Striving for ScienceChapters List
Chapter 5: Give It Back to Me
After retaliating against Yao Huailin in a few words, Shen Changan deleted him from his grudge list in his mind and said seriously, "It's time for me to go to work. Goodbye."
Watching Shen Changan quickly run off into the distance, Yao Huailin stuffed the flier into the hands of his colleague.
"Hey, what's this for?" His colleague asked.
"It's about cultivating the spiritual enlightenment of civilization. Take a closer look," Yao Huailin replied.
Due to limited funds, the office of the Social Welfare Department was rented in an old building facing the street that had been standing for nearly twenty years. Apart from being a bit old, the building had no major flaws. Behind the old building was a moderately sized yard with several big trees. After four or five in the afternoon, elderly people would often come to the yard with their small stools to enjoy the cool breeze.
It was past two in the afternoon, the hottest time of the day, when Shen Changan rode his bicycle into the courtyard. As he locked his bike, he couldn't help but take a few extra glances at a despondent young man sitting in the flower bed beneath the tree.
Sensing someone passing by, the young man looked up and immediately shrunk back in fright.
The young man's reaction made Shen Changan couldn't help but touch his own face a few times. Did he look that intimidating?
Perhaps realizing that his reaction was excessive, the young man smiled awkwardly at Shen Changan, and there seemed to be a bit of flattery in the smile.
Shen Changan twitched the corners of his mouth, and returned a polite smile, feeling that this young man was a bit weird. As he climbed up to the second floor, Gao Shujuan was mopping the floor. Seeing him approach, she hurriedly said, "Don't move! Stay right there!"
She pushed the mop in front of Shen Changan. "Rub your shoes on it."
Obediently rubbing the soles of the shoes on the mop, Shen Changan grinned at her and said, "Aunt Juan, let me help you mop."
"No need, you can go inside and rest in the air conditioner for a while." Gao Shujuan said, casting a glance at his sun-kissed face. She didn't want his fair and delicate complexion to turn into a burnt crust resembling the scorched bottom of a pot due to the intense sun; otherwise, where would they find a young girl to like him?
"It's okay." Shen Changan took the mop from her and began to bend down to clean the floor. Seeing how efficiently he worked, Gao Shujuan praised him, "Changan, it seems like you often help the elders with household chores at home."
Shen Changan smiled but didn't respond. He had good physical strength and was nimble in his movements. He quickly mopped the entire balcony. When he was ready to enter the office, he glanced downstairs. The young man with weird behavior was still there, his hand caressing the largest tree in the yard while seeming to be talking to himself.
"That young man is called Sun Jia. He used to live nearby. After failing the college entrance examination, he fell seriously ill. In order to treat him, his family had to sell their house. Although they saved his life, his brain didn't quite recover. He often talks to the tree when he comes here," Gao Shujuan explained to Shen Changan, noticing that he was looking downstairs. "Maybe he fell ill again today, and his family didn't watch him closely enough, so he sneaked out. Don't be afraid. Although his mind is muddled, he poses no harm. I've already called his family, and someone should come to pick him up soon."
"If he's like this… Shouldn't he be taken to the hospital?" Shen Changan said. This Sun Jia seemed like a handsome young man. It was a pity to see him living his life in such a muddle-headed way.
Gao Shujuan smiled. "Changan, you children from big cities don't understand. Sometimes, poor families simply can't afford the expenses. Moreover, we don't have good psychiatric hospitals around here. If, by chance, the child is sent to one of those abusive institutions, how could the parents bear it? It's best to keep him under their care and close supervision."
Shen Changan was startled, then said to Gao Shujuan, "Auntie Juan, you're right. It's me who thought too simply."
"Don't worry, if you stay here for a little longer, you'll gradually see things you've never encountered before," Gao Shujuan comforted Shen Changan. “Don’t take it to heart.”
Shen Changan smiled and nodded. He no longer paid attention to Sun Jia, who was talking to himself, and returned to the office. Chen Panpan and Xu Ze had already arrived. Xu Ze was leaning on the desk, reading the newspaper, while Chen Panpan was filling out a form.
"Chang'an, are you here?" Seeing him coming in, Chen Panpan put down the pen in his hand, "Did you manage to save the person who was about to jump off the building at noon?"
"Yes, he's rescued." Shen Changan sat down at his own desk. "You heard about it too?"
"If something happens in our place, it will spread throughout the city in less than half a day." Chen Panpan bristled, "There are still people spreading rumors, saying that this man encountered a ghost and that's why he suddenly went to jump off a building."
"Where on earth would ghosts come from?" Shen Changan retrieved a book on nurturing the mind and fostering positive thoughts. "And even if there were ghosts, they should fear the sun. Isn't that what we've seen in countless TV shows? As soon as the rooster crows and the morning sun rises, all ghosts disperse instantly. Today, the sun was scorching at noon. So, if there were truly ghosts involved, who was the one contemplating suicide? The ghost or the man?"
"Now that you put it that way, it does make sense." Chen Panpan said and took out her phone. "I'll use your words to refute those idiots who keep spreading rumors about ghosts."
"When people confront each other, it's difficult to convince the other person. It only escalates the argument and leaves you frustrated," Shen Changan opened the propaganda book. "Even if others get angry, I won't get angry. If anger brings illness, there won't be anyone to take my place. Instead of saying so much, it's better to respond with a simple 'oh' or 'okay, you're right.'"
"I thought you would say that you should never back down when you have the opportunity to take action." Chen Panpan deleted her previous message and replied, "Oh, okay, you're right."
"I'm a good boy who has received nine years of compulsory education. How can I resort to violence?" He pointed at the four characters "Harmony is valuable" in the book and said, "I'm all about peace, peace loves me."
Chen Panpan: "..."
Changan this person, contrary to his handsome appearance, is rather thick skinned.
Around three in the afternoon, Shen Changan heard the sound of a woman crying downstairs. He stood up and walked to the balcony, where he saw a middle-aged woman with half-gray hair, sobbing as she held the arm of that young man named Sun Jia.
"Jiajia, be obedient and go back with Mom, okay?"
Sun Jia didn't move; he just stared at the big tree in a daze, murmuring to himself.
Seeing her son like this, the old woman suddenly let go of his hand and sat on the ground, wailing loudly. Her cry was heart-wrenching, as if it had weighed down her burden and suffering that had oppressed her for years, finally cushing her last bit of resilience, making her cry without any scruples.
"Jiajia, your father is sick, seriously sick. If you keep behaving like this, what will you do after I leave with your father? What will you do?!"
An ignorant young man and a weary, elderly woman. Despair enveloped them like the shadows of the tree's canopy, and others would never be able to truly understand their pain.
Shen Changan felt that he should go downstairs to comfort them, but his subconscious told him that now was not the right time to do so.
Finally, the woman, whose voice had become hoarse from crying, grabbed her son, who seemed lost in his own world, and slowly walked away. Shadow of her hunched back was pulled into a weird shape by the sunlight.
At the end of the work, Shen Changan was the last one to leave. He locked the office door and, as he went downstairs, he couldn't help but turn his head to look at the tree that Sun Jia was leaning against earlier in the afternoon. He paused and looked up at the lush canopy crowning the tree.
The leaves began to rustle, shaking off several tender green leaves.
At this moment...... Is there wind now?
Shen Changan suspiciously looked at the other trees, but they didn't seem to be moving. He suspected that there was something wrong with his glasses and pushed them up before taking another look. Now, the other trees also started swaying from side to side.
Stretching out his hand to touch the rough tree trunk, Shen Changan sighed. It turned out that even plain glasses could affect one's vision. It seemed that he would have to give up the idea of wearing glasses to appear sophisticated.
"I really hope that young man can recover," he recalled the desperate weeping of the old woman. It reminded him of his own mother. His memories of her were becoming hazy, but he always remembered her gentle smile and how she would kiss his cheek in the morning, saying, "Sweetie, have fun at kindergarten ah."
The tree shook more vigorously, even the trunk was trembling.
Shen Changan rubbed his face. Could it be because it was too hot today so he couldn't even feel the wind?
Not in the mood to cook dinner, he ate something casually before returning to the community. The sky was gradually darkening, and the lights in the neighborhood were a little dim. Shen Changan came face to face with a man holding a water tap in his hand.
"Are you... are you okay now?" Shen Changan recognized the man as the one who had been taken to the hospital earlier in the day for trying to commit suicide at noon. Judging by his current appearance, he seemed to have returned to normal.
The man seemed a little embarrassed and smiled awkwardly. "I'm fine."
"When children don't do their homework, you can teach them slowly. But don't resort to extreme measures. Life only comes once." Thinking of the appearance of the child crying while pulling the man hanging outside the window today, Shen Changan couldn't help but say a few more words, "Leaving a lifelong trauma for a child is not good."
"On that note, you might find it hard to believe," the man smiled wryly. "I actually run a car wash shop. Even though I'm occupied with work most of the time and don't spend as much time with my child as his mother, I would never resort to such extreme measures to frighten him."
He took a step forward with a mysteriously strange and eerie expression. "Do you believe that there are ghosts in this world?"
Shen Changan was relatively close to the trash bin so he casually took the old faucet from the man's hand and threw it in. The faucet made a dull sound as it landed in the bin.
"I personally don't believe in it," Shen Changan sighed. "You're exhausted. Take a good rest and spend more time with your child."
The man took a couple of steps back, seemingly embarrassed by his sudden closeness to Shen Changan. He awkwardly laughed and shook his head, saying, "I fell asleep right after lunch today, and when I woke up, I found myself lying in the hospital. My wife and child were crying, telling me that I tried to jump off the building at noon. Even the firefighters and police came. But strangely, I have no recollection of any of it, and now the whole neighborhood knows about my suicidal episode. It's made me too embarrassed to leave the house."
"Perhaps..." Shen Changan pondered, "Do you have a sleepwalking problem?"
"Huh?" The man was taken aback. Weren't they talking about ghosts?
"Brother, don't shy away from the medical treatment. Maybe you're just under a lot of stress from work and your child lying about not doing homework has added to your frustration, possibly triggering sleepwalking," Shen Changan said as he retrieved a department slogan pamphlet and handed it to the man." Make sure to prioritize sufficient sleep, engage in regular exercise, and strive for a healthy work-life balance. These measures can be more effective than anything else."
"Believe me, you'll recover soon," Shen Changan patted the man's shoulder and gave him a gentle smile.
The man stood there holding the pamphlet, staring blankly at Shen Changan's retreating figure. Could it be that he was really just too exhausted?
In the middle of the night, when dreams were most pleasant, Shen Changan was in slumber when he heard a child loudly fussing next to his ear.
"He promised to always play with me, why are you taking him away from me?"
"Promises should be kept!"
"Promises should be kept!"
Shen Changan half-awake opened his eyes and saw a child with green hair huddled in the corner of his room. His voice was quite loud, but his expression looked a bit cowering.
What kind of bear parent did this brain-dead thing, how could they let a few years old child dye his hair?
Seeing Shen Changan looking at him, the green-haired child began to to tremble all over, but still tenaciously yelled at him, "Give Miao Miao back to me!" [seedling or sapling]
Miao Miao? Who or what is Miao Miao?
A pea sprout or a small tree sapling?
Shen Changan turned back to his bed to lay back under the blanket, wondering why he hadn't dreamed for so long and now when he dreamt, he was dreaming about stealing someone else's sprout?!!
Could it be that I still have such an unusual and unknown hobby hidden deep in my heart?
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