Chapter 3: Jiang Mu's little lesson
“We’re all a family so you don’t need to spend too much.
I've asked about it, if Xiao Da wants to go to a key high school, it will cost 1,000 yuan.
The old house in the family is more than 60 square meters; you should pay at least 80 yuan a month.” Li Lan's little abacus crackled.
”The old house in the family is broken down as badly, moreover you can rent a house like yours in the city for 80 yuan.” Zhao Yue had never thought about living in vain, but the price greatly exceeded her expectations.
“The old house is naturally inferior to your three-story bungalow in Beijing, and I won’t force you to live in it.
It's Mom, Dad, and your eldest brother taking pity on you.” Li Lan said angrily.
“It’s better if you don’t live here.
They just sold the house, and Xiao Da’s problem of going to a key high school can be solved.
Anyway, even if you don’t want to pay, you can’t take advantage of our home!”
Zhao Yue trembled with anger, so Jiang Mu held Zhao Yue’s hand harder in sympathy.
Her mother had a bad life just like her, she had such a horrible group of relatives.
She sneered and said, “Since my aunt said so, shouldn't you pay back the money you borrowed from our family over the years? Forget about us paying for uncle to find a good job and paying for your marriage, we were willing to help you.
But after you give birth to children and Zhao ShuDa is in school, shouldn’t you pay us back the money?”
Jiang Mu is not polite, she is not really a 15-year-old anymore.
Her soul is 30 years old, which makes her hate these people even more now that she can understand their hypocrisy.
Li Lan's eyes were wide open.
How could they possibly pay back all of that money which added up to more than 10,000 yuan? She pinched her waist with a guilty conscience and started cursing, “Why are you interrupting when adults are talking? You’re really unruly! When did we borrow money from you? Do you have an IOU?”
“When you’re young you should be in a nest your parents create for you.
Why don’t you ask your dad for some money for your mother since you’re so capable? He was the one who made your mom leave the house without even having a place to shelter her from the wind and rain.”
“This is all I’m going to say about the old house, don’t even think about getting it.
Xiao Da is the eldest grandson of the old Zhao family.
In the future, he will also inherit the Zhao family.
Tomorrow I will find someone to sell the old house and use the funds to allow Xiao Da to go to high school! It’s not for you as an outsider to have a say!” Li Lan started to kick up a loud fuss and both the neighbors upstairs and downstairs could hear her.
Zhao Yue raised her foot angrily, but Jiang Mu grabbed her wrist.
She raised her lips and suddenly laughed, “Auntie is right.
Mom brought me back here, but we can’t take advantage of you.
Since you originally planned to sell the house, my mother and I will buy just buy it.”
Li Lan was overjoyed, “2000 yuan! I won’t sell it for one cent less!”
“It's not like the house is yours to sell,” Jiang Mu said with a frown.
Qian CuiFang glared at Li Lan and scolded, “Don’t act as if there are no rules here.” Li Lan felt ashamed and secretly gave Jiang Mu a look.
“1500 yuan, the old house is 60 square meters, even if you leave the house in the condition that it’s in, you can’t give us less than 1500 yuan, right?” Qian CuiFang said.
She knew 2000 was way too high, but she hoped that her stupid daughter would buy it in a fit of anger.
Jiang Mu also turned to look at Zhao Yue, “Mom, although the old house is not worth that price, grandma and grandpa are getting older.
The extra money should be regarded as a tribute to the elderly.”
Zhao Yue didn't want to buy it, but when she saw her daughter's brilliant smile and her appearance of defending her, she also smiled.
“Fine, tomorrow you come to the old house to get the money and to change the deed of the house.”
The mother and daughter left the Zhao household without even eating dinner.
The Shanghai streets are very cold at night in winter, which is different from the cold in Beijing.
The cold here is filled with moisture and penetrates deeper into the bones.
Jiang Mu dragged the suitcase with her bare hands, while the other hand was in her pocket.
”Mom, don’t be sad; since they don’t like you, then we won’t like them either.
They don’t care about you, and we won’t care about them either.
It’s no big deal.
You and I can both live well, just the two of us together.”
The tears that Zhao Yue had been holding back all of a sudden flowed out, all her sadness, grievances, bitterness, all vented out, but the corners of her lips rose.
“MuMu, what you’re saying is right, the two of us can live well.”
On this cold winter night, the moon was shining brightly.
The mother and daughter walked side by side through the cold wind, but both of them felt warm in their hearts.
After a few days of traveling back and forth, the mother and daughter were both exhausted, so they just hurriedly cleaned up the bed in the old Zhao house and fell asleep.
* * * *
The next day, when Jiang Mu opened her eyes, Zhao Yue was no longer in the room they’d shared the night before.
There was a lot of noise outside in the yard, and the public faucet continued to run loudly without stopping.
It seems that several families are taking turns to collect water for cooking.
Jiang Mu heard Zhao Yue’s voice saying hello and chatting, and she immediately got up, put on her shoes and went outside.
She saw neighbors are using iron stoves, put briquettes on them, sitting on iron or aluminum pots, and boiling water for cooking.
Jiang Mu was a little dazed with confusion, this sight was too strange to her, and she didn't react for a while.
“MuMu, there is hot water here, so wash up first.” Zhao Yue carried an old dark red kettle, and she skillfully poured water from the kettle into a pot for Jiang Mu to use.
Jiang Mu quickly washed her face, it was too cold to take her time.
She squatted by the iron stove and heated her hands.
She looked at the black coals piled up under the eaves of each neighbor’s house, and then she saw that there was nothing under the eaves of her own.
There was one more task today-buy briquettes.
“MuMu haven’t you seen these before? These are briquettes.
In this city we all use them to cook and to boil water for heating.
One piece can burn for a long time.
However back in our old city, there would have only been gas tanks to heat everything, so I guess you’re more used to those right?”
Sun came over to them with a smile, “I’m about to go eat at home.
You two only came back yesterday, so there must be nothing at home.
There is nothing delicious at my place, just porridge and pickles, but you’re welcome to them.”
“Thank you Grandma Sun, my mother also ordered some noodles so we should be fine.” Jiang Mu replied with a smile.
“Okay then, MuMu, Xiao Yue, please let me know if you need any help, we’re all neighbors and you two are welcome here!”
“Alright, thank you Auntie Sun.” Zhao Yue seemed to be in a good mood after hearing this.
Jiang Mu also felt a lot of relief from the old lady’s kind words.
With so many things happening, she was really worried that her mother would become more and more depressed.
Zhao Yue worked swiftly, and two bowls of dried noodles were quickly prepared.
Seeing that there were only two bowls of noodles on the wooden table, and then thinking about the rich and nutritious fish and meat they both used to consume in the capital, Zhao Yue felt a little guilty.
“MuMu, our life won’t be the same as before.
Life may be a little harder for a while, but don’t you worry, Mom will work hard, and it won't always be like this.”
“Mom, as long as I am with you, I will be happy to live in any conditions.” With a bright smile as warm as sunshine, Jiang Mu picked up her bowl and ate happily.
“Mom, I will make a lot of money in the future.
I will let you live a good life, even better than at the Jiang's house.”
“Good! Mom will be waiting to enjoy the blessings.” Zhao Yue felt suddenly that she was happier than when she had lived with the Jiangs.
After the two of them finished their meal, Li Lan and the rest of her family arrived in a hurry before they could start to clean up.
Before she had even reached them properly, her loud voice screamed, “Zhao Yue, is the money ready? Don't think about dragging it out.
If you don't give it to me now, I won't agree to you continuing to live here!”
Zhao Yue didn’t talk any nonsense with her and instead took out a cowhide envelope which contained the 1500 yuan she had taken out of the bank.
Li Lan's eyes were bright, and her smile was full.
This is 1,500 yuan was nearly a year's salary for her! It's not in vain that she calculated for so long against her in-laws.
She reached out to take it but was snatched by Jiang Mu in mid-air.
“Damn girl, what are you trying to do? This is the money you used to buy the house.
It’s too late if you want to regret it now!” Li Lan's sharp voice was particularly piercing, and she was about to continue to grab for the envelope it after she yelled, but Jiang Mu swiftly turned around and avoided her.
”Grandma, grandpa, this house belongs to you, so the money for selling the house is also naturally yours.” Jiang Mu handed them the envelope with both hands.
Li Lan gave her a fierce look, “Anyway, it's all being used for Xiao Da to study in high school, it's unnecessary to give it to them!”
Unexpectedly, the situation suddenly changed.
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