“Mom.” Yang Chen didn’t care if Ma Guifang didn’t like him calling her that. He could barely remain calm at this moment. “Nobody should ever hit you for whatever reason. If anyone touches you, I’ll break their bones!”
Ma Guifang laughed gently. “Sigh, I knew you’d be angry, my child. That’s why I brought you here to listen to my side of the story.”
Yang Chen exclaimed, indignant, “You mean I’m supposed to just stand by and do nothing while people hit you for the most absurd reasons?”
“How would taking revenge help? You can hit one person. But that would only stop their mouths. What makes you so sure that you can silence everyone? And even if you could, you will never be able to change their train of thought.”
Ma Guifang’s face darkened. “Yang Chen, let me tell you this. You can never control what other people think. Madam Zhou accused me, shouted at me, and even hit me. That made sense to her. To her, it was the right thing to do. Although my heart aches, and I feel wronged, I know it’s just how it is.”
“Mom, why do you just accept this? Why don’t you fight back?” Yang Chen shook his head. He didn’t understand.
Ma Guifang fell silent, then said very slowly, “Because, I am a lonely widow without a man.”
He forgot to breathe. Yang Chen stared at the woman in shock, her words breaking his heart like a million stones.
“It’s true. Single women attract trouble. Whether or not I live in the village or in the city, the same trouble follows me everywhere I go. As long as I am a widow without a man I call a ‘husband’, they will look at me weirdly.” She then continued with a low voice, “I have fought back in the past. I wanted desperately to prove that I was an innocent person but as long as I was without a man, it had proven to be futile. Alternatively, I could wait until I’m too old to be wanted. Then, they might trust me.”
Yang Chen’s nose ran. The woman before him had hidden so much pain in her heart. Her path had been rough, and her troubles seemed endless.
“Yang Chen, now, do you understand why I can never let my daughter be with you?” asked Ma Guifang emotionally.
Yang Chen’s heart shuddered. He couldn’t say a word.
Her eyes were filled with grief and pity. She continued, “The most important person in my life is my daughter. I know exactly what I’ve been through. If a woman doesn’t have a beautiful marriage or an honest husband, her life would be ruined. The whispers down the street and the odd stares would be too painful for her to bear!
“I can barely see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I have way too many scars. How can I, in my right mind, send my daughter down the exact same path I led?”
“She won’t!” Yang Chen quickly shook his head, “I won’t let any harm come to Qianni, Mom…”
“Stop talking right now!” interrupted Ma Guifang. “You still don’t understand a single word I said! Perhaps you think it’s because you have the riches and power to protect Mo Qianni. However, do you think riches and all these would mean happiness?
“You’re both still very young. Have you ever thought what would happen when you’re both in your thirties? What would people say if she was still not married and without a child? Or if she did have a child but she wasn’t married, what would happen to the child? How would people treat my daughter? How would the other kids treat Qianni’s child?
“Young couples in love like you might not think of these, but as a mother, I have lived through and seen all this happen in my life.
“Yang Chen, don’t you see it yet? The prettier the woman, the more gossip she would attract if she doesn’t have an honest husband by her side when she gets older.
“Therefore, if Qianni can’t be a legal wife on paper, then you should stop pursuing her. There’ll be a few years of pain at most but this too shall pass. A few years of suffering is better than a lifetime of pain!”
Her emotional words shook Yang Chen to his core. He was utterly speechless.
Ma Guifang finally couldn’t hold her tears back anymore. Rubbing her tears, she smiled sadly and whispered, “Yang Chen, I’ve always known you were a good one or I wouldn’t have asked your mother to meet us both. Perhaps it’s because you’ve been raised in a huge clan, and you’re no ordinary person either. This might seem like a small issue to you.
“However, our Qianni is just a regular girl. No matter how strong she is, she’s still a girl. She can’t stay in your orbit forever, she needs to have her own life, her own friends and career. She needs to be out in the real world. She won’t be able to hide from everyone forever.
“You both might not mind now, but it doesn’t mean your children won’t. Be honest with yourself. Would you want her to face so much pain, just for her to greet you at the end of a long day?”
It had never occurred to Yang Chen. Upon closer inspection, perhaps he had been avoiding the topic altogether.
Did he make a mistake? Was letting Qianni go the best option for her future?
Looking at the tearful Ma Guifang, Yang Chen wasn’t so sure anymore.
Ma Guifang sighed deeply, then wiped her eyes dry. “I know you’ll be sad for a while, but it’s for the best. Do you think the Lin clan would tolerate another woman? I may be uneducated, but I am not as dumb to think such a capable woman who runs a huge company would take this well. Qianni is working under her too, so conflict is bound to happen. For the sake of your family’s happiness, you should learn how to let go.”
“Let go?” Yang Chen laughed bitterly, “Letting go is harder than pursuing a person.”
She smiled, then patted his shoulder. “Think about it. I’ll never change my mind because I am still a foreigner here. I will never gamble with my daughter’s life. I hope you’ll understand.”
Ma Guifang immediately started to prepare dishes for the night, and Yang Chen walked out of the restaurant.
The sky was darkening, and the rain had stopped.
Yang Chen walked alone on the streets. Street lamps shone and the crowds were loud but his mind was silent.
After walking a while, Yang Chen still couldn’t sort out his emotions. He was about to walk to his car when he stopped at a turn into a narrow alley.
It was filled with rotting trash. Most of which a week old or more by his guess.
A female beggar, wrapped in a carpet, squatted in a corner. She was munching on a very dirty bun.
The beggar’s messy hair was dripping and her shoes were muddy. She looked like the type who’d be chased out by shopkeepers.
Yang Chen frowned. Although the beggar was filthy, he could still recognize her from her features.
She also noticed someone was blocking the light at the end of the alley, so she raised her head slowly. Through her hair, she recognized Yang Chen and she panicked.
“You… Why are you…” Her hand shook, dropping the bun.
Yang Chen didn’t pity her the least. This woman deserved to be reduced to this position. Her heartless cruelty had almost killed Lin Ruoxi and himself, so it was only right she had to endure such suffering.
Yang Chen was about to ignore her and leave, but he saw a cripple walking towards himself. He was drenched. He looked at Yang Chen, puzzled, then immediately turned into the alley.
Squatting in front of Luo Cuishan, he took a few coins out of a tattered pouch. The cripple snickered, saying, “Looks like we’ll have breakfast tomorrow! I thought the rain would hamper the begging, but I didn’t expect to get even more.”
Luo Cuishan didn’t respond. Cripple realized Luo Cuishan was getting emotional. Her eyes filled with rage and suppressed fear as if she didn’t dare to look at the stranger standing at the end of the alley…