“Later, you are not allowed to say that you can see Jinhu and all, understand?” After returning home, Liu Qiaoye promptly warned Zhang Jiaohua.
Zhang Jiaohua looked at the five silent young companions that had been following by his side. He didn’t understand why his mother would tell him to lie. When Kindergarten Teacher said that good child shouldn’t lie?
If there was a choice between listening to Mother’s words or the Teacher’s words, the majority would choose the latter. The teachers were the role models. Therefore, Zhang Jiaohua didn’t answer.
“Do you understand what mother told you?” How could Liu Qiaoye be aware of the psychology of her child.
“En.” Zhang Jiaohua was very unwilling.
Although such a big matter happened, the life in Meizi’ao would continue. For several days, laughter couldn’t be heard at Meizi’ao. There appeared to be an unusual silence inside the village.
However, life must continue, the fields also cannot be left abandoned. The five children left the memory of Meizi’ao, only several freshly dug up unmarked graves remained. Jinhu and all who had died so young couldn’t be admitted into the Ancestral grave, even couldn’t be made into mass grave. They were set aside from the memory of Meizi’ao perhaps just like their tombs, slowly submerged by weeds.
For a long time after the mishap, Zhang Jiaohua’s parents didn’t permit him to go out.
Zhang Jiaohua was forced to sit on the main gate’s threshold looking at the blue sky and the white clouds floating, and the five young companions sitting at his side.
“Jinhu, why don’t you talk to me? It doesn’t feel good being alone at home.” Zhang Jiaohua said looking at Jinhu sitting.
If anyone was here, they would definitely notice that Zhang Jiaohua was talking to the air.
Jinhu, Fugui, Xiaoshuan, Gouwa, Mancang, were all naked with the appearance of just having taken a dip in the pond. A village child being naked wasn’t much of an issue, Zhang Jiaohua also didn’t find anything wrong. Originally, Mother had told him, that Jinhu and all had died, people after death would become ghosts. What he was seeing were ghosts. Zhang Jiaohua feared ghosts very much since childhood, but he also didn’t know why but when he saw these five little friends, he actually felt that these little friends were still living.
Zhang Youping carrying a heavy load of beans on his shoulderpole, laid it down in the courtyard, while using the towel wrapped on the pole to wipe his sweat. Then he took down his bamboo hat, intending to enter the house to drink water.
“Son, who were you talking to just now?” Zhang Youping while entering the courtyard just a moment ago, seemed to have heard his son talking, and a bad feeling arose in his heart.
“Jinhu. Fugui, they all are here.” Zhang Jiaohua said pointing at the threshold.
The Jinhu, et al’s group of five just blankly stared at Zhang Jiaohua.
Zhang Jiaohua could apparently feel an ill wind blowing at his face, his heart became sad, knowing that his son had become entangled in some dirty things. He was anxious in his heart, but he didn’t have any least bit of a solution.
At night time, Zhang Jiaohua’s Grandpa and Grandma came over, Uncle and Aunt also followed behind. Grandpa and Grandma lived with Zhang Jiaohua’s Uncle. Living in an old house. Zhang Jiaohua’s house was constructed last year, and at that time they had moved out of the old house.
“Jiaohua is apparently being tormented by the little ghosts of those five. This period, Jiaohua has been talking everyday with those five little ghosts.” Zhang Youping heavy heartedly, continued puffing on his tobacco pipe.
“Youping, just go call Daoist Priest Ma to come and see.” Jiaohua’s Grandpa offered a suggestion. Daoist Priest Ma was called Ma Wulang. He was a Meishan Sect Shuishi. Usually liked wearing Daoist robes, so the villagers called him Daoist Priest Ma. Usually, when the cemetry needs to be looked at, or the foundation need to be looked at, or whenever, superstition arises then also he is asked to come. He also simultaneously acts as a doctor. Some sicknesses which the barefoot doctors in the villages are unable to treat, then also he is sought for.
[TLNote: Literal translation of Shuishi or 水师 means Water Master. Basically, Shuishi here is an honorific/title bestowed upon a special category of people found in Hunan, Jiangxi and Guangxi parts of China who use Talismans and a Cup of fresh water to set bones and cure people’s illnesses]
“Father, this isn’t good, right? If this Daoist Priest Ma comes then the entire Meizi’ao will come to know of the matter. Later, my son will be looked upon like a monster.” Zhang Youping was extremely worried.
Liu Qiaoye was also unwilling, “Exactly, even though my child can see them, they are not harming my child. Actually, even this way is also all right.”
Zhang Jiaohua’s Grandpa’s will not being carried out, made him very annoyed, “Your son, you yourself decide. Just that when the time comes and something happens, don’t regret later that it is too late.”
Zhang Youping husband and wife thought it over, but still didn’t want to call Ma Wulang.
However, paper can’t wrap fire, there is no wall on earth from which no wind passes through. Although Zhang Youping’s entire family meticulously tried to conceal this matter, nevertheless the news that Zhang Jiaohua was being entangled with ghosts spread. The village children were all warned by their parents, must not in any circumstance be close to Zhang Jiaohua. Moreover, Ma Wulang turned up uninvited.
Zhang Jiaohua had celebrated his birthday not too long ago. Ma Wulang came to Zhang Jiaohua’s home leaning on a stick wrapped in lots of multicoloured cloths. That stuck had the appearance similar to the sticks on which tanghulu are sold in the cities. [TLNote: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanghulu]
Zhang Jiaohua had shifted a four-legged stool to sit under the eaves, and was watching with keen interest, ants entering a small hole and moving out about.
Jinhu, Fugui, Xiaoshuan, Gouwa, Mancang all had formed a circle, and were also watching with keen interest.
At this time, Ma Wulang forcefully stuck in his stick into the Zhang Jiaohua’s house’s veranda. The veranda wasn’t cemented, only using hammered wooden spikes fixed with clay bricks. Ma Wulang directly used the stick in his hand and inserted it into a clay brick. The cloth strips on top kept swaying incessantly. There was a little bell on the staff, once the staff was planted, the little bell began jingling “dingdong”.
Zhang Jiaohua jumped in fright, he thought that a child trafficker had come. Jinhu, et. al. promptly hid behind Zhang Jiaohua.
“Who are you looking for? My parents are not at home.” Zhang Jiaohua still stood up with great courage.
“The one I am looking for is you, your parents not being at home is by chance.” Ma Wulang again forcefully slammed down the staff he was holding into the ground.
Zhang Jiaohua began trembling out of fright, shakingly said: “Even if you kidnap me, you won’t be able to sell me off, I remember the names of my parents, also remember the name of my hometown. If you sell me off, I will run away home.”
“No problem. I won’t kidnap you for selling, just make you go beg for me, ok. If you won’t listen to me, I will just break your legs, leaving you unable to escape. If you want to shout for help, I will feed you mute pill, turning you into a mute.” Ma Wulang laughed cruelly, deliberately making up stories to frighten Zhang Jiaohua.
How could a child endure this kind of an assault? Zhang Jiaohua immediately began crying after being frightened by Ma Wulang. Jinhu and all also began crying loudly out of fright.
“Don’t cry!” Ma Wulang again looked at the staff in his hands and forcefully stamped it down. The little bell made jingling sounds.
Zhang Jiaohua was still crying, but he unexpectedly didn’t dare cry out loudly.
“My parents will come back soon, you this child trafficker won’t be able to escape!” Zhang Jiaohua while wiping his tears, thought of an idea.
“Just a moment ago while coming, I saw your parents pulling up grass and spreading fertilizer in the field. They won’t return all of a sudden. The villagers all know that you have become possessed by little ghosts, and no will come to your house.” Ma Wulang thoroughly brokedown Zhang Jiaohua’s ideas.
Zhang Jiaohua wanted to cry, but he was afraid of provoking this person in front of him.