Chapter 6: Unquestioning Filial Piety 6
“These were all made by you?”
At noon, Xu Xiuxiu returned from work and saw several delicate baskets lying on the floor inside the room. She could not help but ask Jiang Liu with a strange tone.
For the villagers, the thatch handiwork was something that most people could do. The only difference was their exquisiteness. Xu Xiuxiu had also made some baskets in the past, and she admitted that her level was far from high.
She carefully recalled her husband, whom she had been married to for ten years. She had never seen him doing this kind of light work before as far as she could remember. In the past, if he were not toiling at the field earning for their keep, he himself would be busy managing the Jiang’s house. Now that she thought about it, it seemed that she had never been allowed to know about her husband.
“Well, I have been giving a lot of thought. If I took an ordinary product to the market, no one might be willing to buy it. So I put even more thought into this matter. How about a pair of fruit bowls with a symbol of luck? There must be people from the city who are about to celebrate an important event. Therefore they will need to have this kind of thing for their home.”
Jiang Liu had received the memory of the original body. Naturally, he knew that the original body’s ability to do this kind of handicraft was limited. Since their ability was mismatched, he also worried that this exposure might attract the suspicion of his wife.
“This is really beautiful!”
Xu Xiuxiu focused on the small fruit bowl with the “double happiness” character as she turned it all over.
She didn’t know how Jiang Liu managed to do such work. In addition to the red colour, even the basket pattern was something she had never seen before. The bowl’s lining was also made using the thick-grained thatch—a few rows of delicate spirals on the fruit bowl surface, giving it an exquisite texture undulation. Even the surface itself felt so smooth.
Although it was just a fruit bowl woven using the least valuable thatch, Xu Xiuxiu felt it was even better than the expensive enamel cup sold at the supply and marketing agency.
She truly fell in love with it as she carefully caressed the word on the fruit bowl. When she married Jiang Liu, she only took one quilt as her dowry apart from her clothes. At that time, their lives in the country were also bitter. There were only two tables for the feast and a red paper on the door. That was her wedding ceremony.
For women nowadays, marriage was an event of one lifetime. Xu Xiuxiu was not really complaining about it. However, when she thought back on her wedding day, she could not help but feel sorry for herself.
Especially at this moment when she saw this pair of delicate fruit bowls. She couldn’t help but think about how happy those newlyweds will be if they were to have this as part of their dowry.
“Look, let’s keep this fruit bowl at home. I hadn’t given you anything when we got married. I also let you suffer for so many years.”
Jiang Liu originally intended to sell these fruit bowls. However, when he saw Xu Xiuxiu’s entranced expression, he changed his mind.
“No, no, we do not have any need for such a beautiful thing at home.”
Xu Xiuxiu felt a little sweet when she heard her husband’s words, but she still refused to think about it.
These fruit bowls were so beautiful. She believed that there must be young men and women about to get married who have more need for this kind of thing. Now their family lacks money. Her husband also needs to make up the body. They also owed so much money to the hospital. Compared to the current predicament, what she likes is the least valuable.
“Why not? Let’s put this pair of fruit bowls at home. To encourage us to make more money, we should buy many fruit candies to fill these fruit bowls. Besides that, I have already studied how to make this thing. For this pair of fruit bowls, I can still make some more.”
Jiang Liu was not just saying it to comfort his wife. As his body functions gradually merge with the brain, Jiang Liu could weave the thatch faster and smoother. He can make the same things up to five or six pieces in a day.
“I do not have big ambition in this life. As long as I can eat enough and pay the debt we owed, I am satisfied.”
Xu Xiuxiu couldn’t imagine the fairy-tale life filled with melon seeds and candy pieces at home as she listened to her husband’s description. Even though there was an evident yearning on her face, but she still uttered those practical and straightforward words.
“I will go and make lunch for you first.”
Xu Xiuxiu put down the fruit bowl in her hand and walked towards the kitchen to cook. The utility room that was initially assigned to them had been converted into a kitchen. Now the three meals of the young couple were all cooked on their own stove.
“It’s okay. I have already cooked it. I also already warm it, so you only need to bring the food over.”
Perhaps it was due to his childhood unhappiness. Jiang Liu particularly yearned for a husband and wife relationship who share the same pains and sorrows. He felt that the former was more reliable and practical than the earth-shattering, heaven-deafening love story.
Now, for special reasons, he couldn’t make Xu Xiuxiu quit her job in the field. She was a woman who engaged in labour work comparable to that of a man. After that, she also needs to cook and wash the laundry while Jiang Liu rests comfortably at home. Therefore, after doing relatively simple weaving work, Jiang Liu could not help but feel that he was doing too little at home. So Jiang Liu decided to cook the three meals from now on.
“How can a gentleman work in the kitchen?”
Xu Xiuxiu was touched and felt somewhat embarrassed. Her education from childhood told her that the kitchen was a woman’s domain. A good woman should never let her man cook.
“How can I not go? The village has so many bachelors. Didn’t they need to cook their own food? Anyway, I was bored and had nothing to do, so you should let me do the cooking from now on.”
Jiang Liu waved his hand, acting as if he didn’t care about it.
What kind of gentleman could not enter the kitchen? This broken indoctrination was things passed down from the older generation. Since his mother ran away in his previous life, he had already picked up the banner of cooking at home. Besides that, he never said that he was a gentleman. Frankly, he was a real villain who had immersed himself at the bottom of society.
When Xu Xiuxiu entered the kitchen, she saw the food was on the pan, and it was kept warm with temperature from the stove.
A pot of sweet potato porridge, a bowl of water fried cabbage, and a boiled egg cut in half.
Looking at these meals, Xu Xiuxiu could not hold back her tears, but she soon wiped her eyes with her sleeves.
The women in the village kept saying how much suffering she had to face, especially after the Jiang family’s separation. They kept saying that Jiang Liu’s couple could not get anything but debts.
Yet, Xu Xiuxiu felt that, in her more than 20 years of life, except when her mother was still alive, she was especially happy at this moment.
“Liu-zi comes up. I save a seat for you.”
“Everyone, help haul his basket up and put it that way.”
Today was the 15th of the month and a good day for a day market. The team member was beaming, and those who needed to go to the market to exchange materials gathered in the commune early in the morning, waiting for the truck driver to take them to the market.
The Red Star Commune had a total of six production teams. The entire production team shared one truck. Everyone minded their own things which they will use to exchange for other things at the market. In addition to transporting the goods, the big truck was also used to send people to the market twice a month.
Jiang Liu had a big rattan basket that contained all kinds of handicrafts that he had made. The basket was covered with cloth. Therefore people could not see what it was inside.
When he arrived at the commune area, they were already a lot of people waiting. Some of the third team members saw him coming over, so they called him and enthusiastically helped haul the bamboo baskets into the truck before squeezing out a position for him to sit.
Many people were going to the market today. The trucks were filled with people and goods—even several people who had come earlier than Jiang Liu and had not occupied any seats. But due to the tragic life of Jiang Liu being spread to all villagers, no one actually stood up and called him for it.
However, this privilege only lasts until they arrive at the market. Once there, everyone scattered around as they looked for a position to set up their stall. Then, they took out the fruits and vegetables or any other agricultural products they had wanted to exchange with others. Jiang Liu was unable to adapt to this kind of looting behaviour for a while. He could only take a step back and put his own things in a small corner.
He then laid the cloth that had been placed on the bamboo basket on the floor. After that, he arranged the handicraft product that he took from his basket one at a time.
When he counted the goods, he found out that he had two additional items. Those extra ones were the pair of bowls that he had intended to leave at home.
When he went out in the morning, Jiang Liu recalled that Xiu Xiu had offered to help him bring the basket outside. That was probably the time when the fruit bowl was stuffed inside by the other party.
Clearly, she likes it, but she still took the fruit bowl out. Jiang Liu could not help but sigh, thinking of his poor finances. Yet, he also felt moved. He could not help but secretly admonished the original’s pig brain. Obviously, he had such a good woman at home, yet he did not know how to cherish her.
“Mom, you see, isn’t this fruit bowl beautiful? It actually used the red thatch to spell the word “double happiness”. I want to use this on my wedding day to hold the candy apple.”
When Jiang Liu was feeling moved, his business prospect finally came.
A young woman dressed in Linen clothes stood in front of his booth and picked up a pair of bowls.
“Didn’t you tell me that you wanted me to buy enamel cups for you?”
The woman next to the young woman was estimated to be her mother. The other party was holding a pair of cocks and a basket of eggs. Looking at that, Jiang Liu deduced that this pair of mother and daughter had come to the market to buy things for a wedding banquet.
“A lot of people used enamel cups. I think it will be fresher and unique to use this fruit bowl instead. Mom, you look at this straw box. It also has a small buckle. The peony flower on the top of it was so beautiful. I can use it to store my face cream and stuff. I want this.”
Every woman is innately shopaholic. The young woman initially attracted by the fruit bowl was suddenly drawn to a small box of peonies. She even refused to let it go.
Looking at the young woman’s dress, Jiang Liu knew that the family condition was excellent, and they were even preparing for a big event like marriage. The mother finally agreed to her request and bought back whatever her daughter wanted.
Because the products were made using the worthless thatch, even if it was a unique handicraft, it was destined that the price would not be higher than the rare enamel products of this era. Even so, because its price was lower than the enamel product, the other side picked several items in one breath. After the mother and daughter left, Jiang Liu left with a quarter less of the original pieces.
Perhaps the thatch products made by Jiang Liu were indeed rare. Or, maybe it was due to the movement of the mother and daughter that attracted people’s curiosity. Before the end of the market, the final thatch product in Jiang Liu’s stall was also bought.
It took him half a month to collect the flowers, dry the dyed thatch, designing the pattern before weaving it. After all those work, he finally exchanged it with four catty and 7 Liang of grains coupons, three-foot cloth tickets, two industrial vouchers, a pair of pig ears, and sixteen coins.
[T/N: 1 catty equivalent to 600 grams; 1 Liang equal to 50 grams. During the PRC economic program 1955 – 1993, it seemed that they used the coupon to purchase food or grain. For more info, please google. This translator is lazy].
The original body had exhausted himself working in the field. After the end of the year, when he converted all his work points, it only came to 50 – 60 yuan. Even then, he had to use that money to exchange for food.
Jiang Liu realized that he might be able to pursue this line of business.
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