Love? Yes, I know that. But how long is forever?
She hadn’t experienced falling in love when she was a student. It can be said that her emotions were suppressed by the Country’s Educational System. When she first stepped into society and still has not fallen in love, it can be said that her passion was obliterated by the fierce competition of society.
Now, the problem of “leftover men and leftover women” has become a social concern. But in this era where blind date shows became the guarantee of audience ratings, a 28-year-old single woman was not a rarity. And, apart from the occasional nagging of her elders, her life has been quite the ordinary.
But she knew that in her 28 years, she hasn’t had any distinctive feelings for either man or woman: No first love and pounding of the heart. No strong affection due to love at first sight. She hasn’t been touched emotionally by long-lasting love… Nothing!
When she realized this problem, she was distressed for a week because this shortcoming might represent some kind of flaw. But then she was relieved: Some people naturally hated confined spaces. Some people’s hands and feet are uncoordinated when running. Some people can’t stand the taste of seafood all their lives. Compared to these people, her shortcoming is not a problem, right? Probably…not.
In fact, in the past, she had no shortage of suitors. After all, she is good-looking, has a pretty good IQ, very capable, and has a good character. It’s a pity that these pursuits either ended without any particular reason or ended up by her euphemistic refusal. Because she understands that even if there is no equal value in the world of love, a person pursuing someone would still hope their affection to be reciprocated. And she… doesn’t know how to do it. Still, she was grateful to those who liked her, so she willingly stopped them from the start.
Bad things can become good things, and good things can become bad things. At 28, this shortcoming made her the Special Assistant to the General Manager of the company. For this good luck in her career, she has always attributed it to her ability. But she hasn’t realized this until a long time later. Perhaps it was because, in her 6 years of working in the company, she had never ever initiated a conversation with the general manager unless it’s a work-related matter.
The General Manager is young and promising with a strong background. But she dare not say that he is so handsome that it can alarm the Party Central Committee. At any rate, he is elegant and upright with several points combined. And with the “single” sign on his household registration, he can almost become the standard template for a male lead in romance novels. Today, when a good man is to be married without being gay, women who fight for them with open and secret means is quite the norm.
In good conscience, she really admires this man. And it is just pure admiration since she cannot cultivate deeper feelings that are more profound than appreciation. So, while she worked beside him, she witnessed most of his romantic affairs and the ups and downs of his relationships. Although she couldn’t relate to it, those melodramatic gossips are worth reflecting on.
When the 28-year-old woman got off work one day, the General Manager suddenly asked her: “Would you like to marry me?”
She was dumbfounded and thought that this question had gone through at least two disappointments: One was from the woman he loved, and the other was from the woman who loved him. It was so tragic that it was impossible to elaborate. But all in all, humans are self-interested animals. After five seconds of careful consideration, she conceded that he was indeed a suitable marriage partner. And she, at 28, is indeed at a marriageable age. And most importantly, the general manager does not love her, nor demand for her love. Wonderful!
She smiled and nodded: “Okay.”
So, she became the General Manager’s wife and was promoted as their company’s Deputy General Manager. Women expressed crazy fits of rage and jealousy, and so did men. Everyone says she was a cunning one and knew how to get the moon near the water tower.
[T/N: Get the moon first near the water tower – Idiom interpretation Explanation: A metaphor for getting some benefits or convenience first because of being close to some people or things.]
After hearing this gossip, she thought: It’s true that the tower near the water could see the moon first, but the schemer was too ashamed and cannot afford the claim. If there’s something remarkable about her, it would be RP and nothing more. When he needed a useful woman who didn’t love him, she was right beside him.
[T/N: RP was what exactly written in raw – the RP in the above phrase can be “luck” or “personality”]
On their wedding day, he drank a lot, and when he was finally carried back to the room, he was already unconscious. She had never longed for the bridal room and ornamented candles, nor did she take it seriously. Seeing his appearance, she helped him undress, except for his shoes and socks. She squeezed a hot towel and cleaned his whole body carefully. When she wiped his face, he suddenly opened his eyes and looked straight at her. He said one thing and went back to sleep.
He said: “Thank you for marrying me willingly.”
She froze for a moment, then realized his obvious guilt. She looked at his sleeping face and smiled softly: “Thank you for asking me to marry you.”
Life afterward was dull and tight. Nothing more than chai rice, oil, salt, sauce, and vinegar tea. She worked with him for many years, so they already had a tacit understanding. They lived peacefully like any ordinary married couple in the world. If there is any difference, it is probably the obliterated passion of most married couples because of life. But for them, who weren’t passionate enough, were not worn out.
After having a child, they had also disputed over their child’s education, future, and marriage. But the longer the time, the more she discovers that both their perspectives are increasingly getting similar, and she’s getting to understand him more and more. And finally, she would know his thoughts with just one look. By the time they’re old, their grandchildren make fun of them: “Grandpa, Grandma, why do you always vent from one nostril?”
[T/N: Vent from one nostril – The interpretation of a nostril is a metaphor for the position, viewpoint, and proposition that is completely consistent with others.]
At work, she was still his partner, his right arm. She was much better at her job than she was in love. The market is steadily changing, and the trend is unpredictable. Both of them have experienced the height of their careers. They had also suffered the failures caused by the burst of the economic bubble. Twenty years after marriage, their career reached its lowest point: The company is on the verge of bankruptcy and is plagued by lawsuits.
He told her: “Let’s get a divorce.”
The so-called divorce probably meant to draw a line between them and get rid of debts and lawsuits. She knew that this was his goodwill, but she was offended. She didn’t expect him to admit defeat here.
It was the only time in her life that she slapped the table on him: “Divorce?! Don’t think about it! If you want to leave, you have to wait until you have money.”
He was stunned but smiled after a while: “Okay, you can think about it when I make a comeback.”
Later, he did get out of the trough, but they never talked about divorce again.
There was someone whom he loves so dearly but cannot obtain, she always knew. She even knew the woman’s first name and last name and where she worked. But she never told anyone about it, nor did she want to meet her. After all, their romance had nothing to do with her. In fact, she was vaguely envious of him because even if he could not get that woman, he had at least loved her, while she never even had a chance to love.
When he was 60 years old, he had a tumor, and she had the opportunity to get close to the woman he loved so much. That woman’s husband, who was authoritative on tumor medical treatment in China, naturally became his attending physician. When he was in the hospital, the woman got the news and came to visit. She was a cheerful, kind, and enthusiastic woman.
She and the woman are like most old ladies in their 50s and 60s, chatting about family and past events while caring for patients. That’s when she collectively pieced some details of his love story: That woman was already married when he fell in love with her. He had never confessed to the woman. He still maintained a good relationship with that woman after he got married…
She was somewhat surprised and somewhat sad for him because she could hear the woman’s deep feelings for her doctor husband from her words. She knew that in other people’s love stories, he was just also a supporting character.
She suddenly understood why he proposed to her back then: He loved a woman, but he was too kind to hurt the other woman who loved him. So he looked for a woman who didn’t love him. Both of them are indeed alike.
After that, life continued. He let their son take over the job, and she also left the company with him to take care of her grandson at home. She suffered from rheumatism and was unstable in walking. She often needed him to support her. Over time, they used to help each other while walking. Outsiders regard them as specimens that grow old together. And in the eyes of children and grandchildren, they are models of love for a lifetime. In fact, she knew that there was not much love in it. Sometimes, maybe it was a habit, but she felt the peace and warmth in her heart when he held her.
After many years, he was finally leaving. At that time, she had long been unable to stand due to severe rheumatism. In front of his sickbed, his skinny hand held her tightly. He looked at her deeply with those already muddy eyes and said: “Thank you for spending this life with me…”
She stretched out her other hand and wrapped him tightly: “Thank you for walking this whole journey with me…”
At that moment, she suddenly realized that, in fact, she had been in love and loved this man all her life. Every little bit of this love is too subtle. She was not able to sense it until time had merged with the endless ocean.
You told me you’d love me forever. Forever? I know this thing, I take my life as its deadline. But what exactly is love? I think that’s how I felt about you at the end of my life.