He was a capable man. Even though he was born poor, he had an unyielding character. Those sons from influential families could not compete with his fighting spirit as he moved forward step by step. However, I must say, he wasn’t someone who started everything from scratch!
On the 5th of March 2002, he wore a white shirt with tattered sleeves and a pair of old, ash grey trousers as he came running into my home. It was evening and rays from the setting sun filtered through the window at an oblique angle, casting dark shadows on his left cheek. He stood ferociously before my family’s dining table. My father and I were in the middle of eating when he suddenly bellowed, “Let’s get married!”
That day, he received a stern beating from my father. He didn’t retaliate and was beaten black and blue, his face all swollen.
That year, I was 21, and without any hesitation, I married him.
Because when he looked at me, nothing else mattered. It was as though he was drowning, and only I could save him.
Our wedding was held with great pomp and pompous. It was probably just to show off, or it might have been a proclamation to all.
Honestly, my father appreciated him quite a bit. In private, he constantly praised him and told me that he was a son of heaven who would eventually establish his own dynasty. Then, for the sake of me, he made an announcement before all the guests present. That man was to take over the position as the acting CEO of Yuan Sheng Conglomerate. Then, he finally smiled. In the past, I had tried for so long but failed to win over his smile. But he finally smiled as the corner of his lips tipped upwards. He really looked like an emperor.
It was a lonely wedding and even though I stuck to him, there was no happiness. He dragged me around to toast others, never asking if I was tired. As I followed him around, my feet became swollen but I did not dare to make a sound in fear of raining on his excitement.
It was at this time a dainty voice sounded, startling the flesh and bones of my extremities. As the voice continued to linger in my ears, he suddenly brought me into his arms, tightly. I could even smell the thick scent of wine from between his teeth. Then, I stretched out a hand and rested it on his chest. He froze and after staring at me for a while, he finally snapped out of his stupor.
“Xiao Huan!” The women standing before us called out again.
He looked at her and smiled saying, “Come, let me introduce you. This is my wife, Cheng Si Ying!”
I quickly nodded my head. This was Xiao Huan’s first time introducing me officially.
That woman looked at me and a trace of gloominess flashed by her face. Then, she reached out a hand with a smile. “Nice to meet you, I am Luo Qing, an old friend of Xiao!”
She was a beautiful woman.
I reddened my face and anxiously shook her hand. “Nice to meet you. Welcome to our wedding!”
Then, Luo Qing grinned in response. She turned her head towards Xiao Huan. “You always make your moves so quickly, you will never fall behind others!”
Xiao Huan harrumphed, “Likewise, what about you? Why haven’t you brought your husband out and introduced him to me?”
A fiery gaze was hidden behind Luo Qing’s eyes. She stretched out her well-manicured hands and tugged at his necktie, before speaking at a volume that only we could hear, “Now, your father-in-law is the richest man in industry. Why should I bring out that ugly monster out only to lose face!”
Then they exchanged glances, before laughing coldly.
Hence, a lonely wedding would only bring a lonely marriage. From that day onwards, I cultivated a bad habit – turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the deeds he did outside.
My father passed away one year later. It was then I finally realised why he wasn’t vehemently against my marriage with Xiao Huan. It was because he was in a rush to find someone to take his place in looking after me.
At 23 years of age, the only person at my side was my husband. An outstanding husband who was completely indifferent towards me.
Xiao Huan would constantly tell me, honestly, I don’t love you, not even a bit.
And my head would always be bowed as I brewed coffee. I only knew how to brew coffee. The mocha I brewed was exceptionally bitter, bitter to the extent that it could unhinge a person’s mental state. Hence, he only drank it once during the honeymoon, and then never again. Later on, as long as I brewed coffee, he would tell me this. Honestly, I don’t love you at all, not even a bit. But don’t worry, without you, I won’t be what I am today. I will not divorce you.
Every time he said this, I would smile. He would detect my smile no matter how faint it was, and then he would say, don’t be too pleased with yourself. I despise rich and wealthy daughters like you the most, those who don’t lift a finger!
In actuality, he was only half right.
I smiled not because I was pleased, but because I pitied him – He always defended those inexplicable principles of his, never willing to let go. For example, towards me. I am a useless woman who didn’t excel academically. I have never gone out into the society to work, and since young, my body has always been weak. My appearance was so plain that it did not uphold the demeanour expected of a noble lady. I’m stupid and ignorant, lacking and superficial, so I have no way of continuing my father’s business. Hence on the contrary, I was glad when he obtained Yuan Sheng Conglomerate. After all, that was the rice bowl of thousands of workers, how could I shoulder it.
I smiled because sympathised with the chains he used to bind himself. He clearly knew that he now had the ability to live with liberty. But he stubbornly refuses to accept this freedom.
Even though he doesn’t love me, I feel that this part of him is adorable. Hence, I would not tell him: If you want to divorce me, just do it, it’s fine! I would not say that, because I still didn’t want to leave him. My guess is that there are probably other women like me out there in the world. Those who know that they are lacking in charm and hence never held the extravagant hope of being cherished. I can only pray that he would not be too heartless, so that I don’t have to hurt too much.
11pm at night, he returned.
“You’re back!” The moment I heard the door open, I dashed out and placed a pair of slippers by his feet.
“Why are you still awake!” He impatiently unravelled his tie, before walking over to the sofa to take seat. Then, he opened up his briefcase and continued to work.
He was truly tired for his brows were perpetually furrowed and his lips parched. I always saw him in this state. Working so desperately hard and earning more money, even more than when father was still around.
If a person possessed wealth in the excess of 100 million, and only had 20 days of rest in a year of 365 days, and if these 20 days were merely spent taking walks by a breezy lake, to watch a few fireworks and to star gaze, then what is the use of earning so much money?
Once, I asked him this, but he only chuckled. He said, you are a woman with no prospects! Earning money is a form of conquest, this you will never understand!
When he said these words, he spoke with such vigour and excitement. His expression was that of an emperor’s.
The doorbell rang and I stood up to open the door.
“Sister-in-law!” Lu Yun and Liu Jin were the ones who entered, Xiao’s friends. They were holding a briefcase, and with a face dripping with sweat they asked, “Is Xiao in?”
“He’s in!” I nodded my head and turned to look at him, “Err…, your friends are here!”
We had been married for two whole years but I never once called him ‘husband’. Because, I didn’t dare to.
“Oh!” He was wearing his spectacles as his fingers continued drumming on his notebook. He didn’t look up at all. “Go make them some tea!”
I went to the kitchen to make tea, and then I served them to Lu Yun and Liu Jin. The three of them buried their heads together and discussed work-related matters, not speaking to me again. I sat obediently on the other sofa and shrunk my body into a ball. My hands held tightly onto a mug filled with tan-coloured coffee.
I gazed outside the windows where lights dotted every spot.
“I was just wondering why this lad over here hasn’t patronised ‘Night Scene’ recently. It turns out you have a pretty little girl now!”
When the conversation shifts to such topics, it means that they are finished with work.
The person who started the ball rolling was Lu Yun. He puffed on a cigarette he threw Liu Jin an obscene look. When these men conversed, they only talked about two things. Money and women!
Liu Jin laughed out loud. “Ayy, I can’t help it. Who asked there to be so many women in the world!” As he spoke, he reclined backwards and his eyes swept over Xiao Huan. “Speaking of this, Xiao still has it the best. He has an obedient wife who doesn’t make trouble!”
“That’s right, what a life Brother Xiao. You don’t have to pay a dime to play with women. Luo Qing that woman swallowed up her husband’s status and now, she’s comparable to us!” Lu Yun continued. Although he spoke frivolously, he still revealed some traces of admiration for that woman as he looked at Xiao.
Xiao Huan was in the midst of sipping tea. He placed the teacup by his lips and took a sniff, before raising his eyes to look at them. He spoke with a smile, “Tomorrow is her birthday. I booked the entire venue at ‘Night Scene’. You guys are only allowed to come if you bring a present!”
Lu Yun rolled his eyes. “Master Xiao! Sister-in-law is not easy to please ah, she won’t be surprised no matter what we gift her!”
Liu Jin burst out laughing. “Mr Yun, don’t be so resigned. With Brother Xiao here, she’ll be grinning from ear to ear, you don’t have to worry!”
“Ha ha! That’s true!”
They chatted amongst themselves and I sat at the side drinking coffee one mouthful at a time.
When they finished chatting, it was 2am in the morning.
I was already fast asleep on the sofa, for I’m not a stalk of flower.
The next day, sunlight filtered through the curtains and sprinkled on my face. I felt warmth, and so I opened my eyes.
I was still lying on the sofa. I have never expected those scenes that I usually see in the movies to play out in my home: The husband gently carrying his wife to the bed, giving her a loving peck before turning off the lights.
In my home, even if I fell asleep in the toilet, he would not care.
I sat up and my eyes fell onto the three teacups on the coffee table. Suddenly, I found it funny. I washed them clean one by one, and after placing them into the cabinets, I gave Xiao Bei a call.
Xiao Bei is my only friend. We grew up together, and during my wedding, she was my bridesmaid.
Xiao Bei took me out for lunch, and then accompanied me to watch a movie.
But I never did process the name of the movie, nor the contents of the show. As I sat next to Xiao Bei, my heart was pounding. Because, this movie theatre was right next to ‘Night Scene’.
9pm that night, we stepped out of the movie theatre. It was drizzling outside, I loved rainy days like this.
I walked amidst the rain. There was a slight breeze that blew the gentle drops of rain like a giant field of dandelions. My clothes became wetter and wetter as I paced around in the rain. I felt closer to the entire sky and I was no longer lonely.
Xiao Bei sat on the steps at the entrance of the movie theatre. Her chin was resting on her hands as she watched me with a smile. She knew how happy I was right then.
I brushed the wet hair scattered on my forehead aside, before closing my eyes and raising my head, embracing the coming of more rain.
In my moment of drunkenness, a voice suddenly called out. In the blink of an eye, all the rainwater on my body seemed to freeze into ice. I turned my head and saw Lu Yun approaching with Liu Jin beside him. Then, just a stone’s throw away from them, I saw him. A beautiful woman was leaning in his arms, looking drearily at me.
“Why are you here!” Xiao said to me.
“I…” I lowered my head and stammered for a long time and was only able to vocalise the word ‘I’.
“Go back!” He interrupted coldly.
“Achoo!” I sneezed. With him staring indignantly at me, it only felt colder.
“Si Ying!” When Xiao Bei saw this scene, she immediately rushed over and took off her coat, before draping it on me. “You’ve caught a cold, let’s go, we should head back!” As she said this, she turned her head and shouted in the direct of the curb side, “Husband, husband, over here! We are over here!”
As she shouted, I broke into tears. Because my tear drops came like a torrent, I was unable to camouflage them in the rain. Xiao Bei turned back and tugged the coat up to cover my face. “Be good! Don’t worry, we’ll leave now!”
Then we got onto her husband’s car.
I didn’t dare to turn back and look at him. I was just like a woman from the cold palace who appeared at a place that she was not meant to be, consequently angering the emperor. I also didn’t dare to spend the night at Xiao Bei’s house. I obediently returned to that dark house to await his return.
“You feel wronged?”
This was the first thing he said to me when he returned.
I shook my head, that was not the case.
“Then why did you cry! You made it look as though I mistreated you.”
“That’s not it, that’s not it!”
“Hmph!” He removed his coat. His white shirt underneath was a little creased and his collar was unbuttoned. He massaged his temples, appearing decadent and seductive. I stared blankly at him, my eyes still swollen.
 Night Scene is the name of a bar.