He got fired.
Since his left hand was an inconvenience, he was told not to come to work anymore. After working in this convenience store that was the closest to his home for two months, he never expected that even though he noticed that the store manager was a little petty, never did he imagine that he would be so snobbish to this unbelievable extent.
Jiang Pozhen was filled with utmost resentment. With this kind of crappy store, even if he did forcefully stay, nothing good would come out of it. What was fortunate was that the shop manager didn’t dare to come up with excuses to detain his salary.
Thinking to himself, he would never ever grace this convenience store with his presence from now on.
He was now attempting to find an appropriate job opportunity for himself at the uni’s bulletin board. He really didn’t want to continue working at the convenience store anymore since the salary he earned was worth peanuts and there were a lot of things to do. It would be better if the job included meals, but the rate of return of a fast food restaurant was roughly similar to that of a convenience store. In addition, it was difficult for him to coordinate with the allotted time. As for an easy job, he could become a private tutor. However, he didn’t know anyone so it was hard for him to get a chance to try it out.
Distressed with looking for work, he walked into his department building. A man also chose to walk down the flight of stairs at that time.
The very second their eyes interlocked with each other, Jiang Pozhen caught the look of surprise on Guo Jinshan’s face. In the next instant, he quickly rushed over to him.
“Hello,” he softly greeted.
Jiang Pozhen was hoping he would pretend that he was invisible. However, that simply proved that his thoughts were completely hopeless.
They had only known each other for a few weeks, yet he already knew that Guo Jinshan wasn’t adept at reading expressions. Yesterday, when he was being dragged to the health centre, he could sense his unhappiness, but he still wasted no time with greeting him. Perhaps it was due to the man’s family precepts. Jiang Pozhen sneered at his own thoughts.
“How’s your hand? Did it affect your work…yesterday?” asked a concerned Guo Jinshan.
As he was gazing at that gentle and frail-looking face laced with sincere worriedness, a vile thought suddenly emerged in Jiang Pozhen’s mind.
“It’s alright, since I don’t need to go there any longer.” He wasn’t being very clear about his explanation, and put it in a way to lead him on.
“Huh?” Indeed, Guo Jinshan panicked and asked, “Did you…quit the job?”
Jiang Pozhen sighed in an exaggerated manner.
“I just can’t move heavy stuff temporarily. Although that’s the nature of the job, I can’t do much about it either since it happened.” That was the truth. The store manager probably thought that it was less of a loss for him to look for someone stronger with the same salary. “But with that incident, I don’t have any money for food today.” He’d just gotten his salary before he left his post yesterday. So in truth, the money he earned could still last him for two weeks. The only exception was his debt which would have to remain stagnant.
“You…need cash?” Guo Jianshan asked in a startled manner, following his words.
“I wouldn’t have to work arduously if I didn’t need the money.” He shot a sideways glance at the man. The hint of blaming the man for being slow was evident in his tone.
“Ah…I’m sorry.” Guo Jinshan could only apologize. Tilting his head, he continued, “You…”
“You keep slanting your head when you talk. It looks so weird,” criticized Jiang Pozhen, purely taking his anger out on the man.
“Ah?” Taken aback momentarily, Guo Jinshan never looked up again after he lowered his head. “I’m sorry.”
It seemed like he could only speak those three words. The bell chose to ring coincidentally at that moment. Shrugging his shoulders, Jiang Pozhen said, “I need to go to class.” He then walked past the man to leave.
Upon finding his seat after entering the classroom, he knew that his behavior earlier was immature.
During his studies back then, there would always be students who were easily outcasts in his class. Once puzzled over the point of bullying someone, he figured he finally understood the satisfaction of it after meeting Guo Jinshan.
Even if there wasn’t any particular reason, it was all for the sake of venting out his frustration as well as the inkling of delight that came after.
Guo Jinshan returned the lost ID he found and knew he cheated, but he never punished him for it. Not only that, the way he spoke and acted was always so gentle and kind… He was aware that the man wasn’t provoking him on purpose. It was just that his timing was utterly horrible.
Once the afternoon class was dismissed, Jiang Pozhen took a trip down to his girlfriend’s uni since he didn’t need to work any longer. The original plan was to pick her up from school and he had also communicated this to her through the phone. Unexpectedly, by the time he arrived, his girlfriend’s classmate mentioned that she had something to do and had left.
It wasn’t as though he was blind to Wan Ling’s dissatisfaction with him. But he had his own difficulties as well. If there was a problem, then they should have talked it out. Using this kind of foolish means to protest would only serve to make each other unhappy.
Met with nothing, he carried an upset feeling back to his home and went on to organize his lab report in his bedroom. As he went over the extremely complicated data, he found that it was unfavorable for him to come up with the charts on his computer since the applications on his newly-assembled computer weren’t as complete like the older one he had.
He wanted a faster processor. Although he wished for it, he didn’t have the funds and was still in debt.
The moment he recalled that he still needed to find a job, his mood turned for the worse.
Nothing good had ever happened until now. Why was he so unfortunate? Embracing these kinds of depressing thoughts, the next morning’s first period was allocated to King of Machete’s class. He had already skipped one at the start of the semester so that meant that he had no choice but to appear in class on time. Otherwise, he would be flunked.
Waking up early, he rushed to uni make it in time for roll call. King of Machete’s class was very exhausting, not only because it was the first class in the morning. The mathematical chemistry content King of Machete taught was complicated in nature and he had a thick accent when he spoke. From his accent, he speculated that it either came from Shandong province or some other local place. In any case, sometimes he just couldn’t grasp what he was saying. King of Machete’s writing on the blackboard was extremely messy as well, so much so that three lines of chalk would be written into one line in the end. He would then ask the students, “Understand?” On top of that, he wouldn’t give any breaks and would purposely drag on the class for longer. After attending two class periods back-to-back, he finally managed to escape from the torment with much difficulty.
Fortunately, mathematical chemistry was Jiang Pozhen’s strong suit. He was exceptionally keen when it came to any subjects that dealt with mathematics and calculations, which prompted him to enter the science and engineering examination. If it was only based on the exam results, he had faith that he could pass. Yet attending class like this was really a gruelling process.
Putting his notes away in his backpack, he had only stepped out of the classroom when a figure approached him from the rear-right corner.
“Do you want to come and help me?”
Turning around, Jiang Pozhen was greeted by the sight of Guo Jinshan standing next to him, carrying a book in hand.
Putting aside as to why he was even waiting here in the first place, Jiang Pozhen was slow to react to the out of the blue question.
“That…” Probably realizing that he was too abrupt, Guo Jinshan’s cheeks flushed pink before saying, “Recently the lab took on a number of projects. I’m currently helping the professor sorting out the papers and data for the past few years. It’s a bit tough dealing with them on my own so if you can come over to help, you can do it during your free slots… Of course, I’ll pay you too.”
Surprised after hearing that, Jiang Pozhen managed to grasp the situation very quickly.
He was too easy to read! Jiang Pozhen couldn’t refrain himself from finding the other man to be ridiculous. Guo Jinshan was so adamant that he owed him, so could it be that he was using this “help” method to make it up to him?
“Oh, how much are you gonna pay me?” he asked thoughtlessly.
Surprised, Guo Jinshan didn’t expect him to ask this sort of question. Keeping his head low for a long while, he spoke softly, “Six…six thousand.”
“Six thousand a month? Do you have any idea how much I can earn in a month with a proper job?”
“No.” Guo Jinshan shook his head in all honesty.
“Do you seriously think that you’re going to be able to help me with this?” Jiang Pozhen looked through him without any constraints.
Guo Jinshan awkwardly lowered his head.
When working at the convenience store, Jiang Pozhen’s hourly rate was eighty bucks and he worked seven hours straight, roughly three days a week. In total, he earned about seven thousand bucks in a month. If he was given a night shift, there would be an additional 500 bucks or more, but that honestly wasn’t a big difference from the six thousand dollars that Guo Jinshan was offering. However, in that split second, he wanted to embarrass the other man. After the impulse was gone, he couldn’t help himself from thinking, Why am I picking on this guy so much?
Strictly speaking, Guo Jinshan also did it out of goodwill. If he wasn’t interested, he could have just rejected him. Why was there a need for him to satirize the man? He’d already reminded himself yesterday, but why was he still venting out his frustration on the man? When it came to his frustrated self recently, Jiang Pozhen also felt a little bit disgusted.
Raising his hand to rake his hair, he let out a sigh.
“You don’t need to go through such lengths for me. I’ll deal with it on my own.” Finally, he tried to ease the tone in his voice.
Guo Jinshan remained silent, before he forcibly let out an apologetic smile.
“Then…I’m sorry. I’ve been a bother.”
And he left tactfully.
Uncertain whether he was reading too much into it, he always felt the man’s slightly crooked head from behind appeared somewhat lonely. It probably was an illusion though because he had never treated him nicely.
Such a good job opportunity. Jiang Pozhen never expected that he would actually reject it.
Whenever he thought about this later on, he would always try to come up with excuses that it was because Guo Jinshan who asked him.
As far as he was concerned, towards a guy who always appeared at the wrong time, Jiang Pozhen’s first subconscious reaction was just a simple “no”.
The day he discovered that his phone line was cut was when Jiang Pozhen was overwhelmed with regret for not accepting to Guo Jinshan’s ‘aid’.
Even though it was merely a basic wage of 300 dollars, no matter how much he saved, he still couldn’t make ends meet because of the usual petrol and meal expenses. His mother treated mobile phones as a sort of electronic toy that was only used to cater for entertainment purposes, so she naturally wouldn’t generously give her son money to pay for one.
Man is a creature of habit. They would find it extremely troublesome to change channels if the television set lacked a remote control. He couldn’t recall the days he spent without his phone back then. Naturally, he could still endure the inconvenience and not rely on it for now. However, he was aware that his “lack of funds” problem was already beginning to cause complications in his life.
It’s not as though there weren’t any jobs around, it was just that he still had to go to class on a daily basis. He had to balance his studies and earn money. He was already fed up with the experience from two months ago, and that made it difficult for him to decide the kind of job he should take.
However, he recalled Guo Jinshan’s request in organizing the materials when he once again attended lab a week later.
The white coat he wore the previous week had already been changed into a fitting size. Jiang Pozhen glanced at him as he stood before the team in front of him, repeating his instructions on how to extract the solvent and the titration steps with utmost patience.
Chances were that he had sensed Jiang Pozhen’s gaze, so Guo Jinshan slightly turned his head around. When he noticed Jiang Pozhen was indeed staring straight at him, he tore away his gaze posthaste as though he was an animal that was afraid of people, revealing both an embarrassed and confused expression with his head lowered.
If he worked during the free periods at uni, it was likely that it wouldn’t be very exhausting. In addition, he could also free up some of his own time. Although the wage was less than usual, all in all, it would still benefit him greatly… As he was busy mulling over Guo Jinshan’s suggestion earlier, he didn’t shift his gaze away.
Because of that, the man finally approached him.
“Are there any issues?” asked Guo Jinshan lightly, his countenance carrying an insipid smile to gloss over his restlessness.
“You…” Jiang Pozhen’s words broke off as soon as he opened his mouth to speak. He was the one who refused the offer earlier and now he wanted to renege. That was unreasonable on his part. Although he figured Guo Jinshan wasn’t the type of person to make jabs or embarrass people, he still couldn’t lower himself to ask. “…Nothing,” he said eventually.
Then, he continued working on the experiment, no longer paying any attention to the man.
As though he’d flattered himself in coming over to get brushed off, Guo Jinshan felt rather embarrassed by his action and could only quietly walk away.
In actuality, nothing happened. He only wanted to ask if he could take up the job offer. It was too senseless of him to read too much into it. Jiang Pozhen knew that all too well, and the opportunity was lost once more.
“Oh right, I heard your line’s been cut?”
“You’re really at the end of your line! Haha!”
Only the person involved could deeply experience the complications and inconvenience caused by poverty. Jiang Pozhen couldn’t laugh since he didn’t find any of his classmates’ idle conversations funny at all.
The experiments were completed earlier than usual at 4:50 pm that afternoon. It was his team’s turn to be on day duty so he had to stay behind to clean up. Fortunately, the last group to complete the experiment didn’t drag on for too long. Spending ten minutes sweeping the floor and returning the apparatuses after counting them, Jiang Pozhen happened to catch sight of Guo Jinshan coming to look the door with the keys in hand when he was about to leave the lab.
“Ah…” When they brushed past each other, Guo Jinshan nervously said, “Um…your left hand…has the scald healed yet?”
It healed ages ago. He’d taken off the bandages on the second day and the skin of the blisters had peeled off, so it could be said that it was almost completely healed. Jiang Pozhen nodded in response.
“Then…that’s great.” Guo Jinshan evidently felt at ease, smiling in relief. Immediately afterwards, he seemed to figure he was being a bother so he quickly turned to leave.
“Hey!” Before he realized it, Jiang Pozhen had already called him to a stop.
As though he wasn’t certain that Jiang Pozhen was calling him, Guo Jinshan’s movement in turning around was extremely hesitant.
Jiang Pozhen was staring at him, making him realize that he’d indeed called out to him. This was probably the first time Jiang Pozhen had talked to him on his own will, so the expression on Guo Jinshan’s face was brimming with astonishment.
It had nothing to do with lowering himself or his ego. The problem was where on earth would he find a job opportunity that met his demands? Rather than wasting time and gaining nothing in the end, he shouldn’t hesitate anymore. Just ask him. Coming up with excuses to convince himself, Jiang Pozhen was fully aware that if he didn’t ask now, he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to ask again in the future.
Staring at Guo Jinshan for a moment longer, he finally asked, “The thing you mentioned last time…does it still count?”
Caught off guard by his question, Guo Jinshan remained silent for a long while before remembering what he was referring to.
“Of course… It still counts.”
“Then can I come over to help out?”
Guo Jinshan seemed startled, as though he couldn’t determine whether he was hearing things right. He fell silent momentarily.
The atmosphere drifting around them made both of them uneasy. Just when Jiang Pozhen was upset and felt a pang of regret that it really wasn’t a good idea, Guo Jinshan broke into a smile.
He smiled gently to the extent that the single-lidded eyes underneath his glasses curved. He wasn’t sure why he was so happy.
Because the smile was so gentle, there was a split second where Jiang Pozhen had even forgotten how to react.
“Sure,” said the man, overflowing with kindness.
Jiang Pozhen copied his timetable and gave it to Guo Jinshan. He had free periods from Monday to Friday, and even on a jam-packed Tuesday there would still at least be one free slot. Although in reality, he still had more than enough free time. The timetable he gave Guo Jinshan was packed with lessons on both Tuesday and Thursday. With that, it meant that the only time he was free to help out would just be on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; a total of three days.
“You’ve got a lot of lessons…” said Guo Jinshan thoughtfully when he saw his timetable. Yet the tone in which he said it was without any ounce of doubt in it, and it was instead filled with admiration and amazement.
Jiang Pozhen hoped that he would at least have some private time to himself at uni. Because of that reason alone, he decided to fill up the slots on Tuesday and Thursday which had the least number of lessons. With that, the man wouldn’t have any reasons to occupy his time on those two days.
Unlike the petty store manager who was particularly adamant about working hours, Guo Jinshan never once specified the rules in detail for a job in organizing materials that paid six thousand dollars a month. After he went through the timetable, he used his low and gentle voice to agree that he would start work from next Monday onwards.
Therefore, after he finished his classes on Monday, he rode the bike he frequently used inside the university and headed to the atmospheric science building he’d been to twice.
Once he reached the third floor, he headed straight towards the small room stored in the isolated corner. The door was shut tight so he raised his hand to knock. After waiting for a while, there was no sound from the inside so he tried knocking again. Again, no sounds of movement could be heard.
Could it be he was not in? Didn’t they already agree on this? Calling him here only to not show up himself, he’s horrible! Anger bubbled from within him when he realized that he’d been stood up. The sound of pressing footsteps came from behind him prompted Jiang Pozhen to turn around.
“Ah…you’re already here!” Carrying books in his arms, Guo Jinshan panted as he walked towards him. “I’m terribly sorry… I just finished my experiments.” He then fished out his keys from his pocket to unlock the door.
Experiments… That’s right, he’d almost forgotten that this guy was still a research student. It seemed like this was the first time Jiang Pozhen realized that he was a student too, just like him.
Even though the air surrounding Guo Jinshan was no different than that of a university student, he kept standing in the same position next to the lecturer before the entire class. As time went by, he gradually forgot about his original identity.
Glancing about his surroundings, Jiang Pozhen saw that the entire space was still occupied to the max with theses and data in one huge chaotic mess. By the time he was done looking around, the man had already carried his keyboard and was sitting amidst the stack of books.
“What should I do?” He asked.
“Huh?” Embarrassed and at a complete loss over what to do, Guo Jinshan lifted his head and glanced to his left and right before pointing at a corner and instructed, “You… You can rearrange the theses over there according to their serial numbers and place them on the left bookshelf. Thank you.”
He didn’t volunteer to come and help out; he was paid to do so. Towards the man who never seemed forget his manners under any kind of circumstance, the word of thanks he said earlier made Jiang Pozhen feel like it was really comical.
Although the dozens of theses lying about were dozens in numbers, it wasn’t a difficult task to arrange them according to their serial numbers. Barely half an hour in, he had already completed his first allocated task.
“Hey.” He called out to Guo Jinshan. Unbeknownst to him, the other man had already removed his glasses and was closely staring at the computer screen as though he couldn’t hear him. So he called out again for the second time. “Hey!”
Shocked, Guo Jinshan jolted from his seat in a fright. The wireless keyboard he was tapping away at on his lap almost fell to the floor.
“Ah, AH!” Hurrying to grab onto it, he shot a pitiful glance at Jiang Pozhen. “You…called? What’s the matter?”
Uncertain as to why he was so shocked, Jiang Pozhen frowned and only said, “I’m done. What’s next?”
Guo Jinshan looked at the tidied bookshelf and blinked.
“What’s next… Then…” Hurriedly looking down, he fumbled around the surroundings, trying to take out a couple of data files. “Then…please staple these notes together according to the pages. Sorry for the inconvenience.” His lips curved into a faint smile, having finally found something Jiang Pozhen could do.
Jiang Pozhen was well aware deep down when he sensed the man’s flustered attitude. Yet he accepted the files without saying a word. A space with a coffee table and two chairs presented itself after he cleared away the theses. So he sat on one of the chairs and quietly began to sort out the pages. It took longer this time around, but he still finished it within an hour or so.
After completing the task, Jiang Pozhen stood up and went next to Guo Jinshan, saying, “I’m done.” He placed the arranged materials next to him.
As he spoke standing next to Guo Jinshan’s left side, the other man didn’t react instantly. Instead, the man only gradually realized his presence after he placed the files on the table.
“Huh?!” Evidently, Guo Jinshan didn’t expect that someone would be standing next to him so he cried out in surprise. Turning around, his neck habitually crooked a little bit to the left. “…What’s wrong?” he asked softly.
Suddenly, Jiang Pozhen was overwhelmed with a sense of dissatisfaction. Something didn’t seem right…
He scrutinized the glasses Guo Jinshan had casually placed on the stack of books—those appeared to be a pair of somewhat special glasses. At the temple tip, a small part was installed on it, a creamy-white colored ear hook that resembled some sort of an assistive device he’d seen on television.
Surprised, Jiang Pozhen blurted out without thinking. “Something wrong with your hearing?”
Guo Jinshan appeared to be stunned by his question. He followed his line of sight and picked up his own glasses.
“…My right ear can hear a little. As for the left side…I can’t seem to hear anything at all. But, it’s not an issue anymore with my hearing aid.” He explained unhurriedly before putting them on and continued on in a soft and gentle inoffensive tone. “It’s not a bother usually. I got my driving license! The glasses and the hearing aid are fixed together. Since I use the computer continuously, my eyes get tired easily so I took them off.”
So that was why Guo Jinshan would always slightly tilt his neck when he was listening to other people talking. That was mainly because he only had one ear that could listen clearly.
Probably due to the fact that the temple tip was concealed by his hair, or maybe because he had never especially paid any attention to him, Jiang Pozhen didn’t know what to think for a moment. Only the recollection of having brazenly denounced his oddness was evident in his mind. The way he talked and acted was honestly similar to that of a normal healthy individual. He never once made others sense that his hearing wasn’t good. If he hadn’t seen the small hearing aid installed on his glasses, he absolutely wouldn’t have known that he had a hearing impairment.
However, it was truly inconsiderate of him to pry directly. Did he have to comfort the man now? Or say some words of encouragement? Abrupt outbursts of concern and care would only make him appear to be too pretentious and artificial. He, Jiang Pozhen, couldn’t bring himself to do it. But he wouldn’t be able to continue the conversation if he kept quiet, so his heart felt a little tight…
As though he understood his thoughts, Guo Jinshan broke into a smile and said, “There’s nothing else. You can go home now.”
Jiang Pozhen knew he said that to dispel the tense atmosphere between them. The person who was offended was still thinking of helping the offender resolve the tension. He didn’t know whether to praise the man for being too kind or pretentious. There was an instant that a strange thought had flashed through his mind where he suddenly wanted to see this man get riled up in anger.
“Then I’m leaving,” he said after arriving at the man’s right side.
“Okay. See you soon.” Guo Jinshan bid his goodbye, shifting his gaze towards the charts on the computer screen.
Before he opened the door and walked out, Jiang Pozhen stopped in his tracks for a while. He then turned around and gazed at the man’s focused ordinary-looking face for a long time before he exclaimed loudly, “I’ll come again on Wednesday!”
Guo Jinshan, who had his eyes fixated the screen, raised his head in astonishment on hearing his abrupt and loud voice. Jiang Pozhen had already shut the door and left.
Staring foolishly at the door for good while, the man lowered his neck at first, revealing a faint curve on his lips.
When he appeared on Wednesday, Jiang Pozhen’s attitude towards Guo Jinshan was similar to how he treated him in the past. The only difference was that he never stood at the man’s left side to speak again.
Guo Jinshan kept giving him menial tasks like tidying up the bookshelves or sorting out the materials given. Jiang Pozhen might as well clean up and clear away the entire mess in one breath and finally lay bare the man’s thoughts when he couldn’t find anything else for him to do. “Actually, you need more help with the task that you’re currently working on with the computer, don’t you? I’m getting paid so you don’t have to mind so much. You called me here with no intention of letting me carry out my responsibility. That’ll only serve to make me feel like I’ve been fooled.”
After being stumped for words for a long while, Guo Jinshan finally said lowly, “I’m sorry.”
He apologetically began to explain the research project and archiving work done on the computer. Although Jiang Pozhen was more or less capable in working with computers, the program that Guo Jinshan was using was something he didn’t have any experience in before. However, with the man’s explanations, he quickly mastered it and went into the zone.
As a result, Guo Jinshan borrowed another laptop from the research lab for Jiang Pozhen and added another chair to the mix. Both of them then remained in the data room, storing the raw data from the files on the bookshelves digitally for archival purposes.
Half a month later, instead of getting bored of doing it, Jiang Pozhen felt his interest growing in this area. Since the research data they were dealing with dealt with atmospheric sciences, he came across several specialized terminologies in his field of study. A lot of the standpoints were moving in a direction that he had never touched upon before in his studies or ever thought about. Unexpectedly, he thereby learnt a lot of new things as a result.
Even when he was watching some trailer for a disaster movie on the television, Jiang Pozhen would find his thoughts wandering about the charts on air pollution and acid rain tests stored away in the computer.
As usual, he came to help during his free period. When he picked up a textbook, a couple of things that resembled photos fell out of it. Jiang Pozhen bent over to pick them up. They were indeed pictures, but they were more like pitch-black sceneries with only a very tiny ball located in the centre of the photos.
“Ah! I accidentally stashed and brought them over in the textbook.” Guo Jinshan shyly reached out, intending to grab them back.
Jiang Pozhen only returned the book to him. He asked, “What’s in the picture?”
“Jupiter,” replied Guo Jinshan.
“Jupiter?” Slightly astounded, Jiang Pozhen stared at the striped, round ball in the image. “You took this photo?”
“I used a telescope…”
“You have an astronomical telescope that can take pictures of Jupiter?” asked Jiang Pozhen in disbelief.
Guo Jinshan gave a faint smile and slowly said, “One just needs to use a normal astronomical telescope with a lens about 60mm wide that can zoom in 72 times in order to see Jupiter.” After saying that, he continued once more, “I also just found out after buying the telescope that we can actually see the planets from outer space clearly from Earth.”
It was rare for him, but Jiang Pozhen felt his cheeks heating up. He couldn’t recall whether he had ever studied something like this before. But he actually thought it was the jumbo-sized Hubble telescope used in planetariums.
Returning the pictures to Guo Jinshan, the other man hesitated for a moment before tilting his head to ask him, “Do you like it?”
The question came abruptly. Jiang Pozhen couldn’t tell whether he was referring to the telescope, Jupiter, or the astronomical observation in general, but he was definitely rather curious about it.
“A little bit interested,” he replied.
“I see…” He mumbled while looking down before raising his head again. “Um… Occasionally I’ll drive and take a trip down to Yangming Mountain to gaze at the sky. On days when the weather is good in the summer, the stars cover the entire sky…” he said calmly as he looked back upon the unforgettable beauty he saw then.
“Drive?” There were a few times Jiang Pozhen saw him holding onto a prepaid card, so he knew that he used the subway to get to uni.
Chuckling, Guo Jinshan proceeded to give an explanation. “I got involved in a car accident once. Nothing happened to me, but to make my family feel at ease, I rarely use cars or bikes. Since then, I primarily only use public transport.”
It more likely than not that Guo Jinshan’s family was very worried about his hearing impairment. For someone who needed to use a hearing aid, even if he had explained the reason for the crash, they still probably couldn’t resist the urge to think that the crash had something to do with his hearing problem. Even if he behaved no different than a healthy person with the hearing aid on and had obtained a driving license as proof, he still wasn’t capable of dispelling all doubts.
So towards the words—“make my family feel at ease”—he said earlier, Jiang Pozhen felt as though he finally understood why.
“Why did you become an assistant lecturer for the department of chemistry?” He had long wanted to ask this question, and now was the right time to say it.
Although they were from the sciences, and their studies were somewhat relevant to one another, why was there a need for someone else from another department to stand in?。
Guo Jinshan flushed a shade of pink. Even his ears reddened in color, looking as though he was caught off guard by the abrupt question.
“Um…during midterms, your assistant lecturer Liao had something urgent to attend to. It was an emergency and I was free during then. Then, then…” he faltered.
The restlessness he displayed was extremely strange to Jiang Pozhen’s eyes. Jiang Pozhen couldn’t help but wonder that he wouldn’t be surprised if he fainted on the spot for being extremely anxious.
“Then?” He raised his brow.
Shutting his eyes, Guo Jinshan lowered his head as if he had done something wrong and said in a small voice, “Then, assistant lecturer Liao needed to take half a semester off because of family issues. I also took classes in the professor’s lab before so the professor recognized me… I went and requested it from the professor myself.” Not only did he request for it, he even begged as well as guaranteed that he would do his best to seriously lead the experiments. Since only half a semester was needed, the lecturer finally agreed with much difficulty. Naturally, Guo Jinshan didn’t tell him these things.
Why did he go and request it? After a doubt was cleared, another would rise again. Thinking to himself, Jiang Pozhen recalled the time when Guo Jinshan had once mentioned that he wanted to become a lecturer. Perhaps he wanted to use the opportunity to try it out.
After finding a reasonable explanation for it, he didn’t pursue the topic anymore.
Yet, when he directed his attention at the monitor screen once more, he accidentally noticed that the fingertips of the man next to him were subtly trembling above the keyboard.
Was it because the air conditioning was too cold? Jiang Pozhen didn’t feel it at all, yet he still unconsciously shifted his gaze to the digital numbers displayed on the air conditioner.
Precisely at the moment when he was considering whether to adjust the temperature of the room, Guo Jinshan suddenly voiced out, “Excuse me…”
“What is it?” Jiang Pozhen shifted his eyes to glance at him, already used to the man’s excessive use of polite and formal speech when conversing.
Although Guo Jinshan was talking to him, his eyes were still attentively fixated on the table and the text on the monitor screen.
“Do…you like to use a telescope for stargazing?”
Jiang Pozhen didn’t understand why he would ask again. Wasn’t this conversation over? Thinking that the question meant the same thing, Jiang Pozhen replied dully again, “A little interested.”
“I see…” Lowering his gaze, he mumbled repetitively and said nothing more.
That day, Jiang Pozhen felt that Guo Jinshan’s reddened face seemed like he’d fallen ill.