Author: Shu Ding Rou
Translator: Yuenme Translations
Guan Pipi felt that Director Zhang's attitude was understandable. Yesterday after work, he repeatedly told Pipi to be on time for the meeting. In the end, she still committed the crime knowingly. Pipi felt very sorry. She quickly pulled out a recording pen and notepad from her bag, apologized to the director, and flew into the meeting room.
Every single person was smoking.
The huge air conditioner was releasing warm air. With warm air and smoke mixed together, Pipi felt like she was sitting in a chimney.
The meeting just started. The president talked about this month’s key news reports. Various departments reported key topics and new columns. The Advertising Department reported the revenue and expenditure situation.
"Last week, a student at C University killed his mother in anger because of family conflict. We’re going to send journalists to inquire about college students’ psychological stress. In addition, in order to participate in the year-end 'Top Ten Cultural News' selection, we have drafted five special topics and interviews to promote traditional culture which are under discussion," Xie Huang, director of the Department of Political Affairs, said with a blank face while looking at his notebook.
After hesitating for a moment, the president said, "Until the judicial verdict comes out put off the psychological stress investigation. If it was a mental illness, just a random accident, then no need to talk about anything. Or just do a psychological stress investigation and don’t mention this matter. Choice topics for Cultural News should be settled quickly. This weekend, we will try to get them in the newspaper."
The president moved his attention to the Department of Industry and Communications.
Director Fang Nanhui immediately said, "The V3 Railway is almost completed. The reporters doing the follow-up report eat and sleep in the mountains, it is quite toilsome. Is it possible for the newspaper office to consider giving a special subsidy? Also xiao(1)Wei is 3 months pregnant, has severe vomiting. The mountain conditions are too poor. In my opinion, we should transfer her back to the Department of Political Affairs."
(1)小 (xiăo): little; a term of endearment
The president nodded, "There is no problem with the subsidy, but the portion has to discussed with the vice-presidents first. Handle xiao Wei's matter immediately. You can tell her today to come back to the city."
"She has a pregnancy test today, already returned."
"Then inform her that she does not have to return to the construction site."
Regular meetings are particularly long. Every mouth is talking nonstop while endlessly breathing out smoke. Pipi was recording while taking notes, her head spinning as she waited for the meeting to conclude.
Two and a half hours later, the president finally said, "We'll go up to here for today. Xiao Guan (Pipi), go make the meeting minutes into a brief report and send it to each department."
Guan Pipi was about to readily accept the task when her head suddenly burst with pain. Under everybody’s watch, she covered her mouth and headed straight to the restroom.
A hepatitis A epidemic broke out in C City last month. It is said that it came from a breakfast vendor's stand. C City people all have the habit of eating breakfast outside. Even though there are disposable bowls and chopsticks, hepatitis A still broke out. Guan Pipi suspected that the meat buns she bought from outside and ate were not clean, and also suspected that there was something wrong with that cup of soy bean milk. Anyway, once she started vomiting she did not stop. She vomited until she saw stars and her face turned green before suppressing her stomach. Using the wall as support and suffering with each step, she slowly returned to the editor-in-chief’s office.
Unexpectedly, she met her immediate superior at the door of the office, Director of the Editorial Department, Du Wenguang.
"What’s wrong? Are you feeling uncomfortable?" The editor-in-chief manages the reporters. Reporters are all obstinate and unruly. Only by being even more obstinate than them can you keep them under control, so Du Wenguang usually puts on airs of being cool-headed, stern, and reserved. Being asked such a question by a reserved person, Pipi suddenly felt extremely flattered. "I’m alright. It might have been that I ate something bad."
The director's tone was even more concerned, "Then quickly go home and rest. I’ll tell the office to get a car to send you."
"No no no, I’m really fine. The president wants a summary of the meeting minutes. I’ll ask for leave after finishing."
Seeing her determined attitude, Du Wenguang did not say much more and nodded, "Alright. If you can’t take it then hand it in tomorrow. Or you can first write a rough draft and I’ll let Xiao Ji revise it and send it out."
Xiao Ji is also the secretary of the chief editor, famous for being unreliable at her job. But because she has a behind-the-scenes backer, they also can’t make her leave. Otherwise, the editorial office is not big so why go so far as to have two secretaries.
Pipi firmly shakes her head, "Xiao Ji is also pretty busy today, has to organize the files. Still better for me to do it. If not fine, I’ll ask her to help.
Resisting her stomach's periodic convulsions, Pipi toughened her scalp(2) to write the minutes summary.
(2)硬着头皮 (yìngzhe tóupí): literally toughen one’s scalp; to brace oneself, force oneself to do something against one’s will
Even until she finished writing the summary, the symptoms did not lighten. It's just that the contents in her stomach had already been emptied, so she also can’t throw up anymore.
Pipi thought, continuing to endure was going to give her a hero’s death, and entrusted the summary to Xiao Ji to revise.
She held a plastic bag, embarrassingly troubled the company to send for a car as she couldn’t bring herself to sit in a taxi, and exited the entrance doors, going straight to the subway station.
At the same time, her phone suddenly rang.
"Hey, Pipi." There was a muffled voice on the other end of the phone, the line rustled, and there was a plausible echo. However, Tao Jialin's voice, no matter how it changed she could still recognize it.
"Jialin," Pipi responded weakly.
"Did you buy the book?"
"I bought it."
"Can you send it on the way home when you get off work? I’m in a hurry to use it."
"Ok." Pipi originally wanted to tell him that she was not feeling well today. Thinking about it, maybe it's only temporary, it’ll be fine by afternoon. Still better to make the trip then. It was rare for Jialin to ask her to do something, there weren’t many times in Pipi’s memory.
"What time will you come? I’ll wait for you in my dorm room."
"Probably at half past five."
"Ok, see you soon."
"Ok-" Pipi still wanted to say some stuff when the other side already hung up.
Don’t know why, every phone call was as short as that, not even having the conventional greetings.
Maybe it was simply because they were too familiar with each other. Familiar to the point that with just a brow or a glance will already give an understanding of the other person's thoughts.
That was Pipi and Jialin. Neighbors when they were young, knew each other since kindergarten, and in the same class in both primary and secondary school. High school was divided into arts and sciences, but also in the same school.
From childhood to grown up, they used the same postal code.
The only difference is that after entering high school Pipi’s performance plummeted, while Jialin was first in their grade. Add being tall and handsome, he was also basketball captain, becoming the idol of countless girls.
But Pipi had never thought about how handsome Jialin is. At least not the extent of their classmates who say "cool" or "handsome". Because Pipi has seen runny nose Jialin, losing baby teeth and gap toothed Jialin, and hospitalized with jaundice Jialin. Not to mention Jialin's twig period, with long/skinny limbs and a big funny head. From afar he looked like a big mushroom or a Martian. Later, Jialin gained a layer of black facial hair above his lips, and his adam’s apple rolled up and down his neck when he talked. Pipi was not used to it for a while and didn’t even dare to look at his face.
Of course, people who have went to kindergarten together as children are naturally closer than others.
One day after lunch in first year high school, Jialin suddenly appeared beside Pipi’s seat and whispered to go shopping.
"To buy what?" Pipi was startled because the boys in class never took the initiative to talk to girls first. Especially boys like Jialin. First in their grade, high above the masses, one must grab hold. (means to snag a guy that good)
They agreed to meet at the school gate. Avoiding several suspicious eyes, Pipi followed Jialin out the east gate. On the right is the clothing market, a long street full of merchants stock full of goods rushing in from the countryside.
Jialin asked, “What size pants do you wear?”
"Buying me… pants?"
"W-why?" Pipi blushed and stuttered.
"En–" Jialin gave a few En’s, not saying anything. Only said to the owner of the clothing store, "I want this, black, yes, for her to wear. Laoban(3), you are a tailor, you should be able to guess the size."
(3)老板 (lăobăn): shopkeeper, boss
At that time, Pipi and Jialin both wore the light gray school uniform. The school uniform is usually one person gets two sets. But Pipi was poor, only bought one set, and practically wore it everyday. Fortunately, it’s the style of spring clothes, also need to wear a T-shirt inside. It’s not particularly dirty to wash and change frequently.
Both of them are not good at bargaining. When paying they were met with the shopkeeper's mouth slightly rising. Pipi thinks Jialin will definitely suffer.
When they passed the public restroom on the side, Jialin stuffed the pants into Pipi’s hands, "Go try it, see if it’s suitable."
That women’s restroom was not that clean. Pipi did not want to, and said awkwardly, “Must I try it now?”
Jialin looked down at his toes, “En. Trying it now is better.”
Only after Pipi went in and took off her pants did she find out that although she had bought a super long pad with wings, a large area of her pants was still soaked with a red circle, especially eye catching. Just now in the cafeteria, waiting in such a long line, probably everyone saw it.
Really perfectly embarrassing.
Changing her clothes with a red face, she met Jialin who was still waiting for her outside the door. Pipi quickly took out two dollars and pulled him into the ice cream shop, "I’ll treat you to a popsicle."
Jia Lin accepted it generously. When Pipi wanted to buy one for herself, Jialin stopped her and said to the ice cream shop person, “Do you have hot guo zhen(4)?”
(4)果珍 (guǒ zhēn): Tang, a fruit flavored drink
—— This is one of Pipi's favorite memories. As soon as she closes her eyes, the image of Jialin lowering his head to look at his toes surfaces in her mind.
After taking an antiemetic and lying in bed for two hours, Pipi felt much better. Taking care of the unfinished minutes, she took a bag and, despite her grandma’s dissuasion, took the subway back to the newspaper office.
She met xiao Wei in the elevator. That is, female reporter Wei Qingtan of the Department of Political Affairs.
"Ah, Qingtan jie(5) you’re back?"
(5)姐 (jiě): elder sister; also used when addressing an older female
"Thank you for your concern. I’ve been transferred back to the Political Affairs Department. Pipi, I was looking for your help. Can you sit a while in my office?"
Besides envying journalists' profession, Pipi also envied journalists’ way of life: no need to keep office hours. Pipi thinks being a journalist is really an ideal job. She is naturally curious and likes stories, but just having curiosity does not mean you can hear interesting stories. People will not tell you easily unless you are a journalist.
Wei Qingtan is 179 centimeters tall and has a big build. People who don't know her will even think she plays basketball. However, the usually healthy Wei Qingtan is now pregnant and her face has become green. But her spirit is still good, "Pipi, this is for you!"
She took out a small box from her bag and handed it to her. Pipi opened it and saw it was a beautiful turquoise bracelet.
"Ai… this, how can I accept? It's very expensive right?" Although the relationship between Qingtan and Pipi is the best among the journalists, but Qingtan is always running around outside, and the chances of meeting her are not often. Nor are they close enough to send gifts to each other.
"Of course, I got it for free. I have quite a few. Do you remember last time I wrote a report saying that there is a turquoise processing factory – nearby is a good gem mine, but no ability to process it?"
"The province attached great importance to the report and allocated millions of loans to the factory."
"Oh, a bribe?" Pipi said while laughing.
"A memento from before I left. These things are not expensive at their origin. When they get to the jeweler the price doubles."
"Did you need me for something?"
"Didn’t you say you want to be a journalist?"
"That’s right!" Pipi caught scent of a suggestion and immediately became excited.
"It’s like this. Recently, isn’t the CPC(6) promoting traditional culture? I have an interviewee and am preparing to make a special edition. But this person is very mysterious. I heard that he never meets journalists and refuses any interviews. I have friends at other newspapers who have tried to change his mind. They all got the cold shoulder."
(6)CPC/中央 (zhōngyāng): abbrev. for Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC)
"Can't you gather peripheral information? For example, interviewing his colleagues, classmates, friends, family members and so on." Pipi remembered her homework from news class last week and was happy that she could say a few professional words.
"I have already done some interviews around his periphery." Wei Qingtan took out a folder from on top the table with a few thin sheets of paper inside. There was also a roll of recording tapes. "The data on him is very little."
"Why?" Pipi asked, "Is he Qian Zhongshu(7)?" As far as she knows, famous people’s information has always been a lot. Gossip, rumors, go online and Google it, and fan groups can release a few inside stories.
(7)钱钟书 (Qián Zhōngshū): famous Chinese literary scholar/writer who kept away from the media
"He isn’t Qian Zhongshu, but his teacher, Song Qi, has the same status as Qian Zhongshu in the field of cultural relics. He came to be known as the most eminent scholar in the study of jade. After Song Qi passed away, this person is thought to be the rising new star of the jade world. To some extent, what he says is as authoritative as Song Qi."
Cultural relics? Jade? —— This was not in line with Pipi’s knowledge.
"He is called Helan Jingting. Ancient jade expert, connoisseur, antique collector. This person rarely comes out and only has one title: Senior Consultant of C City Museum."
Pippi laughed, “C city Museum? Isn’t C city Museum in this neighborhood? I’ll pretend to make a visit. Maybe I can take his picture when he doesn’t expect it."
"Pipi, publishing pictures without the person’s consent is illegal. Do you still remember half a year ago there was a very popular C city business newspaper? Just because of publishing a silhouette of Helan Jingting, he was brought before the court. He invited the best lawyers in the country and magnified the problem. After a thorough investigation, the newspaper was punished into a complete mess, almost went bankrupt."
Nowadays how could the poor dare to get themselves into lawsuits? Pipi stuck out her tongue, "Such a person, you still dare to interview? Not afraid of inviting trouble?"
"That’s why I’m letting you go. First of all, your goal is small. You can sneak into the crowd and watch him; second, you can try to soften him up first. Once he’s softened just enough, I’ll make a move again. How about it? Recently my body’s response to pregnancy is too serious, vomiting everyday. I really can’t run around anymore. We will cosign this news report, earnestly write it, and then take part in this year’s Culture Department's 'Top Ten Cultural News' competition. If you win the prize, you can linger around the president to let him transfer you to the weekend edition, or the entertainment edition. This way, won’t you become a journalist?"
Pipi excitedly said, "Really? Can it really be done this way? Can I really become a reporter?"
As the saying goes, difference in profession makes one feel worlds apart. Pipi is the secretary of the news unit. Although it also has the word “news”, the nature and pay of this job are far from that of a journalist.
"How is it not ok? It’s not without precedent. What’s more, aren’t you currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism? You already have the academic qualifications, of course you can become a journalist. Then, hold my camera and take a good look. This is Nikon’s professional camera. The lenses are tens of thousands of dollars. You have to keep it safe. I’ll go find Du Wenguang and ask him to give you an intern journalist card. Just say that I am in bad health and need you to help me in your spare time. He will definitely agree. What are you doing? If you don’t do it, I’ll have to find Xiao Ji."
"I’ll do it! I’ll do it!"
"Okay, first take a look at the information. Everything I know is there. Sorry, did you use perfume? I have to go throw up… oh dear, it’s already been three months and still throwing up every day. Until when will it be at its peak." Wei Qingtan covered her mouth and rushed out the door.Glossary:
I’ll try to update once a week, but I’m really an amateur at this so I apologize in advance.. there have been a lot of technical difficulties that I’m still trying to solve