A better love story than — oh, fuck it. I don’t even know what to say about what LanM has shared with the world here. As far as I’ve figured out, this is autobiographical. Respect to him for pouring it out for all to see, and what an amazing window into the life of a Chinese progamer it is that he’s shared with us…
Note that, if you read the entire thing, it is possible to figure out which teams and competitions he is talking about, to give yourself an even deeper view into the progamer side of it all. He covers the time between roughly 2010 to 2013, and mentions teams and competitions, along with how they affected him… For further background reading, directly related, see his response last year from the ACE/EHOME controversy.
The Chronicles of LanM: “Stories of Yesteryear” [Part 4-5]
4. Story I
The girl is 26 years of age now. Over the two years of time since graduating college, she’s only held a job for half a year of that time. Back home, her family had been rushing her to get married, but in her heart, her ideal marriage would be to one that she herself truly loved and shared the promise of a long life together with. Still, her family remained unrelenting, and the countless arranged dates grinded on her, such that she finally just randomly settled on one of the prospective suitors in order to quieten them. Only, from that day on, she found herself falling further than she ever had, into the depths of the deeps. Each day, facing the prospect of spending the rest of her life with what amounted to a stranger, she grew annoyed, then restless, and made up an excuse that she was going to Beijing for work, then packed her bags and left for the city.
In Beijing, there had been a boy; he’d never been in a relationship before. A simple kid, dusty, unrefined, even. Every day, when she’d get bored or lonely, his QQ avatar was always lit up online. In their chats, she never mentioned that she’d already been promised to someone, fearing that mentioning this would scare the boy off. Finally, when the pressure from her family became unbearable, while the caring from the boy grew ever more warming, she ran.
Upon receiving news of the girl’s arrival in Beijing, the boy was beyond himself with excitement. He washed up, put on what he felt were his most presentable clothes, and went to the airport. Even though in other people’s eyes he might still seem like that dusty-faced kid, but the smile that shone through on his face was effervescent in its joy. Later on, the girl would say that that period of time was the happiest of her life. They lived on the eighth floor. Going downstairs together, for each step down, he’d turn back and give her a kiss. The two of them squeezed together on one single-sized bed, no more than 1 meter by 2, the boy holding tightly onto her, even as half of his body hung out over the edge. Because the boy’s family wasn’t ever rich, on his own modest 3000 RMB salary, they would only eat 10 RMB meals of meat and potatoes over rice in order to save money. And even if there were only potatoes, the girl never had any complaints.
Every evening, she would go and buy some watermelon, bring it home, cut it up, and feed pieces to him. Although simple, they still felt blessed in the moment nonetheless. Then one day, a call came from home, and she snuck out to the balcony to answer it. Her mom asked her how her work was going, and told her that the marriage preparations had all been set and were in place for the end of the year, and asked her to go back and get married. She tried to keep things from surfacing in her words, yet in her heart she’d long since become lost, fluttering. She dared not tell the boy, that his profession was something that her parents wouldn’t ever understand… And plus, in a few days there was a very important competition, so she mustn’t distract him. That night, she fiercely bit down on the boy’s wrist and said to him, “Without me, you must still take care of yourself.”
The boy held her tightly, not understanding, “What nonsense are you talking?” The girl didn’t answer.
On the day the boy headed out, the girl left too. He went through security at the airport first, happily waving back at her, yelling for her to wait for his return. Because of his weak eyesight, he never saw the tears in her eyes. Her family had always been quite well off, and she knew that they would never accept him. Not this kid, whose parents had separated, whose job was hard to describe, and so this time, heading back, she had no idea what to do anymore. While overseas competing, he took the limited free time he had to chat with her, and she would wait in front of the computer for each snippet, sometimes falling asleep that way. On the day of his return, he was excited… excited to let her know that, he’d achieved good results, and with the prize money he’d won, he’d be able to buy her new clothes, a new bag, now.
5. Story II
But she just couldn’t cheer up. The pressure from her family back home mounted with each successive day, and it was already October, drawing ever closer to the marriage date of January 1st. The groom — her groom — repeatedly asked her to go out, meet up, and she could only excuse herself with her work, saying that she was busy. Instead, she just stayed inside, on the computer, chatting with the boy. Finally, one day, her parents said that they needed to go back home and prepare for the marriage. Filled with anxiety, she went to her friends and asked, “What do I do?” Her friends told her, stop hiding it, just tell him… you’re going to need someone to go through this with, so you don’t get crushed by yourself. That day, the boy had just taken a 5AM flight back to his hometown. Just as he arrived back home, he got a call from the girl, asking him to get to Chengdu as soon as possible. The distress in her voice left him distraught, and without another word he booked an afternoon flight to Chengdu.
Upon arriving in Chengdu, as they sat together eating, the girl told him. This being his first relationship, the boy suddenly felt that the world, after all, wasn’t such an open and free place to be, out of one’s own control. She repeatedly said to him, it’s alright if you don’t want to go meet my parents, yet he’d already come this far, what could make him give it all up so easily? And despite the fact that they’d spent time going through scenarios, ultimately the boy was blocked by the girl’s parents’ questions — he was speechless in the face of their querying and demands, unable to fulfill the type of material wishes they had.
Yet, beforehand, they’d agreed — no matter how hard the path may be, they would support one another and be there for one another in passing through it together. The girl’s mother’s expressions were unpleasant throughout, and upon seeing the pair’s hands tightly gripped around one another, she even hit her. Though he put himself between them, her arms still bruised. All the way to the point where the parents ran out of steam and retired for the night, their hands remained as one. She went to bed to get some rest too, and he lovingly caressed her bruised arms. The girl, reciprocating, asked him to lie down too, get some rest alongside her, but even though he was tired as well, he couldn’t…
The next day, her parents were up and about early. Different from the past day, there were fewer insults and scoldings directed at the girl, and in their place were lessons and lecturing for the boy. He was relatively younger, only 22 that year. The girl’s father said, “Even if you two get married, you’ll still be strong and healthy when she’s gotten older. Plus your parents are separated, so all this means that you haven’t got an idea of home and family. You can’t even take care of yourself, how can you take care of our daughter?” Though the father’s words were gradually becoming more grounded in reality, they still pierced the boy’s dignity. Yet, he did not waver, because he had promised, so he would not give up. They stuck together even more firmly, with seemingly nothing that could come between them.
But when the girl’s mother threatened to cut off all contact with her, at that moment, she suddenly let go. Tears that he had held back all night, strugglingly, finally betrayed him and cascaded one upon the other. Their eyes met then, brimming with longing, and within that, tears — tears that he knew held meaning, that he was just about to lose her. The helplessness in her eyes finally broke him; he picked up the fruit knife on the table, and in a flash of fury, swung it down into his thigh. The bright red of blood quickly inundated his jeans, the flow of the liquid following the weight of gravity down his leg. The girl wailed fearfully, fitfully, as she held him. And, between sobs of emotion, the boy said to the parents… “For her, I am willing to do anything.”
Too impulsive, too emotional, too young… too dumb. Nothing here can be too harsh of a judgment, because in front of elders, this display could only serve to further alienate; how could they give their daughter to someone like this?
The mother threatened her own life to force the girl; the girl’s eyes had been cried out, and then some. Seeing all this before him, the boy’s heart was on the verge of shattering, shattering into a million tiny pieces… and while the girl was trying to stop her mother, the boy quietly stepped out of the room. Let it be, I shouldn’t have disturbed what was originally a harmonious family. He hailed a taxi on his own, went to a nearby hospital; the doctor asked him what happened, and he just said that it was an accident, he’d bumped into something. As he was picking up medication, the girl’s voice rang through the hallway, calling his name. Crying, she ran over to him and grabbed him. Shaking him, “How could you be this dumb? Why would you hurt yourself?”
“For you…” he couldn’t stop his tears from falling once again, but he stopped himself from speaking those words.
Next: Parts 6-9 here.