Chapter 30: Uncle Returns
“Great-grandmother, great-grandfather, grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle,” Zhang Zhilin earnestly said, looking at Zhang Qin and Gu Jing.
Hearing their son say so many words at once, Zhang Qin and Gu Jing couldn’t help but feel moved. Zhang Qin spoke with excitement, “You can visit them all! When Mom and Dad return, we’ll invite everyone to our house as guests. How does that sound?”
Zhang Zhilin nodded enthusiastically, showing his agreement. Gu Jing held her son close and said, “Mom will write you letters while we’re away, and Aunt Jinhe and the others will read them to you. Okay?”
Zhang Zhilin simply nodded in response this time.
After their parents left, Zhang Zhilin continued to gaze in the direction of their departure. Wang Jinhe asked, “Are you feeling sad?”
“Yes,” Zhang Zhilin replied softly, his eyes welling up with tears. He had never been separated from his mother before.
“They’ve gone back to seek vengeance for you. This time, you’ve really shocked them,” Wang Jinhe reassured him.
Zhang Zhilin remained silent but teary-eyed. “Zhang Zhilin will face many unfortunate events in his life; Auntie knows that. But Auntie hopes you’ll be brave. You can train hard in martial arts to become stronger, and one day, you can take revenge yourself.”
“I… I’m afraid,” Zhang Zhilin confessed.
“Don’t be. Isn’t your mother very strong?”
Zhang Zhilin tilted his head and looked at Wang Jinhe. After a long pause, he nodded earnestly. “Yes, my mother is the strongest mother in the world. I love her the most.”
Seeing Zhang Zhilin’s response, Wang Jinhe smiled and continued, “That’s right. With your mother being so strong, shouldn’t we be brave too? Right now, you’re still young, and it’s natural to have fears, but as you grow up, you won’t be afraid anymore. Besides, you have your parents to protect you, so there’s nothing to fear, right?”
Zhang Zhilin nodded firmly. With his parents’ protection, he felt safe.
Xiao Bao held Zhang Zhilin’s hand and chimed in, ” Xiao Bao will protect big brother too!”
Zhang Zhilin burst into laughter, a genuine and heartfelt smile unlike any other he had displayed before.
Seeing this change in Zhang Zhilin’s demeanor, Grandma. Wang felt immensely pleased. She gently stroked his cheek and said, “Indeed, with so many people to protect you, that bad person who hurt you won’t dare to come near.”
Zhang Zhilin thought about it seriously. With so many people looking out for him, he truly had nothing to fear.
In the afternoon, Wang Jingyu returned from outside, carrying a bundle of things.
“Grandma, I’m back,” Wang Jingyu greeted when he entered.
“Jingyu, how have you been these past few days?” Grandma inquired.
“I’ve been well,” Wang Jingyu replied.
Xiao Bao picked himself up from the floor and ran over to Wang Jingyu, hugging his leg and sitting on his lap. “Uncle, you’re back!”
“Yes, Uncle’s back. Let Uncle see if you’ve grown even chubbier,” Wang Jingyu said as he put his things aside and lifted Xiao Bao into the air, playfully bouncing him. To his surprise, Xiao Bao did seem to have put on some weight.
Watching Xiao Bao being playfully lifted, Zhang Zhilin also wanted to experience it, but he felt too shy to ask.
Wang Jinhe noticed Zhang Zhilin’s longing expression and said, “Brother.”
Wang Jingyu saw Zhang Zhilin’s eager look and decided to pick him up too. Suddenly lifting Zhang Zhilin off the ground startled him for a moment, but then he broke into a joyful smile.
“How have you been, Zhilin? Did you have fun?” Wang Jingyu asked while holding Zhang Zhilin.
Zhang Zhilin nodded enthusiastically, “Having fun!”
Wang Jingyu gently put Zhang Zhilin down and then reached for a bag he had brought with him. “Here, I got you two some candied haws, and this is a little snack.” He handed each of them a candied haw on a stick.
“Thank you, Uncle,” Zhang Zhilin said politely.
“Thank you, Uncle,” Xiao Bao echoed.
Zhang Zhilin had never eaten candied haws before and wasn’t quite sure how to approach it.
“Big brother, you eat it like this,” Xiao Bao leaned over and took a bite of Zhang Zhilin’s candied haw. Half of it disappeared in an instant. Zhang Zhilin blinked, looking at the missing piece, then curiously poked Xiao Bao’s slightly puffed-up cheek.
Xiao Bao innocently stared at Zhang Zhilin, not understanding why this big brother was poking his cheek.
Baffled, Xiao Bao gazed at Zhang Zhilin and asked, “What’s wrong with big brother?” He mumbled his words as he continued to enjoy his candied haw.
“Why did you bite your big brother’s candied haw?” Wang Jinhe asked, a mix of laughter and bewilderment in his tone.
“I thought big brother’s looked tastier,” Xiao Bao replied, tilting his head thoughtfully and speaking more clearly this time.
Wang Jinhe couldn’t help but twitch his lips as he looked at his son. Weren’t the candied haws supposed to taste the same? How could Zhang Zhilin’s candied haw be tastier?
“How about you switch yours with your big brother’s?” Wang Jinhe said, laughing helplessly. He couldn’t let their little friend eat from Zhang Zhilin’s partially bitten candied haw, after all.
Wang Jinhe playfully pinched Xiao Bao’s tiny buttocks and sternly said, “You shouldn’t always tease your big brother.”
Xiao Bao vigorously shook his head and said, ” Xiao Bao didn’t tease him. Big brother, did Xiao Bao tease you?” He not only defended himself but also sought confirmation from Zhang Zhilin.
Zhang Zhilin nodded earnestly, affirming, ” Xiao Bao didn’t tease me.”
“Big brother, you can have a bite of mine too,” Xiao Bao said, offering his candied haw to Zhang Zhilin, holding it up for him to take a bite.
With a single bite, Zhang Zhilin devoured the entire candied haw and then looked a bit bewildered.
Xiao Bao observed Zhang Zhilin’s predicament and moved closer, finishing the remaining half of the candied haw.
Wang Jinhe could only shake his head in amusement, as it seemed like they ended up sharing it equally.
“Big brother, was it delicious?” asked Xiao Bao, curious about Zhang Zhilin’s opinion.
Zhang Zhilin nodded, savoring the sweet and sour flavor of the candied haw.
“Then let’s have Uncle buy them for us when he comes home from work,” Xiao Bao suggested without hesitation, revealing Wang Jingyu’s secret.
Wang Jingyu exaggeratedly responded, ” Xiao Bao, you little rascal, always trying to get some money from Uncle for you and Zhilin.”
“But we didn’t ask Uncle to buy us a big pig trotter,” Xiao Bao retorted playfully, sticking out his tongue at Wang Jingyu.
“How about this, tomorrow we’ll eat pig trotters,” Wang Jingyu suggested, secretly revealing four pig trotters from his hiding place.
Xiao Bao’s eyes widened in delight. “Wow, big pig trotters!”
Curious, Zhang Zhilin asked, “Are they delicious?”
“They’re so delicious! The pig trotters that Mom makes are amazing. Every time we have them, I can eat more rice. But every time she makes them, you’re not here. Today, we’ll have pig trotters, tomorrow we’ll ask Mom to make sweet and sour spare ribs, and the day after tomorrow, she’ll make meatball soup,” Xiao Bao chattered excitedly to Zhang Zhilin.
Upon hearing Xiao Bao’s plan, Wang Jinhe was left utterly speechless.