Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 77: Childhood Friends
“Sisi! What are you doing here?” The young man was pleasantly surprised.
Zhang Siyi was startled for a minute and was silent. He was searching through his memories for the name of the person standing before him. “Brother Tian?” The youth eagerly grabbed him and rubbed his head and patted his shoulder. Since the other person grew so tall, he felt like a baby chick, lost in the other person’s arms. However, Zhang Siyi is also excited to see an old neighbor who he hasn’t seen for more than ten years.
This young man’s full name is He Chengtian and like Shen Yu and Qu Xiao, they are all childhood friends who grew up with Zhang Siyi.
His sister, He Xueying, is also Zhang Siyi’s age. Even though He Chengtian is six years older and didn’t directly play with the younger children, growing up, the families often played with one another, so the younger kids also called He Chengtian ‘Brother.’
In Zhang Siyi’s memory, He Chengtian was tall and bold. As if he was the master of the area, he always had a group of boys following him around. Zhang Siyi had the privilege of playing a few role-playing games with the older boys. The good-looking boys played the Red-Army and everyone else played the Army-of-the-Rising-Sun. He Chengtian was always the leader of the Red-Army.
As for Zhang Siyi, Shen Hao, and He Xueying, they were naturally unable to participate in the war so they would play the part of helpless civilians. Their role was to get captured by the Army-of-the-Rising-Sun and then wait for the Red-Army to rescue them.
After being locked up, they would have to wait until rescue. Sometimes they had to wait less than thirty minutes, but other times it was over an hour. Being immersed in the game, they huddled together with their hands and feet tied up feeling tense. Once they heard the Red-Army yell for rescue, the mood quickly changed from restlessness into excitement. Often the young kids would play the part and would kick and struggle while calling out “Brother Tian, help us!”, “Save us!”
Naturally, if the Hero rescued them right away, the game would end, so the boys often devised different scenarios to extend the game time and make it more fun. In order to make the rescue by the Red-Army more dramatic and heroic, it was necessary to vilify the Army-of-the-Rising-Sun. Thus, they would pick one or two innocent civilians and threaten their lives. Zhang Siyi remembers at this part of the game, almost always, the Army-of-the-Rising-Sun would pick He Chengtian’s sister, He Xueying to play the victim.
Once, Zhang Siyi and He Xueying were selected to be the victims and together. They had to kneel in front of the Red-Army with a plastic gun to their heads and listened to threats: “If you step any closer your people will perish!”
As the Hero, He Chengtian would rush in and shout: “For the victory of the revolution!” and the boys would all start to shout: “Brothers rush”, “Go! Go! Go!”. Of course, at this time the boys in the Army-of-the-Rising-Sun would do everything in their power to prevent the Hero’s. Even though the kneeling victims would always die, Zhang Siyi thought the anticipation of being rescued was very exciting. In the end, He Chengtian would always triumph over the Army-of-the-Rising-Sun and the last remaining survivor would get rescued.
Thinking about it, Zhang Siyi is a little bit surprised at how vividly he can recall his play-time memories. Those types of games seem rather stupid to him now. Since He Chengtian was also a very good student, he was the first role-model Zhang Siyi looked up to as child and it left a deep impression on him.
Unfortunately, in the year of Zhang Siyi’s elementary school graduation, the He family moved away to start a business. In the following years, Zhang Siyi’s father was promoted and the Zhang family moved twice. Therefore, in addition to Shen Hao, Zhang Siyi almost lost contact with all of his childhood friends.
Giving Zhang Siyi a noogie, He Chengtian laughed and asked: “How can you still be the same after so many years?”
Zhang Siyi broke free from He Chengtian’s arm and tried to fix his ruffled hair. He smiled and said: “Which hasn’t changed? My mom said yesterday that I am now fat with big bags and getting uglier.”
He Chengtian laughed and asked: “How are your Mother and Father? What are you doing now?”
Since they have known each other since childhood, Zhang Siyi didn’t hide his family background from him: “Well, my father is still the same and to a certain extent, can’t be promoted further. Anyways, he continues to negotiate with the other officials and every night he drinks his tea. Last year my Mother was promoted to chief doctor. She doesn’t have the night shift anymore so that’s positive, however, the hospital is always so busy, so it’s not like she has less work.”
He nodded and smiled and said, “Your family is still so low-key. Don’t say that I don’t understand.”
Zhang Siyi looked around and asked: “What about your sister? Why haven’t I seen her?”
He Chengtian shook his head: “Since they played together all the time as children, I was surprised to hear that my sister didn’t want to come when Qu Xiao called about the wedding. When I came back to the city to visit relatives, my mother thought I should come to the wedding at least since we grew up in the same neighborhood.”
Going back to Ningcheng to visit relatives? They don’t live here anymore? Zhang Siyi wanted to ask him about it and was about to ask, but before he could, He Chengtian said: ”My sister asked about you a few days ago. I didn’t know if you would be here since its been so many years.”
Having just experienced Qu Xiao forgetting about him, how can his heart not be moved when he heard that He Xueying, a young woman, remembered him? He is a young man after all! If he had known Qu Xiao was going to forget about him, Zhang Siyi, like He Xueying, wouldn’t have come to the reception.
He Chengtian asked: “What about you? I saw Mouse last year. He said that you went abroad to study. Have you graduated and returned now? Where are you working?”
“I recently graduated and I’m now back in China.” A little embarrassed, Zhang Siyi smiled and quickly took this opportunity to give a business card to He Chengtian. While taking is from his pocket and handing it to him, Zhang Siyi said: “I’m working in Haicheng now.”
Not reading the card, He Chengtian was surprised when he heard the location of Zhang Siyi’s workplace: “You are also in Haicheng? After my sister went to high school, our family moved. Now I live in the central district. Where is your office building located?”
Upon hearing where he lived, Zhang Siyi’s jaw dropped. Considering the houses in the central district are worth tens of millions, it seems his family is doing astronomically well!
“The company I work for is also in the downtown area!” Zhang Siyi replied.
When He Chengtian looked at the business card he seemed puzzled then asked: “Are you also engaged in construction? Is this not the same as Mouse.?
Mouse is the nickname for their friend Shen Hao. Zhang Siyi felt depressed. He studied architectural design. Its not the same as a contractor in construction! And he was clearly studying architecture earlier.
When Zhang Siyi hurriedly explained the difference between the work that he does and Shen Hao’s type of work, He Chengtian nodded. “Now that you explained, I understand! In fact, one of my classmates is now a professional in Haicheng working in architectural design.”
Zhang Siyi curiously asked: “Who?”
“You probably don’t know him, but…” He Chengtian paused to think, “But not necessarily. This classmate is very legendary. He was the top student for the school entrance exam.”
Zhang Siyi’s mouth twitched: “… You’re not talking about Gu Yu, are you?
Stunned, He Chengtian asked: “How do you know him?”
Zhang Siyi pointed to his business card: “Gu Yu is a design director of Borderless. I work directly under him.”
Again shocked, He Chengtian glanced at Zhang Siyi’s business card and said: “This world is too small!”
Zhang Siyi nodded vigorously. The circumstances felt so mysterious: “Were you his classmate?”
He Chengtian explained: “Yes. Three years in high school”. He squinted his eyes. He casually mentioned his past and didn’t expect old feelings to swell up. Since he learned that Gu Yu is Zhang Siyi boss, he couldn’t help vent some bitterness: “Those three years with Gu Yu was my nightmare!”
Hearing He Chengtian talk about Gu Yu, he piqued Zhang Siyi interest: “Oh? Why’s that?”
He Chengtian sneered and said: “Why’s that? His grades were too good. He was always number one. Even on very difficult exams, his score would throw off the rest of the class’s grades. While he would continue to get a perfect score, the second place was behind by twenty to thirty points! Sometimes, I think he isn’t a person at all!”
Zhang Siyi remembered when he was in high school the teacher also repeatedly boasted about the top exam student from the school. In fact, he slowly got used to being far from the top model student. He tried to comfort He Chengtian.
In a very hateful tone, He Chengtian said: “That’s because you haven’t had to compete with him directly. You only listened to stories and have no idea how terrible the feeling of being second all the time is. Fuck! I was that second-place student no matter how hard I tried. He was always so calm and relaxed and never seemed to try. God damn it! “
“……” The words of Zhang Siyi’s mother echoed in his head — don’t compare yourself to those that are blessed by God. (=_=)
Breathing slowly and methodically, He Chengtian tried to calm his grumpy mood: “At that time, I was being very naïve to be so obsessed over my scores. Everyone knows the results of the rankings don’t represent everything. But every time I think about it, I still feel…… Well, you may not know much about that feeling. After all, before I ran into Gu Yu, I could say I was the number one student and never had any competition. Because of him, after finishing my senior exam, I went abroad.
Hearing He Chengtian explain, Zhang Siyi instinctively shuddered. In fact, he knows quite well his friend’s feelings of being overpowered. He also experienced the kind of pressure Gu Yu exudes from his knowledge base. It makes Zhang Siyi feel inadequate.
He Chengtian looked to Zhang Siyi and inquired: “My former classmate is now part of the construction industry. How is he getting along?”
Zhang Siyi is not sure if there is some meaning behind ‘how’……
He Chengtian bluntly asked: “Do you know how much he gets paid?”
“Oh…” Zhang Siyi promised Gu Yu he would not reveal his income, but the person in front of him was the most admired role model of his childhood. They probably won’t have contact with one another in the future, so Zhang Siyi thought if he reports a high income, then Gu Yu won’t be so disgraced. Zhang Siyi took a moment in thought then said: “I heard his annual income was more than eight-hundred-thousand.” Zhang Siyi completely did not expect He Chengtian’s reaction.
Laughing He Chengtian said: “Only eight-hundred-thousand! It seems he isn’t that great after all!”
Zhang Siyi: “……” Fuck! More than eight-hundred-thousand is not good? What the hell!? What is wrong with this society? Is money really that easy!?