Chapter 4 – Divine Eyes
On the second day of the Lunar New Year, the two aunts went back home to pay their respects.
Upon entering, there was a lot of New Year’s greetings, followed by the red packet that the children look forward to the most during the New Year. Although the average family doesn’t earn much these days, the money was nominally given to the children. Also, in the end, many parents took it back from their children, which was considered as just an exchange of money between relatives. Therefore, there was nothing to lose, so the adults were being generous in their red packets.
Xia Shao smiled and took the two hundred yuan New Year’s Eve red packet that her younger Aunt Xia ZhiLan stuffed over to her, which she sweetly thanked her: “Thank you, Aunt!”
Xia ZhiLan smiled and pinched Xia Shao’s face, with a doting smile in her eyes: “Look at the way our Shaozi looks, so fair and tender, and so lovely! In a few years, she’ll become a gentle lady. Unlike my girl, who is always out playing in the wild, getting all tanned and looking like a guy!”
Xia Shao felt slightly awkward in her heart, she was almost thirty and being pinched by the cheeks, this feeling was really…… weird! Yet she was quick to collect her thoughts and look aside.
Her mother also gave the red packet to her cousin Zhang RuMan and said with a smile: “What are you talking about? She looks like her father! She’ll probably be a female office when she grows up!”
Her younger Aunt’s husband Zhang QiXiang, was an active-duty officer, a company-level cadre, and always had a soldier’s strong nature in his way of dealings with people. Under his influence, his daughter’s temperament had been wild since she was a child, fighting with boys was a common occurrence, and everyone who met her said that she acted too much like a boy.
Seeing her daughter being complimented, Aunt Xia ZhiLan suddenly smiled and glanced over at her daughter.
At the sight of this, Xia ZhiMei, the eldest aunt who was standing aside, rolled her eyes secretly, while her expression shown as if her family was a bystander and the other two families were on better terms!
Xia Shao’s mother Li Juan and Xia ZhiLan were employees of a factory in the city, and they had a good relationship. The only thing was that Xia ZhiLan’s personality was even softer than Li Juan, and frankly speaking, she doesn’t have much of an opinion, but she was really very kind.
It was Xia ZhiLan who was the matchmaker between Xia Shao’s parents from the time they met to the time they fell in love! She was the matchmaker who made the marriage happened, so not only have the two families always been so close, but Xia Shao and her cousin Zhang RuMan were even closer than sisters!
Zhang RuMan was only a year younger than Xia Shao, and their temperaments were very different, but strangely enough, they were very close! Even when they started working, and couldn’t spend much time together, yet they often chatted on the phone and talked about everything.
In contrast, the family of her elder Aunt Xia ZhiMei was more distant in Xia Shao’s memory.
Putting other things aside, the differences could be told from the matter of giving the children their New Year’s red packet.
Eldest Aunt Xia ZhiMei said helplessly: “Sister-in-law, and little sis, I’m not pinpointing about the two of you. But I’ve told you both so many times, every year, why don’t you both listen? You shouldn’t give your children money for New Year’s Eve! At such a young age, all they care about was the New Year’s red packets. If all they see are that little amount, what will they achieve when they grow up?!”
Xia ZhiMei was a teacher in the middle school in the city. In this era, the career of a high school teacher was considered a very stable job and educated too, so people were envious of her. She spoke in her usual style of lecturing her students, and the family had to listen to this set of lectures from her every New Year’s Eve, so they got used to it.
Seeing that she was about to start again, Li Juan and Xia ZhiLan had a tacit understanding and give their respective daughters a wink, asking the children to go out and play first.
“Jie! Let’s go out and set off the firecrackers and build a snowman.” Zhang RuMan had long been impatient, and when she saw her mother’s wink, she immediately rushed over, pulled Xia Shao, and ran off to the courtyard.
Xia Shao was dragged to run, and she laughed bitterly in her heart. She didn’t feel much when she was a child, but now that she was being taken out to play by a small child, she really felt awkward.
Watching her childhood cousins boldly setting off firecrackers in the courtyard and running into the snow piles to make snowballs, Xia Shao suddenly had a feeling of being in a faraway time and space.
Yes, it’s an unreal, distant feeling.
At this time, her cousin wouldn’t know that her father would be transferred home when she was in high school. The job he was assigned afterwards was not satisfactory and the family’s financial deteriorated year by year. In the end, he had to go and work elsewhere even when he was middle-aged. Even though he came from the army and was always in good physical condition but after unloading and loading goods daily, he became tired and sick. The youngest Aunt Xia ZhiLan, eventually left the depressed factory and went out to work with her husband to earn more money to pay for her cousin’s postgraduate studies at the capital’s university. Instead, her cousin ended up not being able to get into the diplomatic academy she had dreamed of, and thus chose to study law. Although these were not bad choices in the eyes of outsiders, she was always a bit depressed. Also because of her tomboyish nature from childhood, she had no relationship even at the age of 25 or 26, and all the guys she likes were not attracted to her type, which makes her often called Xia Shao to spill her guts.
Thinking about these memories from her past life, Xia Shao looked at the cold and dreary sky of the new spring of 1992, and then looked down at her hands and feet and slowly smiled. It felt wonderful that the childhood period was so carefree. Also, she too felt so genuinely wonderful to be able to live her childhood all over again.
On the other hand, she couldn’t be so carefree because she had an adult soul, she had so many things she wanted to do, and a destiny that desperately needed to be changed! Not just hers, but those of her cherished loved ones!
It wasn’t until lunchtime that Xia Shao and her cousin Zhang RuMian went back to the house.
The grandparents and their four children sat together on a warm heater, and the children were not interested in what was going on at the table. The only thing that came to their mind was the food, which was those meats dishes that were usually unavailable.
In order not to appear too mature, Xia Shao also added some dishes to her bowl but ate very slowly, keeping an eye on the elders’ conversation as she ate. The men talk were mostly about work and business, the women chatted about their children, food, and clothes. It’s always these few same old topics.
At that moment, she heard her eldest Aunt Xia ZhiMei said: “Sister-in-law, why are you wearing that? It’s too red, isn’t it? Your complexion is on the darker tone, it’s not suitable for wearing such bright red.”
When Li Juan heard such a statement, she looked a little bit embarrassed and smiled before replying: “Big sister, I just like the red, and its festival session. If I don’t wear it now, it will look more bright and weird on regular basis.”
Xia ZhiLan listened and glanced over at her second sister, but did not dare to speak up. Jiang QiuLin, who was seated at the side, smiled and glanced at Li Juan’s clothes but kept quiet while her expression was implicating that she was waiting for the drama to unfold.
“You don’t suit such bright red dresses, it makes you look dark, dull, and rustic. You’re working in the city now, so you should be more careful with the choice of your clothes.” Xia ZhiMei usually taught in high school and was used to lecturing people so she was used to lecturing others until the other party shut up before she would stop.
In the end, it was Grandma who couldn’t stand it anymore and coughed, saying: “Enough of it, it’s just a dress, why bother so much? It’s New Year now! Let’s eat.”
It was then that Xia ZhiMei brushed aside the matter. She didn’t want to upset the elderly during the New Year, thus she let the matter slipped past without mentioning it again.
Xia Shao, who was listening in silence, felt bitter in her heart. At that time, the country was still in turmoil when her mother was born. There was not enough food to eat and let alone warm new clothes to wear. Her mother’s clothes when she wore as a child were all altered and passed over by her sister. Therefore, it was rare for her to wear or have any new dresses. She liked brightly coloured clothes, but her gentle nature was tinged with shyness, and was usually too afraid to wear it out for fear of making others laugh at her. Also, she only wore bright colours during the festival session and yet her sister-in-law was pin-pointing her in front of the whole family.
Inwardly, Xia Shao was indignant, but her expression remained the same, and the light of determination flashed in her eyes. In this life, she would never let her mother suffer this kind of aggression ever again!
At that moment, her father spoke and glanced at his sister Xia ZhiMei before he smiled and said: “Big sister is right, it’s true that dark skin tone doesn’t fit well with red. But I just love to see your sister-in-law in red dresses, I think she looks quite pretty.”
Li Juan’s face immediately reddened a little after hearing it, and there was even a touched look in her eyes.
Xia Shao took a bite of the food and ate it, a smile sweeping across her eyes. It was not until a moment had passed then she raised her eyes again and glance at her Aunt Xia ZhiMei and her Uncle-in-law Liu ChunHui.
Their family started as an oil processing factory and later set up a factory to produce parts for some domestic brand car companies. Before Xia Shao was reborn, their family had already set up branches in three major first-tier cities in the province, with many properties under their name and they were considered a well-known family in the city.
Her cousin, Liu YuGuang, who relied on the money from his family’s business, changed his girlfriend as fast as he changed his clothes when he was in school. Later he got married to a host from the East City Tv Station, and his father-in-law was the deputy mayor of East City. The whole family was very arrogant, regarding the Xia family and relatives, her cousin’s wife was very proud and usually despises speaking with them.
Although Xia Shao understood that humans were creatures of desire, and everyone desires to have higher status than anyone else so that they would be respected and being looked up to. There was no good feeling, let alone respect, for such people who step upon their family members upon gaining power.
Out of the four children born to her grandparents, only the eldest aunt and youngest uncle families were financially well off. Yet unfortunately, both were somewhat less than being filial.
When her grandmother was seriously ill, her children should have taken turns to take care of her, but Li Juan, Xia Shao’s mother, took the elderly back home without hesitation. She took care of her grandmother all the time while her eldest aunt, as a daughter, only visited twice and just brought some things, chatted for a while before leaving again. Her grandmother had never received single daycare from this pair of daughters and son until she had passed away.
Xia Shao lowered her gaze, the corners of her mouth smirked coldly. As the idiom goes, the god knows what one did, so what goes around comes around! It was a pity that now that she was reborn, in her previous life she failed to see if Xia ZhiMei’s family would be as smooth sailing like right now till the end.
She stared at the couple, Liu ChunHui and Xia ZhiMei, while she pities her grandmother’s misfortune.
At that moment, something shocking happened to Xia Shao.
In her mind, a series of images suddenly appeared!
It was night, a blazing fire burning till the sky turned half reddish. The scene was chaotic, firemen were running everywhere and the fire seem to come from the production line of the company.
Afterward, she saw a short, fat figure grabbing a hose from the fireman and rushing up to put out the fire by himself, and that man looked like Liu ChunHui, Xia Shao’s Uncle-in-law.
Then the scene shifted again. This time, Liu ChunHui and her Aunt Xia ZhiMei were visiting from house to house together. Their former arrogant looks were gone and they seem to be pleading in a low voice. At this point, Uncle-in-law hair’s was already turning grey from the sides which made him look like an old man all of a sudden!
Soon, there was a constant argument between her cousin and his wife, who later slammed the door and left the house with the baby in her arms.
Xia Shao’s eyes widened in shock as she watched those images. It was so real and vivid in her mind until she felt someone nudged her.
Those images immediately dispersed, Xia Shao turned her head and saw her mother was staring at her strangely: “You this little child, why are you staring at your eldest aunt and uncle-in-law instead of eating your meal?” As she said these, she placed a piece of fish into Xia Shao’s bowl: “Quickly finish your food.”
Xia Shao nodded, holding onto her bowl, and lowered her gazes but her heart was beating wildly.
Just now, what were those things that she had seen?