Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 213: Coming Out
At eight in the evening, the screen was full of flowers and the host joyfully wished everyone a Happy Chinese New Year. The familiar music on the television from the Spring Festival prelude filled the otherwise silent room.
Trembling, Zhang Siyi was sitting between Father and Mother Gu, waiting for the inquisition.
“Zhang Siyi. So how does it feel now that you have worked for a year and a half?” Father Gu calmly asked while raising his teacup.
Putting his hands on his knees as if he was reporting to a teacher, Zhang Siyi solemnly responded:” Very Good Sir.”
Gu Yu’s Father paused for a moment then stated: “You are now living together with Yu and Yao, yes? “
Zhang Siyi: “… Hmm. “
Father Gu slowly drank from his teacup then faintly asked: “His house only has two rooms. Where do you stay?”
Zhang Siyi: “Uh, well, I stay with Elder Gu in his room.”
Father Gu smiled: “He really doesn’t treat you as an outsider, does he. Heh.”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
After his statement, Zhang Siyi could feel his face start to race. Despite the music from the TV, Zhang Siyi couldn’t hear anything.
“Yu has always been a very independent person since he was child. He always did what he wanted and never cared about what his parents thought. In personal matters, he seemed to be at a loss. For so many years, we’ve never saw him have a close relationship with anyone. He used to be so arrogant that we worried he wouldn’t be able to meet someone.” Gu Yu’s Father glanced at Zhang Siyi and smiled at him. “You are the first one he brought home.”
In nervousness, Zhang Siyi heart pounded in his chest. As beads of sweat formed on his brow, his mind became numb and there was a dull buzz in his ears, blocking out all sounds…. Wha, what does Gu Yu’s Father mean exactly…? What he said, no one would misinterpret it as ‘ordinary friends’…… right?
Starting to panic, Zhang Siyi tightened his hands on his knees in order to stop him from shaking. He glanced in the direction of the kitchen with pleading eyes….. These questions… Your Father…..What should I do? Gu Yu.. help me!
The background music of the television program was too loud for those in the kitchen to notice. There was no way Gu Yu and his sister could know what was going on. Suddenly, Zhang Siyi felt a warm hand on his knee. Gu Yu’s Mother had reached over to hold Zhang Siyi hand.
Zhang Siyi was trembling and nervously looking at Gu Yu’s Mother. She was watching him with gentle eyes and patting his hand in comfort. Although she couldn’t speak, she was soothing him in such a tactful way.
Her small comfort appeased Zhang Siyi’s trembling soul. With a red neck and ears, he hurriedly retracted his eyes and looked down at the floor, like he was a criminal caught red-handed. He quietly stammered out: “Uncle, Aunt….you….. you…… know……”
Part of Zhang Siyi thought when Gu Yu Mother’s knew the truth, she would show revulsion, but all she did was give Zhang Siyi one reassuring squeeze of his hand. Next to him, Gu Yu Father just sighed and continued to drink tea, like nothing happened.
…….They know. They really know everything……
Since their reaction was so calm and tolerant, unlike his imagined anger and resentment, the nerves and stress that weighed on him, ever since entering Gu Yu’s family’s home, were instantly relieved. His tearful and welling emotions almost overwhelmed him. He slowly relaxed and felt at ease.
His moment of respite didn’t last long however, in another minute, Zhang Siyi panicked again. ….They might know, but what do they think about a relationship between two men? Will they accept it?
Although he wanted to say more, neither Father Gu nor Mother Gu inquired further. The three of them sat quietly together watching TV. After a while, Gu Yu and his sister came over with a fruit platter.
When Gu Yu reached over to place the fruit tray on the coffee table, Gu Yu caught site of the three of them. Zhang Siyi winked at him with a strange expression on his face.
Little did he know, while he was cleaning up the dishes, Zhang Siyi was being interrogated by his parents. He pretended to be calm and asked: “Has the Spring Festival Gala begun? Why are you just sitting here quietly watching it?”
Father Gu smiled wide and said: “We already chatted.”
Gu Yu laughed and asked: “Oh? What did you talk about?”
Father Gu: “You.”
Gu Yu was stunned. He smiled: “Hmm? What about me did you talk about?”
“We talked about when will you be honest and talk with me and your mom.” Father Gu put away his smile and placed his teacup on the coffee table with a decisive ‘thunk’.
Practically jumping out of his seat by the intense atmosphere, Zhang Siyi sat sandwiched between Father Gu and Mother Gu, shivering like a little lamb.
Gu Yu: “…”
Father Gu glanced at Gu Yao and squinted at her. He asked: “Yao Yao knows, right?”
Gu Yao: “…”
Zhang Siyi always thought Gu Yu was terrible when get got angry. When he saw Senior Gu do the exact thing Gu Yu does when he gets angry, he knew from whom he got it; like father, like son.
Gu Yu’s expression changed. He looked back and forth between Zhang Siyi and his parents for a moment and finally understand what had happened.
“You… When did you know?” The volume of his voice was subconsciously submissive and lowered by two degrees.
“Is knowing when that important now?” Father Gu sternly stated. Although he didn’t lose his temper in front of Zhang Siyi, Father Gu had shown the most authoritarian attitude ever.
The original festive holiday became a ‘coming out’ inquiry instead. Zhang Siyi was so frightened he sat motionless. Gu Yao didn’t say a peep. Gu Yu was forced to analyze the situation alone.
As his mind was mulling over the sudden change, Gu Yu quickly thought about any details that might have revealed his relationship. He recalled the shadow photograph he posted online, but his parents weren’t in the group chat. However, since he himself taught his parents how to use the internet, he couldn’t cross out that possibility completely.
Gu Yu thought his father’s guess was based on that photo. Unexpectedly, his father said something very surprising. “When you were seventeen years old.”
Gu Yu’s stunned expression was obvious. Even Zhang Siyi and Gu Yao were dumbfounded.
Father Gu looked over at Mother Gu and thundered again: “Maybe even earlier.”
Gu Yao: “…”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
Gu Yu: “…”
Father Gu slowly explained: “When you were seventeen years old, I accidentally discovered that you were taking out gay-related books from the Ningcheng Library. At that time, I had doubts and talked to your mother in private. I didn’t expect your mother to know earlier than I.”
Mother Gu looked at Gu Yu in worry. Soon, with a pacifying look, she nodded at him slightly as if to encourage him positively and not to be afraid.
Gu Yu heart was calm and looking towards his Father again, he waited for his next words.
Father Gu said: “Your mother has always been careful. She told me that you were particularly cold to girls early on. At that time, information was scarce and I did not understand what gay meant. When I learned about it, I was very shocked. I wanted to talk to you and guide you, but your mother stopped me. She said one of her relatives was also like you. Because he liked the same sex, his father beat him and broke his legs and thus, became disabled.”
Gu Yu interrupted him in shock: “Was it…”
Father Gu looked up and nodded: “Yes. Your cousin.”
Gu Yu’s cousin was a very gentle and beautiful person. He was a brilliant artist and an excellent opponent in chess. When Gu Yu was a kid, whenever he went to his grandmother’s house, he loved to play with his cousin. It was such a pity that he was crippled.
Moreover, not only did his cousin never marry, he had only lived until thirty-five years old. When Gu Yu was fourteen, an age where death was traumatic, his cousin died. Since it affected him deeply, he suffered for a long time. Only today had Gu Yu learned the secret about his cousin from his father.
The jubilant background music was in stark contrast to the tragic topic of discussion. Pausing for a moment of silence, everyone looked at Father Gu expectantly, waiting for him to continue the story.
“After listening to your mother tragic story, I longer felt the need to straighten you out. Your Mother and I researched more about homosexuality in private to have a better understanding of your sexuality. We knew you were an independent and intelligent child who was more mature then the average kid. In order to respect you, we never asked partially because, we were afraid you would rebel. We patiently waited for your trust and take the initiative to open up your heart to us. We waited for thirteen years until you brought someone home for Chinese New Year and yet you still didn’t say anything.”
Looking Gu Yu in the eye, Father Gu slammed the table with his hand and loudly demanded: “Were you ever planning on telling us!?”
Trembling, he was deeply touched. Gu Yu opened his mouth slightly to speak, but no words came out.
Someone could only be patient for so long. Out of love and respect, his parents waited, and waited, and waited…. for the truth that Gu Yu thought he buried and kept secret for thirteen years. It wasn’t any wonder that his Father was angry and upset.
“It wasn’t like I wasn’t going to say anything. I didn’t want to take the risk before I thought the time was right…..” Gu Yu whispered.
Father Gu was angry and ridiculed him: “We watched you grow up; your thoughts and your feelings. Do you think your Mother and I wouldn’t notice? Playing mental games, do you think you are in control of everything? In the eyes of parents, you will always be a child!”
Gu Yu lowered his eyes and weakly apologized: “I’m sorry.”
A little emotional, the corner of Mother Gu’s eyes was red. Watching how uncomfortable her son was, she immediately reached across Zhang Siyi’s body, to pull on her husband’s sleeve.
Father Gu sighed helplessly. He regained his tea cup and lifted it to his mouth to drink. He steadily said: “About your sexual orientation; we didn’t know how long you intended to hide from us, so we tried not to put pressure on you.”
Gu Yu: “…”
It’s no wonder his parents never pressured Gu Yu about marriage. From the beginning, they knew the truth.
Father Gu looked at Zhang Siyi’s pale and frightened face and smiled at him. His tone relaxed: “It wasn’t until last year when Gu Yu returned home that we noticed a small change in him. A month later, Zhang Siyi came to visit for Chinese New Year and we knew a seed was planted and growing….. Anyway, you have found somebody to love and share your life with. Your Mother and I are very happy for you.
Sparkling with the joy of acceptance, Gu Yu and Zhang Siyi looked deeply into each other’s’ eyes. They could see their lives together flash before their eyes. As the dust settled, finally, their hearts landed in safe waters and had no need to feel afraid.