Quality Check: Kittsune
First Published on Ainushi.
Another ten days passed, and it was nearly Chinese New Year’s.
Seeing the thick festive atmosphere on the streets, I couldn’t help but think back to how I used to spend the holiday at home. Mom would put up New Year’s decorations, and on Chinese New Year’s eve, she’d prepare an enormous dinner for the family. Dad would take a portion out from his year-end bonus and give my little brother and I each a red envelope . The other portion he would give to his beloved wife was under disguise as if it was from us — the two of them would then shamelessly and embarrassingly express their love for each other despite their old age.
This had already become a memory.
I figured that the Zhao brothers wouldn’t permit me to go home for the New Year’s, and furthermore, I didn’t want to go back. I had no idea how I would explain everything that had happened to me to my family. I also didn’t know how I would act in front of them, and I definitely didn’t want them to worry about me.
It was already more than a month since I last went to school, and I didn’t even attend the final exams. I probably had already been kicked out of school, but I honestly didn’t care anymore.
“Mom, I’m not coming home for winter vacation. A female senior in my club introduced me to a job at a famous company and it’s a very rare opportunity…”
I picked up the phone and dialed that familiar phone number. When I heard that nostalgic and warm voice come out from the speaker, tears uncontrollably began to flow from my eyes. I struggled to bite my lip and suppress them as I feigned a tone of excitement and energy. I really didn’t want my family in Jiayi to worry.
Mom believed my lie, and agreed to let me stay in Taipei for New Year’s . After chatting with my mom for about an hour, I finally hung up. After putting down the phone, I sat down on my bed and curled up into ball, hugging my arms tightly around myself. I buried my face into my knees, and cried silently.
I wanted to go home!
“Miss, are you awake? Why don’t you have some chicken soup? The young masters made it themselves.” Mama Yu carried a thermos to my bedside, and inquired with a soft voice.
The Zhao brothers again! The hatred inside my heart all erupted.
“I don’t need their fake kindness! I hate them! Keep them far away from me!” I lifted my face full of tears and shouted. Then I seized the thermos that Mama Yu brought and flung it at the wall. It collided heavily with the wall and clattered onto the ground, spilling chicken soup everywhere on the floor.
The hospital room was absolutely silent. After letting all my fury out, I closed my eyes and fell back onto the bed. I continued to cry silently. I felt like all the strength in my body had been sucked out. Mama Yu stood in her original place without budging, almost as if she had been frightened still by my actions.
After what seemed like ages later, Mama Yu walked over and picked up the thermos that had fallen to the ground beside the wall. She silently began to clean up the mess that I had made.
When she finished cleaning up, Mama Yu sat down beside my bed and began to persuade me. “Miss, I know that you experienced a lot of unhappy things, and received a lot of wounds. Your heart is in pain, but please do not hate the young masters. Everything that they did to you was because they loved you too much.”
I didn’t want to argue with her. She was an employee of the Zhao family, so it was only natural that she would speak in favor of them.
“Because their father and his wife married for financial benefit, their relationship was never good. When the young masters were born, the circumstances between those two worsened to the extreme, and very soon they both moved out of the mansion. They settled in different countries, and started to live their own lives. The young masters who were just born were thus left in the mansion to live together with their paternal grandfather. Their late grandfather was not a kind grandfather, and his life’s sole ambition was to expand the Zhao clan corporation. He dedicated all of his energy and feelings to the Zhao corporation, and if it weren’t for the fact that the young masters would one day inherit the company, he simply wouldn’t have even wanted them. As a result, I was the one who essentially raised the young masters single-handedly. When they were little, they were shy and timid, but they were very kindhearted and loved to laugh. They were always glued to me, and those two were very sweet children.”
“Later, their grandfather wanted to train them so they would one day be able to take over the Zhao clan. So he had them sent to a famous boarding school for aristocrats in England. At that time, they were only four years old. I did not feel good about having such young children living alone overseas, and I wanted to go with them, but their grandfather did not allow it. He said that boys must be able to endure suffering to steel up their willpower. And as such, they were sent out of the country alone. Their grandfather didn’t even allow them to call home.”
“During winter vacation, they returned to Taiwan for Chinese New Year’s, but I found that they had changed a lot. They became gloomy and cold, and were even afraid of the servants approaching them. I discovered many injuries and bruises on their bodies, and I reported this to their grandfather. Yet he reprimanded me and told me not to stick my nose in their business. The holidays passed, and the two of them were once again sent back to school. They did not return for the next five years, and we never received a phone call from them.”
“One day, an urgent telephone call came from their school. After picking it up, their grandfather immediately rushed his way to England. Several days later, he brought the young masters back to Taiwan — they had killed someone in England. At that time, they were only ten years old.”
“I only found out afterwards that the school for aristocrats was basically like a concentration camp. Unable to receive love or concern from their family members all year round, the children would vent their anger and grievances in warped ways. They would haze and torment the weakest students with all sorts of different methods. In front of crowds of students, the young masters would be stripped naked, sprayed with cold water, and be forced to crawl over campus, eating things like a dog. They even strung them up and whipped them. The students at the school were all born privileged, and there were even several princes from some countries, so the teachers had no way to control their behaviors. In order to protect the school’s reputation, they covered everything up.”
“Unable to receive any help, the young masters endured this for six years, all until that one day where they used extremely cruel measures to murder a student that had tortured them.”
“After that, their grandfather used his connections to settle the affair and brought them back. However, they had already changed a lot. Darkness, paranoia, and deceit had already become instinctive for them. Nobody could approach them, not even me. It took me three years of taking care of them before they slowly came to trust and accept me.”
“Eventually, their grandfather passed away. Their father returned to handle a few things and then left again. The young masters and a few servants were all that was left inside the mansion. They fired all the servants. They only kept me and the butler who had served the Zhao family for practically forever. It wasn’t long after that I too resigned because of my health.”
“Even though they retained the butler, they didn’t actually trust him. They didn’t allow him to enter their rooms, and they never ate the food that the butler prepared. The young masters are already incapable of completely trusting other people, and even towards me they keep their guards up.”
“Despite this, they trust you. They allowed you to move into the Zhao residence, and they allow you to enter their bedrooms as you wish. They even gobble up the food you prepare without the slightest hesitation. This may not be much for an ordinary person, but for them, it is an extremely difficult thing for them to do.”
“Even though they did many things to you that you might perceive as extremely cruel, to them, they’re just some little superficial acts to mark you as theirs. They aren’t actually trying to hurt you. If they truly wanted to hurt you, then your fate would have been a hundred times more miserable than it is right now.”
“Please don’t hate them. They love you, but they’ve never experienced love. They don’t know how to make the people they love happy. For your own good, and their good, please teach them how to love.”
- It is Chinese tradition for family members will give youth cash money on Chinese New Year’s contained in red envelopes. It can be quite a large sum of money, and in terms of amount gifted, it is essentially the Chinese equivalent of Christmas (which isn’t really celebrated much in China). [back]
- Chinese New Year’s in China is technically 2-3 weeks long, and most employees take at least one week off from work. Students get a month off school. [back]
TL: Merry Christmas (or Christmas Eve, wherever you are in the world)! I wanted to take a moment to thank the lovely person who donated to me at the beginning of this month. I was honestly really surprised when krrizis contacted me about it because I don’t translate for money and don’t ask for donations either. In my… four years of doing translations online, this was my first time ever receiving a donation, and it was so very unexpected to receive it! Thank you! And I’ll continue to work extra hard! Happy holidays! Between today and New Years, we are releasing 1 chapter of BWA every day, so enjoy reading!