C39 – Is It an Illusion?
Zhang Xiaoloong experienced a sudden chill, causing him to almost pull his arm away and flee.
Nevertheless, upon hearing the last sentence, he eased up and swiftly withdrew his arm. “I’m not in a hurry to find a wife, Grandma Zhu. I haven’t really considered it yet. I plan to focus on my career for a couple more years before thinking about settling down.”
“Indeed, Xiaoloong is quite ambitious. Compared to men who lack aspirations and are confined to a woman’s embrace, he’s got bigger dreams.” Lee Xiulian commended him from a distance, her eyes twinkling. “But, you’re not getting any younger. Are you really in search of a wife? You could find a companion, you know…”
“Men without ambition can’t provide for women. Otherwise, they’ll lead a purposeless life. Ambitious men, on the other hand, require a woman by their side to boost their energy levels…”
“You can’t just pick any woman. You need to find someone who truly captures your heart and shares your aspirations. Your Grandpa Zhu must have accumulated good karma over several lifetimes to marry someone like me. Yet, he still can’t be content…”
Idle village women didn’t have many entertainment options, so they often chatted. Once they started talking about something, they could go on for ages, and their conversation could flow like a river.
Zhang Xiaoloong felt somewhat awkward as he listened. Initially, he had found the conversation a bit strange, but when Lee Xiulian mentioned helping him find a wife, it seemed perfectly normal again.
At his age, almost every young man had discussed marriage. However, as he matured, he had made up his mind to put this matter on hold. His parents had even discouraged the women who came to discuss potential marriages.
It seemed that only Lu Xiaoya’s situation remained unknown to him, and the elderly couple had given their approval.
Lee Xiulian’s concern about the matter was understandable, but her sudden shift from “wife” to “woman” left him puzzled. What exactly did she mean by that?
Besides, hinting that the woman had shifted the conversation back to herself wasn’t subtle, was it?
This realization sent chills down Zhang Xiaoloong’s spine. Although this woman wasn’t his biological grandmother, if what she hinted at was true, it could have dire consequences.
“Well, Grandma Zhu, I have some other matters to attend to. We can continue our conversation another day. I’ll take my leave now,” Zhang Xiaoloong coughed gently, breaking into the woman’s discourse.
“Hold on,” Lee Xiulian hastily intervened as Zhang Xiaoloong started to turn away. “Didn’t you want to discuss something with Grandpa Zhu?”
“Yes, I’ll return tomorrow morning. I’ll provide all the details then. I won’t keep you waiting here,” Zhang Xiaoloong responded quickly.
Lee Xiulian ushered Zhang Xiaoloong to a chair. She gently pushed him down and asked, “Xiaoloong, do you think Grandpa Zhu will heed my words?”
Zhang Xiaoloong reluctantly took a seat and pondered for a moment. “He listens to you. Everyone knows Uncle Zhu’s temper, even the heavens don’t dare to provoke him. But he listens to you the most.”
Lee Xiulian’s words held truth. Wang Tiezhu had a notorious temper. In his youth, his fiery disposition was well-known throughout the region. Despite his slim build, he possessed incredible strength. Ordinary folks wouldn’t dare to cross him.
Fate had it that he crossed paths with Lee Xiulian, who could put him in his place. The spirited Wang Tiezhu would instantly transform into a meek caterpillar upon returning home.
“Tsk, he can’t compete with me,” Lee Xiulian muttered under her breath. “As long as you know he listens to me. Tell me your concerns now; there’s no need to wait for tomorrow. When he returns later, I’ll ensure he handles it properly for you.”
Zhang Xiaoloong’s worries had begun to dissipate, and he eagerly shared his plans for the land.
“So it’s just a small piece of unused land. Leave it to me. If he refuses, I’ll make sure he understands.” Lee Xiulian patted her quivering chest and agreed.
“Thank you very much, Grandma Zhu,” Zhang Xiaoloong expressed his gratitude promptly.
This wasn’t a negative matter to begin with; it was simply uncharted territory. Whether Wang Tiezhu would agree remained uncertain, but with the assistance of this lady, it was likely to come to fruition.
Lee Xiulian waved her hand, a subtle smile playing on her lips. “Hollow promises won’t suffice. I’ll help you make this a reality. In the future, if I require your assistance, you must be ready to help me as well.”
Zhang Xiaoloong scratched the back of his head and grinned. “Of course, Grandma Zhu. As your junior, I dare not disobey your wishes.”
Lee Xiulian playfully rolled her eyes. “You’re too obedient. But I don’t like that title. From now on, I want you to address me differently. It just doesn’t sit right with me.”
Zhang Xiaoloong found himself in a dilemma. “How should I address you then?”
Calling her “Grandma Zhu” didn’t seem appropriate either.
Lee Xiulian pondered for a moment, her gaze fixed on the ceiling as if she were seriously contemplating the matter of her title. Then, she had an epiphany. “When I was young, my parents used to call me ‘Lotus Seed.’ Just call me ‘Elder Sister Lianzi.'”
“Lotus… Ahem, ahem, ahem…” Zhang Xiaoloong almost choked on his words. He cleared his throat, shook his head vigorously, and responded, “No, no. My father would never agree to that. Even if there were centipedes with numerous legs, they’d still get crushed.”
In the minds of some traditional elders, preserving this form of address was of utmost importance, and Zhang Daniu exemplified this traditional mindset.
Lee Xiulian burst into laughter and gave Zhang Xiaoloong’s back a gentle pat. “Look at how startled you are. You don’t have to address me as ‘grandma’ in private. It makes me feel uneasy. Just call me Elder Sister Lianzi. It will make our relationship seem much closer.”
Zhang Xiaoloong hesitated, “Is that really appropriate?”
Lee Xiulian raised an eyebrow, her lips curving into a slight smile. “What’s inappropriate about it? Wang Tiezhu’s connection to your family is deeply rooted. Only your father, that old traditionalist, clings to these old customs. Look at someone like you, a young scholar in the field of cutting-edge science. It seems you’re even less bound by tradition than I am.”
After a moment of reflection, Zhang Xiaoloong conceded that Lee Xiulian had a point. Apart from young children who commonly addressed unrelated adults as “grandma” or “grandpa,” many people didn’t pay much heed to these familial titles anymore.
Lee Xiulian added more fuel to the fire when she saw that Zhang Xiaoloong was still hesitant. “If you can’t even agree to such a minor request, then I won’t assist you,” she warned. “You should mention that there may be some risks associated with the land contract issue. I’d have to let Grandpa of Zhuzi contemplate it.”
Zhang Xiaoloong sighed, “Grandma Zhu, this is…” He chuckled ruefully, realizing that this woman was exceptionally pragmatic. She didn’t beat around the bush and swiftly changed the subject.
Nevertheless, Zhang Xiaoloong couldn’t help but acknowledge that if Lee Xiulian wanted to create difficulties for him, he’d find it challenging to navigate.
Lee Xiulian raised an eyebrow as she locked eyes with him. “What did you just call me?”
Blushing, Zhang Xiaoloong stammered, “Lian… Elder Sister Lianzi…”
“Ah…” Lee Xiulian’s smile widened, and she reached out to hold Zhang Xiaoloong’s hand, rubbing it gently in her palm. “Xiaoloong, you have no idea. I’ve always dreamt of having a younger brother like you!”
Zhang Xiaoloong mumbled as he allowed her to hold his hand. He had a lingering feeling that Elder Sister Lianzi would sometimes glance downwards when she spoke. Was it just his imagination?