May I Treat You to Din­ner?

我可以请你吃顿饭吗

Special Focus - - Contents - Mu Er 沐儿

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

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