Fang Jiping got up as usual. He saw Fang Ruchang having breakfast in the dining room.
Fang Ruchang said suddenly, "I have something to do, so will arrive later."
Fang Jiping didn’t say anything. He sat down quietly. The two ate breakfast in silence. The housemaid was accustomed to such a quiet scene with few words between the father and son since long ago.
That was true. For most of the time, a family with only father and son would eventually be quiter.
When Fang Jiping went out, he looked around unwittingly… He didn’t see that woman. Yet, he didn’t know why, but he sensed that she was somewhere nearby.
Fang Jiping couldn’t force himself to stay here for too long, so he rushed out from the estate.
He had an impulse of not going back to the band and went to a place unconsciously--- a famous theater in the city, where it could let him calm down.
It was not open yet but through many times of appearance and performance, the security officer had known this young violinist since an earlier time, so he smiled and let Fang Jiping in.
There was no one in the theater except a girl who was setting up the stage.
Fang Jiping walked towards the back of the girl noiselessly, clasping the girl’s waist and taking her into his arms. Yet the girl didn’t panic. Instead, a smile appeared on her comely face before letting out a heavy voice, "Oh my god, where did this molester come from? I will call the police!"
The girl used her fingers to form a cellphone, sticking it on her face, "Hello, is that police station?"
Fang Jiping smiled, lowered his head and leaned on the girl’s shoulder, saying in a low voice, "Manman, I missed you."
Manman stopped her joke, grasping Fang Jiping’s hand that was encircling her body, letting this man embrace her quietly on this stage.
After a while, Fang Jiping let go of this girl.
Manman turned around, pointing at Fang Jiping’s nose, "Is it enough? If you are in a bad mood, I can rent out my shoulder!"
Fang Jiping smiled faintly.
The two came to sit on the chair under the stage. Looking at the stage Fang Jiping held Manman’s hand suddenly, "Are you tired?"
"I’m OK." Manman pounded her shoulder, "But it will be done this afternoon!"
Fang Jiping turned around suddenly and climbed over the chair, coming to the back of Manman, pressing and rubbing her shoulders gently, "Take it easy."
Fang Jiping smiled, "Then I won’t perform in this theater anymore."
Manman turned her head around at once, "No! if you don’t play here, where can I find another free-of-charge concert?
"OK, stop. Take a rest here. Nobody else is here now."
Manman closed her eyes immediately. Soon after, Manman picked up her backpack. She took out a wrinkled leaflet and her cellphone.
Fang Jiping took a glimpse at this leaflet, both of his hands paused as he blurted out, "What, what’s this?"
Manman didn’t care about him as she typed on the cellphone, "It’s a notice for missing person. I saw a student-like guy sticking this downstairs when I came to work this morning. He said he was helping someone with this, so I asked for one. Well, I plan to post it online to do him a favor. The parents of this missing person must have been suffering."
Fang Jiping continued while speaking slowly, "But do you think that it might be his parents’ mistake that led to the kidnapping of this child?"
"Yeah…" Manman blinked, "But 20 years have passed. They should have enough punishment already, no matter what mistake they made, unless they sold their kid on purpose. Besides, if they were just careless, they wouldn’t look for him for 20 years, right?"
Fang Jiping fell silent.
Manman looked up at Fang Jiping who was patting Manman’s shoulder at this moment, "I have something to do… Let’s have dinner together."
Fang Ruchang went out soon after Fang Jiping left. This famous conductor didn’t leave the estate in haste; instead, he wandered around the grove near to his home.
He seemed to be seeking for something with patience. Before long, Fang Ruchang stopped and narrowed his eyes, looking at a silhouette sitting under a tree for rest.
In fact, he wouldn’t have found out that there was a person there if the slight cough sound wasn’t heard coming from there.
As a conductor, his auditory senses were more sensitive than common people.
"Who are you?"
Suddenly, Yang Ping heard the voice coming from her back. She was eating breakfast provided by the dining hall of the realty management company. Yang Ping hurried to wipe her mouth with her hand and stood up quickly, "I, I’m not lazing about here, it’s not the working time yet."
"No, I didn’t ask you about this, I mean who are you?" Fang Ruchang sized up this cleaner.
Last night when the car got stuck, the person he saw seemed to be her. Later on, when he followed Fang Jiping, he found the person that Fang Jiping was looking for was her as well.
She had a slight hunchback, dark skin, and a trace of hardship all over her face. Fang Ruchang recalled the behavior of Fang Jiping last night, guessing some possible situations vaguely.
"I, I am a cleaner here, sir." Yang Ping looked down, dared not looked at this man with a stately voice in the eyes.
"I’m Jiping’s father." Fang Ruchang said it abruptly.
Yang Ping raised her head right off, she seemed to become excited, but she calmed down and hesitated when she spoke, "Sir, I, I don’t know what do you mean."
"What’s that?" Fang Ruchang pointed suddenly at a grey-white sack tied with a garbage and asked.
Yang Ping was scared, "Nothing, just some clothes and sundries."
"Let me have a look." Fang Ruchang replied coolly but his actions were quick. Before Yang Ping responded, he had walked there and opened the sack.
"Oh! You can’t see it!"
But she couldn’t stop him in time. She had a bad eyesight, but saw Fang Ruchang was rummaging about in her sack, which made her worry and was about to cry, "You can’t see it!"
"Sure enough I guessed correctly." Fang Ruchang smiled coldly, holding a leaflet when gazing at Yang Ping, "You’re really Jiping’s biological mother. I can’t imagine that you can even find him among a billion of people."
Sensing she had been detected, Yang Ping had to tell the truth, "Mr. Fang, I… I just want to see my son, I don’t plan to do anything else."
"But you’ve seen him eh?" Fang Ruchang said indifferently, "Then what are you still staying here for?"
"I… I just want to see him." Yang Ping said indifferently, "See him from far, it’s sufficient as long as I know whether he is happy or not."
Fang Ruchang sneered suddenly, "Oh do you? Don’t you continue to stay here to ask him to support your remaining life? Because you see Jiping is living great now."
Yang Ping was angry, gritting her teeth and answering with a slight rage, "Mr. Fang, how can you say this!"
While Fang Ruchang snorted, "I’ve asked Jiping about his childhood. I know you’re a gambler, and the reason why your son was kidnapped."
Yang Ping grasped her clothes tightly, Fang Ruchang who was in front of her seemed like a mountain that made her too stressful to breathe. Her lips twitched but didn’t know what to say.
Fang Ruchang added in the same tone, "Do you know how your son’s life was after he was kidnapped? I can tell you, he was forced by them to beg on the street. Can you imagine a beggar’s life? You’ve spent a lot of years seeking for your son, didn’t you see how those kids who were forced to beg money are treated?"
"I, I don’t know…. I don’t know…"
Yang Ping’s sallow face twitched all at once. She sat down weak and limp on the grass. As if she lost her spirit, Yang Ping lowered her head and big drops of tears were gradually emitted from her cloudy eyes.
She used to cry for countless days and nights but she had never emitted this kind of tears full of bitterness that dug out her heart.
When her son was kidnapped that year, she was inconsolable and had received many reprimands from her family. Therefore, she left her hometown and travelled more than half of the whole China by foot. In the past 20 years, she had never felt settled any minute for all those days and nights.
And now, as she heard the experience that Fang Jiping had ever been through, those compunctions and self-accusation hidden for over 20 years were like a deadly viper that killed her.
"I’m inhuman! I’m so damn! I’m inhuman! I’m so damn… I’m inhuman!"
Yang Ping slapped her face. She tried to use this pair of old and weak hands and all her strength to slap herself, "I’m inhuman!! My son… god, I deserve to die, but why did you treat my son like this! My God… take my life away… I’m damned!"
Just at this moment.
Fang Ruchang grabbed Yang Ping’s hands, saying coldly, "Stop acting! I’ve seen too many actors like you! Don’t you just want some money?"
He fished out a cheque book from the inside of his clothes, writing down a string of numbers quickly, tearing down and throwing it to Yang Ping’s arm, "Fang Jiping is my son and has nothing to do with you. Here is 2 million, take it and leave! Don’t ever come back again! You’d better not think it is too less. Even if your son isn’t kidnapped that year, he cannot earn all these money in that poor place for his whole life! This is enough for you to live the rest of your life very well!"
Yet Yang Ping trembled, patting away the cheque like expelling a viper. Her lips were twitching constantly and her shoulders were powerless, "I don’t need it… I don’t need it, I just want my son… I have wronged him. I don’t want the money… I deserve retribution…"
While Fang Ruchang was frowning, he yelled in a low voice, "Fang Jiping is important to me. I won’t let you show up in front of him. I don’t care if you take the money or not. If you don’t leave, then don’t blame me if I’m rude to you."
But Yang Ping seemed like she didn’t hear all these words.
Sometimes she cried, sometimes laughed. Suddenly, she hit both of her hands on the tree, "Why did I gamble… why did I gamble… you threw away my son, I don’t want you!"
A pair of old hands smashed the tree crazily. The skin was cut open and the flesh was torn, after a few hits.
The nerves in the hand are connected to the heart; however, the pain she felt was no worse than her heartache. She struck until she became exhausted, only then did Yang Ping leaned against the tree with all her hair let down sloppily.
Her hands kept quivering. She yelled as if she didn’t see Fang Ruchang, "Baby Tiger, where are you, mom is coming to see you, Baby Tiger, Baby Tiger, Baby Tiger…"
Without blinking, Fang Ruchang looked at this woman who was leaving, step by step, like a zombie. He sensed that this woman had turned crazy.
"Baby Tiger, where are you… Baby Tiger, mom bought you popsicles. One for you, and the other for me, hum… Baby Tiger, Baby Tiger…"
The voice faded away.