"Um. Please continue." Yuan Zhou nodded his head and didn't contradict him.
"This tailor shop was the best store that made clothes at that time around here. People were hurrying to and fro every day and none of them were poor people." The old man revealed a manner of reminiscence.
"I'm waiting for someone over here. We haven't met for many years and I'm not sure if she still recognizes me." The old man was a little perturbed when he said that.
Yuan Zhou just stayed silent and waited quietly for the old man to continue.
"At that time, she and I both worked as apprentices. We were very little then." The old man sighed with emotion.
"Childhood sweethearts." Yuan Zhou summarized concisely and comprehensively.
"Yeah, that's the word. At that time, she was very afraid of worms and thus hid in a pigsty once. I was the first that found her." The old man appeared quite proud when he spoke of this matter.
"As time went by, Tong Tong and I understood each other better and finally got together. At that time, we were only 15 years old. However, that wasn't a young age in my time." The expression on the old man's face revealed sweetness and warmth.
"Now, it's called puppy love." Yuan Zhou said that in an unromantic way.
"Later on, I promised to give her the best wedding dress. Just in front of the tailor shop, I made that promise." The old man raised his head and looked at Yuan Zhou's restaurant.
His gaze was meaningful as if he could see the bustling tailor shop that people hurried to and fro formerly through Yuan Zhou's restaurant.
"Then you went away and never returned. And now, you have come back to look for her." Yuan Zhou got straight to the point.
"No, it's not like that. I just don't know if she can come back again." The old man gave a contemptuous look at Yuan Zhou.
"Is the person you are waiting for called Tong Lan?" As far as Yuan Zhou knew, there was nobody surnamed Tong except for Boss Tong from the dry cleaning shop.
Judging from the age of this old man, he was almost the same age as Boss Tong. Therefore, Yuan Zhou made that guess.
"You know Tong Lan? Do you know Tong Lan? Are you her son?" The old man got dumbfounded first, then he looked at Yuan Zhou in disbelief and asked a series of questions.
"No. Boss Tong is the boss of the dry cleaning shop over there." Yuan Zhou revealed a look of seriousness, however, no one could see the helplessness contained in his heart.
"The neighboring store?" The old man looked toward the neighboring store directly.
"Ta Ta Ta". The old man walked to the neighboring store with big strides and started to walk up and down in front of the closed door.
"Boss Tong is gone." Yuan Zhou didn't turn his head, but just said lightly.
"She's gone?" The old man stayed put in a daze. There was only a blank look on his face rather than a specific expression.
"She went travelling." Yuan Zhou turned his head and added quickly when he found the old man didn't appear normal.
"You nasty guy, you almost scared me to death. Tell me, where is Tong Lan now?" The old man let out a sigh of relief and then said to Yuan Zhou bitterly.
"Touring." Yuan Zhou said straightforwardly.
"There's always a place to go as a tourist. Tell me, do you know where she is now?" The old man walked to Yuan Zhou with big strides, stared at him, and asked loudly.
"Aunt Tong told me that she wanted to go around the world, so I'm not sure about her exact location." Yuan Zhou didn't retreat and then, he said lightly.
"Since you know so much, you are still in contact with her, aren't you?" The old man looked at Yuan Zhou and said affirmatively.
This time, Yuan Zhou didn't contradict him, but just looked at the old man in silence.
"Tell me about her contact info. Well… forget it. When Tong Tong contacts you next time, please tell me." While he was saying that, he lowered his head and said with a sorrowful voice.
"You don't want it?" Yuan Zhou became a little puzzled.
"No, I don't. But if Tong Tong contacts you next time, please do tell me." The old man turned around and walked back to the original place.
It was still the same place. The old man just stood there as if he had prepared to stand forever until Boss Tong came back.
"Um." Yuan Zhou nodded his head and then went back to his restaurant.
When it went to the fixed time, the old man left straightforwardly.
After a sound of "Hua La", Yuan Zhou closed the door and walked back into the kitchen.
"I should make a phone call." Yuan Zhou muttered while stroking his forehead with his hand. After that, he turned around and went upstairs.
The second floor of the pub was very boisterous. While Chen Wei and some others were drinking the Bamboo Liquor seriously, Yuan Zhou that had returned upstairs sat at the desk and picked up the phone.
"It's just 21:30 now. It should be a good time." Yuan Zhou muttered that before he started to dial the number.
The three characters of "Aunt Tong" were clearly marked beside the number.
Yuan Zhou dialed the number directly and then, there passed the sound of "Du Du Du" from the phone.
"What's the matter, Little Yuan?" There came Boss Tong's voice filled with drowsiness from the other end of the phone.
"Are you having a good time recently?" Yuan Zhou took the phone and asked earnestly.
"Quite good. It's just a little cold here." This time, Boss Tong's voice contained some delight.
"Aunt Tong, someone is looking for you." Yuan Zhou said tentatively.
"A regular customer? Please introduce him to other stores." This time, Boss Tong's voice contained some arrogance.
"No, it's a very old man, a grandpa." Yuan Zhou said straightforwardly.
Boss Tong didn't answer him as quickly as before this time, but just stayed silent for quite a while.
When Boss Tong became silent, Yuan Zhou didn't say anything, either. He just waited in silence for Boss Tong to speak again.
"Has he been here for a long time?" When Boss Tong said that, she sounded down.
"Quite a few days." Yuan Zhou answered whenever asked.
"Little Yuan, you know about it already, right?" Judging from Boss Tong's tone, she was quite sure about that.
"Um." Yuan Zhou nodded his head.
"Do you want to know?" Boss Tong's meaning was quite explicit. She was asking if Yuan Zhou would like to know the more specific happenings about them.
However, Yuan Zhou didn't anything.
"Actually, we grew up together. He was a few years older than me. We learned from a chef to make tofu together at that time. I was only 13 or 14 years old." Speaking of the past, Boss Tong's tone was almost the same with that old man's.
They all carried a sigh of emotional along with the reminiscence.
Boss Tong talked about the matters of the past seriously. She also talked about the matters about that old man and her. She spoke in more detail than the old man did.
As Boss Tong spoke, Yuan Zhou didn't interrupt. He just listened to her carefully.
"At that time, his skill was better than mine. We all thought that he would have his own shop in the future." There was slight regret in Boss Tong's tone.
"You opened the dry cleaning shop." Yuan Zhou said bluntly.
"Using the words of young people, we were in puppy love. Though neither of us confirmed the relationship, we both had some vague feelings."
"I still remember the place where we held hands for the first time. It was a very strange place. A pigsty." Boss Tong was lost in the sweet memory.
Yuan Zhou answered with a simple "huh", indicating that he was still listening.
"When I was 16, he had to leave Chengdu due to some family circumstances one day. Also on that day, he told me that he would let me wear the most beautiful wedding dress and then propose me. He told me not ever to wear anybody's wedding dress." Boss Tong's voice was low and deep.
Yuan Zhou asked, "So that's the reason why you stayed unmarried all these years?"
"Since he promised so, I agreed." Boss Tong said.
"You answered impulsively and waited until now," said Yuan Zhou.
"Day after day and year after year. Sometimes, I don't even know what I was waiting for. Is it for the promise made that year or did I just get used to waiting? Thirty years passed like that. He went away and never came back." Boss Tong said with an indifferent tone.
"But you are still waiting." Yuan Zhou said directly.
Boss Tong didn't say anything as if she had given tacit consent to what Yuan Zhou said but also as if she hadn't heard Yuan Zhou's words.
"When are you prepared to come back?" Yuan Zhou asked at once.
The next moment, however, he found his question was way too blunt. Thus, he added immediately, "I have found a very good rest home for you. You can come back for a look."
"No, not now." Boss Tong refused him directly.
"Why?" Yuan Zhou asked subconsciously.
"Nothing special. I'm just tired of waiting." When Boss Tong said that, she sounded a little depressed but meanwhile, it had a sense of relief.
Yuan Zhou found he had nothing to say even when he wanted to persuade her again. Boss Tong had waited for so many years from the age of 16 to 50. She was so patient just in order to let the man find her. Moreover, she even opened the dry cleaning shop in the neighboring room.
No one could understand the joys and sorrows of life contained therein.