194. It Was Up to Him to Cherish His Own Wife
The old Mr Yan’s eyes lit up. He took a sip. The milk really was sweet. Afraid of his son’s nagging if the man found out he drank something sweet, the old Mr Yan hurriedly finished the glass of milk so the evidence would be destroyed.
“I was feeling a little hungry,” the old Mr Yan calmly said as he looked into his daughter-in-law’s eyes. “I’m fine with drinking milk. I can’t waste your efforts.”
Kong Wen accepted the empty glass with a smile.
Yan Miao disdainfully glanced at Kong Wen. This shallow woman who only knew how to make a big show of superficial gestures!
Wen ignored the look from Miao. She took a paper napkin and wiped away the milk residue from the corner of the old Mr Yan’s mouth. Her husband soon arrived with Yan and YouRan following behind him.
Frankly, Yan had noticed his aunt due to the loud commotion when she caused with her arrival. He was only too lazy to walk over to her. It was only when his father came looking for them did he pull YouRan along towards her.
“I know you don’t like her but she is your aunt after all,” said Cheng as they walked over. “She is your grandfather’s daughter. You have to give face or your grandfather will be upset. You don’t see each other often anyway. It’s only a few times a year. Can’t you leave her be?”
“Of course, I’m fine with seeing her,” said Yan. “I’m just afraid she’d say something nasty later.”
Cheng sighed. “She is your aunt. You are a man. Just be kinder to her.”
“The entire world is kind to her,” Yan said with a cold smirk. “Mother has let her have her way for years but nothing good ever came of it. On the contrary, my mother has been ridden roughshod over by her.”
Cheng sighed once more at the mention of his wife. “It’s my fault. If anyone else had dared to be so rude to your mother, I would never allow it. But your aunt…” He sighed again. “I don’t understand it. How did a cute, pretty little girl grow up to be meaner by the year?”
“Forget it,” said Yan. “My mom doesn’t blame you either. She knows it’s hard for you to be stuck in between them.”
Cheng nodded. “Your mother is doing it for my sake. I’ve failed her.”
“If she dares to say anything bad to YouRan later, you can’t fault me for turning the other cheek,” said Yan.
Yan turned to look at his father as he solemnly said, “A man is responsible for protecting his own wife. Other people can’t help him.”
Cheng was stunned. He turned to look at his son’s stern gaze. He saw YouRan’s lips twitching upwards ever so slightly. Once more, he was pushed to reflect on his past actions.
He had thought that everything was fine if their home was at peace. Growing up, Miao was doted on by the three men in her life. They all knew she was inconsiderate. When she was a kid, they let it slide. She was still young. When she grew up, they thought that it was forgivable for her since she was a woman. However, as their family grew bigger and as they all grew older, Cheng realised that not everyone had a duty to be unconditionally tolerant of his younger sister. For example, his wife, his sons and his niece. Miao got married later. While he wasn’t satisfied with the man she chose, he still let out a little sigh of relief. After her wedding, Miao rarely visited. Every time she did so though, she would always be rude to his wife. Thinking that his sister rarely visited anyway, they could just deal with it for a few days. Cheng knew It was bad for his wife. That’s why he would do his utmost best to compensate and comfort his wife after his sister’s visits were over. Deep down, he knew that compensations were useless when it came to certain matters. His father even implicitly hinted at him to be more protective of Wen. But he can’t encourage his wife to fight with his sister. All he could do was tell his wife there was no need for her to be so accommodating to Miao. However, every time Wen would reply that it was fine. She knew he was stuck in a bad situation. It wasn’t that stressful on her either way and his father would look after her. Miao didn’t come over often anyway.
But today, it suddenly occurred to him that, deep down, Wen might be hoping he’d speak up and keep her from harm. Being protected by him was different to being protected by his father.
Cheng silently watched from afar as Wen wiped away the milk residue from his father’s mouth with a smile. He shouldn’t let her be bullied any longer. His son was right. It was up to him to cherish his wife.
As the conversation involved the Yan family’s elder generations, YouRan was unable to chime in on the topic. He had objections to Yan calling him his “wife” but decided to forgive the man as Yan meant it with kindness and the phrase’s purpose was to act as an implicit message. YouRan even felt moved by Yan’s words. As his eyes flashed upwards to look around him, he spotted YiHan standing not far away from them and smiling at him. Warmth filled his heart as he smiled back and nodded in acknowledgement
After a glass of sweetened milk, the old Mr Yan was in a much better mood. He gestured for YouRan to stand by his side as he said, “YouRan, you haven’t met Miao before, yes? She’s my youngest daughter. Just call her ‘Auntie’ like Yan does.”
YouRan nodded in greeting and said to Miao, “Auntie.”
Miao looked away, pretending as if she heard nothing. As for He Yuan, his eyes had been flashing around the room ever since the three men joined them. He silently stood there, glad that the old Mr Yan didn’t even introduce him.
Yan’s smile fell as he asked, “Auntie, are you hard of hearing?”
“Miao-Miao, YouRan greeted you,” the old Mr Yan darkly said.
Miao was left with no choice. She returned YouRan’s greeting with a harrumph.
Only then did the old Mr Yan continue, “The man standing over there is your uncle-in-law.”
YouRan’s eyes bore into He Yuan as he carefully enunciated, “Uncle.”
“H-Hello,” blurted the other man.
Yan’s hand clenched YouRan’s. The sensation of his thumb gently rubbed the back of YouRan’s hand made YouRan turn and smile at Yan.
When Miao saw that her father was adamant in shielding YouRan, the rage that had yet to simmer down was stoked to flames once more. “My nephew’s wife is certainly a looker,” she said with a cold smirk. “His figure does not pale in comparison to a woman’s. Yan has good eyes.”
The old Mr Yan’s face drooped as he warning asked, “Miao-Miao, is that something that should come out of an elder’s mouth?”
“Why don’t you ask Yan if he’d ever thought of me as his aunt first?” Miao huffed. “It’s been so long and he’d yet to greet me.”
The only description applicable to Yan’s expression right now was dark and gloomy. “Auntie, your hearing is going but has your eyesight deteriorated too?” Yan barked. “Can you not tell the difference between a man and a woman? Just who were you calling my wife? An elder should act like an elder. Otherwise, it’s not our fault if we don’t respect you.”
“You see that, Father?” Miao angrily said. “Look at how your dear grandson just spoke to me. Does he even have an ounce of respect for me? What am I to call him if not Yan’s wife? Is he the husband and Yan’s the wife?”
“You really can’t differentiate a man from a woman,” Yan stated. “We’re both men. Where did this ‘wife’ come from?”
“How can you bear to say that?” Miao scornfully said. “The right way is before you but you simply had to marry a male wife like certain people. Have you ever thought of your family’s reputation?”
In a bold departure from Yan’s usual reluctance to speak, Yan refused to back down. “In your opinion, what is the right way? YouRan and I are true to each other. No matter where we go, we could stand up straight without shame or fear. Marriage is for those who have found their partner for life. It is not a tool to improve one’s reputation! Furthermore, a family’s reputation has to be won through hard work. It can’t be forced through superficial, political marriages.”
“Without shame or fear?” Miao snorted. “How do you know that none of your guests is laughing at you right now? And to think you had the audacity to send out invitations…”
“Enough!” the old Mr Yan roared. “Miao, do you remember what today is? Do you remember who you are? You are a daughter of the Yan family. Was this how I raised you?”
Upon seeing his father going livid with rage, Cheng quickly handed the old Mr Yan a glass of water. “Don’t be angry, Father. Don’t agitate your body.”
Cheng then looked up and sternly told his sister, “Miao-Miao, our father has stated multiple times his approval of Yan’s marriage. Do you plan on sending the old man to the hospital at Yan’s engagement party?”
Miao was startled when she realised her father was truly angry this time. However, she wasn’t afraid of her oldest brother. She stepped closer to her father and began patting him in the back.
“As I thought, none of you love me anymore once I’m married off,” Yan petulantly murmured. “I was only telling you what I think.”
“I was the one who sent out the invitations,” said the old Mr Yan. “I was also the one who selected their wedding date. What else do you have to say?”
Miao can be as bold and brash as she wanted but she never dared to fight with her father for long. She shot a scathing glare at the calm Kong Wen before turning to look away. She didn’t reply to her father. That woman must be jumping with joy at seeing her father berate her. Hmph. As for Xu YouRan, she didn’t think he was anyone worth proper treatment from her.
Cheng was used to mediating and pacifying everyone. When he noticed the tense silence stretching out between his father and sister, he instinctively wanted to break the ice. But then, he saw the look in Miao’s eyes. The glare he saw angered him. He turned around and put an arm across his wife’s shoulders. He said nothing.
When Miao saw the brother who’d always acted as the mediator refusing to speak, the anger and sorrow in her grew even more. Her emotions were so intense that she had to stomp her foot. She was even more adamant not to speak first now.
“Dad, are you tired?” Kong Wen softly asked. “Let me help you upstairs for a little rest.”
Cheng could tell his son wasn’t willing to back down. Miao had never learned to compromise. If the two started bickering again, his elderly father might really be hospitalised.
“Yes, Dad. You’ve had a tiring evening,” Cheng hurriedly chimed in. “Head up and rest for a while. Are you hungry? I’ll have the kitchen send you some food.”
The old Mr Yan shot a look at his son. “By the time you remember me, I would’ve been starved to death. Xiao-Wen has thought of that already. I had some warm milk. Combined with a belly full of anger, I’m not hungry anymore.”
“It’s my bad,” Cheng smiled as he helped the old Mr Yan to his feet. “I’m not as diligent as Xiao-Wen. We’ll help you up the stairs.”
“I can’t blame you for that,” the old Mr Yan harrumphed. “You’re an unsophisticated man. How could you be as attentive as Xiao-Wen? You stay here. I can go on my own. I’m not so old that I need someone to help me up the stairs.”
“Father, I just so happen to have a little headache,” said Wen. “If I help you up the stairs, I can seize the chance to rest too.” She turned to her husband. “Ah-Cheng, tell the kitchen to prepare some warm congee for Father later. Tell them to use the rice I’ve been soaking.”
“I’ve got it,” Cheng replied with a nod. “Don’t worry.”
Wen then turned to walk towards the staircase with one of her arms being used as support for the old Mr Yan.
Miao watched as the warm, homely scene played out before. It was as if they were rejecting her, casting her out. Her father and brother loved her the most! Now, their kindness and love have turned to Kong Wen!
Miao wasn’t someone who can accept being upset. She couldn’t resist letting out a haughty huff and muttered, “It’s all so fake. Just revolting!”