May I Treat You to Dinner?
Imet my husband in autumn, October. He came to Beijing for short-term study and travel. At that time, I worked in a training center operated by Dutch people. I taught them Chinese and worked as a part-time tour guide during the day. Together, we would go to the Art District, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall. We had endless topics to talk about.
Approaching the end of the two weeks, one man came to me and said: “Teacher, do you have a USB? I’ll give you a copy of the photos we took on the tour.”
Browsing the photos, I saw all the photos were of me, apart from a few shots of the landscapes and the group photos.
The Friday before he went back, he came to me asking: “Teacher, may I treat you to dinner individually?”
I said: “Okay, but you can’t let the center know that it is me you will have dinner with.” He thought for a while and came up with an excuse.
I stood at the entry of the metro station, seeing him running toward me with his empurpled face. He said: “This is my first lie. ” Later, I came to know that it was true.
The next day, I went to see him off. He held my hand and asked: “Can I call you and write you emails in the future?”
I smiled and said: “Sure.” But I didn’t take it seriously, thinking that foreigners all say these words out of courtesy.
He carefully picked up the pieces of hair sticking on my sweater, rolling them up with fingers, opening his wallet and putting the little fluffy ring into a small pocket on the left side.
I said banteringly: “Don’t be so hokey please. I know western people are very sociable, especially Dutch people. I would be very grateful if you remember me as a friend.”
He said with a severe look on his face: “This is prejudice. Have you ever read Pride and Prejudice? You are Elizabeth and I am Darcy. I am stereotyped.” He flushed.
I felt annoyed but amused at the same time. On my way back, I bought a giant pomelo. That night, when I was watching an American TV series and eating my pomelo, the phone rang.
“Hi, I’m at the Amsterdam airport. The plane landed safely,” he said with a high tone.
“Hi.” I was surprised, not expecting him to call me in such a short time. Hanging up the phone, I started to reminisce about the things happened in the two weeks. “If he is serious, then I’ll just let it be.” I told myself.
The next day when I woke up, in my mailbox was a letter from him, telling me everything was fine and how he missed me. Attached to the letter were two photos he took of me at the airport.
He kept sending me e- mails and text messages. He told me everything he did on a daily basis and text me if he was out. He showed me his sincerity in the most primitive manner. He gave me all his leisure time. He showed me his house in video calls, asking for my advice on the color of the walls. When he bought his new car, he showed me photos of potential cars, asking for my opinion before making the decision.
Later, in my four years in Beijing, he came and visited me 17 times. He saved all his vacation time and came to China. He didn’t bring me much, but he captured my heart in his own way. He kept his phone on 24 hours a day and tried to reply my messages as quickly as possible. Although there were thousands of miles between us, I knew he was always there, waiting for me.
Four years later, I decided to follow him to the other side of the world.
He came and picked me up in China. “You still think foreigners are very frivolous? Do you still view your Mr. Darcy with bias?”
“Yes, I do. You need to prove me wrong with your whole life.” I said stubbornly.
He pinched my nose and answered indulgently: “Fine.”
On the wedding day, I told him when the guests left: “The Dutch vow is too long. Let’s use Chinese and finish it in 16 words: ‘死生契阔，与子成说。执子之手，与子偕老。’ (‘In death or life (we are) separated and far apart; With you I made an agreement: I grasped your hand, Together with you I was to grow old.’) “It is so beautiful.” I explained to him and he begged me to teach him. Sleepily, hearing him read “死生契阔，与子成说。执子之手，与子偕老” with his foreign accent, my eyes blurred.
In the past, I’ve gone through many setbacks. My husband has helped me forgive all the obstructions that life imposed on me. He broke all my bias and melted the ice between me and my life. Because of him, I fell in love with the world. (From Mr.Darcy, Qingdao Publishing House. Translation: Yu Lan.)
By Mu Er