Jiang Rui and Zhao Nan have not seen each other since New Year’s Eve, when the Zhao family had to prepare the bride price and the Du family had to prepare the dowry.
In the present day, only well-off families dare to promise three big things when they get married. The Du family went around and finally bought two new quilts from a neighboring county and made a red dress for Jiang Rui.
It was the twelfth day of the first month, early in the morning, the Du family courtyard was bursting with activity.
Wang Tong Hua invited the Du aunt to give Jiang Rui a facial makeover. She also untied the two twisted braids she used to wear and put them into a bun at the back of her head, tying them tightly with a red ribbon. With her face and hair changed, it was clear that her days of being a girl were over and after today, she would be someone else’s daughter-in-law.
After dressing and changing into her wedding dress, Jiang Rui sat on the edge of the bed while Zhang Xiao Hua and Du Bao Zhen kept her company in the house, while the rest of the Du family and several relatives were busy outside, preparing for the Zhao family’s welcome.
Du Bao Zhen leaned close to Jiang Rui, hooking a hand in hers and whispered, “Sister, I can’t let you go.”
“The two families are in such close proximity, so whenever you miss me, just come and see me.” Jiang Rui said softly.
“That’s not the same, we’ve slept in this room together since we were kids, we’ve never been separated, and I’ll be the only one left.” Du Bao Zhen pouted.
Jiang Rui then said: “After the 15th you will have to go to school, there are so many students, you will not be alone. If you have time during the weekends, give your mother a hand and don’t overwork her. Sister-in-law has to look after Xiao Shanzha and feed the rabbits, sometimes she’s too busy, so you can help look after them too.”
“Got it-” Du Bo Zhen trailed off.
Jiang Rui smiled and said to Zhang Xiao Hua again, “I’ll have to bother my sister-in-law with more work at home in the future.”
Zhang Xiao Hua was busy saying, “We’re all family, there’s no such thing as bothering or not bothering.” As she said that, she looked at Jiang Rui’s expression.
She remembered that when she married into the Du family the year before last, she had to say goodbye to her parents and siblings at home, and before she could say a few words, her eyes were red with tears. Even with all the usual conflicts and grudges, when it came to the day of separation, her heart was still sad to see them go, and she also had expectations and anxieties about her future husband and in-laws.
But when she looked at her sister-in-law, she still looked serene and calm, neither reluctant nor obviously happy, as if she was not the one getting married today, making it impossible for people to guess what was in her mind.
From the time the marriage was arranged with the Zhao family, Zhang Xiao Hua felt that this little sister-in-law was not simple, and now with every day that passed, this feeling became more and more certain. She also had a feeling that when Du Bao Qin was at home, she took care of the Du family inside and out, but when she had left, would the Du family, who were used to her care, be able to adjust all of sudden? If they can’t adapt, there are bound to be conflicts. The thought of the quarrels that might follow makes Zhang Xiaohua a little irritable.
As they talked, there was a sudden commotion outside, and it turned out that the Zhao family had arrived to welcome the bride.
The leading group of young men, one pushing a stationary bicycle, were conspicuous and impressive. Zhao Nan is still in his military uniform, with a coat of tweed over his uniform, he looks sharp and dignified. He pursed his lips and walked up to Du You Fu and Wang Tong Hua with a serious face.
Forced by his aura, Wang Tong Hua unconsciously took a half step backwards.
The other spectators, who had previously been stirring when they saw the bridal party coming, shut up and looked at each other in confusion: what was going on? It’s so aggressive, did the Zhao family come not to receive the bride, but to rob her?
Zhao Bei stomped his feet in anxiety behind his brother, seeing that he didn’t say anything for half a day, making the happy scene inexplicably tense, so he had to squeeze up and say with a smile, “Auntie and uncle, my brother is here to pick up his sister-in-law.” As he said this, he secretly prodded Zhao Nan.
Only then did Zhao Nan follow, “Dad and Mom, I’ve come to pick up Bao Qin.”
” Uh oh …… good ……” Wang Tong Hua and Du You Fu subconsciously nodded their heads in response.
Zhao Bei gestured for the joyful band to play music.
The scene was lively again, and the onlookers were once again joking around, but the scene just now remained in the minds of the people. Some people couldn’t help but think, The Zhao family’s second son is worthy of being a soldier, his aura is different from the others.
Zhao Nan was led to Du Bao Qin’s house and the others followed to watch the fun.
Jiang Rui has put on make-up today, her delicate features are aimed at her eyebrows and dotted with red, her fair jade-like cheeks are painted with light and faint rouge, so delicate that she looks like a peach blossom on a branch.
She was dressed in red, sitting properly on the edge of the bed, only glancing up as the crowd poured in, before dropping her eyes, her cheeks burning red little by little.
The crowd was momentarily silenced, unable to return to their senses as they stared at her in awe.
Zhao Nan approached step by step, and while the room was full of people, there were no other sounds, making his footsteps distinctly obvious. He walked up to Jiang Rui, and after standing for a moment, he crouched down and leveled with her, slowly extending a hand, “I’ve come to pick you up.”
Jiang Rui looked at him and put her hand on his palm.
Zhao Bei suddenly whistled, breaking the eerie silence in the room, ” Pick her up! Embrace and lift up!”
The rest of the group snapped back to attention and chimed in, ” Carry her out the door, carry her out the door!”
Jiang Rui hung her head and, out of sight of the crowd, curved the corners of her mouth to smile at Zhao Nan.
Zhao Nan’s ears were red, but he couldn’t look away from her, and only after a long time did he pick Jiang Rui up in his arms amidst the uproar.
Whistles and laughter almost blew the roof off the Du family home.
Jiang Rui was carried by Zhao Nan to the hall before she patted his hand, signalling for him to let her down.
Wang Tong Hua and Du You Fu stood in the hall, Jiang Rui walked up to them and toasted two cups of tea: “Dad, Mom, your daughter is leaving home, take care.”
This tea was toasted on behalf of Du Baoqin.
Wang Tong Hua’s tears fell at once, Du You Fu’s eyes were also red, and the rest of the Du family were all wiping their eyes.
Jiang Rui sat on the back of Zhao Nan’s bicycle, wrapping her arm around his waist, and set off from the Du family’s house, through the entire Xishan brigade, to the Zhao house.
The Zhao family was full of guests, with four or five tables set up in the courtyard, which was extremely impressive for today’s situation.
The meal lasted from lunchtime until the night, with the Zhao family busy entertaining their guests, their feet not touching the ground. Jiang Rui also followed Zhao Nan’s side, toasting the guests with wine and tea.
By the time the last guest left, the whole family was on the verge of exhaustion, but they couldn’t rest yet, the mess left by the banquet still needed to be cleaned up.
Jiang Rui volunteered to help put away the cups and bowls, but Zhang Li Yun saw that she hadn’t even removed the make-up from her face and stopped her, “Put it away, you’ve suffered enough today. A Nan – why don’t you take your wife to rest!”
Jiang Rui smiled and said, “I didn’t do anything, how can I compare to Mom’s hard work? You don’t have to persuade me to go and rest either. The whole family is working and I’m the only one watching with my legs crossed in the house, is that not asking me to be restless?”
Although the day was as hectic as a war, she was only happy to have such a diligent and understanding daughter-in-law.
There were many people in the Zhao family and everyone helped out. The house was soon almost cleaned up inside and out, with only the floor left to be cleaned.
Jiang Rui stopped insisting and followed Zhao Nan back to their room.
The room was much bigger than the one she had at Du’s family home, with a bed, wardrobe, table and chairs, and red double happiness plastered everywhere.
Jiang Rui sat at the table, rubbing her own shoulders.
“Are you tired?” Zhao Nan sat down and poured a cup of tea and handed it to her.
Jiang Rui took it and took a sip before saying, “I’m not very tired, but I’ve been smiling at people today and it’s made my face stiff. Look, has the powder on my face been removed by my smile?”
She put her face in front of Zhao Nan. Under the dim light, her tender cheeks were flushed pink, and because she had toasted, her eyes were foggy with moisture, and there seemed to be tiny stars falling in them, her small red lips were slightly pouting, and her lips were glistening with moisture, the lights flickered, and the water rippled, making people’s hearts flutter.
Zhao Nan did not speak for half a day.
Jiang Rui stretched out her thin finger and poked him in the chest, softly complaining, “Why are you ignoring others again?”
Zhao Nan instantly caught the chaotic finger rolling up and down his throat, and it was a while before he said, “Are you hungry?”
“Do you take me for a little pig, how can I be hungry now after eating so much earlier?” Jiang Rui drew back her hand and saw him sitting there stiffly again, seemingly at a loss for what to say, so she had to say, “I feel a little itchy on my face, why don’t you go and fetch some water for me to wash it.”
Zhao Nan immediately got up and went out, quickly returning with a bucket of hot water and a washbasin.
Jiang Rui washed her face and hands and breathed out comfortably. She felt a little sticky again, which happened to be a lot of water, and wanted to wipe it off, before she was about to unbutton her clothes, when she suddenly remembered that she was not the only one here.
She turned her head back and saw Zhao Nan staring at her with great concentration, and her heart got another bad idea,curling her eyes and saying delicately in a cupped voice, “I’m ready to undress, do you want to sit and watch too, uncle?”
Zhao Nan stood up with an exclamation, and swept away like a gust of wind, the door to the room being closed before the chair behind him wobbled to the floor.
Jiang Rui hummed a little tune and wiped herself slowly and deliberately.
Outside the room, Zhao Nan stood with his back to the door, as if standing guard, heat radiating continuously from his face.
The doors of the Zhao house were thickly made, so that he could not hear any movement inside from the outside, but he felt that there was a faint sound of water ruffling in his ears, and when he thought of what the person inside was doing now, not only was his face hot, but his hair was also on fire, and he could not stand still, but he could not move his feet even if he wanted to leave this place of torment.
Aunt 婶娘 (shěn niáng): wife of one’s father’s younger brother
Welcome 迎亲 (yíngqīn): (of the groom’s family) to send a bridal sedan chair
Brother 哥 (gē): elder brother
A 阿: prefix used before monosyllabic names, kinship terms etc to indicate familiarity
red double happiness plastered 双喜 (shuāngxǐ): double happiness / the combined symmetric character 囍 (similar to 喜喜) as symbol of good luck, esp. marriage
everywhere. 一应俱全 (yīyīngjùquán): with everything needed available