Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 71: Childhood
Zhang Siyi wondered how he could have met Gu Yu when he was a child. However, the city isn’t so big, so Zhang Siyi shouldn’t be so surprised. Gu Yu’s father is a construction engineer and since Zhang Siyi father is in the government of the construction management department, their lives would inevitably intersect. He didn’t expect Father Gu to explain.
“Uncle Gu, do you know my father? “Zhang Siyi asked.
“I don’t know him well, but I remember him clearly. Even though I have only met him a few times, I know your father is honest, fair and a good official, so I was very impressed by him.” Father Gu replied with a simple evaluation then continued: “It was about twenty-two years ago when I was a young engineer. I had to go to the government building for a report and my son was with me.”
Gu Yu’s sister suddenly interrupted: “Hey, if you had to go report why did you take brother? Where was I?”
Father Gu explained: “At the time your grandmother fell ill so your mother took you to Grandma’s house to care for her. Your brother had school so he couldn’t go. On Saturday when I went to hand in the report, he went with me on the train to the government buildings.”
Gu Yu’s sister nodded: “Oh, I see. That’s why.”
Father Gu: “I let him wait for me outside while I went inside. I don’t know what happened while I was gone, but when I returned, I saw him playing on a bench in the corridor with a child.”
Zhang Siyi pointed to his nose: “The ‘child’ is me?”
Father Gu smiled and looked at him: “Yes. My son was teaching you to count. You already counted to three hundred. He said three-hundred-one and you repeated three-hundred-one then he said three-hundred-two and you followed with three-hundred-two. The two of you drinking milk, one with self-approbation and the other in a baby voice with clear enunciation…… Ha-Ha-Ha…. that scene was so cute.”
Zhang Siyi felt embarrassed and asked: “Why were we counting there?”
Gu Yu turned to look at him and said: “Since you couldn’t find your dad, you were crying and wouldn’t stop. The staff member in your dad’s office didn’t know what to do. He saw me outside and since we were both children, he thought we could play together. The staffer entrusted you to me, but also made you call me brother.
Zhang Siyi: “……”
Gu Yu went on to say: “You were pulling on my pant leg asking me if I knew where your dad was. I didn’t know who your father was, but I guessed he was probably inside in one of the conference rooms. I made up a story telling you that my father and your dad were together looking for delicious food for us. You were drooling all over my pant leg, asking me when they will be back so I told you that if we count to five-hundred together, they will be back. You just stupidly followed me.”
Zhang Siyi: “……” o(╯□╰)o
Through their description, Zhang Siyi can imagine the scene clearly. It’s no wonder Gu Yu called him ‘stupid’. Zhang Siyi suddenly felt irritated. Very stupid! It’s unfair that Gu Yu has seen his embarrassing past, but Zhang Siyi didn’t know anything about Gu Yu’s black history. Next to them, Gu Yu sister was listening with rapt attention. She glanced at Zhang Siyi with empathy and smiled. She said: “Elder brother, you also used that ploy with others. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
Zhang Siyi looked at her curiously and wanted to know what she meant by that remark.
Gu Yu’s sister was filled with indignation: “He has been lying to me since childhood! Every time I asked about when mom and dad would be back, he said by the time you counted to five-hundred, they would come back. From a young age, I don’t know how many times I’ve been cheated by him!”
Gu Yu gave two peeled grapefruit slices to Zhang Siyi and lost two to his sister and said: “When did I lie to you? Didn’t they come back before five-hundred every time?”
Exasperated, his sister explained: “Obviously, you weren’t honest when you counted! You said five-hundred but you would never reach 500. You would count 111 – 119, but then start counting backwards, 118, 117, 116… Every ten digits or so you would go back and forth. I was fooled by you for several years. It wasn’t until I was old enough in elementary school that I found something wrong!”
Gu Yu slowly peeled the grapefruit meat off the rinds and put it into his mouth. He ate and said: “Who promised to follow the number linearly? I certainly did not.”
Zhang Siyi: “……” Why does this scene look so familiar?”
Gu Yu didn’t let her go and continued his verbal onslaught: “Okay, your mathematics performance is so good since childhood. Half of the credit belongs to me so instead of thanking me you blame me. Really, you have no conscience.”
His Sister’s face was black and blue with anger. She pointed at her brother and retorted in a shrill voice: ”Nonsense! My good math skills are clearly due to father’s genetics. If I relied on your method of counting, I would have failed math!”
Father Gu laughed and interrupted them in a timely manner: “Well, well, don’t argue, now it’s all right.”
Father Gu continued to explain about the past: “When we all came out of the building, you were still counting insisting that you weren’t finished yet. We laughed and teased you knowing that you were the son of Director Zhang. When it was time to leave you cried miserably and held onto him yelling ‘Brother’. You wouldn’t listen to anyone.
Father Gu paused. Thinking of the scene from the past, he tried not to laugh.
Looking down at the floor, Zhang Siyi’s cheeks were hot. Is this really him? He does not believe it!
With empathy that turned to sympathy, Gu Yu’s younger sister looked at Zhang Siyi, also suppressing laughter. She didn’t understand why Zhang Siyi didn’t look at the bright side of things.
Father Gu said again: “You were crying so loud at the time. All the adults were troubled and at a loss what to do. Then Yu picked you up and said ‘Don’t cry. It’s ok.’ and like magic, you stopped crying. All the adults were in a daze.”
Zhang Siyi desperately tried to brainwash himself, it must not be him, not him, not him …
Father Gu then described: “Even though you stopped crying, your eyes were still full of tears. You looked at Yu yelled a heart-wrenching ‘Brother!’. The group of adults were distressed feeling that the situation was both funny and difficult. Since you were so reluctant to give up, Director Zhang also joked and said to bring you home and raise you as a son.”
Zhang Siyi: “……” Fuck! That’s what his father said!
Father Gu: “Unfortunately, we were in a rush and needed to leave otherwise we would have let you play. Your Father knew we needed to leave, so when he went to take you away, you started hysterically crying again. Yu gave you a Kong-Ming lock telling you……”
Gu Yu suddenly interrupted coughing: “Dad… no need to say.” His was a little red, blinking rapidly and trembling: “It was so long ago. He would have forgotten.”
Zhang Siyi really wanted to know what was said: “Well, what did you say?”
Father Gu sat on the sofa, drank his tea and smiled: “You can ask him yourself, ha-ha-ha……”
With curiosity, Zhang Siyi looked at Gu Yu intently. As a result, Gu Yu put the grapefruit skin in a stack and stood up and said: “I’m going to help Mom cook.”
Father Gu waved his hand at the back of Gu Yu and quietly said: “This kid is still embarrassed.”
Zhang Siyi: “……” Gu Yu cold demeanor, unrelenting tone and incomprehensible expression means he is embarrassed? How does his Dad see that? (=_=)
Engrossed in the story, Zhang Siyi and Gu Yu’s sister are still present wanting to hear more.
Without Gu Yu, Father Gu went on whispering: “The Kong-Ming-Lock is a double cross tension lock made with eight blocks interlocking through a tenon structure. I personally crafted it and gave it to him on his sixth birthday. He loved to play with it for several years.”
Zhang Siyi’s heart started pounding in his chest. Hearing the story of the lock made him think of the tape measure that Gu Yu gave him.
Father Gu looked at Zhang Siyi and smiled: “I didn’t expect him to give away his favorite toy. Remember, even as a child he always acted serious and like a small adult he told you: “If you want to see me again, become an architect because I’m going to be an architect.”
Zhang Siyi: “……” He felt like he was struck by lightning.
Is this what Gu Yu said? But there is an inexplicable feeling that makes people feel warm in the heart!
Gu Yu’s younger sister said in disbelief: “Brother was ten years old? Did he really say that to a four-year-old?”
Suppressing his laughter, Father Gu smiled and said: “Yes he did. Afterwards, I asked him if he was going to regret giving away the Kong-Ming-Lock to a child he may never see again. Can you guess what your brother said?”
Sister: “What did he say?”
Father Gu changed his voice to match his son’s. He relaxed his facial muscles, flattened his expressions and said in a serious tone: “Dad, you said some things need to be passed on.”
Zhang Siyi: “Poof–!”
Bursting out with laughter, Gu Yu’s Sister leaned forward and slapped her thigh. No longer caring about her lady like image she said: “God, my brother is too funny!” Then she pointed at Zhang Siyi laughing. “Ha-ha-ha-ha! You are now doing architecture. It really was passed down!”
Zhang Siyi: “……”
“Dad!” Gu Yu called from the kitchen in an irritated tone. “Mom wants you to help scrape the scales and clean the fish!”
Father Gu put his hand up and signaled a hold-on then put his cup down and went to the kitchen, leaving Zhang Si Yi and Gu Yu sister. Even though she is one year younger than Zhang Siyi, he doesn’t feel any real distance between them, especially after this morning’s small talk and Gu family stories. They looked at one another and then she took the initiative to stand up and sit next to him on the sofa. She smiled at him and asked: “Do you still have the Kong-Ming-Lock?”
Zhang Siyi speechless: “I have long forgotten about it. Four years old is not like when I was fourteen in high school.”
Gu Yu’s sister: “That’s right, ha-ha-ha….”
Zhang Siyi couldn’t help himself from laughing as well. He looked at her and realized he still didn’t know her name: “What is your name?”
Gu Yu’s sister quickly reached out a hand and said: “My name is Gu Yao.”
The two of them shook hands and both felt a kind of revolutionary comrade-in-arms since they both have been bullied by Gu Yu.
Zhang Siyi asked: “I heard from your brother that you’re still in college?”
Gu Yao: “Well, I go to F-University. This year I’ll be a senior.”
Zhang Siyi was shocked: “Wow. You must be so smart and talented!”
F-University is also one of the best universities in the country. It is the most famous university in Haicheng, and the admission requirements aren’t much lower than T-University.
By marrying such a beautiful wife and having a pair of talented children, Zhang Siyi can’t help but feel that Gu Dad was the proper winner of life!