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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Joy of Life: Volume 1 Chapter 2

Volume One: The City by the Sea
-- written by Maoni

Chapter 2: The Nameless Yellow Book

As far as Fan Xian was concerned, maybe the only benefit of a second life was that he could freely move his limbs. He could run and jump all he wanted now. That was indeed a very gratifying feeling. It would probably be very difficult for people who had not suffered from the same kind of illness to truly appreciate the joy.
“This must be a blessing from Heaven,” he comforted himself.
It took him all four years to finally comprehend it and accept the fact. Now that he had the opportunity to live again, why not make it a good one? Since God was so kind to bestow upon him a brand new life, just for consideration of God’s feelings, he should live it sincerely. For instance, since he could move now, why not move some more?
 Therefore, all the servants of the Count’s Manor soon learned that this baseborn Young Master was not the idling type[1].
“Young Master, come down please! I beg of you!”
At the moment, Fan Xian was sitting at the very top of the rockwork hill in the courtyard, staring at the ocean horizon in the far distance, smiling.
In the eyes of the servant girl, the fact that a four-year-old would climb that high together with such a mature smile on his face clearly indicated that the little fellow had gone completely mad.
The crowd by the foot of the rockwork hill gradually grew in size and soon there were seven or eight servants surrounding the rockwork hill worried sick.
Although the Count of Southernland was in His Majesty’s favor, neither his rank of nobility nor the post he held was of great importance. Naturally the income wouldn’t be very impressive. Even if there was quite a bit of income, the majority of the money wouldn’t be spent on his mother and a baseborn son. Therefore, the Count’s Manor didn’t have many servants.
Seeing the worried faces of the people at the foot of the rockwork hill, Fan Xian let out a sigh and eventually climbed down.
“I am just doing a little bit exercise. What’s there to worry about?”
The servants obviously had grown accustomed to the Young Master’s odd habit of speaking in an adult’s tongue. Wasting no time, they quickly grabbed him and sent him into the bathtub.
After Fan Xian had been thoroughly cleaned from head to toe, he was soon picked up by a servant girl. Holding the Young Master in her arms, the girl caressed his face, grinning jokingly.
“Young Master is as pretty as a girl. I wonder which little miss will be so fortunate to be your bride when you grow up.”
Fan Xian didn’t reply and kept a stupid look. He didn’t want to flirt with a teenage girl through the tongue of a four-year-old kid. He would never consider such a tasteless act – he’d rather wait till at least six before taking on such grand challenges.
“Time for your nap, my little boss!” The servant girl smacked the little kid gently on the behind.
For the servants, it was always beyond their understanding why the Young Master of the Count’s Manor, who had began to demonstrate clear signs of naughtiness and disobedience despite his young age, would display the kind of self-discipline and assiduity only shown from grown-ups when it came to certain things: for example, taking naps.
For anyone who had a normal childhood, it would probably be difficult to forget in the old days how great battles were fought against those big devils who forced them to take naps in the beautiful and enchanting sunshine of the early afternoon.
Among those devils, some were called Dads, others were called Moms, and some were even called Teachers.
Young Master Fan Xian never exhibited the need for anyone to force him into a nap. Every day by noon, he would put on the most lovely and innocent smile and submissively go back to his bedroom to take a nap. He also wouldn’t make any noise during the nap.
At first the Old Madam had great doubts, and even assigned servant girls to monitor the kid, thinking he was just pretending to be taking a nap and would make some kind of trouble in bed instead. For the next half a year, their close monitoring only revealed that the kid was truly sleeping very soundly. So soundly that it proved to be quite difficult to wake him up.
Ever since then, the servant girls never paid more attention, and only kept their watch outside while the Young Master took his naps.
It was the summer time. Naturally, the servant girls were quite weary. Leaning slightly, they swayed the fans in their hands occasionally, as small flying insects danced swiftly in the breeze.
……
……
After returning to the bedroom, Fan Xian climbed into bed. Lifting up the bamboo matting on top, he gingerly pulled out a book from the secret casing he hollowed out himself.
The cover of the book appeared slightly yellowish, as though it was quite aged. There was nothing on the cover, not a single character, other than a few silk fabric patterns embroidered onto the edge and the corners. It was unclear whether these patterns really meant anything, except that the end stroke of each pattern curled up, like clouds flowing in the wind or the large and loose sleeve corner of ancient robes.
He opened the book gently and turned to page seven. It was the drawing of a naked male figure whose body was covered by some vaguely seen red lines. Whatever paint was used to draw these lines, it must have been special, because it seemed to have created this visual illusion that the lines were slowly flowing toward a certain direction.
Fan Shen[2] heaved a sigh. With the look of a mere four-year-old, he dared not reveal his true self. Luckily he had this book to help him kill some of the boring time.
The book had been left for him by that blind youngster named Five-Bamboo, when he was still an infant.
Fan Shen always remembered that blind youngster, the servant of his mother in this world.
Many years back when he had found himself trapped inside the infant’s body, the youngster held him in his arms. During the journey all the way from the Capital City to this port by the sea, the blind youngster probably thought that he wouldn’t remember anything for his young age, however, the soul of Fan Shen was not that of an ignorant infant. Along the journey, he could clearly sense the sincere consideration for the little baby coming directly from the blind youngster’s heart. There was no pretending.
For whatever reason, the blind youngster left right away as soon as he escorted the baby to the Manor of the Count of Southernland, despite the Old Madam’s strong urging for him to stay. Before his departure, he had placed the book right next to the little baby.
This had troubled Fan Shen for quite a while. Shouldn’t this servant be worried about the possibility of him starting to practice things out of the book blindly? But soon he thought of the answer. Being a young kid, there was no way for him to recognize the writings in the book. Then of course such a problem wouldn’t have existed.
Fan Shen happened to know the characters of this world, and after such a dramatic reincarnation, he’d have no problem believing in things such as ghosts or celestial beings. He had no doubt that this book, which looked very much like a prop in a Hong Kong TVB TV series, contained the secret methods of developing some sort of inner energy.
Too bad the book didn’t have a name. Otherwise, he could have asked those kids on the street about it and find out whether this type of inner energy was any good.
Fan Shen couldn’t help but giggle when he reflected on these thoughts. Since God gave him the opportunity of a second life, he’d better cherish it. A manuscript for inner energy was something great that he didn’t have in his own world. Even if this nameless manuscript was no good, it didn’t stop him from practicing it ever since he was one year old.
One can’t really start any earlier than that unless someone starts training as a fetus still inside their mother’s womb.
There was absolutely no one else in this world, including those few Supreme Grand Masters who were pretty much regarded as deity beings by the common people, no matter what kind of geniuses they were, who could have started developing inner energy almost right after birth like Fan Shen did.
“How do you call this? This is called the early bird gets the worm. It’s also called the slow walker needs a head start. Besides, I am no dumber than those who are just starting their training,” Fan Shen thought to himself.
He could already feel a stream of inner energy slowly circulating around his body following the lines shown in the book. That was a very relaxing feeling, as though a warm stream of water was rinsing every inch of his inner organs.
Gradually, his mind went into a trance, and soon he fell asleep comfortably in bed.



[1] Remember, “Xian” means leisure, idle and unoccupied.
[2] I guess the author used the original name here because he wanted to emphasize that the main character felt more like being himself when he didn’t have to pretend to be the young kid.


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