13. What a Good Family
When his emotions calmed down again, YiHan turned to wash up and change. He cleaned himself up and stretched his lips into a strained smile. He wasn’t satisfied with that. He vigorously rubbed his face, and patted it over and over until his white cheeks were flushed before he tried smiling again. He buried his face in his hands. Much better. He gathered his courage, cheered himself on in his mind, and firmly pressed on out of the room.
Downstairs in the living room, with a smile spreading through her face, Ma was describing her youngest son’s hairstyle when he woke up. XueQing was laughed until she fell into Yan’s lap. Yan’s brows softened into a gentle look. Even the ever-dignified FuRen was smiling.
The dinner table was set. All that’s left was for YiHan to come down.
When she heard movement on the stairway, Ma immediately stopped her recollection. XueQing quickly sat up. The whole family turned and watched the stairway with a kind aura blooming around them. They must not be discovered gossiping about YiHan’s inelegant behaviour behind his back. He’d burst into rage from embarrassment.
YiHan: “…” You were so loud just then that I heard everything, okay? But whatever. Just think of it as entertaining his family.
He nonchalantly walked down as if he heard nothing. As he looked at his ever-prim-and-proper father and solemn brother, guilt crept into his heart. He wanted to avoid looking at them, yet he couldn’t bear not to look at them. Stunned, he stood there.
Ma felt her son had been exceedingly cute since he woke up from a nightmare that morning. She couldn’t resist walking over to wave her fair palm before his face. Smiling, she asked, “Come back, little one. It’s only been a day. Don’t you remember your father and brother?”
YiHan snapped out of his daze. He reached out and caught the hand before his eyes. Then, he embraced the entire arm. Only then could he force the big, blaring sign of “terror” of terror out of his mind.
Ma was very appreciative of her son’s endearing actions. She patted YiHan with the other hand and said, “Let’s go eat. You’ve got to eat more to build up your body.”
Bai Yan had been observing his younger brother this whole time. Upon seeing him calm and serene without a single trace of the frustration that’s been looming over him, Yan secretly let out a sigh of relief.
FuRen rose with a smile still hanging on his lips, and led his family to the dinner table. The long, long table was already packed with all sorts of delicacies. The aromatic fragrance in the air enticed their fingers to start moving.
Picking up his chopsticks, FuRen spoke, “It’s been a long day. Eat up, then go shower and rest.”
XueQing squeezed in next to YiHan. She fished out a ball of prawn meat from the platters into YiHan’s plate. “Your favourite prawn balls. Eat up,” she gently said.
YiHan had always loved eating prawn balls. But he was a disaster with his hands. He could never grab any ball-shaped objects with a pair of chopsticks. He even wailed and cried over it once as a child. From then on, if there were any round objects on the dinner table, the closest family member would get it for him. It’s already a habit in this household.
Yan shelled a large prawn and placed it in YiHan’s plate as well. There weren’t a lot of underwater creatures YiHan liked to eat. Large prawns could be said to be one YiHan loved the most. However, he’s lazy and disliked dirtying his hands. Because he thought it was troublesome, he never bothered to eat anything with shells. Yan, this big brother, could do nothing about it. From when he was a little boy until now, as long as they’re eating at the same table, Yan would be the “shelling machine”.
Ma wasn’t willing to back down too. Her son loved to eat this. That’s very nutritious. Her chopsticks never stopped moving. In the blink of an eye, a mountain was build on YiHan’s plate. When they saw that his plate was packed tight, they started attacking his rice bowl in turns. Even FuRen silently moved a chopstick-ful of beef over to YiHan’s bowl.
As YiHan looked at the swaying mountain of food on his plate, he felt like crying again. His family was so good to him. Why did he think it was expected before? Why did he think everyone in his family should treat him like this? Such expectations and “should”s weren’t realistic. His family didn’t owe him anything. On the contrary, he owed his parents an endless amount of gratitude. He owed his siblings all the love in the world.
Large prawn: Also known as scampi. While just “prawn” would do, shelling large prawns is a harder task than smaller prawns. Hence, “large prawn”.
Chopstick-ful: Forkful, spoonful, chopstick-ful. I know. I know. It’s lazy writing, but it’s fun! Especially since thinking spoonful just brings Mary Poppins into my head.