I didn’t like change. There were too many changes that occurred in the first half of my life, so now I hoped that everything would be fine in the world and nothing new would happen.
Of course, the only constant thing in this world was change itself. This was the truth that I realized long ago, and it was also an important philosophy taught by our ancestors.
After the young lama left, I continued to soak in the hot spring. I had been quite relaxed before, but now I felt a little anxious.
Fatty pondered over the young lama’s words as he ate dinner. After thinking about it for a while, he eventually said to me, “Mr. Naïve, you said that you’ve been studying the history of the Zhang family, right? Then that makes you the Deren! But now that he’s the Deren, doesn’t that mean that everything—including all of Little Brother’s memories—has to be told to him? On what grounds?”
“I’m not the Deren. Although I’ve been studying the Zhang family, the longer I study them, the less I want to become a member of the Zhang family,” I said to Fatty before sinking my head into the hot spring. I stayed under until I couldn’t hold my breath anymore and then resurfaced and sucked in a deep breath. That wasn’t the point. The point was who the hell approved him to be Deren?
Did he go through some kind of process?
“Fire him.” Fatty looked at Poker-Face, “Little Brother, I’m not just saying this for nothing. If it were me, I definitely wouldn’t be able to tolerate it. I’d fire him right away. Being a Deren in a place like this is similar to a government official taking up a post at the border region. How can you take up your post without reporting to your superiors? If you don’t fire him, he’ll be the patriarch before you know it.”
As soon as he finished speaking, we suddenly heard a noise and then a man climbed up from the edge of the cliff, “Being Deren is a punishment. You can’t fire a sinner.”
I was expecting to see a bald head, but when his face appeared above the cliff’s ledge, I remembered that lamas didn’t have to shave their heads.
Then, Zhang Haike appeared in front of us. He had cut his hair short and was wearing a lama’s robe, but his skin color still looked different from that of the locals.
The moment I saw him, my blood pressure shot up, but then I realized that there was a difference between his appearance and mine. “What happened to your face?” I asked him.
“There’s no need to continue looking like you, is there? If I don’t do anything, I’ll gradually revert back to my own appearance,” Zhang Haike said. “The bones can’t change back to the way they were, but the skin texture will change as long as you don’t work hard to fix it.”
As Zhang Haike spoke, he began to undress and then walked into the hot spring. It had originally been just the three of us, but now it suddenly turned into four.
He glanced at Poker-Face as a way of greeting, and Poker-Face also glanced back at him. After a moment, Fatty said, “For those named Zhang Haike, the fee is ten times the usual.”
“My name is Deren now,” Zhang Haike said to Fatty. “The person you don’t like didn’t come out of the snowy mountains.”
Fatty was so angry that his blood pressure soared, but Zhang Haike turned to Poker-Face and said, “Now that the patriarch is here, we can do some official business so that I can record it.”
“There’s nothing to record,” Poker-Face told him.
Zhang Haike was silent for a moment, “It seems that the world is at peace.”
“Why did you become a monk?” I asked Zhang Haike.
“Have you seen the sunset here?”
Fatty and I looked at each other. No wonder the head lama didn’t seem clever and mystifying when we were talking to him, I thought to myself. This Deren likes to do just that. Others might think that they’re copying each other.
“The patriarch always wants to see the Deren and always comes here to Jila Temple. Whether you come here for travel or business, this stop is unavoidable,” Zhang Haike said. “Besides, you can see such a beautiful sunset here. This place is actually the Zhang family’s tomb. There are fewer and fewer members of the Zhang family, but when they come here before they die, I can tell them where the patriarch is so that they can have a final destination in mind. After all, the Zhang family’s ancient building isn’t a place where you can meet people. Things decay very quickly there. After a while, this place will be the only one left.” After he finished speaking, he looked at me and said, “I heard that you’re doing some data collection, yes?”
“I found some things in the temple. I’ll send them to you.”
“If they’re antiques, they’ll get damaged during transport. Are you sure you want to do that?”
“I meant that I’ll take pictures of them and email them to you.”
“Do you even know my email address?”
“I know your shop’s email address.”
That would work.
He took out a small notebook from his pile of clothes, put it next to me, got dressed, and then said to me, “That’s a guidebook. All the places in it have beautiful scenery and contain some relics of the Zhang family. If you’re here to travel, you might as well go and take a look. And since the world is at peace, I’ll head back first. I eat in the dining hall every day, so you can come talk to me when you have time.”
He looked at me as he spoke, as if he was calling me out, but I didn’t bother responding. He then waved at Poker-Face and left quietly.
It almost felt like he had been passing by and stopped to have a casual chat with us.
The three of us remained silent for a while. He had come and gone in such a hurry, almost like he was embarrassed to some extent. We had made it obvious that we didn’t want to see him, nor were we curious about Deren Lama. So, in the end, he merely went through the formalities by seeing us quickly and getting the job done.
We all knew that this actually didn’t conform to etiquette at all. It seemed like we had a lot of things to talk about, but when I thought about it carefully, I realized that there wasn’t really anything to talk about at all. What he ended up saying was good enough.
If I took the initiative to find him, I honestly didn’t know what I would say.
But everyone seemed to be at peace now.
Fatty suddenly broke the silence, “When he was soaking just now, he farted. Did you smell it? I saw the bubbles.”
Fatty just wanted to embarrass him by arranging such an ending, but I still laughed anyway.
Zhang Haike—no, Deren Lama—must’ve had a thousand words to say but only ended up farting and staying in the spring water?
I opened the notebook he left behind and flipped through it silently. There were a lot of places, many of which would be difficult to reach. Some photos were mixed in with the pages, and some places were accompanied by detailed descriptions. This notebook hadn’t been written by him but must have come from the various Zhang family members scattered all over the place. They probably kept passing it on after writing down the local customs and scenery within its pages, filling each page one by one until it finally reached Zhang Haike’s hand and he passed it on to the patriarch. The scenery was full of empty valleys and secluded orchids while the words were like a sigh of a thousand years.
<Chapter 14><Table of Contents><Chapter 16>
I have absolutely no excuses (*/▽＼*) I went on a 3-day Teen Wolf fanfic binge fest in between work and cleaning sessions of the condo before my fam comes into town tomorrow. Depending on what they want to do, there might not be an update again til Sunday or Monday. But I took all next week off from work because I deserve a fucking break (and I have 180 vacay hours I need to dwindle down to 80 by December) so we’ll see if I’m motivated enough to get more out. Ya’ll stay classy~~~ (￣^￣)ゞ
Pic added 12/3/2022 (fan translation courtesy of me).
6 thoughts on “Chapter 15 Traveling Notes”
No worries! As always take your time! You deserve some time of your own, so long as you remember us 😉 I really don’t know how to express how grateful I am. You’re great!
And Fatty wanting to fire new Deren is the best!!!! Unless Deren is giving us some answers from Tibetan Sea Flower I don’t want anything with him!
Enjoy your vacations ❤️
“No wonder the head lama didn’t seem clever. other might think that they’re copying each other.” Because they are really the Black Wind Demon and his apprentice.
I hope you have a great time. 💕
👍 Nice! I love everything about that post. Except that you are overworked. But enjoy that vacay! 😄
Take all the time you need! I hope you’ll be able to rest well and enjoy your time with your family.
Enjoy your vacation! I also approve of your fanfic binge 😂
I feel like Zhang Haike is dangling this notebook in front of Wu Xie to try to lure him into another adventure – resist, Wu Xie! Stay a middle-aged semi-retired uncle!