Chapter 10: The Skilled Mother
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Once again, he slept until 12 pm. His mother created a huge ruckus at the entryway by banging on the door with all her might and shouting more than 10 times. Only then was Chen Jin awakened.
“Ok, I’m up!” In a flash, he jumped up from the bed and quickly opened the door to be faced with her icy expression.
Saturday. Chen Jin immediately realised that today was the weekend. Being a family with both parents working stable jobs, Mom and Dad usually did not have lunch at home on Mondays to Fridays due to work reasons.
Therefore, on Mondays to Fridays Chen Jin could explore the other world to his heart’s content. After which he would return to his bedroom on Earth and just conk out until 5 or 6 pm without any problem at all. However, that was impossible on the weekends as both parents were home. He had to make some effort to play along with them by getting up in the afternoon for lunch.
It was just that he was too tired last night and slept like the dead, thus missing the alarm. He was only startled from his dreams when Mom started banging loudly on the door.
“Son, this is the third time, you really should start controlling yourself.” He Li was not angry. At least, Chen Jin did not hear any trace of anger from her placid tone. However the phrase “the third time” made his heart skip a beat in apprehension. This phrase was too familiar. Each time, it always denoted the beginning of a terrible storm.
He could only give a cautious smile in recompense. “Mom, I will be more cautious in the future; I promise to get up in time for lunch!”
Giving him a dull stare, He Li nodded her head lightly.
At the dining table, the family quietly finished their lunch.
“Argh ~!” He Li put down her chopsticks and suddenly gave a heavy sigh.
Chen Jin’s expression changed.
With a serious demeanor, Mom said to Chen Jin, “Son, there’s something that I must tell you.”
Chen Jin hastily perked up. “What’s the matter, Mom? Tell me.” The highlight of the story had arrived!
“Recently, there has been a barrage of news about the collapse of many P2P platforms. Have you heard about it?”
“Um, I seemed to have heard a bit of it.” P2P was a type of internet financing platform that was based on peer-to-peer borrowing. Its purpose was to provide a third-party based borrowing and lending service. There was a high amount of risk involved.
“I’ve been hit by the storm too. A P2P platform that I invested in has also collapsed recently so I can’t withdraw the principal.” Speaking of this, He Li took out a piece of tissue of paper and started crying gently.
Chen Gang’s expression changed as well. Looking at her, he said, “You fell for P2P too? I’ve said that those things are all Ponzi schemes that will go bust sooner or later. How much did you lose?”
Dabbing at her tears as she sobbed, she said, “The unwithdrawn principal amounted to more than $1,000,000 and the service platform has disappeared.”
“More than $1,000,000?” Hardening his gaze, Chen gang slammed the table and pointed at her. “Who can be so lucky? Even if others were ignorant of these P2P schemes, how could you fall for it? How long must we work to save $1,000,000? You’ve ruined it all now!” Chen Gang scolded relentlessly with great rancor.
He Li did not make a sound, and merely continued wiping her tears and aching for the loss of that huge sum of money
“Dad, don’t talk about Mom like that.” Staying his father’s criticisms, Chen Jin asked, “Mom, can you tell me what essentially happened? Exactly which platform did you buy? Have the related legal persons from the platform been kept under control? Was the police involved?”
He Li began, “The platform I invested in was called “Tian Ze Finance” with a fundraising capacity of over $500,000,000. Its CEO has already absconded with the funds overseas. Look at this platform’s app; I can’t log in. My account has been locked too…..” Placing her mobile in front of Chen Jin, he indeed saw a “Tian Ze Finance” app which could not be logged into.
“Oh ~” Suddenly, Chen Jin was hit with a realisation. Nodding his head, he thought this. She came prepared. Mom came prepared this time round.
He did not continue to pursue the matter, only comforting his weeping mother. “Mom, don’t be too upset. We can only admit that we have rotten luck to meet with this kind of incident. As for recovering the losses, we can only see how the police will deal with it after we file a report.”
Slamming the table, Chen Gang said, “Recover the losses? Your Mom was already appointed by others to be the dupe. Recover what peanuts from the losses? This time she’d paid the IQ tax for being stupid.”
“Chen Gang, what do you mean by that? Are you still not done?” He Li immediately retaliated, raising her arched eyebrows.
With embarrassment plain on his face, Chen gang clammed up.
Chen Jin asked from the sidelines, “Then…. Mom, what should we do next? Do we still have any money to spend after such a huge loss?”
“Um ~” Giving a cough, He Li said, “This… We still have some spare cash. It’s enough for our daily needs, but we don’t have any money for extravagances.” Looking shamefaced, she expressed, “Son, you’ll be living a slightly harder life. Mom doesn’t have much money left on me. I can’t help you with any big expenses that you’ll have in the future. Son, it’s all my fault. It’s because of my stupidity that I got cheated and you’ll have to live a hard life with me.” Dabbing at the corners of her eyes, she presented a blubbering, teary image.
This scene was familiar. Chen Jin felt a sense of déjà vu. He remembered his third year of high school at 15 years old. At that time he was at the peak of his teenage rebellious phase. He spent money like water, played games until morning, organised gangs in school, had a love affair, smoked, drank, and almost got mixed up in drugs with some friends. He had done almost every audacious thing that he could. He became a black sheep in school and the most problematic student for the teachers. As such, he was almost expelled a few times.
Until one day after he returned home from school. Mom was crying on the sofa, and Dad was squatting by a corner of the wall smoking in frustration. In the house stood some big burly men wearing suits and dark sunglasses. With a threatening gaze towards Chen Jin, one of the suited men displayed a contract in front of Dad and said, “Sign, or else I’ll cut off your son’s arms and legs!” Dad had no choice but to sign.
Carrying a few simple clothing as they left their home, Mom weeped, “Son, your Dad was gambling and fell for someone’s ploy. Now he owes them $5,000,000! We have no house now and our car is taken away. I have a mere $200 left on me so I can only get the cheapest accommodation.”
Thus, the family of 3 squeezed into an uncompleted room that was only 10 meter square with a monthly rent of $100. The remaining $100 was the money they had as a family of 3 for food for the next month. How did they survive that particular month? The rice that they bought was the cheapest, and the oil that they used could have been sewer oil. Stoves and pots were borrowed from the landlord. There really was not enough money for vegetables. They could only go to the market and pick from a pile of rotten vegetable to find the ones that looked best. All the while they had to endure the odd stares of others.
Whenever he saw an empty mineral water bottle on the roadside, he would unconsciously pick it up and take it to the recycling station for some change so he could buy the cheapest popsicle. Going back to school, Chen Jin felt as if he had fallen to the depths of hell. Friends who he had good relationships with distanced themselves at the same time, as if they could not wait to shun him. His girlfriend slept with another good brother. Some classmates who he had a history with cornered him at the school gates, dragged him into an alley and beat him up. There was no one who would lend a helping hand.
The disdain, ridicule and taunts surrounding him, with some even kicking him when he was down, chilled his entire being. As he fell from Heaven into Hell that month, he experienced what was brotherhood, what was the “nature of love” and what was the “fickleness of human nature.” During that period of time, his rebelliousness, arrogance and sense of superiority disappeared without a trace.
Half a year later, Chen Jin’s family moved out of that cramped and uncompleted room into a 2 bedroom rental with mid-quality finishings. After that, his parents announced that they had cleared their debt and bought a high-end commercial property. They then returned to the life of the past that was rich with physical comforts.
But the person he was now was more mature and sensible. He had learnt how to do household chores to lessen his parents’ burden, understood the importance of learning so his grades were no longer the lowest in class. Most importantly, he learnt how to live humbly. Until one day when he passed by a door that was not fully shut by chance and accidentally overheard the conversation between his parents inside the room.
“Old Chen, do you remember that time when I took our son to the market to pick vegetables? We saw you eating beef noodles in the noodle shop. Our son was pointing at you and saying that he saw Daddy. I insisted, no, that he was hallucinating because he was faint from hunger and quickly pulled him away. We almost lost our cover. Old Chen, you’re not reliable at all.”
“You have the cheek to talk about me. Don’t you frequently buy pig elbows and devour them at home? You wouldn’t give me one even after I asked for it.”
“Scram! I secretly ate the pork elbow while he was away at school, how is it similar to your character?”
“Ah, I actually miss those bittersweet days just a little bit.”
Standing at the door, Chen Jin was totally stupefied. Feeling as if he had lost his soul, he returned to his own room. Ever since that day when he knew the truth, he started his spendthrift ways again.
Whenever He Li thought that his behaviour was “overboard” or when he spent way too much money, similar performances such as “Gambling Debt,””Accidental Money Losses” or “I Fell Victim to A Swindler” would be played out in front of him again. This time was no exception. He Li thought that he stayed inside his room too much. She slightly pressured him by deliberately using financial methods.
Nodding his head, Chen Jin said, “Ok, Mom, I will spend less money in the future. I won’t ask for money from you again.”
Once again blaming herself, He Li said, “Son, it’s my fault that you have to experience a difficult time with me again.”
Chen Jin stood up and said with some impatience, “Mom, You… are really getting more skilled.”
Casting Chen Gang a look, he expressed, “Dad, your act was too exaggerated.”
“Uh huh ~”
“Cough cough ~”
Husband and wife coughed simultaneously with some awkwardness.
Chen Jin had already turned and left to go downstairs.