[WeiLan] A Letter from a Stranger
Editor: Misaki and Mirial
First Published on Ainushi with permission from 小仙女本仙就是wo
Warning: AU. Takes place shortly after Shen Wei wiped Zhao Yun Lan’s memories before the final battle. In the novel, Zhao Yun Lan awakens his memories as Kun Lun thanks to this particular act as it meant Shen Wei had fulfilled his promise to Shengnong. Here, he does not and it is implied that Shen Wei had died in battle.
When Zhao Yunlan arrived at the office that day, Old Wu passed him a letter, saying that he had found it shoved under the door. His name was spelled out in three characters on the intricate envelope and he didn’t think it was proper to just casually deal with it. Thus, the letter had been patiently waiting for the Chief’s arrival.
But who could have written him a letter?
He lit up a cigarette as he lazily laid on the couch. When he opened the envelope, a bitter-clean, light fragrance assailed his nose, but it was soon overwhelmed by the strong smell coming from the cigarette. By the time he attempted to place the cigarette down by his side, the fragrance had disappeared.
The texture of the letter was exceptionally superb; it was smooth and exquisite to his touch, though its contents were ordinary. However, as it has been proved time and time again, the simpler some things are, the more precious they turn out to be.
This person had written beautifully with very thin and sturdy strokes, using a style of chinese calligraphy originating from the Song Dynasty. Zhao Yunlan couldn’t sense any form of frustration from it and instead, could only feel a sense of placidness. However, at the places where the brush touched the paper, the ink appeared to be sharp, without any form of restraint. Thus, he concluded that this should be a man’s handwriting.
Unable to put a finger on why, he was suddenly interested. It’s not like he wasn’t completely unfazed by the letter either. Zhao Yunlan was just coincidentally free at this moment and was too lazy to get up from the couch to find something to do to pass the time, so he read it.
After mulling and hesitating for a long time, I still couldn’t stop myself from writing this letter. Even now I still can’t make up my mind as to whether I should give this letter to you. Yet, despite that, I knew that wanted to talk to you.
I’ll be setting off to a perilous place tomorrow. The odds and obstacles encountered on the trip will be tough; I know that I will not be able to make it out alive. The thought of dying has never been strenuous for me, but saying farewell to you is truly difficult. And when I recalled that I still have a lot more to say to you, bidding my farewell to you like this made me all the more torn with grief. Although you don’t know who I am, I have already loved you for a long, long time.
I don’t want to add more to your worries, and all the more don’t want you to feel ashamed after having a glimpse of my covert feelings for you. I know you well. You are kind enough to put yourself in my shoes and feel my sorrow. However, there is no need for you to do so as this is my own decision. If you have received this letter, then that means I’m already dead. If I’m very lucky, I’m just running a little late in getting back home. Nevertheless, the messenger has placed the letter in your hands on time.
I don’t find death to be scary. It has accompanied me for so long that throwing myself into its embrace has always been the freedom I’ve yearned for. Yet, this perception changed because of you. But this doesn’t mean that I’m complaining to you, saying that it was because of you that I’m beginning to fear death. I would never be scared of it. I simply have to thank you from the bottom of my heart that you made me realize the joys of being alive. Otherwise, what would I have left in this lifetime? I am just waiting to reunite with you.
Please, don’t feel afraid. This letter was not written for the sake of your reply. You may go back to your regular life after reading this and pay no more heed to it. Even if I am fortunate enough to return alive, I will never appear before you in this form again.
I don’t wish for anything from you but I earnestly plead that you believe what I’m going to write next. I swore that I would never lie to you on my sincere heart which has always loved you, and that promise still holds true.
You have forgotten about me yet I have never stopped searching for you. I don’t wish to explain the pain and suffering I went through in detail as I am not hoping to earn your sympathy. I also don’t plan on letting you know how we were back then, and I don’t wish for you to remember anything about me since I’ll be gone soon.
That day, just by looking at you from afar, I instantly recognized your silhouette. It was deeply etched into my heart and I had no need to distinguish it. At one point, I thought about whether I should call out to you but I really didn’t know if I should once again drag you into my life. As I gave it some more thought, you disappeared from my sight. Only then did I regret not rushing forward and standing before you.
I understand that it’s enough for me alone to be swallowed by the void of my fate. If you were implicated in the process, I cannot imagine what would make me suffer more.
Thus, I deliberately did not create opportunities to meet with you.
What’s sad is that we have never seen each other since.
But I live close by. I would always pass through your workplace when while heading to mine. I have seen the old man called Wu. He’s a good man and would politely smile at me. The same goes to your subordinates, or your friends to be exact. They circle around you as they laugh and fool around, willing to risk life and limb together. It is hard to describe how incredibly jealous I was!
That used to be my place. It was only me. Yet now, I will never again be a part of your life.
Honestly, you have never known me.
You have seen me before though, when you were chasing a convict on the run. The way you shuttled through the heavy traffic gripped my heart with worry. I was incredibly anxious from the bottom of my heart, to the point where I forgot to keep watch of my surroundings. The convict had run past me, knocking me off my feet. Before I could recover, my eyes had met yours. (As I write about it now, the feelings I’d held then once again return, akin to torrential waves. I’m not afraid of you laughing even when I’m telling you this. I cried even harder than I do now after you left that day.) I never expected that you would take notice of my injuries, stopping in your pursuit to ask whether I was hurt.
I once doubted whether you were the one I yearn for. Even if you looked identical to him, you don’t have any memories of me. I wasn’t sure whether memories were distinguishing traits in a person. Yet, the moment you shifted your gaze to me, all the doubts I’d had was thrown away.
Even though you’d lost your memories, I will never be able to find another person with the same gentle and passionate spirit you have in this mundane world.
I could never be equal to you. This is yet another reason as to why I love you so.
Even though the journey I’m partaking in tomorrow is for the protection of some people, and although I’m perfectly happy to do my utmost, this doesn’t mean that I truly wanted to protect them. I am doing this because I know that you wanted to protect them and that you wanted me to protect them. You wanted me to be kind.
I’m willing to do everything for you because I love you.
I feel nothing towards this world, but I’m willing to make it safe.
Because of you.
Only for you.
As I continued on and off, I even had slight difficulties in remembering how to write. Before I knew it, it was already very late at night. Come to think of it, have you slept yet?
You have to sleep early and stop staying up late all night. Nothing is more important than your health.
I ran into you once on the street. You were complaining about how painful your tummy was to old Mr. Wu. You recklessly grabbed a handful of pills and swallowed them. Next time when you have a stomach ache again, you must take your medicine with warm water. Don’t be rash like a child and make others worry for you. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Eat your meals on time. If you are too lazy to make your own food, and find it hard to take in heavily condimented take-outs, just use the recipe that I have provided below. It’s very easy to make and suits your taste well.
Please take care of yourself properly. Don’t think of it as troublesome. I’ve never been fed up with my love for you.
I used to think day and night about how you were doing. I knew very well that I shouldn’t let my thoughts run wild, yet I still couldn’t help worrying about you throughout the whole night, to the extent that I couldn’t fall asleep. It’s funny now that I think about it. Indeed I have always treated you as someone who needed me no matter what; if you were without me, you wouldn’t be able to take care of yourself. But in reality, you have long been able to live peacefully in places without me around. As for me, although I think I’m doing alright, I still lose myself whenever it involves you. I find it fortunate too, that the only person and thing that could make me forget myself has always been you.
How on earth did you stir up my feelings so? I think you will never understand. I am not asking you to do so either. Who on earth can truly understand me as well as my love for you?
It’s so personal, yet so full of sincerity.
It’s similar to the dazzling fireworks that bloomed in the sky above you on your birthday every year when you were on the way home. Although they quickly dissipated into the night, one by one, they had always appeared in your line of sight, trying to prove themselves to you with all their might.
Even then, you never stopped to meticulously gaze at them. Yet it had never crossed your mind that it was a present specifically prepared by me. The entire world was basking in your light.
I wonder who will be the person that will spend the rest of their life together with you? Even if I did know, with the way things are now, we have nothing to do with each other. Yet, the intense feeling of jealousy still tugs at my heartstrings. I’m unable to control this emotion within me.
How fortunate is she, to be able to obtain the love of my life so easily?
I hope she will be able to love you and take care of you well. I hope she will be able to warn you not to drink too much, to make you wear more clothes when it’s cold outside, and warm a bowl of porridge for you when you are toiling away for long hours without rest. She should be able to do all these, right? After all, the wives of the mortal world always take care of their husbands in this manner. I also hope that you can love her as well. If she truly loves you, it’s natural that she will require your love in return. You have to treat her well because only then will she do the same.
Please, do not ever worry me. Actually, I’ve known deep down that the only time I could sever my attachment to you was when I die.
(Forgive me for imagining she was a woman instead of a man. I honestly find it very hard to accept that you will be taken by another man. And I hope that you will understand that no matter who that person is, regardless of male or female, I only want you to live a good life.)
After spewing so much nonsense, I once again ask for your forgiveness.
No matter how you live your life, it’s not something that I should meddle in.
But, as I said before, I’ve never been able to properly deal with anything concerning you.
I’m not whining about you not remembering me or recognizing me in this letter. That is my own decision. Please don’t feel troubled or anguished by it. It would torture me more than death.
There are still so many things that I wish to tell you, both proper and improper. I want to tell you everything regardless of the consequences.
But with all the stories I have, how much will be considered enough?
No matter how much I say, it will never be enough.
Not only that, it’s already dawn. It’s time for me to go.
-The man who loves you.
The letter fell from Zhao Yunlan’s grip, the cigarette burning until it extinguished on its own.
His entire body trembled violently as he cried until he was numbed with tears. But just as he was about to reach out to cover his eyes, the cold tears brushing his palm told him the truth.
He recalled the man he’d seen as he’d passed through the crowd and came to a stop at his side. He had reached out his hand and asked him if he was hurt.
He also recalled the man from before, who he had never paid attention to, who would pass by him each morning.
Perhaps, it was also the man who was hidden in a distant place, in the very depths of his memories.