After New Year’s Day, the next biggest holiday is Chinese New Year. It is the most special festival in the 365 days of the year, and it is a day that has been endowed with so many symbolic meanings of family, reunion, and harmony… any problems encountered can be covered with the phrase “Big New Year”, from the start of the Lunar New Year to the end of the first full moon. For more than half a month, there was nothing that couldn’t be solved with a simple “Big New Year”, if there was, then use two sentences.
This is the first Chinese New Year that Yu Miaoyin has experienced since she became a cat, and it’s far more quiet than she imagined.
On New Year’s Eve, Yu Miaoyin was lying on the sofa, boringly sweeping her tail. Xiao Man was lying in front of the desk with her head buried in writing, not knowing what to write. Yu Miaoyin didn’t dare to disturb her, and after lying down for a whole morning, she looked up at the calendar on the wall. A certain date on the calendar was drawn in a circle, with red ballpoint pen marks, in shocking red.
There were two small, almost invisible, Chinese characters under that date: Chinese New Year.
It’s New Year’s Eve, Yu Miaoyin thought, and wondered how her parents were doing. She vaguely remembered that she was hit by something and lost consciousness, which probably killed her, but who knew that her fate was not to die and her soul was reborn as a cat.
As things turned out, Yu Miaoyin no longer had too many high hopes that she could still become human, after all, her physical body had been dead for so long that it had probably been cremated long ago. If she hadn’t met Xiao Man, if Xiao Man hadn’t brought her home by chance, it was still unknown whether Yu Miaoyin would be alive today.
On the night of the Lunar New Year, Yu Miaoyin thought that Xiao Man would go home for the New Year, but Xiao Man was still busy at her desk until four o’clock in the afternoon and had no intention of leaving the small apartment to go home. Yu Miaoyin was bored and slept on the sofa, and when she woke up again, Xiao Man was still working.
What was Senior Sister mysteriously busy with? Yu Miaoyin couldn’t contain her curiosity, jumped off the sofa and approached Xiao Man’s desk. She is now more and more comfortable with being a cat, jumping and walking professionally, just like an actual cat.
“Meow~” Yu Miaoyin hopped up on the edge of the desk and walked two times before Xiao Man’s eyes, discovering that Xiao Man was drawing a picture.
It was a black-and-white portrait of a middle-aged man with a face full of years of experience, including every wrinkle at the corners of his eyes and every white hair at his temples. It was all meticulously done, even the cloudiness under his eyes was exceptionally real, as if the man was really standing in front of her.
Xiao Man did not put any reference at hand when she drew this picture, as if she already knew the face of the man under her pencil, and the pencil fell lightly and heavily on the paper, rubbing against the paper, leaving shadows of varying shades.
Yu Miaoyin is an art student herself, and she was able to see through Xiao Man’s handwork with a glance. She secretly sighed that she didn’t get the scholarship every year for nothing. As an architecture student, her sketching skills were even a shame for Yu Miaoyin, a “professional”. It took her so many years of sketching to fully understand the face of the person in the drawing that she didn’t even use a photo as a comparison, but simply relied on her memory to make the person’s face come to life.
Both of Xiao Man’s hands were covered in pencil dust, the black and grey nibs staining into the texture of Xiao Man’s tiger-mouth fingertips. Xiao Man was interrupted when Yu Miaoyin swiped the tip of her pencil with her tail and stopped her movment, looked up, and found the kitten she kept standing in front of her desk with a flick of her tai, So she put down her pencil to stroke her, her hand reached halfway out, when she noticed the pencil dust on her hand and drew back.
“Is Miao Miao hungry?” Xiao Man asked.
“Meow.” Yu Miaoyin shook her head, bypassing Xiao Man’s nearly finished work, her front paws flung into Xiao Man’s arms, her neatly trimmed nails hooked into her collar from the pads of paw, her back legs supporting on the tabletop, and her small head tried to lift up and lick Xiao Man’s jaw.
Xiao Man was tickled by her licking, and the gloom in her heart disappeared a little, she laughed and stood up, “Miao Miao stop, I’m going to wash my hands.” Ever since Xiao Man found Yu Miaoyin last time, her fur had been gray. She was obviously a little white cat; snow white, lovely, and beautiful, but she became a gray cat overnight. Xiao Man blamed herself immensely, it took almost two months to nurse Yu Miaoyin all white fur back, and she didn’t want to get any more dirt on her beautiful fur.
Xiao Man moved her chair and got up to wash her hands, and Yu Miaoyin jumped down from the table and was quick to follow her.Despite the fact that she didn’t say anything, Yu Miaoyin could feel that she was in a bad mood. On such a national celebration day, it must have been really painful for her to be in a bad mood. Yu Miaoyin couldn’t help her burden, so she could only accompany Xiao Man to make her feel less sad.
After washing her hands, Xiao Man sat on the sofa with Yu Miaoyin in her arms and didn’t say a word. It got dark early, the living room didn’t have the lights on, and although the heating was on in winter and the embrace of the senior sister was warm, Yu Miaoyin felt cold.
“It’s Chinese New Year.” Xiao Man’s eyes wandered as she stared at the wall clock.
By four-thirty in the afternoon, the door of the apartment that no one had ever knocked on was knocked on, and Xiao Man turned a deaf ear to it.
The door was knocked on several more times, but Xiao Man remained as if she hadn’t heard it.
Finally the door was rudely pounded and banged a few times, and the knocker outside shouted, “A’man! Open the door!” It was a woman’s voice, sounding like she was holding back her anger.
Xiao Man finally moved. She dropped the cat she was holding and stood up to open the door for the mysterious woman. She took a deep breath and twisted the doorknob, and the door finally opened.
It was a well-kept woman, dressed in a black knee-length tweed coat, a white wool scarf, and a beret tilted on her head, with a serious expression. Not in the least bit festive for the New Year.
“I told you to go back for New Year’s, why didn’t you?” The woman stood nobly and swept around the room, focusing on Yu Miaoyin, who was shrinking in the corner, with just a glance, Yu Miaoyin shivered all over. She quickly stood up and shook her hair, shaking off her anxiety along with it.
This woman is scary. Yu Miaoyin hid at Xiao Man’s feet, attempting to avoid the woman’s line of sight.
“You have a cat?” The woman asked another question, and there was something in the look she gave Xiao Man that Yu Miaoyin couldn’t read.
“It has nothing to do with you.” Xiao Man said and Yu Miaoyin shuddered again.
Yu Miaoyin always knew that Xiao Man had a very cold personality, had some friends, and she will never go out unless necessary. A person different from others. Although she doesn’t like to go out, she has a regular schedule and keeps everything in the house organized. It’s like a set procedure. Every day is exactly the same, when to get up, when to eat, when to wash and clean, and when to study.
For a long time, Yu Miaoyin deliberately broke a bowl in order to find something new, purposely stepped on the dirt in the flower pots and brought it into the living room. Intentionally causing Xiao Man some trouble, and Xiao Man always dealt with everything swiftly and returned to her inherently established procedures.
This is not like a house, but more like autism.
Yes, autism, Xiao Man is living in a self-set death cycle, where no one can get in and no one can get out.
Yu Miaoyin’s thoughts were wild and the woman spoke again, “A’man, don’t be stubborn, come home with mom for the New Year.” The woman who was able to freeze a person to death a second ago spoke in a gentle tone this moment, as if refined, and Yu Miaoyin couldn’t believe it was the same person.
It turned out that this woman was the mother of senior sister. Yu Miaoyin thought so, and locked her tail even more for fear of leaving an unpleasant and bad impression on the mother.
“Go home?” Xiao Man snickered, “My father also wants to go home, he’s been wanting to go home for over ten years.”
Yu Miaoyin looked back in the direction of the desk, thinking about the drawing that her senior sister had been working on all day, maybe that was her father.
Auntie Xiao sighed, “Aman, it’s been so many years, I’m at least your mother. Blood is thicker than water, you can’t do this to me.”
Even the sneer on the edge of her mouth disappeared, and Xiao Man stared blankly at the ground without saying a word.
Auntie Xiao advised her bitterly, “A’man, you haven’t been back for years. Your siblings are nine years old this year, and they keep asking me where their sister is and when she’s coming home.”
Xiao Man listened to her mother’s persuasion like a joke and scoffed, “My surname is Xiao and their surname is Zhao. I am not that big of a face to stick gold on my face1.” At the end, she mockingly added a title, “Mrs. Zhao.”
Mother Xiao’s color changed drastically, her lips trembled slightly, and she couldn’t say a word.
They were in a long standoff, Yu Miaoyin squatted at Xiao Man’s feet and meowed promptly, Xiao Man picked her up, “Miao Miao wants to eat?”
“Meow meow meow!” Yu Miaoyin hurriedly nodded her head. It was New Year’s Eve and this atmosphere was too weird. If she didn’t do something, this mother and daughter would have to fight.
“Okay, let’s go cook.” Xiao Man carried Yu Miaoyin into the kitchen and then turned to Mother Xiao, “Mrs. Zhao, take your time to leave.”
Mother Xiao finally said nothing, sighed heavily, and walked away.
It was only after she left that all of Xiao Man’s muscles relaxed, and her shoulders slumped wearily against the kitchen’s sliding door for a long time.
“Miao Miao,” Xiao Man scratched Yu Miaoyin’s chin, “Thank you for accompanying me.”
Yu Miaoyin rubbed against Xiao Man’s hand, wanting to cry a little.
“Meow…..” Senior Sister, I’ll be accompanying you from now on.
But cats have such a short lifespan. Yu Miaoyin became worried, if she died, who would accompany her senior sister.
1 “To stick gold on my face” means to accept and praise that you are good
Translator: I’ve never experienced a Chinese New Year. Besides the normal New Year, my culture celebrates New Year in November right after Thanksgiving. I know it’s weird (for others) but it still has the same concept of giving thanks to our ancestors/spirits. How unfortunate that there’s no New Year this year I was really hoping for some food. Yummmm.
I hope your day was great today and better tomorrow!!!