Tao Xiaodong wasn’t daft.
Tang Suoyan’s hand hurt and was also out of medicine; how could he not read between the lines
Pretty on the ball, this guy instantly replied: I’ll bring you some when I’m back.
Tang Suoyan said: All right.
Tao Xiaodong had been away for more than a week.
If it weren’t for the construction works, he would have been back by now.
Since he was around for the demolition, it was only right for him to stay till the construction was about there; his departure would foist this messy affair upon the partially-sighted principal otherwise, and that would just be rude.
During the short school break, while children that stayed on the mountain would usually go home, most of the blind children didn’t as it required someone to fetch them, and the trip back and forth was arduous.
Among them, some children should already be attending middle school.
They had been in fifth grade for the last few years, but no one from their family had come to get them, tucking the children out of their minds once sending them over.
Most of them sat at the foot of the hostel listening to the day construction.
Those who didn’t have total blindness would watch from closer up.
The winter wasn’t as cold here as it was up north.
It was more humid, though, especially in the mountains.
The children had to make do as best they could.
The clothes on them weren’t all that clean, and some without families that cared about them weren’t even wearing cotton-padded jackets, just a basic jacket over two layers of woollen sweaters.
They call him ‘Uncle Tao’.
They didn’t know what he looked like, but they inferred from how they heard the principal address him.
While they listened to the ongoing works, Tao Xiaodong would often watch them.
Watching them always reminded him of Tao Huainan; blind children were generally the same around the globe.
They tended to sit quietly to one side, looking towards the sky to gaze at the sun every now and then.
Children who could perceive light enjoyed looking at the sun, for under the light their field of vision was swathed with brightness, and the sunbeams warmed their faces.
But they differed from Tao Huainan in that they were a small community, familiar with one another after living twenty-four seven in the same space.
Sitting elbow to elbow, sharing whispers and laughter, a shoulder bump from one and a push back from another; not too different from regular kids, really.
Tao Huainan was much quieter than them.
His two brothers were his whole world and he didn’t open up to outsiders.
Sometimes, Tao Xiaodong would unknowingly lose a day just watching them.
When the bulk of the construction was done leaving only the finer workmanship, Tao Xiaodong departed.
Before he left, he purchased clothes for the children at the school, two sets of cotton-padded jackets and fitting autumn clothes for each child, as well as new beddings to replace the ones for winter.
There were too many people born into hardship, and there were not many in the position to help.
To tell the truth, Tao Xiaodong was limited in what he could do and it wasn’t as though they were constantly on his mind.
He had sponsored many such schools, some of which wouldn’t reach out after receiving a few donations, whereas some he would upkeep yearly donations.
He would pitch in when it came to areas visible to him, but he was incapable of contributing to areas not visible to him.
Suffering was ubiquitous.
Tao Xiaodong didn’t consider himself a philanthropist, nor did he have a heart for giving.
It was unequivocally because someone in his life was blind that he would wish for other blind people to lead easier lives.
The principal and his son followed him to the train station at the foot of the mountain.
At his departure, he was a hand down and had to rely on using only one hand.
“Uncle Tao, is your hand really okay” The boy fixed a worried gaze onto his left hand.
Tao Xiaodong said with a smile, “It’s no biggie.”
The principal insisted on buying tickets for him, but Tao Xiaodong said that he had already booked it on his phone.
So, the principal helped him collect his ticket with his identity card, sending him all the way to the ticket gantry, keeping a steady gaze on him in spite of his blurry vision.
The boy asked him, “Uncle Tao, will you be back”
“Sure I will,” Tao Xiaodong said, “call me if anything happens.”
“Take care of your hand,” the boy said with furrowed brows.
Tao Xiaodong smiled and waved his arm, then got onto the platform.
On the county’s run-down train platform, Tao Xiaodong carried his own bag, his right hand tucked into a pocket while his left, which he couldn’t tuck in, hung from his side.
He injured that hand yesterday.
A blind child had taken a wrong turn and nearly crashed into bricks.
Tao Xiaodong had reached out to protect him and got his hand hit instead.
The impact was quick and wasn’t too hard.
He hadn’t felt any pain initially, but it started to throb after two hours, half his hand swelling.
On the plane, the jolts of pain shooting through his hand kept Tao Xiaodong from restful sleep, bothering him the whole flight.
As the plane taxied along the runway, Tao Xiaodong messaged Tang Suoyan: Are you here yet, Yan ge
Tang Suoyan sent him a voice message: “There’s a bit of a jam.
I might take twenty minutes more.
Have you arrived”
Tao Xiaodong said: “The flight touched down half an hour early.
No hurry, I’ll wait for you at the car park.”
Tang Suoyan replied to him, “Make sure to walk slowly, then.”
A hint of mirth carried across the line, drawing a smile from Tao Xiaodong as well, who returned, “Gotcha, I’ll keep an eye on the time and head out in twenty.”
When alighting, Tao Xiaodong held his carry-on with his right hand and kept his left hand in front of him, but it still got bumped into so many times that he was close to breaking out in a sweat.
The two men hadn’t seen each other since that night.
By all reason, Tao Xiaodong should be nervous, but the pain seemed to be getting worse, which suitably distracted him from his nerves.
The car was at a comfortable temperature.
Tao Xiaodong exhaled once he got in, then called “Yan ge.”
At the departure hall, cars weren’t permitted to stop, so Tang Suoyan concentrated on driving off after the pick up.
Eyes on the road ahead, he said with a smile, “Long time no see.”
That was obviously teasing him.
Tao Xiaodong burst into laughter.
The snowfall was heavy this year, and it snowed frequently during the week and a half that Tao Xiaodong was gone.
Worried about Tang Suoyan’s hand, he asked, “Does your hand still hurt, Yan ge”
“It does.” Tang Suoyan answered swiftly.
His right hand was on the gear shift.
Tao Xiaodong eyed it but didn’t move.
Tang Suoyan glanced at him out of his peripheral vision, then reached over to touch Tao Xiaodong’s hand.
“Aren’t you going to check if it’s cold”
This touch caused Tao Xiaodong’s breathing to hitch.
At once, Tao Xiaodong flinched away, and Tang Suoyan also noticed something wrong then.
“What happened to your hand”
“Strained it,” Tao Xiaodong regulated his breathing, his smile tight, “I can’t tell if anything is cold or not, it’s gone numb.”
Seeing the heavy swelling of his hand, Tang Suoyan furrowed his brows.
“When did that happen Have you gotten it checked at a hospital”
Tao Xiaodong shook his head.
“No, I don’t think it’s anything much.
Just knocked it yesterday.”
While waiting in line at the toll gate, Tang Suoyan took his wrist, examined it, and then asked, “What did you knock against Did you fall”
“Against a wall, but it wasn’t a hard hit.” Amused at how much his hand was swelling, Tao Xiaodong said, smiling, “Just my luck, really.”
Tang Suoyan’s brows were still knit.
“You can even smile at this Does it hurt”
Tao Xiaodong said that it wasn’t too bad.
In the end, Tao Xiaodong wasn’t able to head home that night; Tang Suoyan sent him straight to the hospital for an X-ray at the emergency department.
The hospital wasn’t as packed at night as it was in the day.
Tang Suoyan walked on his left, shielding his left arm, while Tao Xiaodong continued to say, “I don’t think it’s that bad, Yan ge.”
“Really” Tang Suoyan said with a trace of resignation in his features.
“I think that you broke it.”
Undeterred, Tao Xiaodong confidently objected.
“It didn’t hurt right after I hit it, I’m pretty sure I just pulled a tendon.”
Translated by luckykoi
“Keep your hand level, relax.” Even though Tang Suoyan didn’t recognise the doctor on duty at the emergency department, the other did recognise Tang Suoyan and greeted him as they went over.
Tang Suoyan responded with a nod of his head.
After obtaining the X-ray, Tang Suoyan checked it first, and Tao Xiaodong had the cheek to ask, “Is it broken”
He was even smiling as he did.
His intuition told him that he had simply strained it and it would be all better in another couple of days.
Tang Suoyan shot him a look and declared that it was broken.
Still, Tao Xiaodong thought that he was pulling his leg, grinning through the pain.
Until Tang Suoyan sighed and told him, “This isn’t a laughing matter.”
Tang Suoyan did know the orthopaedic doctor on duty at the emergency department and led Tao Xiaodong in directly.
Tang Suoyan handed over the film and said to the doctor inside, “Bone fractures.”
It only started to sink in for Tao Xiaodong then.
He asked Tang Suoyan, “Seriously”
Next to him, Tang Suoyan was not in the mood to deign him a response, merely sliding him a sidelong look.
Fractures to the ring and little fingers.
Cartilage damage to the middle finger.
Tao Xiaodong was stunned.
It was just one hit, and it wasn’t even that hard.
They squandered a good few hours in the hospital, and day had turned to night by the time they emerged.
In between, Tao Huainan had called Tao Xiaodong, questioning why wasn’t he back yet.
Tao Xiaodong didn’t mention that he was at the hospital, simply that he wasn’t sure what time he would return.
Tao Huainan asked him what was the matter, and Tao Xiaodong deflected, eventually only saying that he was with Dr.
Once hearing that, Tao Huainan dropped his line of questioning, cheerfully proclaiming that it was totally fine if he didn’t come back at all.
The whole of Tao Xiaodong’s left hand had stiffened.
Due to the injury being left untended for more than a day, the swelling was severe.
The setting of the bones made Tao Xiaodong perspire profusely, yet he uttered not a sound of pain.
Next to him, Tang Suoyan placed a hand on his shoulder and could feel his muscles bunch up whenever intense pain laced through him.
Tang Suoyan squeezed his shoulder comfortingly from behind, frowning.
And thus, this hand was pronounced unfit for use for the next three or four months.
Tao Xiaodong was so out of it that even after getting into the car, he was unable to buckle the seatbelt with one hand.
“You left in prime condition and came back with a broken hand.” Tang Suoyan helped to buckle him in.
“It must hurt now, doesn’t it”
“Still bearable.” Tao Xiaodong said, “It’s my bad, for wasting your night when you still have work tomorrow.”
Tang Suoyan started the car.
“Instead of having to spend the time like this, I’d much rather you come back safe and sound so I can have dinner with you before sending you home.”
“What can I do It’s already this way now.” Tao Xiaodong’s complexion didn’t look too good, but he could still squeeze out a smile and say, “Sorry for making you worry, Yan ge.”
Tang Suoyan ignored him.
He had been too careless with himself.
Tao Xiaodong was dizzied with pain, drifting in and out of it in his seat.
When the car pulled into the parking at Tang Suoyan’s place, Tao Xiaodong sat up and asked, “Where is this”
Tang Suoyan helped him unfasten the seatbelt.
“There’s no need for that, I can just go home…” Tao Xiaodong didn’t want to impose on Tang Suoyan.
“You still have to go to work tomorrow, you wouldn’t be free to worry about me anyway.”
Tang Suoyan didn’t waste his breath on him.
He got out of the car and opened the door on the other side.
Insisting on being sent home when they were already here would make Tao Xiaodong seem overly argumentative, so he got out of the car.
Tang Suoyan supported his left arm, while walking, said, “Where else can you go at this hour.”
It was a first for Tao Xiaodong to be supported while walking like this and he felt a sliver of awkwardness.
He stifled a smile.
“Yan ge, I can walk by myself.
It’s not like I’m half an invalid.”
The description drew a frown from Tang Suoyan.
“Don’t say that.”
Stepping back through this door released a sudden floodgate of memories from that night in Tao Xiaodong’s head.
The faint scent lingering in the apartment instantly fished up all the visuals that Tao Xiaodong had deliberately scrubbed from his mind the past week.
The pair of indoor slippers that he had worn weren’t kept.
Tao Xiaodong changed out of his shoes, standing gingerly at the doorway.
“Your hand will hurt for some time.” Tang Suoyan changed out of his shoes as well, with natural ease, guiding Tao Xiaodong in.
“If the pain keeps you up at night, let me know.
You can pop a pill.
I’ll take you with me to work tomorrow.
You’ll need injections for the next few days.”
“I’ll make you something to eat.
Just sit here and rest for a while,” Tang Suoyan continued.
Tao Xiaodong took off his coat with only one hand and Tang Suoyan helped him hang it at the entrance.
Tao Xiaodong had actually been holding his bladder all this time, unable to find a spare moment at the hospital to go.
“Yan ge,” he called hold of Tang Suoyan before clearing his throat.
“I have to… shower.”
After having made a beeline for the train to the airport to the hospital, he’d definitely have trouble falling asleep tonight if he didn’t take a shower.
Tang Suoyan glanced at his left hand then mused, “Go ahead.”
Tao Xiaodong asked again, “Let me use back the same clothes from last time”
Tang Suoyan had already helped him launder that set.
He fetched it from the wardrobe and placed it in the bathroom, then looked over his shoulder, asking him, “Will you be able to shower on your own—”
Before he could finish the question, Tao Xiaodong hastened to answer, “I can! I can, I really can.”
Tang Suoyan burst out laughing, looking straight into his eyes.
Tao Xiaodong still felt out of it; his impressions of this apartment were too deep.
Tang Suoyan said, “All right, take a shower, then.
Call out if you need anything.”
Tao Xiaodong nodded and went all right.
He entered the bathroom.
Tang Suoyan shut the door for him.
Tao Xiaodong took a long time to strip out of his clothes with one hand, and right as he finished discarding all his clothes, Tang Suoyan knocked on the door.
Tao Xiaodong started.
He asked, “What is it, Yan ge”
Tang Suoyan said, “Brought you fresh underwear; I’ll leave it at the door.”
a/n. Dong, it might surprise you to know that in our house, the one who whines that it hurts is the gong, not the one who toughs it out.
Translated by luckykoi
t/n. While sad to lose the comments on CG, I’ve been considering this move for a while now recently watched a video about screen readers and thought it would be nice to maybe make a novel ft.
characters with disabilities more accessible to actual people with disabilities.
Hope y’all decide to stick around.
Shall aim for twice-weekly updates, we’ll see how that goes.