Ah Jin heard a new gossip about Ms. Bug from the "Information Center."
"Hey, have you heard that Guo Lihong is now running to Wang Junxiang's house every day? What do you think she is trying to do?"
"Cut it! So what else does she want to do? She is looking for her next home. Previously, it was said at the meeting that Hou Wenbo was a rogue. I do not think so."
"I don't think so too. I also saw them walking together and laughing before."
"Hey, do you think Wang Junxiang would look at her?"
"Tsk, that is really hard to say. Guo Lihong is also good-looking. Maybe over time, they will develop a liking for each other."
The women's eyes were indeed astute.
But if Ms. Bug could quietly live a good life with Wang Junxiang, with her experience in her previous life, perhaps he had the advantage.
On the subject of looking for someone, the women remembered that there was another person in front of them.
"Zhaodi, you'll be 17 in this coming year, right?"
Ah Jin's hands kept moving.
"I'm telling you, be careful in looking for a man, as a woman's next life depends on him. Finding a good one is like reincarnating again!"
Another woman then said, "Yes, Zhaodi ah. Your parents are no longer here. There are no elders to guide you. From now on, if you do not know anything, you can come to me. Do not be polite ah!"
Ah Jin's heart felt like shit, but her face was smiling.
"Yes, thank you, Auntie!"
The subject soon changed again. The "information center" always had endless topics to talk about.
After the winter, the days passed day by day.
Ah Jin's family of four welcomed the most important festival of the year in China - the Spring Festival.
Every family was busy cleaning and putting up couplets.
There was a joyful atmosphere in the streets.
The brigade also organized a cultural performance, Yangge, and lion dance.
TL's Note: Yangge, a popular rural folk dance. The picture below is from Baidu, an overview of the dance.
Lion dance, the traditional Chinese dance form
It was much more festive than the modern Spring Festival.
That night, Ah Jin took out the long-stored pork and cabbage.
A meal of cabbage and pork-filled dumplings, plus a few dumplings in various grains, adds to the fun of eating dumplings.
The three kids did not care about how hot it was.
They ate the dumplings with a lot of sweat.
On the first day of the year, Ah Jin took out the only firecracker and asked the second child to take his brothers out.
The three little ones were happy spending time together, even though they had no new clothes to wear.
After setting off the firecrackers, the three children paid their respects to Ah Jin.
"Eldest sister, happy new year!"
Ah Jin smiled and answered, "Happy new year, my younger brothers."
She took out the red envelopes and gave one to each of them.
The three children were so happy that they opened the red envelope and took out the money.
Inside was one-tenth of a yuan.
How generous she was this year, compared to the pennies she gave in the past.
Ah Jin took them to their familiar neighbors' homes to pay their respects.
No matter how poor the family was, they would take out a little something to entertain the guest who paid their respects during the festival.
Some were peanuts, some were melon seeds, and the richer ones would even give the younger ones a little sugar to eat.
The first day was to visit relatives.
The four grandparents of Ah Jin's had long since passed away.
As they could not go far, there would be no relatives to visit as well.
So the four of them stayed at home to study their schoolwork.
After spring, Ah Jin would send the youngest child to school.
The country now urged people to study and be educated.
So whenever the family conditions allowed, they basically sent their children to school.
Ah Jin wanted to give Little Fourth an early boost.
Her child should not lose at the starting line.
Two years passed in a flash as spring went to autumn.
The second child, Jianfu, turned fifteen and graduated from junior high school.
Now he was a head taller than Ah Jin, basically the height of an adult man.
At dinner that day, the second child asked Ah Jin, "Eldest sister, I have graduated and can go to work on the brigade."
Ah Jin looked at him and said solemnly, "No, you still have to go on to senior high school!"
The second child looked wide-eyed.
"Eldest sister, this is different from the original agreement ah. You said, after completing junior high school, I don't have to study!"
"I only said that after you finish junior high school, we will discuss it. I didn't say that you can stop studying."
The second child put down his rice bowl.
"I don't care. I don't want to study."
Ah Jin asked him again, "Do you want to join the army as a soldier?"
When the second child heard this, his eyes were glowing, "Yes! I dream of it!"
"Then you should go to senior high school and finish your studies before joining the army. If not, you are not allowed to go!"
As soon as the second child heard about this, he immediately lost hope.
"Eldest sister, what is the relationship between becoming a soldier and studying ah?"
Ah Jin replied, "Of course, it has something to do with it! If you finished senior high school, you could stay in the army for a longer period. And if you have failed to finish your studies, you may be driven back in a few years."
The second child was stunned.
"Really? You're not lying to me, right?"
Ah Jin did not explain.
"Believe it or not. Right now, you are young. The army does not want you. After completing senior high school, you are just old enough to join the army."
The second child hesitated.
"But we do not have a senior high school in the village. We have to go to the County Town."
Ah Jin replied firmly, "Then you go!"
"No way! I won't go! What will you do if I leave?"
Ah Jin added, "There is one less person to eat when you are not at home. I will be relaxed."
The second child tightened his grip on the chopsticks in his hand.
How could it be easy?
The tuition fee of senior high school was more expensive than that of junior high school.
He had to go to the County Town, live in school, and the living expenses.
"I do not ..."
Ah Jin interrupted him.
"It's settled. I will take some time off with the brigade tomorrow and go to the County Town with you to take the entrance exam."
Ah Jin looked at his reluctant face and added, "I heard from the brigade that we can apply for a scholarship for rural residents. Each semester they give 3 yuan. Every Sunday, you have to come back to work in the brigade. The points you earn are your own living expenses. Don't expect me to give you money!"
The second child was relieved.
The following day, Ah Jin took him to the County Town for the entrance examination.
The two walked there because they didn't have a vehicle, and it took nearly two hours.
These two years, under the temptation of meat, the second child's performance was considered so-so.
The entrance exam could be regarded as to get through a daunting experience without mishap.
Ah Jin gave him a year of tuition and accommodation fees, a total of 10 yuan to spend.
In the past two years, Ah Jin earned more work points and saved a lot of money.
It would have been too much to pay for the three children to study otherwise.
The two then strolled around the County and brought some snacks for the two family members at home.
Ah Jin rented a donkey cart and returned to the village.
She instructed the second child to find a donkey cart when he returned on Sundays.
Otherwise, he would not have time to work in the brigade if he walked home.
He felt that it was a waste of money, but it was also right when he thought about what Ah Jin said.
He could earn 3 to 5 work points for one more afternoon's work, which could be exchanged for 2 to 3 yuan a month.
The donkey cart was only 20 to 30 cents a time.
It was a good deal.