When he was suddenly struck by the terrible news of their death, he didn’t suspect what the villagers told him. But after he was rescued by the army and laid in a makeshift tent, he spent his days recalling the events leading to when he heard the news and turned these over in his head. Gradually, he found many flaws in their version of the story.
Nan Nan was just eight. Considering the pouring rain outside and the slippery muddy path they had to walk, his wife wouldn’t allow her to follow them.
The villagers told him that Nan Nan had insisted on coming along and threw a tantrum to get her way, but his daughter had always been well-behaved and never made a scene.
Qin Shuyi found those flaws unsettling, feeling something was terribly wrong about it.
He wanted to go back to the village, but the flood had destroyed all the houses. Naturally, he hadn’t found any clues.
But now, the doubts had been planted in his mind, and more unusual details came to his attention. He could feel the villagers’ eyes were always evasive when he was around as if they felt guilty in his presence.
He Laosan suddenly went mad. He went to pay a visit, only to find someone had put a gag of cloth in his mouth, seeming to fear he would say something he wasn’t supposed to say.
Qin Shuyi noticed many things. When the flood receded, and villagers went back to rebuild their houses, he sneaked into He Laosan’s home.
He Laosan wasn’t gagged this time. Shrinking into a corner, he muttered.” This is Karma, this is Karma, we reap what we sow.” He Laosan’s wife was burning paper money in the courtyard while chanting something. He leaned closer to hear. What he heard sent a chill down his spine.
What He Laosan’s wife was chanting was his wife and daughter’s name.
In an instant, those scattering parts in his mind were pieced together. He recalled the day when he was on the dyke working, the villagers had a hidden look of happiness. With a new set of sunny dolls hanging from his window, the old Village Chief declared as if it was a certainty.” The rain will stop soon, and the rain god will be appeased.”
He knew about the terrible practice of offering human sacrifice to the rain gods in the past.
At that moment, he came to a frightening conclusion.
His hatred almost drove him mad. He had confronted villagers with questions and called the Police to report. But the flood had already wiped out any evidence that might exist. And the whole village had turned against him, telling people his sorrow had driven him mad.
Even the Police looked at him sympathetically, telling him there was nothing they can do about it.
For a time, Qin Shuyi felt he had already gone mad.
Now he knew the truth about his wife and daughter’s death, but there was nowhere he could seek justice. He didn’t leave the He Village. Instead, he chose to live like a ghost in his house. No one in the village dared to talk to him, and all the villagers distanced themselves from him.
He spent many years in this way. Without an outlet to vent his anger and sorrow, he turned to cutting paper man and molding clay sculptures.
Gradually, his house was filled with paper sunny dolls and littered with sunny doll’s sculptures.
He had read many books and learned the legends of the Sunny Doll. So he put his best sunny doll sculpture in a shrine and burned incense for the sunny doll, deceiving himself with the hope that his wife and daughter had become deities.
He had been living like this for the past twenty years.
When the He Village was demolished, the villagers were relocated to the city, and he chose to follow them. No one wanted to be his neighbor, so he lived on the seventh floor, alone.
He wanted to see the divine retribution for the villagers’ crime.
But before that retribution came, he couldn’t wait for it anymore. A sudden heart attack took his life away at his home.
He didn’t know how long he had stayed dead. When he woke up, he saw a sunny doll looking like his daughter bent down beside him, calling him daddy anxiously.
His daughter had returned.
On that day, he restarted his life like a normal human being, and those murdering villagers started to drop dead.
Standing close to the window, he looked down at the tent where a funeral service was held and listened to He Laoliu’s chattering with his wife, relating how He Laoer and He Laosi died horribly. A surge of joy overtook him.
As to other irregularities about his Sunny Doll, he chose to ignore them, dismissing them as trivial details.
If not for Jiang Lan’s sudden visit, he most probably would continue to deceive himself.
Stroking the sunny doll’s head and looking at its anxious look, he said in a lowered voice.” I am sorry.”
Because of his selfishness, he gave this kid free rein to go on a killing spree.
The Sunny Doll grabbed his neck and wrinkled its face. But there were no tears in its eyes. It said stubbornly.” I am Nan Nan, your daughter!”
Jiang Lan walked to the corner where the shrine was placed. Looking at the shrine, which was in good care, he saw a memorial tablet beside it. It was the memorial tablet for Qin Shuyi’s wife.
Qin Shuyi placed the sculpture of his daughter alongside his wife’s memorial tablet. For the past twenty years, he kept a daily routine of burning incense for them.
He pointed to the sculpture.” So that’s where you came from?”
The sunny doll froze, then denied.” No!”
Jiang Lan laughed. Now it looked more like a real girl.
“There is no use denying. I know the truth.”
The lingering scent in the sculpture was the same as that coming from the sunny doll’s body.
This sculpture was made with Qin Shuyi’s blood and tears and was treated to daily pious incense burning. After twenty years, a soul or a spirit came into being in this sculpture.
It was not a deity born out of the prayers of many hundred thousand pious followers but a spiritual being created by Qin Shuyi’s own stubborn will.
It was not counted as a deity, but if it followed the path of cultivation with determination and continued to receive the pious offering of burning incense, it might be elevated to the status of a real deity one day.
But it willingly let itself be tainted with blood and embroiled itself in other people’s bad Karma for Qin Shuyi’s sake.
Jiang Lan was a little touched. Looking at the Sunny Doll, but what he said was meant for Qin Shuyi.”It can’t continue like this. It was just born. If it has too much blood on its hand and sinks deeper into hatred, it will eventually become mad.”
Qin Shuyi was shocked, with hands trembling.
The Sunny Doll was still stubborn.” Nonsense.”
But now, all its vicious looks were gone. Clinging tightly to Qin Shuyi, it looked like a child fearing being abandoned.
Wiping off its tears, Qin Shuyi said softly.” Nan Nan. We can stop here. Don’t hurt yourself because of those beasts.”
The Sunny Doll was on the verge of crying.” They are evil men. They deserve to die.”
It was born out of Qin Shuyi’s stubborn will, and it became conscious a long time ago. In the sculpture, it listened to the tales related by Qin Shuyi, feeling sorry for him. It wanted to become stronger, to accompany its daddy. From the moment it had consciousness, it had regarded Qin Shuyi as its daddy. But it knew clearly that it was not the daughter Qin Shuyi lost in that flood.
But it felt that since it owes its creation to daddy, naturally, it should be called Nan Nan. It was Daddy’s daughter, and it wants to be with him.
But no matter how hard it tried, it can’t get out of the sculpture, not to mention making a sound.
Until after Qin Shuyi died.
Qin Shuyi died suddenly. He had no friends and relatives, and the whole He Village was not on speaking terms with him. For an entire month, no one knew he was dead.
The temperature rose steadily during April and May. An intense stench started to come from his body. Mouse and insects fed on his body, which accelerated the decomposition process.
The sunny doll felt a surge of air coming from its heart. It became stronger and expanding.
Then it suddenly came out of the sculpture.
Because it had no form, no body, it clung to the paper doll. It chose to spend the energy it had been accumulating for years on Qin Shuyi to stop his body’s decomposition and bring him back from death.
It was also the time when it decided to seek vengeance on Qin Shuyi’s behalf.
Blood tears started to drop from the Sunny Doll’s eye. Qin Shuyi held it in his arms with intense hatred in his eyes.
But despite his hatred, he was not willing to put the sunny doll in harm’s way by seeking revenge for him.
Like himself, he chose to follow the villagers like a ghost and made many revenge plans, but none were ever carried out.
Kissing the forehead of the sunny doll, Qin Shuyi said in a lowered voice.” You are a good kid, don’t hurt yourself for my sake.”
The sunny doll was weeping silently.
Turning to face Jiang Lan, he said.” This kid didn’t know anything. I am responsible for those deaths. If the master decided to punish, then punish me, and please leave the kid alone.”
Even though he was just a corpse.
Jiang Lan shook his head.”I have said before. I am here to help the Police investigate. Those villagers had committed murders, and the Police would punish them accordingly, bringing justice to you.”
“As to it…….” Jiang Lan turned to look at the sunny dolls.” Even though it is not human, it has violated the law and should be punished…….”
An anxious look appeared on Qin Shuyi’s face.” Please let her stay out of it, It was just me……”
Jiang Lan interrupted him and finished what he was about to say.” But its killing was part of Karma. Its crime was redeemable, and the Bureau will consider all the mitigating factors to reduce its punishment.”
“I have to say your kid is too naughty, though. You can’t spoil it. Educate it before it is too late.”
Qin Shuyi and the sunny doll looked at him with surprised looks.
With a smile in his eyes, Jiang Lan said.” Now you follow me downstairs. I think the Police will treat you fairly.”