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Chapter 1- Earnest Instructions before Admission to School

My mom said: “Lin Lin ah, look at how lucky you are, you can even get into Peking University. After you get to college, your first mission is to make sure you aren’t kicked out; your second mission is to lose weight, your third mission is to find a great college boyfriend, to make sure that even if you guys don’t have this kind of luck next generation, you can lean on our genetic inheritance and go to a prestigious college.”

This was what my mom said to me when she sent me off at the train station.

Why did my mom only send me to the train station, and not go with me to the school? That was because my mom saw our whole town’s top student on television; the person who had tested into the exact same college as I had was a guy, and he was even a pretty guy. My mom loved pretty boys, her old idol had been Wang Bing. She went through numerous channels to get that person’s number, then she called them herself: “Hello? Is this classmate Fang Yu Ke. Hi. I am Zhou Lin Lin’s mom. It’s like this, didn’t my Lin Lin test into the same college you did……Oh, you’re not familiar with the place. No problem, no problem. After you go around a bit you’ll be familiar with it. Concerning my Lin Lin, this is her first time going to a far away place, but me and her dad joined a travel group. Thus, could you do me a favor and care for my Lin Lin for a while. Please. If there’s time you can come to auntie’s house.”

I sat next to her, shy, what travel group, I had no impressions. If she was willing to pay money to go travelling, the sun might as well have come up from the western side. And then there was Fang Yu Ke, even though we were classmates, our rotten school with weighty studies and a simple culture, had made it into something that resembled a palace, while us art students were put in a lonely corner, with about the same amount of land as the palace girls. Even though we were classmates for three years, I had never greeted him, and could only look at him from far away when the school awards were given out. I only knew that he had been named “School Grass” [1] by our school girls, and I heard he was our head’s grandson. He, of course, never lost the head’s face and always would receive a ×× first place award. The glass window in our school always posted his photo and next to that was written his birthday, 7/18/1984; ×× year he had been named the “Good Student”, ×× year × month in which he had received an award.

I used to say some fun things with my girlfriend: “That picture looks so much like the first generation ID cards, compared to those remarks, the whole of it is an obituary. It’s fortunate that our town doesn’t have a recommended-for-admission quota, or else this kind of person wouldn’t even need to take the Gao Kao [2], and would immediately go to Tsinghua University or Peking University. I heard that once the Gao Kao grades are out, Peking University is going to call him and let him choose his department. To be with this kind of person carries too much pressure, plus he will definitely not look upon someone like me. Alas, after I go to Peking University people everywhere will be like him. Just thinking about it, I feel bigheaded. As the saying goes, I would rather be a chicken’s head than a phoenix’s tail [3], what’s the point of registering for Peking University for the family line only to regret it?”

Saying this, before the Gao Kao, my grades went along a wavy line, sometimes it would be twice the amount of my valleys (lower grades). I had even drawn a line chart for everytime I tested. According to the direction of the line chart, my Gao Kao grade should have dipped into a valley. I didn’t think that my Gao Kao grade would exceed my daily trend, and rush to the top of Mount Everest, so when I received my Gao Kao grade via a short text, and saw a number of zeros and the two digit number, I kept feeling that the text could have made a mistake.

At the household meeting, I repeatedly asked my mom: “I was 28th in the province? Really? Really?”

My mom stared at me: “You’ve thought about examination places to the point of being crazy right? How could it be possible, it must be that your school is in 28th place.”

That was when my prudent father spoke up: “She’s in front of so many 0’s, it looks like it should be out of 100 of 100,000s of students, so following this line of thinking, it should be the province rankings.”

After the whole scene quieted for about a minute, my mom quickly took the phone and called my big aunt: “Big sister, a big meat pie [4] has hit my home’s Lin Lin!”

First it was the Gao Kao and then it was ambitions at an institution which had somehow been hacked by me-through the loopholes.

The moment I entered the train car, I found that there was already a guy sitting across from me. His white, clean face, wore a pair of black rimmed glasses, he looked a little like the famous Fang Da Si. One hand flipped a copy of “National Geographic”, and his other hand was twirling a ballpoint pen. Really, while he looked at “National Geographic”, he just had to hold a pen.

I tentatively asked: “Are you Fang Yu Ke?”

He raised his head, the pen in his hand never stopped: “Mm, that’s me.”

I immediately threw out my biggest smile: “Hello, hello. I am Zhou Lin Lin. Please take care of me.” When I finished I immediately took out my stack of snacks and put them on Xiao Fang’s table to let him eat. Fang Yu Ke coldly said “Nice to meet you” and continued flipping through his magazine.

Not too long afterwards, I heard a sound of knocking glass, I turned, it was my mom. She blinked to me and protruded her lip towards Fang Yu Ke, and made a “You can do it!” gesture. I gave a hopeless breath and rolled my eyes, and I angrily said: “Can you stop?”

This time, I scared the person wrapped up in his book, Fang Yu Ke. He stared at my angry face and said: “If a girl’s temper is too heavy she won’t be able to marry.” He didn’t wait for me to reply before he went back to his book again.

The train finally thundered forward. I couldn’t come up with anything to say so, I grabbed a copy of “Salon” [1], I flipped through a few pages and felt extremely bored, I didn’t have anything to say but I tried to find something and asked: “Fang Yu Ke, how did you get into Peking University?”

Fang Yu Ke didn’t lift his head, and continued to twirl the pen: “Before I was always the first in the school, so this is normal.”

“Oh. It’s lucky that I dazedly also tested in, otherwise you would be the only person who made it in of the whole town, then, how lonely would you be? Hehe.” I laughed, in actuality, my wound had been ripped open again and sprinkled with salt (she was trying to make conversation but he just backstabbed her so brutally oo).

Throughout the whole train ride, I lonesomely sent short texts, looked through “Salon”, ate chicken, I had nothing much to do. But Fang Yu Ke was like a statue who sat opposite me, reading his book, if it wasn’t for his twirling pen, I would have suspected he wasn’t a living creature. In the end, I became drowsy, lay on the small table, and fell asleep. Within my haze, I was woken up by Fang Yu Ke: “Hey, you can go to the berth to sleep.” I wiped away the saliva on my mouth, and trudged to the back, I didn’t even take off my shoes, I just lay on the berth not conscious of anything else. When I woke up, Fang Yu Ke who was opposite me was reading again. What a nerd.

After it had passed a little more than ten hours, the train finally reached its stop.

Thus we arrived at school early on a Sunday, the train station didn’t pick up our classmates. Fang Yu Ke and I called for a car to take us directly to Peking University. The taxi driver and I chatted very amiably, Fang Yu Ke was like ice at my side, cooling the atmosphere. When I had someone to talk to, the time passed quickly and I felt it hadn’t passed too long before the driver said that we had arrived. I got off the car, when I looked up I could see the four classic words “Peking University” that I had often seen on TV.

I threw my suitcase aside, and stood under the big plaque, I told Fang Yu Ke: “Classmate Fang Yu ke, help me take some pictures. If the developed picture doesn’t have me in it, it will tell me that I am really dreaming.”

Fang Yu Ke saw my idiotic expression, he shook his head saying to me: “Can you not be so childish?”

I laughed: ‘That’s not the same, you guys look at Peking University like you’ve seen your family. When you were born it was already determined that you were a Peking University person, and you don’t have any feelings for it. I am not the same. I am a stalk of grass that was married into this wealthy family. I don’t know if other wealthy people are regretful. If I’m kicked out, this picture will be evidence of my marriage, it can prove that I used to live a wealthy life.”

[1] School Grass: The handsomest boy in the school. You can compare it to the saying “This is the greenest pasture” but replace greenest pasture with “hottest guys”

[2] Gao Kao: Chinese SAT

[3] I would rather be a chicken’s head than a phoenix’s tail: Basically compare this to “I would rather be first at Purdue (an average college) than last in Harvard (an outstanding college).”

[4] Big meat pie: Luck

For future reference, Beijing University is equivalent to Peking University. Most westerners refer to the Uni as Peking University (and it has also become the official name of the uni), but the correct pronunciation and pinyin of the University is Beijing University. I use Peking/Beijing interchangeably in the first few chapters, but later it reverts to Peking University.

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