Author: Yin Ya
The road which lead to the temple at the summit of Mount Feng Xia was not easy to reach. Some sections of the road were steep, and others were overgrown with weeds.
When ordinary people would go hiking to the top, they would feel fearful, as if they were thinking that they could fall anytime. However, Wang Cheng was already accustomed with it. While others would take 1-2 hours to ascend and descend the mountain, he would only need half an hour to do so.
As soon as he reached the entrance of the Wang Family Village, his eldest and second eldest aunts’ figures could no longer be seen under the great willow tree. They probably felt bored and returned to their own homes.
When Wang Cheng did not see the figure of Mama Wang, he was not surprised. He brought down a few sets of clothing and folded them into the wardrobe. The wardrobe was relatively small and there were already some clothes inside it. They were his eldest brother’s who worked in the city. However, there were not many left as he brought most of it with him to the city.
In their family, perhaps Wang Cheng was the one with the least number of clothes, but he did not dislike this fact.
After living with the old monk for 18 years, he developed many habits. One of them was frugality. The old monk said that frugality was a good habit to have, but he thought that it was lack of money that was the actual reason; however, the old monk never acknowledged this.
Papa Wang and Mama Wang had not come back home yet. The two agreed to go to the Guan Family Village this morning. That village was Mama Wang’s maiden home. When Wang Cheng sent news that he would come to visit, they were already on their way to the Guan Family Village and would not be back for lunch to eat. His younger sister was in Uncle Zhang’s baozi shop for lunch, so no one would be back, leaving him all alone at home.
Wang Cheng touched his tummy that had been making a noise and decided to make lunch now. The ingredients were readily available as Mama Wang had the habit of hoarding food. She would buy some food with longer shelf life. They would eat them for a few days and when there were leftovers, it would be put back to the fridge.
Wang Cheng took some noodles out of the fridge, as well as tomatoes, cabbage and leeks and other ingredients. The fish was the grass carp that Mama Wang just bought from the market this morning. It was very fresh and very lively in the bucket. He was not prepared to starve himself; thus, once he finished gathering the needed ingredients, he started making a bowl of savory stir-fried fish noodles.
His skill, that was honed by the fact that the old monk never cooked for eighteen years, was even better than Mama Wang’s. Wang Cheng had once suspected that the purpose of the old monk to adopt him was, in fact, just to find someone to cook for him and to get rid of the tragic conditions where he needed going down the mountain to eat a real meal or be stuck up there eating baozi in the temple.
Wang Cheng was skilled in cutting the head and tail of the grass carp. He cut the fish into two parts then cut it into strips.
Monks should not take the life of a living creature.
That was sheer nonsense!
Not to mention, he was preparing himself to leave the monastic order. The old monk never taught him about spiritual matters. He could still remember that moment when he learned how to cook. The old monk threw a live chicken at him and told him to make a roasted chicken out of it. It was his first kill. The chicken, with its throat cut, was running around the kitchen. This made the kitchen full of chicken blood. The image of it was quite shocking and traumatized him. The hateful old monk would catch pheasants and make him kill one every two days so that he could ‘help’ him overcome his trauma.
The process of making stir-fried fish noodles might seem a little complicated; however, Wang Cheng finished making it within a few moments. As he put the savory fish on top of the noodles, the overflowing fragrance came out and made it very appetizing.
This used to be the old monk’s favorite dish. The fish could just be caught in the river, and it was not necessary for it to be a grass carp. This would mean it was free fish. While the noodles were not expensive, buying flour was cheaper, and other spices that were accumulated in advance could be preserved in cans and could be eaten a long time.
After Wang Cheng finished cooking the fish, he brought the dish out of the kitchen. As soon as he was about to sit down, he remembered that he forgot to get chopsticks. When he returned to the kitchen to grab a pair of chopsticks, he heard someone knocking at the door.
“Excuse me, is anybody home?”
Wang Cheng walked out only to see two well-dressed men standing in their front yard. Their appearance showed that they came from the big city. When he looked at them with a surprised expression, the other party automatically introduced themselves and their purpose.
— Hua Ying Real Estate
These four words were very popular recently in Wang Family Village as it was the name of the company that acquired the land from them. Since the company’s offer was not as low as the other developers who deliberately profiteered to cut costs, they had a good reputation in the village.
Wang Cheng led them into the house. Although their home was small, it was very clean.
The one wearing a suit was called Zhang Yiheng, who was obviously this visit’s man-in-charge. He was carrying a black suitcase and his elite presence looked out of place in their house. Fang Tian was his assistant. He was about 20 years old. He looked a bit like a college student who just graduated. When they saw the condition of Wang Cheng’s house, they subconsciously frowned.