Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Living to Suffer - ch7

Translator: ayszhang
Editor: Marcia

The wrong chapter was uploaded last week.
Please re-read ch6 before reading this.



VII

The truth was that for a moment that day, Shen Liangsheng thought he was going to die.
He opened his eyes and saw an oil-paper umbrella, and painted on the umbrella were yellow reeds.
Perhaps it was his inability to move a single muscle, or perhaps it was the despairing sound of rain; in that moment, he truly thought he was going to die there. In his heart, however, was no regret, no worry. Nothing.
And in that split second, a quiet thought floated to mind. For twenty-six years he had walked the earth and committed countless sins and planted numerous bad seeds of karma. In the end, however, his world was reduced to a tiny microcosm:
A shrine. Summer rain. Reeds.

He did not die, however, and thus the microcosm slowly shrank into a pinpoint, appearing so distant it felt like an old dream.
The summer rain had long ceased, and the paper reeds had succumbed to the mud. Only the person who had opened the window onto this small, private universe for him remained.
Shen Liangsheng had to admit he had been making exceptions for Ch’in Ching time and time again.
Not rejecting him meant silent permission. Not killing him meant he wanted the man to live.

Ch’in Ching sat at the table treating his injury.
With his back turned at an angle to the door, he concentrated only on wrapping the bandage and did not see that Shen Liangsheng had turned around.
His right shoulder was wounded, so he could only use his left hand. Every layer of bandage meant he had to lift his arm which made him hiss from the pain, and by the time it was finally complete, he was covered with cold sweat. His left arm was nearly dead, and he struggled to tie a knot.
Shen Liangsheng watched this from the door. He should have left after seeing the man was alive, but he was still there staring at the doctor who was trying again and again unsuccessfully to tie a knot.

“Don’t move.”
Ch’in Ching had poor neikung and could not detect Shen Liangsheng’s footsteps. He only noticed another person’s presence after hearing the command. Instinctively, he made to look behind him, but the person laid a hand on his shoulder.
Then he watched Shen Liangsheng circle around, bend over slightly and carefully, neatly tie a dead knot for him.

Ch’in Ching’s throat felt dry. Although he knew hydration was to be avoided after blood loss, he still reached for the tea pot on the table and poured himself half a cup of cold tea, emptying it in one gulp. Only then did he slowly prop himself up and fix his clothes.
Without asking the man why he had returned, Ch’in Ching skirted around him and headed towards the kitchen to make himself some medicinal congee.
As if he did not mind being ignored, Shen Liangsheng followed the doctor’s footsteps and stood by the brick stove, watching. Ch’in Ching washed the rice, uncovered the stove, tossed a few handfuls of kindling onto the fire. After the rice and water reached a boil, he put in the medicinal ingredients one by one. Then he covered the pot with a lid before pulling a stool over, sitting down and beginning to absentmindedly poke the fire.
The only sounds in the kitchen were the soft snaps and cracks of the firewood. Perhaps Ch’in Ching was tired, for his eyes began drooping down as he stared blankly at the fire, and eventually they shut closed as though he were asleep.
“I think you probably know, Shen-hufa.”
Just when Shen Liangsheng thought the doctor had fallen asleep, he spoke.
“I love you.”
Nothing more came after that. Under the quiet sunlight, Ch’in Ching’s head dipped down. He really fell asleep.

Then the doctor had a dream. He dreamt he was young again, crying, tugging at the edges of his shifu’s tunic. As he wept he begged,
“I don’t want to die, Shifu. Please, just let me hide in a place where nobody will find me. I don’t want to die.”
How long had it been since he had a dream like this? Ch’in Ching still kept a shred of awareness in the dream, as though his grown up self had flown back in time as a lost soul and hovered in place observing the petulant cry-baby that was his earlier self.

More than two hundred years ago, an evil fiend emerged out of nowhere. The mantra he practised was strange and mysterious but extremely powerful, allowing him to singlehandedly establish the Hsing Sect and nearly flip the chianghu upside down.
Ultimately, however, evil could not triumph over good. Having taken one wrong move, the Hsing Sect leader received what should have been a mortal wound but, because of the Five Skandhas, managed to preserve his life, leaving the rest of the chianghu with a weighty concern.
After more than two centuries of feigned death, he was quietly biding the time until his revival, when he would return with abilities a hundred times stronger than before making him well-nigh invincible. In that event, the denizens of the chianghu would only be able to watch helplessly as he brought an end to life as they knew it.
Alas for him, the mantra was missing its final and most crucial two pages. Therefore, the Hsing Sect knew only that the revival of their leader required a soul trigger and a blood trigger. The soul trigger had been passed down to every generation via the deputy leader whereas the whereabouts of the blood trigger was still unknown.
It would have been best if the unholy pages had been destroyed, but rumour had it that the pages included a treasure map. The evil fiend had only utilized a small portion of the treasures to establish the sect, meaning whoever could decode the map would become wealthy enough to rival the state.
Regardless whether this was true or merely a rumour spread by the Hsing Sect, as birds will die for food, so will men die for wealth. Throughout the decades, these pages travelled the land passing through several parties until finally landing in the hands of a powerful recluse of the chianghu. This individual did not destroy them but rather handed them to a good friend in the Buddhist sects so that the secrets behind the mantra could be deciphered.
After much research, it became clear that the blood trigger was the key to defeating the fiend. According to the text, the blood trigger referred to the blood directly from the heart. The vessel of the blood trigger would be an individual chosen by the heavens, and as a mark of his destiny, his heart would be different than that of others. If the evil fiend was to be revived, this person would have to be hung up and his blood drained directly from his beating heart for seven days. Through studying the text, the monks speculated that the one chance to reverse the life-sustaining effects of the mantra was at the end of the seven day period, exactly at the moment of a successful revival.
The evil and the good both waited for two centuries for the blood trigger to be born. The Hsing Sect had little knowledge of where to look, but Ch’in Ching’s shifu so happened to be the pupil of that powerful recluse and knew the art of divination. He took Ch’in Ching away with him while he was still swaddled to rid the infant of all worldly ties, all so that he might test the speculations of those who studied the text. Since he was wagering his disciple’s life against a successful outcome, it could be said that Ch’in Ching’s fondness of risk and gambling had been passed down from his master.
Ch’in Ching’s shifu never kept him in the dark about anything. Ever since he was old enough to think and speak, he knew he had been born to die.
Whether it was dying in order to push the world into chaos, or dying in order to save all the lives of the land, his destiny was painful and potentially pointless death.
Sadly, the young Ch’in Ching was unwilling to accept his fate, often weeping and begging his shifu to hide him somewhere so the demonic sect could not find him. He wept, saying, “I want to live. I don’t want to die.”
But as he reached maturity, he came to terms with his destiny and in turn became an unorthodox doctor. With his excellent healing skills, he saved any bird or beast, any good or wicked man he came upon. In his own words, it was better to stay alive if one could.
And thus, Shen Liangsheng, Shen-hufa, was saved by him. When Buddha said hatred and resentment meet,[1] he likely meant the more debt and karma that had accumulated between two people the less likely they could avoid each other. You must meet, and even if you do not wish to – too bad for you.
The heavens played a trick on Ch’in Ching, and he welcomed it with open arms. Seeing that Shen-hufa was quite good-looking, he was decisive and gave into lust and desire, thinking of it as merely a taste of pleasure before death.

Awaking from the dream of the past, Ch’in Ching was momentarily in a daze. He smelled rice and herbs in the air, and he saw someone standing at the brick stove, head down, stirring the pot of congee.
Staring at Shen Liangsheng’s back, Ch’in Ching praised himself for being so gifted – he had told himself, “he’s the one, fall in love with him,” and he did exactly that.
As for whether his love was true, Ch’in Ching thought it was, just as he thought it was true when he said, “For the land, for humanity, I have no resentment.”
Someone once said that a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth, and Ch’in Ching agreed with this reasoning.
The falsehood blended into truth, and the truth blended into falsehood. Life was too short to waste one’s time figuring out which was which.

“Shen-hufa, if I had known you were not one to shun the kitchen,[2] I would have made you work to pay the rent for the month you stayed here.”
Ch’in Ching rose from his seat and stood flush against the man’s back, resting his chin on his shoulder. He reached around to grab a white porcelain spoon from the countertop before taking the wooden ladle from Shen Liangsheng and spooning out a bowl of congee. Stepping aside, he began eating while blowing on each spoonful.
The taller man watched the doctor sip the congee with a tiny trace of a docile smile about his lips and a shallow dimple on his cheek, perhaps because the nap had done him good.
By then, the sun was sinking in the west, and its remaining rays shone through the windows, hitting the doctor’s face. The thin scar on his cheek looked like a tear streak and along with the light smile formed a smiling sob, or perhaps it was a sobbing smile.
“I do know.” Shen Liangsheng’s utterance was soft but nonetheless abrupt. Ch’in Ching paused with the spoon in his mouth and then recalled his confession earlier. He shook his head while the smile grew on his face.
“So what now?” Ch’in Ching looked at him smilingly while adding a suggestive tone to his question.
“I have a question as well.”
“Oh? I’m all ears.”
Ch’in Ching thought to himself that not even Shen-hufa could escape clichés. Perhaps the man would inquire ‘why do you love me?’ If not, then he would have given a cold retort, ‘so what if you do?’
“Ch’in Ching, how long have you wanted me to fuck you?”
COUGH COUGH COUGH.
Ch’in Ching was in the process of swallowing a mouthful of congee and consequently choked. “Shen-hufa, please don’t tell jokes while I’m eating.”
But instead of answering, Shen Liangsheng took a step towards the doctor, blocking the slanted rays of the sun, and planted his lips on the corner of the man’s lips, licking clean the remaining traces of congee with slow flicks of his tongue.
“You…” Ch’in Ching started to speak, but the man took the opportunity to snake his tongue in through the opening while one hand slid up to his ear, fingers gently rubbing his earlobe.
Ch’in Ching felt a light tingle from his ear, and the next thing he knew, the man was carefully passing his tongue along the roof of his mouth before skilfully coaxing his tongue with tireless licks.
“I…” Getting a hold of himself, Ch’in Ching took a small step back and attempted to speak again, but the taller man pressed him back into his embrace with one hand and resumed the kiss, this time a deeper one. The tip of his tongue reached the base of the doctor’s, and he gently lapped at the muscle again, inviting it to a lingering dance.
Although there was a lot Ch’in Ching should say, at this point there was nothing more he wished to say. He closed his eyes as the evening sun meandered in the space between their faces, lightly grazing his eyelids and dyeing them red like rubies. The fervid kiss was intoxicating, like a century old bottle of wine.
Ch’in Ching tried to kiss back, but the man did not give him the slightest chance, and the gentle caress became an aggressive offence, stripping the doctor of any ownership over his own mouth. Ch’in Ching nearly lost track of his own tongue and could only sway along the rough waves like a canoe in a storm.
Caught in the fervor, Ch’in Ching forgot to breathe through his nose for some time, and when he eventually did and his brain cleared up somewhat he noticed that the taller man had slowed the pace. His tongue was now thrusting repeatedly deep inside his mouth, gyrating as one would during coitus.
The teasing was making Ch’in Ching’s throat quiver and his mouth water, and unable to swallow, he could only let the saliva overflow and dribble from his lips in between his muffled moans.
Their bodies were extremely close, and as the kiss was prolonged, Ch’in Ching’s member began to rouse and push its half-erect length into the taller man’s thigh.
He wiggled a little, rubbing his soft erection on the man’s leg over several layers of cloth as if to beg, or perhaps it was to tease.
Shen Liangsheng smoothly followed the cue, his fingers leaving the doctor’s ear and trailing down his back. He cupped the buttocks, pressing his hips towards himself while kneading the globes playfully.
Before Ch’in Ching knew it, Shen Liangsheng had left his lips, ending the kiss, and instead moved to his earlobe. The taller man took a gentle nibble before taking the entire thing into his mouth. The tip of his tongue slid across the curvature of the cartilage before slipping inside and wetting every inch of skin.
A shudder ran through Ch’in Ching and nearly rendered his core muscles useless as he struggled to stay upright. He discovered with surprise the sensitivity of his ears.
Shen Liangsheng wrapped the doctor firmly in his arms, and knowing its potency, he swirled his tongue in and around his ear without as much as a pause.
“Mmm…” Without the man’s lips, Ch’in Ching’s moan became louder and more distinct. He felt as though the thing in his ear was not a tongue but a snake. The places the tongue touched were numb and tingly, and the man’s heated breath was like a snake burrowing, deeper and deeper, from his ear into his heart and then with the flow of his blood to the rest of his body, leaving his bones, his skin – every inch of him – aching with desire.
Instinctively, his body writhed, his skin rubbing against his clothes. The soft material now became a torture device, doing little to alleviate his yearning but rather adding to the problem. He wanted nothing more than to rip them off and save himself from the torment.
His member was now fully hardened, and its tip wet. He made to touch it but only found their bodies flush against each other, not giving him any room to reach in. The only thing he could do was to cling to the man’s back with all the strength he could muster like a drowning man would to a piece of driftwood, while he panted and moaned.
Shen Liangsheng, on the other hand, was calm and composed, continuing his game with the ear while letting the doctor cling to him. He felt Ch’in Ching’s breath quickening. Out of nowhere a rough shudder ran through the man in his arms, and he knew that he had found release without any direct contact.

“Ch’in Ching.” Shen Liangsheng let him go. His expression was as cold as ice and his breathing had not been altered. Rather than a passionate and intimate affair, it seemed as though he were at a military negotiation on the battlefield. “Desire is illusion; if you cannot let it go, you must suffer.”
“Are you giving me a warning, Shen-hufa?” After Ch’in Ching caught his breath, he appeared nonchalant as always and eyed the hufa’s unresponsive crotch. “I can’t let it go. You can’t get it up. I reckon we are even.”
“No matter, Ch’in-taifu.” Shen Liangsheng did not appear to be angered by the mockery and only nodded. “The night is young.”




[1] An abbreviation of one of the eight dukkhas, “怨憎会苦” (literally, resentment hatred meet pain). One interpretation is “association with the unbeloved is dukkha” as described here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dukkha#Buddhism
[2] Ch’in Ching quotes Mencius. The phrase is literally, ‘noble men (stays) far (from the) kitchen’ and was used by Mencius to describe how noble men cannot bear to see the butchering of animals.



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ayszhang: I am on the bus to Ottawa right now! Will be there for three nights :) Hit me up if you want to chill :3

IMPORTANT: I uploaded the wrong chapter last week. Please go back and read it again because it has been corrected! I am so sorry for the confusion!!! >_< I wasn't kidding that it was hectic.... I'm so embarrassed that something like that has happened...



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Living to Suffer - English Translation by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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