Tiny monk Lian Sang tightly wrapped his legs around his shixiong’s waist, and held onto his neck with his hands, his eyes shining brightly as he received a loving kiss on his forehead from his shixiong. Then, he tilted his head up and kissed his shixiong’s chin. He wanted to kiss his forehead, but he couldn’t reach it because he was still too small.
Yu Wenning felt his eyelid twitching and couldn’t help but want to pull the little kid down. He was already such a big child, how could he still be so unaware? Could his shixiong just kiss anyone he wanted? If he wanted to kiss someone, shouldn’t he find a wife first?
Tiny monk Lian Sang, who was still two months away from his third birthday, had no idea that the person his shixiong brought back had already become jealous of him. He held onto his shixiong with his two small feet on his waist, shaking and speaking in a childish voice, “Shixiong, why did you come back so soon? Shifu’s vegetables have just ripened.”
Lian Qing was suddenly moved, “Did Shifu guess that I was coming back soon and prepare it specially for me?”
The little one in his arms suspiciously hesitated for a moment, before saying softly and insincerely, “Yes.”
He silently recited Buddhist prayers in his heart, “Amitabha Buddha, forgive me for the well-intentioned lie I told to please my shixiong. Actually, Shifu didn’t know that my Shixiong was coming back. If he did, he would have eaten the vegetables first.”
However, Lian Qing, who knew his Shidi very well, could not fail to understand the little guy’s suspicious hesitation. He didn’t expose him, but responded in a low voice, “Oh.” Indeed, Shifu still thought he ate too much!
Seeing that his Shixiongr’s mood was not good, tiny monk Lian Sang immediately realized that his trick had been exposed. He sheepishly touched his own bald head and turned to look at Yu Wenning. As he looked, he felt his eyes light up. He decisively pinched his senior brother’s neck with one hand and said, “Shixiong, Shixiong, who is this uncle?”
Yu Wenning’s face turned green and he felt that this tiny monk was not cute at all. He smiled wryly and said, “Call me brother.”
Lian Qing also nodded, “Xiao San’er, this is Yu Wenning, Shixiong’s good friend. You can’t call him uncle.”
Lian Sang nodded vaguely, seemingly not quite understanding. He lowered his head and pondered for a moment before looking up and sweetly saying to Yu Wenning, “Brother, you’re really good-looking, just a little less than our Shixiong.”
His vocabulary was clearly limited, likely taught by his Shixiong who only knew how to insult people with the words “bad” and “shameless.”
Lian Qing agreed by nodding his head, “Yeah, I also think he looks pretty good.”
Yu Wenning said, “…You can just compliment me for being handsome, thank you.”
Both Lian Qing and Lian Sang turned their heads towards him and innocently blinked, saying in unison, “You are really handsome.”
Lian Sang didn’t forget to add, “But my Shixiong is even more handsome!”
Lian Qing humbly accepted, “You’re flattering me, you also look pretty good.”
“Well, of course, I am my Shixiong’s Shidi…”
Looking at these two brothers unabashedly praising each other, Yu Wenning thought, they really are cut from the same cloth.
After the two brothers had finished their playful compliments,Lian Qing asked, “Xiao San’er, where is our Shifu?”
“He went to pick vegetables and carry water.”
“How long has he been gone?”
“Not long, he was lazy again today and slept for almost a whole day before getting up.” The tiny monk was adept at tattling on others, “Around noon, Shifu cooked me some rice with pickles, and even gave me two bottles of milk and a big cake.”
The tiny monk paused for a moment, shaking his head and sighing, “Brother, I’m really worried that I won’t grow tall.”
Lian Qing also frowned, “I’m worried too…” which was why he had specifically asked someone to deliver so many boxes of milk to the mountain. His Shifu was good at everything except he was lazy. Before Lian Qing started school, his Shifu used to cook lunch and dinner, and for breakfast they had a big cake. His Shifu would often make a batch of big cakes and keep them around. If made salty, they could be eaten as breakfast for three or four days. It was cool on the mountain, and there was a cellar beside the temple where the cakes could be stored.
Later, Lian Qing went to school, and the shifu became even lazier. Because he often had to get up early and go down the mountain, he had breakfast and lunch near the school. Lian Qing suspected that the shifu only cooked and ate dinner when he wasn’t at home. He deeply felt that he should take his shidi down the mountain as soon as possible. After only two months with the master, the shidi had lost weight!
He put down the little shidi and said gently, “Be good, help your shixiong entertain Brother Yu, I’ll go find the shifu.”
“Okay.” The tiny monk patted his chest and looked up firmly, “Shixiong, don’t worry, I will take good care of Brother Yu.”
Lian Qing touched his little bald head with relief, then looked at Yu Wenning and smiled, “Big brother, you should get familiar with the environment with my shidi. I’ll go find my shifu and be back soon.”
Yu Wenning naturally agreed and reminded him to be safe.
Lian Qing waved his hand and ran away without looking back, leaving Yu Wenning and the tiny monk staring at each other.
Looking closely, this little guy was quite handsome. Wearing a blue-gray monk’s robe, he was small and cute, and when he looked up at him with his big black shiny eyes, he looked very serious. The baby fat on both sides of his cheeks was adorable, making people want to pinch it.
Yu Wenning’s heart moved and suddenly felt that even this little baldy was like a tender and soft little white dumpling with delicate skin and flesh.
The sourness in his heart slowly dissipated, and he secretly mocked himself for becoming more and more childish, even getting jealous of a child!
Squatting down to meet the tiny monk’s gaze, he smiled and extended a hand, saying a belated greeting, “Hello, Lian Sang, nice to meet you.”
The tiny monk looked serious with a chubby face and held out a small hand to shake Yu Wenning’s two fingers. He said in a milk voice, “Hello.” After a pause, he added, “Mi tu.”
Yu Wenning was stunned for a while, pondered for a moment, and then realized that the little monk was saying “me too” in English in response to his “nice to meet you” greeting.
“This kid is quite cute,” Yu Wenning thought to himself. Under the child’s expectant gaze, he generously praised, “You can speak English? That’s great.”
The tiny monk’s eyes immediately filled with uncontainable joy, and he grinned, revealing a small set of white teeth. He puffed out his chest and said in a childish voice, “I’m amazing, my shixiong taught me.”
“Amazing, both you and your shixiong are amazing,” Yu Wenning sincerely praised. In fact, it was quite impressive for a child under three years old to remember an English sentence that was taught to him by someone who left nearly three months ago.
And the reason why Yu Wenning praised Lian Qing was that he always praised anything related to him without any psychological burden.
When the shixiongr was praised, the little monk looked even happier than when he himself was praised. In the tiny monk’s heart, Yu Wenning was immediately labeled as a “good person”!
He took Yu Wenning’s hand and led him to a wooden chair in the courtyard, telling him to sit down and saying, “Wait a minute, I’ll bring you some water to drink.”
Before Yu Wenning could react, the tiny monk had already run back into the house. Yu Wenning could only help Lian Qing with his luggage and sit obediently in the chair, waiting for his little monk and the tiny monk to return.
On the other hand, Lian Qing felt a little embarrassed about leaving Yu Wenning for too long. With the idea of “the sooner I leave, the sooner I’ll return,” he ran through the mountains and forests.
He was well aware of his shifu’s itinerary, and in no time, he found him by a small stream in the mountains as he was about to fetch water.
Lian Qing ran excitedly and shouted, “Shifu~~”
The old man’s bamboo pole fell to the ground from his hand in shock as he looked up at him and asked, “You’re back?! “
Lian Qing gave his master a big bear hug. If his shifu’s footing wasn’t so stable, he would have wanted to pick him up and spin him around.
Excitedly, he said, “I missed you and my shidi, so I came back to see you.”
The old man patted his head, a smile appearing on his lips, but he quickly suppressed it. He patted Lian Qing’s shoulder and asked, “You didn’t fail outside so soon, did you?”
“Of course not, Shifu. Your disciple is skilled. How could I fail? Let me tell you, I’m doing really well now, and I’ve even made some money. And I get to eat meat every day…”
Lian Qing chattered away to his shifu, just like most children who return from their first long journey. When they catch their parents’ ears, they can’t stop talking and want to share every single thing they’ve seen and heard outside.
The master was quite sensible, pointing to two buckets of water on the ground and a half-filled pot of greens nearby. He said, “We can talk more later. For now, go pick more vegetables for dinner.”
“Okay, Shifu,” Lian Qing said, picked up the pot and knife and quickly ran to a small vegetable garden surrounded by thin bamboo sticks near a nearby stream.
The master stayed behind, watching Lian Qing’s lively and energetic figure, feeling a sense of satisfaction in his heart. It seems that the child hasn’t suffered too much outside, and he can rest assured.
When Lian Qing returned with a basket full of vegetables, the master looked at the mountain of greens and couldn’t help but twitch his eye. He pointed to the basket and stuttered, “D-didn’t you pick too much?”
“Not much, I brought a friend over too,” Lian Qing estimated everyone’s appetite as he picked the vegetables.
“Oh, you have another friend…” The master lamented his vegetable garden and said, “Does that mean it’s not enough? What if it’s not sufficient later? Or, I can pick two more eggplants for you guys…”
“It’s enough, Shifu. My friend can’t eat as much as I do,” Lian Qing said. He rinsed the bottom of the vegetable basin with creek water and stacked it on top of one of the wooden barrels. He picked up the pole, willingly carrying two buckets of water and a basin of vegetables. “Let’s talk while we walk, Shifu.”
The master was still worried, so he let Lian Qing go first and went back to pick two more eggplants.
In no time, the master and apprentice were walking shoulder to shoulder and chatting.
“Shifu, have you been on the mountain for more than two months again? I’ve left you letters at the store for so long, and you haven’t picked them up…”
“Ahahaha…I’ve been researching Buddhism recently…”
“What? You’re just lazy! Xiao Saner told me that you only eat two meals a day and sleep all day!”
“Oh, that little glutton…”
“Shifu, how dare you talk about your apprentice like that! He got thinner after I left…”
“He’s not thin, he’s just skinnier. He drinks the milk you sent every day. Drinking too much can make him skinnier. But where did you get that milk? There were so many boxes, I wouldn’t have accepted them if the delivery person hadn’t said they were from you. It must have cost a lot of money. I remember buying you that brand when you were injured. It costs tens of yuan per box…”
“I won it while playing games with other people. It didn’t cost me anything. Shifu, I’m a celebrity now and can make a lot of money…”
“Being a celebrity is exhausting, right? Look at you, you’ve lost weight and have dark circles under your eyes! If it’s too tiring, do something else. As long as it can fill your stomach, don’t make things too difficult for yourself.”
“I’m not thin, I’m just skinnier, like my shidi!”
On one side, the master and apprentice walked and chatted as they made their way towards the temple. On the other side, Yu Wenning in the temple was being charmed by the tiny monk, wishing that the child was his own.
After sitting on a wooden chair in the courtyard for a while, Yu Wenning saw the tiny monk run out of one of the rooms with something in his hand. When he reached Yu Wenning, he stopped and offered the items to him with both hands, saying, “Here, these are for you.”
Upon closer inspection, Yu Wenning saw that it was half a cake and a bottle of milk. The tiny monk spoke softly and clearly, explaining that the milk was for children and therefore unsuitable for adults, so he had brought his master’s instead. As for the cake, he had torn it off with his own hands at lunchtime and had not touched it with his saliva, so it was safe to eat.
Yu Wenning could not bear to refuse the little one, so he accepted the gift and thanked him sincerely. The little monk waved his hand and said, “Don’t thank me. The milk was bought by my shixiong, and the big cake was made by my shifu. I just borrowed… borrowed…” The little one rubbed his bare head and couldn’t remember the word for a moment.
“*Presenting the Buddha with borrowed flowers,” Yu Wenning said softly.
*Win favor or influence using someone else’s property
“Yes, that’s the word!” The tiny monk clenched his fist and tapped his left palm, sincerely saying, “Brother, you’re amazing!”
“No, you’re amazing. You’re so grown-up,” Yu Wenning said, and seeing the tiny monk’s eyes light up with a smile, he couldn’t help but pat the child’s head and say, “Would you like some cake? There’s too much for me, so I can break off half for you if you’d like.”
The tiny monk glanced at the cake and swallowed his saliva, holding up his index finger and thumb to indicate a small amount. “Just a little bit, please, just a tiny bit…”
Yu Wenning was taken aback, as the previous night the drunk little monk had made the exact same gesture, insisting that he had only had a tiny bit of wine…
His lips couldn’t help but curl upwards as he broke off half of the cake and gave it to the tiny monk, saying, “I ate before I went up the mountain, so I’m not hungry.”
The little one immediately smiled happily and scrambled up onto the wooden chair, using his hands and feet to climb. Yu Wenning wanted to help him, but seeing the little one’s agility, he just circled his hands around him.
The little one quickly sat down next to Yu Wenning and clasped his hands together, saying, “Amitabha, thank you, Brother.” Then he took the piece of cake that Yu Wenning had given him and ate it quickly with small bites.
Even his eating habits were somewhat similar to Lian Qing’s… Yu Wenning felt a softness in his heart and took a bite of the cake. The fragrance of sesame and green onions combined with the soft and slightly chewy cake, making it taste very good.
After they finished the cake, the tiny monk jumped off the wooden chair and asked him, “I want to go to the temple, will you come?”
Yu Wenning wiped the crumbs off his mouth for him and said with a smile, “Let’s go together.”
The two of them held hands and walked to the temple.
The tiny monk let go of Yu Wenning’s hand and knelt down on the mat in front of the hall, clasping his hands together and reciting something in his mouth.
Yu Wenning bowed to the stone Buddha statue in front of him and then looked around the temple.
The temple was not very big, but it was very clean. There was a bouquet of fresh flowers and a plate of fresh fruit on the incense table in front of the Buddha statue. There was also a merit box next to it, but it seemed that it hadn’t been replaced for a long time, and the red paper with black characters on it had faded.
Compared to the Buddhist temples Yu Wenning had visited or heard of before, this one was much smaller. But the environment was peaceful, unlike the noisy places where people came and went, making people feel comfortable both physically and mentally.
The tiny monk knelt for a while before finally getting up.
Yu Wenning asked curiously, “Do you come to worship the Buddha at this time every day?”
The tiny monk shook his head and said, “No, usually we come in the morning to recite sutras and worship the Buddha. After that, if there’s nothing to do, we don’t come.”
“Why are you here now then?”
The tiny monk said in a childish voice, “To confess to the Buddha.”
“Yes,” the tiny monk nodded his head and said, “I lied and cheated my shixiong today, so I came to confess to the Buddha.”
“What did you lie to him about?”
“I lied to him that the dishes our shifu cooked were specially prepared for him. But in fact, our shifu didn’t even know he was coming back,” he said with a hint of unease. “I was afraid that my shixiong would be upset, so I lied to him.”
Yu Wenning frowned slightly and asked in a low voice, “Doesn’t your shifu want your shixiong to eat the dishes he grows?”
“No,” the tiny monk shook his head, “My shixiong eats a lot, and our shifu’s vegetables are always not enough. But every time my shixiong is at home, our shifu worries that he won’t have enough to eat, so he always picks more vegetables…”
“Our shifu is very good to both me and my shixiong, just like what others say about him… that he has a sharp tongue but….” the little guy couldn’t remember the second half of the phrase.
Yu Wenning continued, “Sharp tongue, tender heart.” He thought to himself that it seemed that Master Qing was a good person. It was just like normal parents in a family, who would both complain about their children eating too much or being too fat, and also worry that their children won’t have enough to eat and try to persuade them to eat more.
“You know a lot, just like my shixiong!” The little guy looked at Yu Wenning with admiration, and Yu Wenning couldn’t help but pick him up. The little guy naturally wrapped his arms around Yu Wenning’s neck and whispered in his ear, “Brother, don’t let my shixiong know about this, it’s our little secret.”
Yu Wenning gently touched his bare head and said, “Okay, I promise you.”
The little guy was a bit happy leaning on Yu Wenning’s shoulder and said, “Actually, my shixiong knows everything. He knows I lied to him. Shifu said that my shixiong looks silly, but he’s actually very smart. Shifu also said that my shixiong is wise beyond his years.”
Thinking back to everything about Lian Qing, Yu Wenning couldn’t help but admit this. He held the tiny monk in his arms and walked out, saying, “Your shixiong is indeed talented and gifted, and you are also very smart.”
Although most children nowadays are precocious, there are very few who are as sensible as the tiny monk. The precocity of most children is often accompanied by insolence, which can easily test one’s patience. But this little guy in front of him made Yu Wenning feel warm-hearted.
When Lian Qing and his shifu returned to the temple, they saw from afar the tall figure of Yu Wenning holding his shidi and lifting him high in the air, while the warm sunset, the laughter of children, and the tenderness of a man created a wonderful scene. Lian Qing couldn’t resist putting down his things and taking out his phone to capture this beautiful moment with a “click.”
The sound of the phone camera caught the attention of the two, and Yu Wenning put the tiny monk back in his arms and turned around. When he saw Lian Qing, he couldn’t help but smile. But when he saw the elderly man next to him, his smile faded and he respectfully clasped his hands together and bowed slightly, “Greetings, Shifu.”
The master also clasped his hands together and replied, “Mr. Yu, you are too polite.”
The tiny monk, Lian Sang, had already struggled to get down from the ground when he saw his shifu and shixiong. By now, he had run up to Lian Qing and opened his arms, saying, “Shixiong, hug me.”
Lian Qing skillfully lifted the little guy up, spread his legs apart, and placed him on his shoulders, with the little one’s hands holding his head and his feet firmly on either side of his chest.
After making sure that the little one was secure, Lian Qing picked up the two buckets of water and a pot of vegetables and walked towards the small kitchen on the side of the courtyard.
Yu Wenning was a little worried when he saw Lian Qing’s actions, but seeing that everyone else was used to it, he suppressed his concerns and politely chatted with the master, who had already walked up to them.
Although Lian Qing had already told his shifu about his situation with Yu Wenning, the old man still couldn’t help but worry and was always afraid that his apprentice would be deceived.
However, he couldn’t talk to the young man for long because his good apprentice called him.
“Shifu, come help with cooking.”
“Coming.” After responding to his apprentice, the master asked Yu Wenning to look around and turned to enter the kitchen.
Yu Wenning didn’t want to be idle, so he followed into the kitchen. Lian Qing didn’t treat him like an outsider and instructed him to wash the vegetables with his shidi, while he started the fire and the shifur prepared the food.
Fortunately, the kitchen is quite large, so it didn’t feel crowded having so many people.
When the sky turned dark, dinner was ready.
Steamed rice, vegetable soup, garlic eggplant, stir-fried bok choy, and stewed green beans. Although the meal was vegetarian, the taste was not bad. Lian Qing and Yu Wenning enjoyed it and the master occasionally urged them to have more.
As they reached the end of the meal and there were still leftovers, the master looked at Lian Qing with regret and said, “What’s wrong with you? You eat so little!”
“I’m not eating little…” Lian Qing said helplessly, knowing that the master had made too much food.
In the spirit of not wasting food, the remaining rice and dishes were eventually eaten by Lian Qing and Yu Wenning.
After the meal, they took a walk around the courtyard to aid digestion and chat. As they chatted, they began discussing the tiny monk, Lian Sang.
Lian Qing directly asked his master, “Shifu, I want to take my shidi down the mountain. He will start kindergarten next year, and I want to take him out to see more of the outside world. Also, I think Lian Sang should grow his hair out now.”
He didn’t attend kindergarten when he was young and went straight to the first grade. Due to his lack of the same education, his long-term residence on the mountain, and his bald head, he was unable to fit in with many of the other children, and they even began to exclude him once they learned he had no parents.
Children are naive, so naive that when they see two or three people bullying someone else, they will follow along and bully or mock the person. But they are unaware that they are doing wrong.
TN: F*ck them kids
He didn’t want his shidi to experience the unpleasant things he had experienced before.
The master was obviously mentally prepared for this and said directly, “Go ahead. By the way, let him disrobe.”
“What?” Lian Qing was shocked. “Isn’t that unnecessary?”
Lian Sang, who was being led by Yu Wenning, was also surprised to hear this and said, “Shifu, is it really necessary?”
The master glared at him hatefully, almost poking his bald head, “Are you stupid? If you don’t disrobe, you’ll have to eat vegetables while your shixiong eats meat?”
Yu Wenning stifled a laugh, Lian Sang suddenly understood, and Lian Qing slapped his forehead, “That’s right, it’s not appropriate. My shidi should also eat meat.”