Chapter 1 – Return to Childhood.
Xia Shao woke up from the biting cold with a clatter of voices in her ears. It was so chaotic that she couldn’t even tell where she was at the moment. She couldn’t stop shivering and her teeth were chattering from the cold whereas her arms and legs already stiffened from it. The coldness spurred her on to remember what had happened.
After graduating from university, she worked in a real estate company doing complicated work, often having to follow up the project until 2am or 3am. Even though it was a 9am to 5pm office job life, she had to work overtime at night with dark circles under her eyes. In a first-tier city, it was normal to be busy from morning to night daily, with a salary that was the envy of second and third-tier cities. Yet only one could understand that with this salary in the capital, after excluding food and clothing, it couldn’t even buy a two-square-meter of a house after saving up for a year.
After working for seven years and finally became a department manager, Xia Shao gradually realized the rules of society and the difficulties of life. However, she had the resilience in her bones that was rarely found in a girl. In the face of pressure, she would go for a run every morning regardless of rain or shine to exercise and to de-stress herself.
As for this habit of hers, her few friends expressed their disbelief about it. This is because, after working hours, Xia Shao can be described as a slacker in her spare time, cat-like laziness, who can’t wait to nestle down on the sofa in her small flat and sleep all day.
Yet only she understood the reason for continuing doing this daily exercise. As firstly, she is refreshed after her morning exercise and tends to be in a good condition when she works. Only when one is in a good shape, then one can perform well and have a chance of promotion. Secondly, the body is the capital for the revolution, how can one work without it? As for the third reason, it is simply to save money for going to the gym.
The cold winter in the capital comes early, and it just snowed last night. At 5am, Xia Shao got up and dressed for her daily running.
It was still early in the morning and the park near the small condominium had been swept by the cleaners. Xia Shao jogged along a cobbled path when she suddenly heard a cry for help.
The cry for help was not loud, and the park was usually safe, so Xia Shao wasn’t sure if someone had been robbed or not. The sky was still dark at that moment, and as a female, she was still slightly afraid, but gradually she heard that the cry for help had changed in tone. In the end, she couldn’t pretend not to hear anything so she ran over to check it out.
After a search, it turned out to be an elderly morning jogger who had fallen into the lake!
This park is slightly large and the lake area is also quite big. Usually, to prevent people from falling into the lake, the roadside has installed railings. However, this road has two railings broken at some point. The elderly man was probably doing his morning exercise along the roadside when he suddenly slipped his footing and fell into the lake.
Xia Shao immediately got down on the floor and reached out a few times, but she couldn’t catch the elderly man at all. She looked back several times, yet unable to find anyone else who was passing by for their morning exercise. The elderly man’s hands were already slightly stiff, and the lake was not frozen solid. The old man flopped twice in the lake and it seems like he was about to sink.
Despite the darkness, Xia Shao could still see the elderly man’s face clearly from the light that shone from the distant street lamp. It was an elderly man with a kind face and at the corners of his eyes had deep wrinkles, so it could be told that he was usually a happy and cheerful person. At that moment, somehow, there was a pain knocking at the bottom of Xia Shao’s heart.
In the year when she first started working, her grandmother who had watched her grow up, died after a serious illness. She was working on a project at that time, and her family knew she couldn’t take any time off and were afraid she would have insisted to go home even if that means she had to quit her job. Working in the capital is considered a very decent image in her hometown, so naturally, her family didn’t want her to quit, so they kept the news from her. It wasn’t until she finished the project, got her first bonus, smiling as she called home to inform of buying a beautiful *Tang Zhuang in the capital for her grandmother to wear for New Year’s Eve. That was when she learned about her grandmother’s death that had been over a month ago! At that time, she couldn’t accept the reality and immediately flew back home by plane and cried in front of the tombstone for the whole day.
(T/N: 唐装 Táng zhuāng is a traditional clothing/ a kind of Chinese jacket with straight collar.)
This incident became the greatest regret of her life, so when Xia Shao saw the old man who had fallen into the water, her feelings were indescribable. She took out her mobile phone from her pocket, called an ambulance, and jumped into the cold lake without any hesitation.
Xia Shao’s swimming skill is not that great, let alone rescuing people in the bitterly cold waters of the lake. It took all her strength to push the elderly man to the shore, but she no longer had the strength to get up the shore herself.
She felt herself being slowly swallowed from the icy water inch by inch, and the only thought at that moment was that her life, might really be over……
Yet it seems that this was not the case, and judging from the looks of things, she should be saved, right?
At this point, apart from the shivering cold, Xia Shao’s mind was clearing up as compared to when she was first awake, and although the voices in her ears were noisy, she could also distinguish them.
At this moment, she felt a hug from a kind elderly, crying out in grief and calling out to her over and over again: “Little ShaoZi! Please don’t let anything happened to you! If something happened to you, what will I tell your parents? My sweet granddaughter, please open your eyes and look at me!”
Xia Shao froze for a moment, unable to react for a long time.
“What are you crying for? Hurry up and bring back a tub of snow1 from outside and rub it on the child’s body!” It was another elderly man’s voice, loud and ill-tempered, speaking with an unresisting authority.
(T/N: Tub of snow1: In the olden days, people believe that rubbing snow will cause enough friction to create warmth. Thus, rubbing snow on the body will slowly heat the body gradually. Yet it was not advised to do so as it might damage the frostbitten tissue even more. Please do not try it. Thank you.)
Xia Shao immediately recognized this voice!
“That’s right, Jiang DaNiang. Shao’er grandfather is right, hurry up and rub it on the child’s body! The fireplace is heating the house, so it will warm up the child later.” The woman’s voice was eager and sounded in her thirties or forties.
“Mom, Grandma Jiang, I’ve brought the snow back.” There was the sound of running and the girl who rushed in had a childish voice, that sounded around eleven or twelve years old.
“Cui’er, thank you, child. If it wasn’t for you, ShaoZi would have been gone……”
Grandmother cried and thanked Cui’er, and Xia Shao felt someone taking off her cold and soaked cotton coat.
“Hey! Jiang DaNiang, we’re all from the same village, why are you thanking us for? Shao’er has always called our Cui’er as elder sister since she was a little girl, how can Cui’er be called as her sister for nothing?” Aunt Meng said as she helped.
The group of people stripped Xia Shao’s clothes and rubbed her body with snow. However, Xia Shao was too stunned to speak. By then she had already opened her eyes, and after a blurry of whites, she finally saw her own hands.
It was a pair of children’s hands, the little hands were frozen till purplish and the snow was rubbing the hands until it turned slightly reddish.
All this stirred up Xia Shao’s childhood memories.
She still remembers the winter when she was nine years old and her mother who was working in the city, sent her to stay with her grandmother during the winter holidays. She was following Aunt Meng daughter’s Sister Cui Cui when she accidentally fell into an ice cave while playing in the snow near the village stream. Fortunately, Sister Cui Cui saved her.
But, but…… that was when she was nine years old, how could it happen now?!
Wouldn’t she normally be lying in a ward in the capital’s hospital, on an IV drip, and perhaps meeting the family of the elderly man she saved?
However, it was so cold that she wanted to curl up right now, the body being slowly rubbed warm by the snow, the walls in front of her were covered with scraps of northern countryside wallpaper, and the old calendar hanging on the wall. All of these indicated to Xia Shao clearly that what she saw in front of her was not an illusion!
She was reborn, back in the winter of 1991, near the Chinese New Year, in her childhood days!
She saw her grandmother’s benevolent face again, who was not yet fifty years old, and although she had grey hair, she was not yet seriously ill.
She saw her dignifying grandfather again, this time he had not vented out his anger on his two daughters-in-law as both his sons married but only gave birth to daughters. He often made it difficult for Xia Shao’s mother to the point of making her secretly cried behind the back.
She also met her father who rushed back upon hearing the news, this time he had not been laid off yet and had not left to work in the southern city because he wanted to give her a better living environment. When he left for the southern city, he was separated from her mother for at least ten long years.
Naturally, she met her mother who had rushed back too, this time her mother was still young and had not brought her up by herself yet. Her mother had not yet chosen to stay behind to take on the responsibility of being the eldest daughter-in-law and take care of the elderly for her father. Also, her mother had not yet cried in secret at night because she misses her husband.
Xia Shao didn’t know why fate had given her a second chance to start all over again. She didn’t know if this was considered good karma, she just threw herself into the arms of her loved ones and cry out loud.
If all of these were not a dream, she must change her fate in this life and make things better for her whole family!