When God Says Let There Be LightChapters List
Chapter 24: Composition
Lai Ning said honestly: "I want to write the weekly composition assigned by Teacher Zhang Zhihua, but I don't have any inspiration."
The weekly composition was an open-ended essay assigned by Teacher Zhang every two weeks.
Zhang Yukun nodded in agreement and added: "I just spent half a day on physics homework. I wanted to relax my brain and was trying to come up with ideas."
Nie Qingzhou smiled slightly. Leaning on the table, he looked at them and said: "No inspiration?"
The two nodded hurriedly, unwilling to admit they were just slacking off.
Nie Qingzhou said: "Then it's simple. Have you had any memorable events in the past few days? Anything big or small that stirred your emotions will work. For example, the recent weather, people you've seen, or events you've encountered."
Lai Ning furrowed his brows and thought hard for a long time. Finally he said: "My mom aired out the quilts yesterday. When I slept last night, it was warm and cozy, and the quilt even had that sunny smell. I found it very comfortable. But how do I write a weekly diary about just this little thing? It needs to be 800 words."
Nie Qingzhou picked up a pen and wrote down three big characters "Basking in the sun" on the draft paper. His handwriting was a well-practiced regular script, sitting neatly and powerfully on the paper.
"The smell of quilts after sunning makes people feel good. Scientifically speaking, this smell comes from the corpses of dust mites killed by the UV rays."
Lai Ning showed an indescribable expression of disgust.
"Why is this? Why do people like this smell? Are people's preferences really without reason? According to the theory of genetic inheritance, our current preferences for beauty, odors, and food are because, back in the days of early humans, features that matched these preferences made it easier to survive. Therefore, those with these preferences were able to pass on their genes, forming what we now call 'likes' — such as rosy cheeks, neat orderly teeth, symmetrical faces, and tastes like sweet and salty. Maybe we like this smell because ancient people who liked it often aired out their items, and the effective ultraviolet sterilization helped avoid diseases, thus allowing the continuation of their genes."
Nie Qingzhou wrote down some key words on the paper, then drew a long arrow pointing downwards: "Here, we can step back and think about this issue. We always feel that our preferences are under our control, but is that really the case? All of our current biases and definitions in some way, may come from our genes, from the environment millions of years ago. Each person is like a thick book, hiding the history of how humans have interacted with the world since the dawn of mankind up until today. All the beauty and ugliness that exists in this world is a tribute to this history of survival."
Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning listened in a daze, even Xia Yan put down his pen and looked towards Nie Qingzhou.
Nie Qingzhou's pen turned, and he drew another horizontal line: "Another romantic interpretation - according to the phenomenon of biological evolution, the earliest organisms were algae that relied on photosynthesis to survive. Light existed first, then humans appeared much much later. Perhaps in the long process of evolution, our ancestors lost the ability of photosynthesis but retained a love and longing for sunlight. Whenever the sun shines on us, the part of our bodies that belongs to the algae from a billion years ago feels exhilarated and jubilant at the sight of the sun."
After Nie Qingzhou finished speaking, he put down his pen and realized that everyone around him was looking at him. After thinking for a moment, he asked Lai Ning, "Was that too deep? Can you write about it?"
Lai Ning picked up his pen, as excited as an algae seeing sunlight, and said: "I, I'll try to write it! Zhou-ge What was that line you said, something about everyone being a book? With just that sentence, Lao Zhang is going to praise me to death."
Nie Qingzhou repeated the line again. Then he turned to Zhang Yukun, asking, "Your turn. What's something memorable for you?"
Zhang Yukun scratched his head and said: "Just yesterday someone was cursing loudly downstairs. Can you trace that back to biological evolution too?"
"In this case, what were the two sides arguing about? Were they cursing in dialect?"
"It was one sided. Someone parked and blocked another person's car. That person couldn't drive out or find the illegally parked car's owner, so he was shouting and cursing downstairs our building. Yes, it was in dialect."
Nie Qingzhou started another topic on the draft paper titled "Cursing on the streets" drawing a horizontal line below.
"Why does everyone like to curse in dialect? Is it that people express emotions in dialect when extremely angry, or because there are more swear words in dialects that can be used? Are there any differences between cursing culture in northern and southern China? What kind of physical condition and temperament do people who curse usually possess? Do people who curse really want to argue right and wrong, or do they want to create an atmosphere of self-righteousness? Can we extend cursing to daily arguments or even internet wars of public opinion and find many similarities? You can search for some news about cursing to find more inspiration."
As he spoke, Nie Qingzhou had already written many keywords on the paper regarding cursing, and then slid it over to Zhang Yukun.
Zhang Yukun took the paper and said with a grimace: "How come you practically almost finished dictating Lai Ning's whole essay, while I still have to think about this one myself?"
Nie Qingzhou patted Zhang Yukun on the shoulder and smiled: "What, you want to be fed with your mouth open? I believe in you, keep it up."
Lai Ning looked up from his essay and asked with admiration: "Zhou-ge, how do you come up with all this?"
"It's not that hard actually, just observe details in life, maintain curiosity, and keep asking why until you find the answer. There is also reading. Only through a lot of reading and accumulation can you find the answers." Nie Qingzhou pointed in Zhang Yukun's direction: "His searching for news about cursing is also a form of accumulation."
Zhang Yukun gave a thumbs up: "Zhou-ge, you're so cool!"
He then turned to Xia Yi and smiled meaningfully: "Xia Yi, what do you think, impressive, right? Isn't our Zhou-ge super handsome!"
Bringing up matchmaking now?
Nie Qingzhou was at a loss for words. But when he turned his head, he met Xia Yi's bright black eyes. He didn't know when she had also put down her pen and started looking at him.
"I..." Nie Qingzhou wanted to change the topic, but saw Xia Yi slightly raise her chin and nod.
"Handsome." She said briefly, as if she had come to a conclusion after careful observation.
Zhang Yukun let out a loud scream. Nie Qingzhou was stunned for a long time before reacting to wave his hand and push Zhang Yukun down, admonishing him with a serious expression: "Hurry up and write your composition!"
Lai Ning added oil to the fire with a chuckle: "Zhou-ge, your ears are red."
"Go, go, go!"
The red from Nie Qingzhou's ears instantly burned to his face. Xia Yan glanced at him, then at his unmoved sister, and shook his head as he lowered his eyes to do homework.
When Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning had finished their flowing compositions and started on math homework, Zhang Yukun started chewing his pen again and Lai Ning also started to grimace again.
Seeing them like this, Nie Qingzhou nudged Xia Yi's elbow: "Do you have time?"
Xia Yi looked up: "What's up?"
"Can you help explain the homework problems to them? My approach to solving math problems is different from yours, and I might mislead them if I explain it."
Nie Qingzhou signaled Zhang Yukun with his eyes, who thought that his moment as a wingman had finally arrived, and immediately played along: "Yeah, Xia Yi please help us. We've been looking at it half a day and still don't get it."
As he spoke, he even pulled Lai Ning, who quickly followed suit.
Seeing their weak and pitiful looks, Xia Yi fell silent for a moment before pulling their homework over: "Which question?"
"This one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one."
Zhang Yukun waved his pen around wildly. Nie Qingzhou watched thinking perhaps he could just directly say which questions she can solve faster.
But Xia Yi didn't complain about the number of questions. She quietly thought for a bit before starting to explain each problem's thought process to them. Her approach was very clear but she spoke very simply. Sometimes when Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning didn't understand, Nie Qingzhou would add explanations from the side. As he explained, Xia Yi would stop and listen to him, and when he finished, she would continue his train of thought.
The two cooperated seamlessly. Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning soon forgot they had come to play wingmen, and instead received a thorough baptism of knowledge from head to toe.
After a day of group study time, Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning felt they had helped improve Xia Yi and Nie Qingzhou's interactions and brought out their tacit understanding, and were very satisfied. Nie Qingzhou felt he finally managed to stuff knowledge into Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning's brains, and was also very satisfied.
This was truly a win-win cooperation.
Xia Yi, on the other hand, felt Nie Qingzhou had been acting a bit strange recently. Though he was injured, he seemed very happy, occasionally laughing until it hurt his wounds.
Nie Qingzhou's friends were also a bit strange. They often have inexplicable expectant looks in their eyes with occasional howls of excitement.
When they were leaving his house on Sunday after finishing their homework, he held his chin while twirling a pen, and sighed: "Being a teacher really isn't easy."
"Aren't you angry? They got you injured."
"Of course I was angry, and I've been angry and scolded them too. But I guess, they probably forgot as soon as they turned their heads."
Nie Qingzhou pointed at Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning's receding figures outside the window, and said: "What I think they need most now, are things that can build their confidence and help them realize their self-worth. Bullying others is because they want to show their strength through bullying them, which precisely proves their own weakness and hollowness. Telling them not to bully is useless; they need to fill that void."
She stood there watching him with her school bag on her back. He sat at the dining table, with a dimly lit chandelier light overhead, its thousands rays intricately seeping into the darkness.
Just like the day she first met him, he slowly emitted light, patiently permeating the darkness, tirelessly taking delight in it.
Nie Qingzhou's wounds were still healing, making him immobile, so he continued to recuperate at home after the weekend. However, when Xia Yi went to pick up Xia Yan from school on Monday, she saw a crowd of people gathered at their house, people of all heights and sizes, pointing and gesturing with their arms.
This scene was very familiar.
Xia Yan immediately jumped out of the backseat and struggled to make his way there. Xia Yi swiftly parked the bike and squeezed into the crowd, abruptly hearing a loud shout when she reached the front.
"Lao Wu, open your eyes and see how they're treating us widow and orphan! They will die a terrible death!"
A woman of average height, wearing a dull gray thin jacket shouted to the sky while stomping her feet. She was so thin that her cheeks were sunken in, complexion waxen, and she looked extremely haggard, but her voice was shrill and loud.
Her daughter was around fourteen or fifteen, wearing a pink sweater, stood to one side with her head down.
On the opposite side of the woman stood Grandma Xia and Nie Qingzhou. Nie Qingzhou opened his arms shielding Grandma Xia behind him, staring at the woman with a solemn expression.
"Stop making trouble. How many times have we moved houses? Will you be satisfied only when you drive me to death?" Grandma Xia's eyes were filled with tears as she spoke in a trembling voice.
"Who's making trouble? You make it clear..." Seeing Nie Qingzhou protecting Grandma Xia, the woman reached to grab him, "Get out of the way, adults are talking, what are you kids interfering for!"
Before the woman could grab Nie Qingzhou's arm, a strong force suddenly grabbed her from a diagonal angle and pushed her back. It was quite strong. She staggered back two steps before standing firm. By then the person was already standing by Nie Qingzhou's side.
Xia Yi raised her hand to block in front of Nie Qingzhou, saying: "He's injured, don't touch him."
Seeing Xia Yi clearly, the middle-aged woman pointed at her excitedly: "So it's you! You used to call me Auntie Yang. Your father killed my husband, and now you dare to act tough! You still dare to push me!"
Xia Yi's gaze darkened as she faced the yelling woman.
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