Striving for Science Chapters List

Chapter 8: Grandpa Zhang

"What a nice name."

Shen Changan had read in articles before that a pleasing voice gives the feeling of clouds floating and a gentle breeze passing through green mountains and rivers, accompanied by the tinkling sounds of jade pendants.

He used to think it was just an exaggerated rhetorical technique of literati, but at this moment, he finally understood that those articles were not deceiving; it was his own lack of exposure that made him unable to appreciate it fully.

He stared at Dao Nian in a daze for several seconds before finally saying, "So... you can speak."

Dao Nian fell silent again.

Liu Mao chuckled and explained, "Our Sir doesn't like to talk much, please bear with him."

Shen Changan nodded in understanding. Having a disability might lead to missing out on many interesting activities, which might lead to silence or even an aversion to speaking.

However, if someone keeps bottling up their thoughts and avoids communication for too long, it could lead to psychological issues.

"If Mr. Dao Nian, if you don't like to talk, you can communicate with me online." Shen Changan squatted in front of Dao Nian and took out his phone. "Let's add each other on WeChat."

Dao Nian looked at the phone that Shen Changan held, expressionless, then turned to look at Liu Mao.

Liu Mao quickly took out a mobile phone from his pocket and with both hands, he handed it to Dao Nian, "Sir, you can use this one."

"You add me." Dao Nian handed the phone to Shen Changan.

He has such a melodious voice, and such a handsome face; both are carbon-based life forms, how could there be such a stark contrast?

The phone was brand new, with almost no signs of use. Besides the pre-installed system software, there wasn't even a single entertainment app on the home screen.

"Mr. Dao Nian hasn't registered a WeChat account yet. Should I help you register one?"

Dao Nian nodded slowly.

After registering the account and adding each other as friends, Shen Changan smiled at him. "Well, I'm going home now. See you next time."

Dao Nian's lips twitched, as if he wanted to smile back at him, but the curvature of that smile was so small, it could be easily overlooked.

Shen Changan wouldn't dwell on such things. He waved his hand and gracefully walked out of the alley, his figure casting a long shadow behind him in the light of the street lamps.

"That Mr. Shen is quite enthusiastic, hahaha." Liu Mao awkwardly laughed a few times and cautiously assessed Dao Nian's expression.

"Mm," Dao Nian closed his eyes and finally uttered a single word.

After devouring a large box of barbecue, he felt hungry again before midnight. Shen Changan got up and made a bowl of noodles for himself. As he was eating, he heard heavy footsteps downstairs. However, there was something off about the sound of those footsteps.

Setting down his chopsticks, he casually picked up a baseball bat from the wall, opening the front door a crack. There was no one outside, but the footsteps sounded like they were coming from the third floor.

Crouching down, he walked out of the room, and stealthily approached the staircase, peering down.

It wouldn't matter if didn't look, as he was startled when he did. The person in the stairwell wasn't a thief or a drunkard; it was the old man from downstairs, wearing tai chi practice clothes.

The old man still had his Tai Chi sword strapped to his back, and he was covered in dust, as if he had been rolling on the ground.

"Are you alright, Grandpa?" Placing the baseball bat against the wall, Shen Changan scurried downstairs in three steps.

The old man's body stiffened. He held onto the railing, looked at Shen Changan who had jumped in front of him, and brushed off the dust from his body before saying, "Ah, it's you. Why aren't you sleeping in the middle of the night? What are you doing at this hour ah?"

Seeing the old man's reaction, Shen Changan understood that the old man must have become confused for a while, either lost or perhaps had a fall, but out of pride, he didn't want to admit it. Shen Changan wisely didn't ask further and reached out to support the old man. "I felt hungry, so I got up to make a bowl of noodles."

This time, the old man didn't push him away.

After helping the old man back to his home, Shen Changan noticed a bagua diagram, statues of Three Pure Ones, and an ancestor shrine for the founder and gods inside the house.

[T/N: bā guà tú- a diagram of the eight divinatory trigrams of the Book of Changes, sān qīng- The Three Pure Ones are the three highest gods in the Taoist pantheon. They are regarded as pure manifestations of the Tao and the origin of all sentient beings, along with the "lords of the Three Life Principles or 'Breaths' (qi)". They were also gods who were "associated with the sky, the earth and the underworld." They were thought to be able to control and have power over time in various ways. They were seen as literally the "Past, Present, and Future."]

It seemed like a devout Taoist follower, which explained why he often wore tai chi practice clothes and carried the tai chi sword.

"Have you eaten, Grandpa?" In order not to let the old man feel ashamed, Shen Changan carefully examined him and, not finding any obvious injuries on his face or hands, he offered to make a bowl of noodles for him.

The blood vessels and brain of elderly people are fragile, and sometimes the effects of a fall aren't immediately apparent. If a sudden illness occurs in the middle of the night with no one watching, it could be troublesome.

His tendency to meddle in other people's affairs might have been inherited from his father. He couldn't stand seeing the elderly, weak, sick, and disabled left alone, being ignored, so he had to be nosy.

"Eating so much in the middle of the night isn't good for your health." The old man hummed and responded coldly, "No eggs, less oil, and add a handful of greens."

Shen Changan: "..."

Eating noodles with greens in the middle of the night is considered healthy?! How big of a difference is there compared to staying up all night dancing and brewing goji berries in a thermos cup?

Entering the kitchen, Shen Changan began boiling water and searched the refrigerator for ingredients.

The old man lived alone, but his fridge was quite well-stocked, especially with neatly arranged bottles of pills that occupied the entire middle shelf.

Not wanting the elderly man to overeat and suffer indigestion at night, Shen Changan cooked some extra dishes. By the time he brought the noodles to the table, the old man had changed into clean clothes and prepared a cup of tea for him.

Holding the steaming cup of tea, Shen Changan felt a little flattered.

The aroma was so delightful and refreshing, it uplifted his spirits, and before he knew it, he had finished the entire cup.

"In the future, when you visit someone's home, don't just drink whatever they offer you. Young people should be more discerning," the old man said, setting down his chopsticks and wiping his mouth. "I'm done eating; you can go wash the dishes now."

Shen Changan: "..."

Forget it, forget it. Respecting the elderly and loving the young is a traditional virtue of the Chinese people. He picked up the bowl and went into the kitchen to clean up the pots and pans. When he turned around, he saw the old man still sitting at the dining table. So, he asked, "Grandpa, the tea you brewed tastes amazing."

Looking at the young man happily washing the dishes in the kitchen, the old man snorted lightly. "It's made with millennium Ganoderma lucidum, of course, it tastes good."

Millennium Ganoderma lucidum...

It turned out, this old man not only had a weird temper and cherished his pride, but he also liked to brag. Rather than exposing his lie, Shen Changan simply complimented him after tidying up the kitchen.

"Since you like it so much, I can give you a box," the old man said, taking out a wooden box from a cupboard and stuffed it into Shen Changan's arms, with a look of 'young people who have never seen the world'.

"Oh, how can I accept this?"

"If you don't take it, are you looking down on me?" The old man's strange temper flared up again.

Shen Changan had no choice but to accept the gift with a smile.

After receiving the present, Shen Changan shamelessly stayed at the old man's place for another couple of hours. Seeing that the old man's complexion gradually returned to normal and he had the strength to roll his eyes, he knew that the old man must be fine.

Then he was kicked out by the old man.

The old man stood inside, pressing his hand on the door, with displeasure written all over his face: "My surname is Zhang, don't call me 'grandpa', am I not worthy of having a name?"

With a loud bang, the door once again closed in front of Shen Changan.

You old man has such a big temper, of course, you have a name. But you didn't tell me your name either. With the box of "millennium Ganoderma" that Grandpa Zhang had forcibly stuffed to him, he returned home and fell asleep in a daze.

It was already two or three in the morning, and he had to go to work the next day.

The next day, Shen Changan, who suffered from severe sleep deprivation, arrived at the office, only to see Ding Yang looking at him with a sly grin. "Changan, what did you do last night? Your complexion is so rosy and radiant."

"Stop joking with me." Yawning, Shen Changan sat down on his seat, "Last night the old man living alone downstairs from me fell somewhere and was covered in dust all over his body. I was worried about him, so I stayed with him until midnight before going back to my room to sleep."

Ding Yang leaned closer to him, inspecting him. No dark circles, no haggardness; rather his skin was so good that one might suspect he had gotten some beauty treatments.

"After staying up all night your skin still looks this good. You're a public enemy." Ding Yang said, perching on his desk and then whispered, "Hey, have you heard about it?"

"Heard about what?" Shen Changan asked, intrigued by Ding Yang's mysterious expression. "You have won a tens of millions jackpot."

"You won't believe it, but I heard that there's something strange going on in that road we traveled through when it was raining in the corn village," Ding Yang lowered his voice. "Remember when someone was flagging down cars, and it turned out to be a tree stump?"

"If I really won the lottery, why would I still bother coming to work?" Ding Yang scoffed. "I'm talking about Yumi Village, do you remember that time we went there during heavy rain?"

"Yes, and then?"

"Didn't I tell you that someone was waving to stop our car on the road, but eventually it turned out to be a tree stump?" Ding Yang whispered, lowering his voice. "But recently, several people have been saying that that section of road is haunted. Several drivers claimed they saw a man waving them down, asking for a ride home to see his wife and kids. In the end, guess what, when they drove to the destination, there was no man wanting to go home or anything... he simply vanished into thin air."

"Have you heard about this too?" Chen Panpan walked over and pulled out her phone. "A local Weibo public account was also talking about it, but the article got deleted due to promoting feudal superstition. Luckily, I was quick and managed to screenshot it beforehand."

As Ding Yang and Chen Panpan continued to chat, the details of the incident unfolded as if they had witnessed it firsthand. Shen Changan got up to brew himself a strong cup of tea, which was brought by his colleague, Aunt Juan. The taste was average, but it was invigorating, especially since their department's work was both hectic and monotonous. Without some tea to keep them alert, they'd probably all be napping at their desks.

Half an hour later, Ding Yang received a call from Director Du, asking him to conduct an on-site investigation that evening. They needed to address the online rumors about the ghostly hitchhiker and find the truth behind it, dispelling any supernatural myths.

"Ugh, another night shift," Ding Yang wailed. "Daddy Changan, will you accompany me to the scene to shoot tonight?"

When begging, Ding Yang was particularly principled, the principle being that if he could do something by calling someone "Dad", he would never call him "Grandpa".

Seeing his pitiful expression, Shen Changan pondered for a moment and replied, "I don't have a son as timid as you."

"I'll treat you to spicy hot pot at noon, Daddy Changan, please love me once more."

Chen Panpan chimed in, "Changan has only been working here for a month, yet he's already accompanied you, the 'waste' son, on several field trips. You should show some face."

Gao Shujuan shook her head in disbelief while thinking, young people these days really don't pay attention to social decorum. They casually called people "Dad" without any proper relationship.

Finally, Shen Changan accepted Ding Yang's treat of spicy hot pot and agreed to go with him that night.

Back at home, Shen Changan felt a bit thirsty and casually grabbed the bottled water on the coffee table, downing half of it in one gulp.

Then he suddenly remembered that this bottle of water seemed to be given to him by Dao Nian.

Opening WeChat, Dao Nian's profile picture was still the default gray silhouette, and his name was a single character Shen Changan had entered yesterday: Dao.

Changan: Mr. Dao Nian, have you had dinner?

There was no response, but Shen Changan didn't mind and continued to send messages.

Changan: I'll be working overtime tonight, so I'm destined to stay up all night.

Changan: Wishing you sweet dreams tonight.

For someone who avoids social interaction, some moderate text exchange might help him, but being overly enthusiastic could cause resistance.

After sending these messages, he stopped and changed into a set of long-sleeved clothes, waiting for Ding Yang to arrive.

After 9 p.m., Ding Yang's car arrived outside the community. When Shen Changan got into the car, he noticed that Ding Yang had a bagua diagram, a Guanyin figurine, and a cross hanging around his neck.

Looking at the hand gripping the steering wheel, there were red strings, Buddhist prayer beads, and also a Pixiu jade bead bracelet.

"You...won't you even wear the red waist belt?"

[T/N: In many Asian cultures, including Chinese, red is a symbol of luck that holds the power to dispel negativity. Red bracelets are believed to guard the wearer against evil spirits and misfortune. Wearing these vibrant accessories is thought to bring strength, love, and good fortune, while shielding the wearer from the malevolent gaze of the Evil Eye.]

"Truly worthy of a top student from a prestigious university; you even guessed that." Ding Yang patted the pocket on his chest. "Especially the photo of the great people, this one must not be forgotten."

Shen Changan: "..."

"Forget it, it's better for me to drive today."

With such a large collection of items on his wrist, driving, a skill-based task, might not be the best idea.

With such a large string of things on your wrist, don't come to challenge driving, which requires technological skills.


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