Mater.
By the lake in the University, ripples gently spread out, the scenery was the same as the past, beautiful and stunning. One could almost imagine the scenes of the past, where people laughed and sang songs and listened to the gentle strumming of the guitar.
Although many years had passed, every time one heard the melodious sounds by the lake, it would lead one to reminisce those years of youth and innocence, giving one a bitter sweet feeling making them feel very emotional.
The passing of time would often leave a sour taste in one’s mouth.
The only problem was finding the people who used to sing and play the guitar by the lake would be difficult as so many years had already passed.
“I’ve heard some of my friends mention that the amazing guitar player worked in a bar in another city but did not have much success.”
“Do you still remember that long legged beautiful singer in the school band? I’ve heard that she now works as a hostess in a nightclub.”
Everyone could only let out a sigh of helplessness.
After graduation, many people were faced with the reality of life. Life was sometimes very difficult, often leaving one confused and frustrated.
After a brief period of contemplation, the classmates continued into the campus.
At this point, Lin Jia gingerly walked up to Ye Fan’s side.
She was wearing a blue and white chiffon dress which barely reached her knees while exposing her long slender white legs. She wore a black belt at her waist which further accentuated her curves and her long silky hair draped over her voluptuous chest.
A pretty face, in combination with her pale white skin and her beautiful sparkly eyes made Lin Jia seem like a goddess.
“You obviously had a car, why didn’t you tell me that yesterday?”
“Since when did I have a chance to mention it?”
“You aren’t going to invite me to take a ride on your car?”
“I’d be honoured, I am officially inviting Miss Lin Jia to take a ride on my car.”
They both laughed after their short round of banter.
Although Lin Jia was very abrupt in mentioning yesterday’s events, she very skillfully brushed past the topic and even spoke in a very close manner making it difficult to be unfamiliar with her.
Having said her piece, Lin Jia turned and walked away. She was a smart woman, she understood that suddenly becoming too close would be hypocritical and it would be better to be more natural.
This miraculous transformation in treatment also happened among some of the other classmates.
When the classmates left the school, it was already noon time and they gathered to eat at a restaurant once again.
Wang Zi Wen personally invited Ye Fan to sit at their table however after a couple of drinks Ye Fan went back to the table of classmates who sat with him previously.
“Ye Fan, yesterday I was in a drunken stupor and said some silly things, I hope you won’t take it to heart. I’ll toast a cup to you and drink first as a sign of respect……”
This was the person who bragged about his fiance being the niece of someone in an influential position in the bank. Yesterday he spoke to Ye Fan in a derogatory tone however he quickly adopted a respectful tone today.
As for the girl who bragged about her husband being the Vice-President of a well known enterprise also had a complete change in attitude and was respectful to Ye Fan.
“Come everybody, let’s toast!”
In comparison to the previous day, Ye Fan’s table was very rowdy. People continually came over to toast him and Ye Fan naturally did not reject and was swarmed by people. All the people at Wang Zi Wen’s table had come over to toast him a glass.
Liu Yun Zhi was very calm, although he was very embarrassed the previous day, it seemed as though he had already forgotten about the past events and was acting as though nothing had happened.
“Everybody, Yesterday I received a call that came from overseas…..”
The person who spoke was precisely Zhou Yi, he was a refined gentlemen and everybody knew that his background was rich. The previous day Wang Zi Wen was precisely waiting for him.
Everybody stopped what they were doing and looking towards Zhou Yi. Zhou Yi was a very carefree person and never let anyone feel that he was arrogant.
Zhou Yi said that three of their classmates who were overseas were actually flying back to the country and this piece of news excited the gathered classmates.
“After having graduated, we each treaded on our own life’s paths and being able to finally gather together was very difficult. When we finally gathered together after three years, some of us have already turned into fathers or mothers and the next time we meet who knows how long it will be. I propose that we extend our gathering and wait for the three classmates who are flying back to the country……”
Ye Fan drove home and after brewing himself a cup of soothing green tea he stared out the window at the tree outside and recalled certain events that happened in the past.
A person that he missed, those slowly leaving footsteps seemed like the leaves of a tree gently floating towards the ground.
The name of the person, Li Xiao Man had long faded from his memory.
After graduation Li Xiao Man went overseas to further her studies. Although their relations were very close initially, as time slowly passed by their emails gradually became lesser and lesser and eventually they stopped all communications.
Rather than say “Separated by the sea but looking forward to meeting, One would be better off saying separated by the sea and forgetting.”* A relationship that was frowned upon by their friends actually fell apart as though prophesied.
[*T/N I left it in the direct translation as I feel it conveys the author’s usage of the chinese phrase better the author says 隔海相望，不如说隔海相忘 and the difference of 望 and 忘 create this differential in meaning even though they are both similarly pronounced as ‘wang’.]
Upon hearing Zhou Yi mention Li Xiao Man’s return to the country, Ye Fan actually felt that the name was rather alien to him. Looking back, it had already been over two years since.
As the time of the gathering had been extended, the classmates decided to go visit Mount Tai. All expenses would be covered by Wang Zi Wen, Zhou Yi and the other more affluent classmates. To ordinary people this expense to travel would be considered opulent but it was nothing to the more affluent classmates.
Three days later, Ye Fan and the classmates had gathered at the foot of Mount Tai and he saw a familiar silhouette. Three years had gone by but Li Xiao Man was still tall and graceful and had not changed much.
Li Xiao man was 1.7 metres in height and was sporting a pair of sunglasses. Her black hair was flowing in the wind and she was standing there like a model. She was dressed simply, wearing a pair of shorts that exposed her smooth white legs and a printed tee that had a cartoon figure on it.
Li Xiao Man was undeniably beautiful, her skin was snow white, large eyes with long lashes giving off a very demure feel, coming off as confident but not arrogant.
She was very composed and naturally spoke to all the surrounding classmates, gradually becoming the centre of attention. She was somehow able to make anyhow speaking to her feel a sense of closeness.
Beside Li Xiao Man was a tall man who she introduced as her friend from America. Compared to the more gentle features of Asians, her friend had the sharper features of Westerners giving off a feeling of masculinity. His nose was sharp and his sapphire blue eyes and blonde curly hair definitely could be considered handsome among the Westerners.
“Hi guys, my name is Carter, I’ve always….. Looked forward…… to visiting Mount Tai.” Carter said in passable mandarin that could still be understood.
The other two students who had returned from overseas were also surrounded and being questioned on how it was living and studying overseas.
Having been separated for three years, Ye Fan felt that time had rewinded on seeing Li Xiao Man again.
Both people were very calm when they greeted each other, there were no emotions of joy of reunion after a long period of absence. There was only a sense of calm.
They did not speak much, but that short exchange and the words unspoken were enough to say what had happened between them.