Side Chapter: Past Life
Hello everyone, good morning, good afternoon, good evening.
I am An Ran. (smiles)
Apologies, perhaps my opening line is a little tacky, but please forgive my rigidness and boringness, just because, as someone who is about to lose their life, I really don’t have the pleasure to come up with something that starts off with a beautiful bang.
I just want to quietly, dully, narrate my life, regardless of the happiness, anger, sorrow, joy.
The friends that are willing to listen may brew a cup of hot tea, slowly feel the warmth that the tea brings to you, then, quietly listen to the story that belongs to me.
Let us start now then.
I already said I’m called An Ran, twenty-six years old this year, is the general manager’s secretary of a global car company, personality is the same as the majority of twenty-six year old women, I have an ordinary family, also have a boyfriend of three years.
I shall talk about my family first.
My family is classed as the very common fairly well-off, my parents have a pair of daughters, me and my sister, who is a year younger than me.
From my memory of childhood, our family was not very wealthy, my parents had worked all year round, hence having no time to take care of me, the daughter that was born against their plans. They would entrust me to my grandparents’ place to be looked after, and I would spend the entire day playing on the emerald green grass or small countryside roads with children from the countryside. Amongst the group of children, I was considered a little boss, leading them to naughtily cause mischief, one bad mood and I would order people around –– look at this, such a little bully.
The above have brought me memories full of laughter and cheers from acting recklessly.
This is the most pure, most valuable, childhood in my life, just that one cannot return to those times after it had past, taking away those blissful laughter and innocence, only leaving me the vague feeling of melancholy when I occasionally recall those times.
The amount of times I saw my parents in childhood, is not much, every year, would pretty much only meet once at new year. I would always hide behind the elders as I secretly eye up those two unfamiliar, yet familiar adults, and then timidly smile at them. I would also see that sister of mine that’s a year younger, unlike my tanned skin and stubborn monkey-like personality, she had a fair white face and a quiet personality, my buddies would always say she’s an angel ––– that’s right, in my eyes, she is an angel.
At the age of seven, I left Grandma’s place and headed to the city, living together with Dad, Mum, and also Sister, and in the following days, I feel like I’m a pitiful child, extremely lonely.
My dad like to hold Sister on his lap and listen to her act spoilt, listen to her soft voice tell him the interesting matters that happened in school, listen to her furrow her brows and express her anger at him.
–––but he would never hold me, would never say more than five sentences to me.
My mum likes to nag at Sister, clear pampering carried within her tone of lecturing, lightly patting her little hand and say: “Be like that again next time and I’ll throw you away!”
–––but she would never tenderly ‘lecture’ me like that, she would only furrow her brows in disgust when I accidentally break something, and then blame my grandmother.
I don’t like such a life, really don’t like it.
I started rebelling, started to also look at them with disgust, started to learn to not speak a single word to them for a month, back then, I felt I was so strong ––– look, even without your doting love, I am also very strong.
The only one who was on good terms with me at home is Sister, she would sweetly smile at me, would occasionally argue with me, would sleep under the same blanket with me, she is the consolation to my heart, even though I would sometimes angrily think, why are they only nice to her?
I can be jealous, can be unsettled, can be angry, I am only a normal person.
During the long-term war with my parents, I had unknowingly grown up, raised to junior high, passed the high school exam, went to university. Amongst this, I went through many different experiences, regarding love, friendship, and discouraging family relations.
I fell down many times, climbed back up many times, then continued to fall and climb up again ––– life is just like this, a repetitive cycle of failure and success.
I left home and started working, only going back to see them once every few years, then one particular time, I see my parents’ exhausted faces after two years, I suddenly realise I have grown up.
I’ve grown up, I would take a good look at their gradually aging faces, would feel pained by the sight of their whitening hair, would feel warmth from the happy smile they reveal, would try to slowly forget the unpleasant past……
My interaction with them gradually increases, they still dote on Sister much more, would reveal the tone and behaviour from back then when I stay a little longer, but I think to myself, this isn’t important, I think to myself, I’ve already grown up, I understand they love me too, just that they don’t love me as much.
I care about the occasional warmth, I’m very satisfied, because this is my family.
Sister has also grown up, a tall figure and beautiful face, as well as a reserved personality. Sister would reveal the mischievous side of hers that no one else sees in front of me, I feel very proud. This is my younger sister, the closest of relations flows in our blood.
We are sisters, sisters that had made an oath to continue loving one another to the end.
Alright, already finished talking about my family now, the following will be about my love life.
During my time of budding youth, I of course had romantic affection towards boys, also went through short periods of dating. Thinking back to it now, it seems that I was dating in order to not be single, dating in order to tell others I have a boyfriend, the love back then was so shallow and unreal, causing me to become hesitant to date later on ––– I find it very uninteresting, very boring, very meaningless.
But at the age of twenty-three, I still took a step forward, I fell in love with my boss.
That’s right, my boyfriend is the manager, I am his secretary. After a year of interaction, the manager and manager’s secretary that has the highest level of romantic ambiguity had also set foot on the most common path ––– the hare eats the grass around its burrow, and then under everyone’s optimistic or not-so-optimistic eyes, they happily start dating, until the third year.
That year’s early spring is still ever so comfortable and pleasant, we met one another’s parents and decided to get married on May Day, we were preparing to establish a perfect home and then give birth to an adorable baby for accompaniment, just that life had already become a drama, happiness cannot belong to me, it will always be an illusion of mine.
I had once again fainted.
Fainted whilst taking beautiful wedding pictures, I originally thought it was just fainting from exhaustion, but after a health check, I received a news that came like a thunderbolt.
The doctor says, it’s blood cancer.
Ha, that’s absurd, what did he say? Blood cancer? Cancer? How funny, such terminal illness that has nothing to do with normal people within their eight lifetimes, how did it come out in me? Please do not joke around with me!
But what does his words mean? He said this is a terminal illness, he said this is already the advanced stage of cancer, he lectures me on why I haven’t been paying attention to my own body, he says the young people nowadays has no health awareness.
He said, should you not receive treatment, your days……will only last half a year.
But Doctor, I really want to ask you, by accepting the treatment, how much longer do I get?
I’m only twenty-six years old, I’m preparing to marry my boyfriend, I had just started planning for a baby, I’m about to start a happy life of this lifetime……
I just want to live on happily, can I……not even have this?
I start to fear, manic and afraid of death, my parents’ faces of sorrow and despair, An Qing’s swelled up eyes, the look of denial carried in the pitying eyes of Yan You’s parents……
I would uncontrollably grab onto Yan You’s arms and cry endlessly, mouth repeating: Yan You, I don’t want to die.
Yan You did not give up the me like this, he would gently caress my face, would firmly tell me: wait until you get better, and we will get married.
I receive energy from this moment, at least I still have him. My lover said: he would wait for me to get better and then get married.
And so, I agreed to accept treatment, leaving the black long hair that had once come down to my waist, to fall off, leaving myself to quickly become pale and thin, leaving myself to become a humble patient struggling for life in the hospital room. A very subtle light is flashing within me, I think to myself, perhaps the heavens will give me a miracle, I would continue to live on healthily, for those that love me.
But which one of them will tell me, exactly who truly loves me?
Even if……there’s just one.
That day, I was lying in bed, quietly reading a book, the nurse making rounds, casually asks me with a smile: “An Ran, does your sister have boyfriend now?”
I raise my head from the book, An Qing has a boyfriend? I’ve never heard her mention this ah. Or is she no longer talking to me about her troubles because I’ve been lying in the sickbed for four months? I also smile as I say: “Is that so ah, how do you know?”
“I just ran into your sister at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, I casually asked the obstetrics and gynaecology doctor, the doctor said your sister is already two months pregnant, congrats, congrats ah.”
Pregnant? An Qing is two months pregnant?
“En, will have to treat you to wedding candy when the time comes.” I say without a change of expression, in fact, huge waves had already set off in my heart.
A lot of emotions rolling around in my heart, anger, impatience, fluster and pain. Why would An Qing be pregnant? Has she told Mum and Dad she’s dating someone? What kind of a person is her boyfriend? Would he treat her well in future?
I fretfully throw the book to a side, I’ll have to ask An Qing when she comes, exactly what is going on here?!
After I see An Qing, I don’t hold back at all in asking about my doubts, An Qing is shocked at first, then saddens, after that, she kneels down before me.
“An Ran, I’m pregnant, I, I really love this child, I also love its father, An Ran, I will give birth to it.”
“What about the child’s father then, what is he prepared to do?” I calmly ask.
“He?” An Qing’s expression is thoroughly at a loss, yet after a moment, she firmly says: “He will marry me.”
I look at the sister who has always been incredibly close to me since young, asking with complicated emotions: “Does he love you?”
Dejection flashes past An Qing’s face, “Love? Perhaps not. But An Ran, I have a lot of time with him, I would make him slowly fall in love with me.” Her eyes contains tears as she looks at me and asks: “He will love me, isn’t that right? An Ran, I love him so much, we will be together for a long long time, we will become husband and wife, we would accompany each other till old……”
I don’t know why I feel so pained, reaching out to embrace her, saying: “That’s right ah, he will love you, An Qing is such a lovable brat, will be very happy, very happy.”
An Qing hugs me back, very tightly, tight to the point my heart was starting to hurt.
I thought that was because our sisterly love runs deep.
My days in the hospital continues, by my side I have Yan You, have An Qing, have Mum and Dad, have what I myself, thought was doting love. If that day, An Qing didn’t tell me the truth, if, if……
In this world, where are there so many ifs.
At that time, my vision had already started to blur, I was incapable of clearly seeing the slight interactions between people, I was just like a blind person with open eyes, watching the lively lovers escape from right under my eyes.
That day, there was a nice breeze and beautiful sunshine, the doctor tells me, my health has been taking a turn for the good recently, should this continue, the situation would make a great turn for the better.
That day, there was no cloud in sight, my only sister – An Qing – kneels before me and word by word says: “An Ran, Mum and Dad told me not to tell you, but I still decided to tell you. I’ll be getting married tomorrow, to Yan You.”
“An Ran, Yan You and I are together.”
“The matter between him and I……perhaps you can guess, he got drunk, mistaking me for you, and then I got pregnant……”
“An Ran, I don’t expect to receive your blessing, I just want to tell you, you are my older sister, I love you.”
I remember fiercely slapping her, gritting my teeth as I say: “Get lost.”
I watch her back figure, feeling like my heart had been pierced by a knife, flesh and blood badly mutilated.
I wanted to ask why, but the words wouldn’t come out.
Alright, with the above, my story has come to an end.
Thank you all for listening to me, right now, I am on my way to their wedding, I took advantage of the moment the nurses weren’t paying attention to slip out, I want to go and see the wedding I dreamt of, even if the bride isn’t me.
I already changed out of my patient outfit, sneakily moving along amongst the guests, hiding in the shadows as I watch the elated parents from both sides, watch the slightly gloomy groom and bashful bride.
I watch the host bring laughter with eloquence, watch the onlookers congratulate and applaud, watch the new couple accept other people’s blessings.
I watch them take out the rings, vowing to one another:
My mouth is filled with the strong taste of blood, I want nothing more than to dig my nails deeply into my own flesh, how could I possibly give my blessing, I hate them so much, hate the people I had once thought loved me.
Amongst the liveliness, I seem to hear the sound of broken strings, so clear, so cutting.
I have stood for far too long, too tired to stand anymore.
I hear the guests crying out “someone fainted”, I see everyone’s line of sight gather on me, I see An Qing and my parents’ surprised and fearful expression, I see heart-piercing pain on Yan You’s handsome and reserved face……
I think my tears are falling.
I’m in so much pain.
But I know I will no longer be in pain anymore.
I will no longer be An Ran, never ever will be again, nor am I willing to be.
Quick update to get this over with, it’s so depressing… T^T