The spectators were in awe as they witnessed Yang Chen swallow 66 dumplings. A lot of them even started cheering for him.
After the fourth bowl was served, Yang Chen took a deep breath before basically inhaling the dumplings once again.
With only thirty seconds left on the clock, Yang Chen had already forced 88 dumplings down his stomach. The owner and servers of the restaurant were all dumbstruck and stared at Yang Chen.
Yang Chen wiped his mouth with a piece of tissue. “Erm… the time isn’t up right? I finished them already.”
The crowd shouted in excitement as they celebrated Yang Chen’s victory, while the owner of the restaurant didn’t know how to feel about this. It was originally an event organized to trick customers into eating and paying for the dumplings. Never in his wildest dreams had he actually thought that someone would walk in and complete the challenge.
However, he had to fulfill his promise, otherwise his restaurant would be shunned for dishonesty and have to leave Zhonghai.
The restaurant owner personally passed the dumpling doll to Yang Chen. The doll had a round body with a white face and a pouting mouth, causing numerous ladies to go crazy.
The boss immediately asked the employees to prepare a table of dumplings, with 16 different flavors.
“May I ask if you have other friends coming over as well?” the restaurant owner asked.
Yang Chen shook his head. “It will only be me and my wife.”
The restaurant still brought the two to a private room with a huge table. All the dumplings couldn’t be forced onto a small table after all.
Lin Ruoxi looked at Yang Chen who walked as he rubbed his belly. She found it absurd and funny at the same time. This man is indeed an undiscovered treasure. Why does he always have to worry me like this? Lin Ruoxi thought.
After they walked into the room, using both hands, Yang Chen handed the adorable dumpling doll to Lin Ruoxi. Smiling cheerfully, he said, “Take it. I finally managed to win the new year present.”
Lin Ruoxi was stunned as her watery eyes widened. She quickly realized that Yang Chen only took part in the event just to win the doll for her.
Yang Chen let out an awkward smile. “The whole time I was out, I was wondering what kind of gift I should get you. I live in your house, drive your car, and use everything that belongs to you, even my salary is given by you. You even bought me new year clothes. I’ve wanted to get something for you, but if I bought something outside, I’d still be using your money, so that wouldn’t count as a gift from me. This dumpling doll, however, is rather decent. I know for a fact that you would like it. Since this meal is free, it doesn’t count as one paid using your money. Treat everything as a gift I’m giving my dear Babe Ruoxi.”
Yang Chen spoke while rubbing his belly with one of his arms. Having listened to Yang Chen’s strange speech, Lin Ruoxi suddenly felt that her nose turned sour.
“Are you a dumbo?”
“Eh?” Yang Chen was stunned. He suspected himself for mishearing her.
“I said…” Lin Ruoxi reached her arm out to take the doll from Yang Chen’s hand before lowering her head as she touched the doll. “I said you’re a dumbo. Other than a dumbo, no one would think of such an idea as a gift.”
Embarrassed, Yang Chen said with a smile, “I can’t help it. If I’m dumb, so be it. I’m glad as long as you like this toy.”
Lin Ruoxi looked at the doll which had a smile on its face as she contemplated greatly in her mind. At last, she nodded and said, “I like it a lot.”
“Hehe. Your husband isn’t that bad after all. Look at all the ladies outside. They’re all dying to get this doll, but none of their boyfriends can finish 88 dumplings. I guess it’s an opportunity for me to show my hidden talents at such a moment,” Yang Chen said, elated.
Lin Ruoxi wanted to laugh but she was pissed at the same time. Her eyes were initially reddish, but tears started to trickle slowly.
The two sat down. Silence ensued for a while. Lin Ruoxi pinched the doll in her hand as she said softly, “In the past during the new year, Grandma would always get me a present. At times it would be a book, and delicious snacks on other occasions… But no matter what it was, I’d feel very happy with it. I didn’t feel any of the items was unique. In short, our family could afford whatever I wanted… Then, Grandma and Mom both passed away, and I hadn’t received any gifts during the new year since. At that time, I noticed that not everything could be bought with money…”
Yang Chen let out a gentle smile. “That’s what I’m here for, no? I’ll come here again next year and get you another one. There were still a pink and a white one on the stage earlier. I’ll get you a pair next time.”
“You…” Lin Ruoxi couldn’t help but smile not unlike a blooming gardenia flower. “You’re just like a child. There’s no need to do silly things in the future. Although you can finish them, I can tell that you feel discomfort after doing so.”
“Is this considered a concern a wife holds for her husband?” Yang Chen asked and winked.
Lin Ruoxi pouted. She kept her mouth shut and remained quiet.
After a short while, a dazzling display of dumplings was served. Lin Ruoxi looked at the table placed full of dumplings. Frowning, she said, “I can’t even finish one bowl. What should we do now?”
Yang Chen stuffed two crab-meat dumplings into his mouth and felt his loss of appetite. Smiling, he said, “Eat some of them while they’re still hot. I’ll take the rest home. These dumplings are made with good wrappings. We can reheat them and it would still make for a good meal.”
After half an hour, Yang Chen carried two huge plastic bags of dumplings and walked out of the restaurant. Lin Ruoxi hugged the eye-catching doll and walked by his side while they headed back to the parking area.
They soon arrived at the parking area. Lin Ruoxi suddenly asked, “Can you follow me somewhere?”
Yang Chen was surprised. “Where?”
Sorrow surfaced on Lin Ruoxi’s face. “I suddenly feel like paying Grandma and Mom a visit. Go with me, can you?”
Yang Chen understood her intention. Lin Ruoxi recently got a new younger sister at home, while Yang Chen brought home a mother-in-law. Moreover, she finally received a gift for the new year after so long.
In Lin Ruoxi’s originally ice-sealed heart, her past memories gradually emerged, which reminded her of her grandmother and mother. It was only natural that she wanted to see them.
“I’m actually supposed to meet Grandma-In-Law and Mother-In-Law long ago. Although Qingming Festival took place not long ago, it’s still important that we tell them of our marriage,” Yang Chen said.
[TL note: During Qingming (Tomb-Sweeping Day), Chinese families visit the tombs of their ancestors to clean the gravesites, pray to their ancestors, and make ritual offerings. Offerings would typically include traditional food dishes, and the burning of joss sticks and joss paper.]
Lin Ruoxi smiled as she boarded Yang Chen’s car. “Just leave my car here. I’ll have someone send it home.”
Yang Chen nodded and drove outside the urban area as he followed Lin Ruoxi’s lead. They were heading to a high-class mausoleum located in the west suburb.
After around forty minutes, the car entered a hillside area. It was surrounded by green pine and cypress trees. The road was quiet. Fat squirrels would appear on the road occasionally, adding to the vitality of the place.
Yang Chen stopped his car on a flatland under the hill. The tomb was placed rather high up on the hill.
As they exited the car, Yang Chen slapped his thigh and said, “Oh! I forgot to bring them presents. I don’t even have any joss papers.”
Lin Ruoxi was feeling rather sad earlier but after listening to Yang Chen’s absurdity, she felt her sorrow trickle away. She rolled her eyes and said, “Don’t worry, we burnt lots of them during Qingming.”
“Hehe. Alright then. I wonder if Mother-In-Law has had dumplings or not,” Yang Chen said with a smile.
Lin Ruoxi refrained from laughing as she ignored Yang Chen’s jokes.
As they walked on the meandering road on the hill, Yang Chen spotted a black Audi A8 which was leaving the place.
Yang Chen frowned slightly when he noticed the car. He then continued his journey as he followed Lin Ruoxi uphill.
Having walked for ten minutes, Lin Ruoxi was starting to get rather tired and was panting the rest of the way. They finally reached the tombstones of Lin Ruoxi’s grandmother and mother.
The tombstones were really clean. It was safe to assume that they were regularly cleaned. Two huge plum pines shaded the tombstones.
However, the surprising thing was the fresh bouquet of flowers placed on the tombstone of Lin Ruoxi’s mother. It was a rarely seen Chinese redbud flower whose petals were extraordinarily large.
Yang Chen looked at the name of Lin Ruoxi’s mother. He instantly understood why the specific type of flower was there. “So, Mother-In-Law’s name is Xue Zijing… It sounds almost identical to the Chinese redbud flower.”
[TL note: Chinese redbud flower (紫荆花) is pronounced as Zijing in Mandarin, which sounds almost exactly the same as (Xue) Zijing (子静).]
“Yeah…” Lin Ruoxi leaned downward and touched the petals of the flower. “When Mom was still alive, she liked the Chinese redbud flower the most, with this specific type being her favorite. I have seen this same bouquet of flowers during Qingming before, but I have no clue who put it here.”
Yang Chen looked at the picture on the tombstone. Smiling, he said, “You indeed look very much like Mother-In-Law, but you’re more beautiful.”
Lin Ruoxi blushed slightly. She was pleased to be so directly complimented. But she still gave him an angry gaze. “Behave yourself in front of my mother.”
Yang Chen smiled as he felt embarrassed. Yeah, why did I tease my wife in front of her mother? he thought.
They stood front of Xue Zijing’s tombstone for a while. Lin Ruoxi then came to her grandmother’s tombstone. It was Yang Chen’s first time seeing the look of the Old CEO. She looked kind and friendly and apparently used to be really close with Lin Ruoxi.
Standing in front of the tombstone, Lin Ruoxi said to Yang Chen, “Yang Chen, can you give us a few minutes alone? I want to speak to my grandma.”
Yang Chen nodded and bowed to the tombstone before walking away.
After a long time, Lin Ruoxi who was still standing reached her arm out to touch the tombstone, the corners of her lips revealing a sour yet sweet smile.
“Grandma, the new year is here. I don’t usually visit you during the new year. You know that I cry every time I come here. I remember you telling me that crying girls are ugly girls…
“But I have to come over this year. I don’t know what’s happening to me now. I can’t comprehend my own mind anymore.
“I feel that Yang Chen is a very detestable person. I dislike him a lot. He’d refer to me in various cringey ways. He takes everything lightly and goes around outside. I even saw him with another woman once. He would only come home in the morning after going through the night with other women. Now that he found his mother, I suddenly have a mother-in-law who treats me well sometimes, and bad on other occasions… They even partnered up to bully me today…
“He always does whatever he wants. He doesn’t call to tell that he isn’t coming home tonight. I always end up waiting for him like a fool…
“But… but… because of him, I feel extremely blessed, but also because of him, I get heartaches all the time. Grandma, do you find me weird as well…”
Cold wind blew from the mountains as it swept across the hills. Lin Ruoxi spoke as if she was talking to herself. Her voice floated in the air and dispersed in unknown directions.
Yang Chen stood near a corner of the hill. He looked at the slim figure dressed in black who was still standing in front of the tombstone before feeling a strange pain in his heart.
“Foolish woman, what if one day all your beliefs are in vain; what if one day all of your hopes turn out to be merely fleeting dreams. Can you… endure the pain?”
Yang Chen turned his head to look at the direction where the Audi left earlier with a depthless gaze.