When God Says Let There Be LightChapters List
Chapter 23: Reconciliation
On the second day of his injury, Nie Qingzhou, bored and listless, sat leaning on his head at the Xia family grocery counter. He was helping Grandma Xia look after the shop while reading "The Collection of Chekhov's Short Stories," a book he borrowed from the library. Suddenly, he heard a knock on the door from the hallway, a middle-aged woman's voice saying—Is anyone home?
Nie Qingzhou felt like they were knocking on his door.
So, he stuck his head out from the grocery store and shouted loudly, "Who are you looking for?"
Sticking his head out pulled on his back injury. He frowned and saw a fair, fat, middle-aged woman in his sight. She was not tall and apparently because her body was too bulky and clumsy, when she walked she swayed left and right like a penguin, and upon all that she was wearing a dazzling purple outfit. Behind that plump middle-aged woman, a similarly plump boy was also following closely.
It was Wu Siyuan.
Nie Qingzhou was momentarily stunned, then turned and shouted, "Grandma Xia! I need to leave for a bit; you'll have to watch the store!"
Grandma Xia in the kitchen put down the half-peeled green soybeans she was peeling and wiped her hands on her clothes: "Coming, coming."
Nie Qingzhou then walked out from behind the counter and moved slowly towards the excitedly approaching middle-aged woman, saying: "Don't talk here, let's go somewhere with no one around."
In the quiet alley behind the buildings, Wu Siyuan's mother, flushed with excitement, grabbed Nie Qingzhou's hand and spoke with a trembling voice: "I'm sorry, I'm really sorry. Thank you for not pursuing our son; otherwise he really would have been finished. My son, he's usually not this kind of person, he's very well-behaved, he doesn't even talk loudly. I don't know what happened this time, he just went crazy, I'm really sorry, sorry, auntie bows to you."
Nie Qingzhou immediately supported Wu Siyuan's mother's arm with one hand, wincing in pain as he pulled her up: "Auntie, Auntie! You don't have to do this, there's no need for this."
Wu Siyuan's mother pulled Wu Siyuan's arm over, pressing his head down to bow as well and scolded: "You child, what are you standing there for! Quick, apologize to him quickly! What's wrong with your brain, you dare to bring a knife to school and hurt people! Growing up to walk on this kind of crooked path, how did mum teach you to become like this!"
Nie Qingzhou held her hand, stopping her from pressing down on Wu Siyuan. He looked at Wu Siyuan, who had lowered his head, tears hanging in his eyes with a mix of fear and resentment. However, he stubbornly gritted his teeth and kept silent.
"Auntie, I don't know what the teacher told you. But Wu Siyuan doesn't need to apologize to me. I also absolutely won't bring up this matter to anyone else. Don't worry, he can continue to study peacefully at school in the future."
After Nie Qingzhou said this, Wu Siyuan raised his head, staring at him with lingering fear and suspicion in his eyes.
Nie Qingzhou then turned to look at Wu Siyuan's mother and spoke seriously: "I don't know if Wu Siyuan has told you, but he is often bullied in school. Sometimes it's personal attacks on his appearance, sometimes it's an indirect extortion of pocket money, but luckily it hasn't escalated to physical conflicts."
Wu Siyuan's mother was momentarily stunned. When the teacher called her, he mentioned that Wu Siyuan had hurt someone because he was being bullied, but they didn't go into such detail.
She turned her head to look at Wu Siyuan: "Just these things? Were these things worth you bringing a knife for? You're going to piss me off......"
Wu Siyuan's gaze darkened even more, and he lowered his head in despair. Nie Qingzhou was stunned for a moment, then frowned.
At this moment he realized why Wu Siyuan didn't tell his parents about being bullied.
"Auntie, this is not 'just these things'; it's important. Everyone has their self-esteem, and endurance has its limits. When he is wronged outside, you should be there to support him. If he could have told you about these things earlier, if you could have stood up for him, maybe he wouldn't have resorted to using a knife to protect himself yesterday." Nie Qingzhou looked into Wu Siyuan's mother's eyes and spoke solemnly, "You are his mother, the person closest to him in this world. At the very least, you should cherish him, comfort him, and protect him."
"Also you mentioned that Wu Siyuan is very well-behaved and never raises his voice. I don't think that's a good thing. He needs to learn to stand up for himself, speak out loudly when bullied, and resist in the right way. The way he is now, even if we don't bully him, others will in the future."
Wu Siyuan's mother looked at Nie Qingzhou in shock, as if she couldn't imagine hearing such words from him. Wu Siyuan, on the other hand, had already started crying, tears gushing out uncontrollably down his face.
After finishing his words, Nie Qingzhou took a deep breath, seeming to regret his earlier fervor. He fell silent for a moment before saying, "I... I don't mean to point fingers at your parenting style. Do you know, the reason why Wu Siyuan was so angry was that my friend said insulting things about you, and he couldn't bear it."
"I just feel Wu Siyuan actually loves you a lot and he must hope that you can protect him more."
After saying this, Nie Qingzhou took two steps back, enduring the pain in his back as he slowly bent down, bowing to them: "Also, I apologize to you both for what my friend did before, I'm very sorry, it will absolutely never happen again."
Wu Siyuan seemed unable to hold back anymore. He suddenly crouched down on the ground, letting out a loud wail. From Nie Qingzhou's perspective, he saw Wu Siyuan's large frame curling up, as he buried his head in his arms, sobbing to the point where his shoulders shook.
It seemed like this child had silently endured for a long time, impulsively made a mistake, been forcibly made to apologize to the people who used to bully him. All the anxiety and grievances that had accumulated inside him were finally seen and spoken out loud, shattering him on the ground.
His mother stretched out her arms from above, hugging his shoulders; she seemed to be crying too.
Finally, Nie Qingzhou watched the retreating backs of the mother and son embracing in the sunlight from the small alleyway. He stood in the alley, the sea breeze wound its way through here, making the evergreen trees rustle softly.
He walked forward slowly, reminiscing about his time when he was a class monitor in university and often helped the counselor deal with daily affairs of the students in his class, which later developed into helping handle daily matters of the whole grade. He had seen all kinds of students, all kinds of parents, and most of the time the disease had become chronic, gone too far to be undone.
Would sixteen be better than nineteen, would there be a little more that could be changed and remedied?
The counselor had said - Why don't you take over my position after you graduate? Someone like you who considers others' happiness as their own happiness would be most suitable to be a counselor.
What did he say at the time?
Nie Qingzhou tilted his head back, sunlight casting a glow on his face, and he squinted slightly.
He said, "It's impossible. I don't want to upset my parents."
—-You are his mother, the person closest to him in this world. At the very least, you should cherish him, comfort him, and protect him.
Nie Qingzhou sighed heavily, smiling wryly as he muttered to himself, "It doesn't hurt to talk while standing aside; who's better than whom?"
His parents, at this moment, were proud parents of a son who had been admitted to a prestigious experimental class with outstanding grades. Subsequently, this son, to save face for his parents, would choose a science stream as they wished, enroll in the best major at a university among the renowned 985 university, go abroad to participate in international exchanges, do internships at reputable companies, accumulate experience, and eventually secure a "promising" and "stable" job. He was supposed to get married, buy a house in a good school district, pay off the mortgage, struggle up through the ranks of the corporate ladder to mid-to-senior management, commanding employees as he was once ordered around, slowly becoming worldly and greasy. Although he didn't particularly like this life, he couldn't pinpoint exactly what was wrong with it.
[Note: Project 985 is a boosting project to promote the Chinese higher education system as called for by President Jiang Zemin at the 100th anniversary of Peking University on May 4, 1998 . The objective is to develop, in cooperation with the local government, several top universities to be world-leading.]
But he didn't get that chance. He fell into this place from ten years ago, like Alice tumbling into the rabbit hole, encountering a wonderland he had never imagined.
As he reached the gate of 'Xia's Grocery', Xia Yi had just picked up Xia Yan from school. She stopped the bicycle, and Xia Yan limped into the house.
At this moment she turned back to look at him. The wind blew her short hair around, her eyes were as dark as ink, half her body bathed in the afterglow of the setting sun, like the living embodiment of the word "wonderland".
This was his rabbit lady, Xia Yi.
Like a cat, like a seagull, like a rabbit—his highest priority, Xia Yi.
She didn't say anything, just nodded at him, then turned to ride her bike, disappearing along the sunlit street.
Nie Qingzhou stood at the intersection, watching for a long time.
In the evening, Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning appeared at Nie Qingzhou's home again.
Because they had to bring homework and notes to Nie Qingzhou every night, Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning simply asked their class teacher for leave from the evening self-study for a week. Now they were spending their evenings studying with Nie Qingzhou.
"Teacher Li actually agreed?" Nie Qingzhou asked, glancing up at the two as he worked on his assignments.
Zhang Yukun nibbled on the end of his pen as he struggled out of the quagmire of assignments, saying, "Teacher Li initially didn't want to agree at first; his eyes almost popped out with anger. But Teacher Zhang was there to speak up for us, so Teacher Li finally allowed it."
Lai Ning also added in: "These past few days, the school, for some reason, decided to have an anti school violence week. Teacher Li talked for a long time on the podium in class, and I saw Wu Siyuan's face turn pale."
Zhang Yukun immediately raised his hand: "I promise, me and Lai Ning didn't say a single word outside, and there are no rumors in school."
Nie Qingzhou waved his hand, "I know. Stop biting your pen. Which question don't you understand? Let me take a look."
Zhang Yukun laughed, scratching the back of his head: "Zhou Ge, how is your brain so smart? You're so good at both basketball and studies, but why hasn't Xia Yi been moved by you?"
Nie Qingzhou grinned, half-smirking, "Maybe we're better off this way."
"No no no."
After countless failed attempts to deny that he liked Xia Yi, and being unable to explain his preferential treatment of Xia Yi, Nie Qingzhou finally resigned himself to his fate and stopped trying to clarify. He should have understood earlier; just like his cousin firmly believed in Xia Yi and Nie Qingzhou being together ten years from now, Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning also held an unwavering belief. They would not shed tears until seeing the coffin board.
So his narrative shifted from "I don't like Xia Yi, I'm not pursuing her", to "I like Xia Yi, I pursued her before, but she rejected me; she doesn't like me."
Lai Ning's eyes lit up, showing rare cleverness, "Hey, aren't we supposed to come to Zhou Ge's house to do homework until the weekend? Zhou Ge, why not invite Xia Yi as well, just say we can all study together, sharing ideas and learning more efficiently!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah! If you invite Xia Yi alone, she might refuse, but with us around, it'll be fine. We promise to be your good wingmen!" Zhang Yukun also eagerly added from the side.
Nie Qingzhou crossed his arms and looked at the two people. After thinking for a moment, he slowly showed a big smile: "I think that's a good idea."
It just so happened that he felt it was getting a bit challenging for him to handle these two alone.
It was time to invite another teacher.
Lai Ning and Zhang Yukun laughed happily, unaware that they had signed themselves up for an additional tutoring class.
Nie Qingzhou repeatedly warned Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning not to talk nonsense in front of Xia Yi, and not to spread rumors about them. So, the Nie family’s collective homework class opened this way.
A circle of people sat around the dining table at Nie's house - Nie Qingzhou, Xia Yi, Xia Yan, Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning. Homework and reference books were spread across the table, creating an intense learning atmosphere. Chemistry was Nie Qingzhou's weakest point among all his subjects, especially the experimental parts. When he was doing homework, he would occasionally discuss some questions with Xia Yi. Xia Yi would lower her eyes to look at the question he was pointing at, and the two of them would slowly get closer.
Whenever this happened, Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning would show some inexplicable excitement.
After Nie Qingzhou and Xia Yi finished discussing, he glanced over and saw Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning's gleaming eyes, and their still blank notebooks. He frowned and tapped his finger on the table.
"What are you two doing? Why are your notebooks still blank?"
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