On Saturday afternoon at five o’clock, Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui met at the entrance of the school.
“Did you come alone?” Zhou Zirui looked at Ning Yiwei getting out of the taxi.
Since Ning Yiwei got hurt, Liang Chong had been picking him up. Zhou Zirui couldn’t help but feel envious.
Ning Yiwei nodded and said, “He went on a business trip.”
“Well,” Zhou Zirui sighed, “Liang Chong is really good to you. Look at my cousin, he only knows how to bother me to help him with grading. By the way, has your wound ever reopened?”
“No.” Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui walked together towards the Physics Experimental Teaching Center. “I think my wound won’t reopen anymore unless Kong Zong’s journal critique tonight makes me burst into laughter.”
After saying that, both of them found it very funny and laughed all the way.
They entered the classroom where the weekly meeting was held. There were seven or eight graduate students and PhD candidates already sitting in the front row.
Usually, during the weekly meeting of their research group, Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui would sit at the back, as others had things to say, while they had nothing much to contribute. Sitting too close to the front wasn’t a good idea. But today was different. In order to enjoy Kong Zong’s performance, they shamelessly sat in the second row.
A familiar female graduate student who knew them came over and asked Ning Yiwei, “Yiwei, do you know what’s the deal with this new additional rule?”
Ning Yiwei truly didn’t know how Liang Chong had talked to Professor Kong about it, so he honestly admitted that he didn’t know. The senior sister’s expression became somewhat suspicious. She was about to ask him something else when the back door of the classroom was pushed open. Several people turned their heads to look, and it was Professor Kong and Assistant Cui.
Professor Kong Shenfeng was a slim, average-height individual with a scruffy beard. He was wearing a short-sleeved white shirt and oversized trousers. Perhaps he had been too lazy to find a place for a haircut while staying in Tokyo, as his hair had grown much longer compared to the last time he came to school, with strands sticking out in different directions.
“There are only a few people here,” Professor Kong glanced at his watch and turned to Assistant Cui discontentedly, “It’s already half past five, everyone’s punctuality is lacking.”
Assistant Cui didn’t have the courage to say that you arranged it for six o’clock, so he ambiguously followed along with a few “uh-huh” and “yeah.”
Professor Kong Shenfeng walked to the side of the podium and placed his notebook down. Then he went to the front where the students were clustered, chatting with a few doctoral and graduate students before walking over to Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui. Getting closer to Ning Yiwei, Professor Kong noticed the gauze behind Ning Yiwei’s ear and paused for a moment, asking Ning Yiwei, “Yiwei, what happened here?”
“Yiwei had such bad luck. He was chased by a dog in the small grove on campus,” the senior sister answered quickly, “and he took a tumble.”
Ning Yiwei didn’t expect the rumor about being chased by a dog to have spread so widely. Before he could speak, Kong Shenfeng addressed the senior sister, “That doesn’t make sense. How could a fall injury be behind the ear? Clearly, it doesn’t conform to common sense. I see that you still lack a bit of intellectual curiosity.”
“Yes, it was actually caused by a bottle scratched by an enemy,” Ning Yiwei took the opportunity to debunk the rumor, “Zirui and I have clarified it several times, but nobody believes us.”
Kong Shenfeng shook his head, sighed, and asked, “Is it serious?”
“Not serious. The doctor said rest is enough,” Ning Yiwei replied, “Just avoid overexerting my brain.”
Kong Shenfeng smiled at Ning Yiwei and said, “With your and Zhou Zirui’s intelligence, ordinary knowledge is unlikely to strain your brains.”
The senior sister in front seemed a bit speechless. Kong Shenfeng continued, “However, it’s still best not to easily offend others in the future.”
Ning Yiwei obediently nodded and said he understood.
“By the way,” Kong Shenfeng casually asked, “You’re both in your final year now, what are your plans for the future?”
Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui glanced at each other. Ning Yiwei spoke up, “I haven’t decided yet. Zirui is preparing the application documents.”
Kong Shenfeng nodded and, as more students arrived, he didn’t continue the conversation with them. When everyone was present, the meeting began.
Kong Zong arrived quite late and sat in the last row. The agenda ended with student presentations, with the first two being graduate students. The last one was Kong Zong’s turn. Kong Zong went up to the stage, displayed his slides, and discussed a paper related to secondary electrons published in APEX last year.
Fairly speaking, Kong Zong’s presentation this time was decent. It wasn’t too profound, but well-organized without any major mistakes.
Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui didn’t laugh. Instead, a subtle feeling arose within them. After Kong Zong finished his presentation, they exchanged a glance and saw the same doubt in each other’s eyes.
“Don’t leave just yet.” Before Kong Zong stepped down, Kong Shenfeng suddenly spoke up.
Kong Zong paused, looking puzzled at Kong Shenfeng’s sudden interruption. Due to time constraints in the meeting, undergraduate students were not given a question and answer session after their presentations.
“I have a very simple question,” Kong Shenfeng said. He verbally presented a spectrum function to Kong Zong, which sounded basic to both Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui, and then he said, “On the blackboard, perform a Fourier inverse transformation of the function.”
Ning Yiwei saw Kong Zong’s face turn pale and instantly understood.
Kong Shenfeng sat on the other side of the row from Ning Yiwei, and Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui turned their heads to look at him. He leaned against the back of the chair, slightly tilting his head upwards, and stared expressionlessly at Kong Zong on the stage. He said, “You understood something so difficult just now, can’t you do something this simple?”
The entire lecture hall fell into silence. No one dared to speak, not even a whisper.
From a distance of seven or eight meters, Ning Yiwei could even see the disappointment in Kong Shenfeng’s eyes.
“Kong Zong has gone too far this time.” Zhou Zirui wrote a few words in his notebook and slid it over to Ning Yiwei’s side.
After thinking for a moment, Ning Yiwei replied with a line to Zhou Zirui, “He should learn something else.”
Kong Zong reminded Ning Yiwei of a middle school classmate who studied from morning till night, always rushing to the teacher’s office after class to ask questions, yet the exam results were still not satisfactory. However, that classmate had a passion for playing musical instruments and was exceptionally skilled at it. In the end, they transferred to a music school, which turned out to be a good outcome.
Sometimes knowingly doing something that shouldn’t be done wasn’t particularly meaningful.
Ning Yiwei believed that fundamentally, different disciplines were equal.
Humans were too insignificant. Some individuals searched for truth on their journey because they desired to pursue it.
If one were to pend their entire life merely learning things that others already knew, following the path of predecessors, then that would be wasting their life.
“Boring,” Ning Yiwei wrote to Zhou Zirui again.
“You can come down now,” Kong Shenfeng said. “There’s no need to come again in the future.”
Kong Zong walked down from the stage without saying a word. He didn’t look at Kong Shenfeng nor pause, proceeding straight out of the classroom.
Liang Chong was in a terrible mood, but he had to maintain a composed expression.
Originally, he came to U City just to sign a cooperative project agreement. Unexpectedly, right after confirming the framework and signing the document in the afternoon, when he was about to finalize the return trip with his secretary, Kang Minmin called. She said she would also be coming to U City tomorrow morning and had made plans to have dinner with an old friend. She asked Liang Chong to accompany her.
From Kang Minmin’s words, Liang Chong keenly sensed something was amiss but didn’t expose it.
However, when he entered the restaurant as arranged and saw the meticulously dressed girl across the table and the elderly person beside her, whom he found somewhat familiar, Liang Chong couldn’t suppress the momentary darkness in his face. He endured a dinner that felt like an eternity, declined Kang Minmin’s suggestion to continue the evening with other activities, and returned to the hotel.
Not long after returning to the room, Kang Minmin knocked on the door. She didn’t look too good either and sat down after entering. “Feeling down?”
Liang Chong was looking at the draft of the project’s first phase in the afternoon. He glanced at his mother when he heard her words and gently denied, “No.”
“Liang Chong, you’re not young anymore.” Kang Minmin saw that Liang Chong’s current attitude was acceptable and wanted to advise him further. She poured herself a cup of tea, waited for a while, and when Liang Chong closed the draft, she hinted at him, “It’s time to consider settling down.”
She could sense Liang Chong’s resistance to tonight’s blind date, but if Liang Chong’s lifelong matter remained unresolved, she and her husband would be worried wherever they went. Recently, there was a suitable girl in U City who wanted to get to know Liang Chong. She found out from Liang Chong’s secretary that he happened to be here, so she immediately flew over, hoping to bring the two together.
This way, even if she and her husband were no longer around, there would still be someone to share Liang Chong’s burdens.
“Liang Chong, your father also wants to have grandchildren in his lifetime—”
“—Mom,” Liang Chong had another proposal to review, and he interrupted Kang Minmin, pausing for a few seconds. He then lowered his posture, slowly and persistently refusing, “Let me rest. I’ve had a tiring day.”
Perhaps seeing the expression on Liang Chong’s face, Kang Minmin fell silent.
Liang Chong glanced at her and said, “I need to rest.”
Kang Minmin hesitated for a moment, said alright, and walked out of Liang Chong’s room.
Liang Chong had consumed quite a bit of alcohol. Even after taking a shower, he didn’t feel much more sober. He sat on the sofa in the suite wearing a bathrobe for a while, then made a call to Ning Yiwei.
Ning Yiwei answered the call, but it was very quiet on his end. He said “Hello” to Liang Chong and asked, “What’s the matter?”
With his eyes closed, Liang Chong asked him, “Are you at home?”
“Yes,” Ning Yiwei replied, “I’ve been home for three hours. When are you coming back? Weren’t you supposed to come today?”
“Tomorrow,” Liang Chong asked Ning Yiwei, “What about the meeting?”
Ning Yiwei’s mood became a bit complicated as he said, “It’s normal. Kong Zong has left the research group.”
“Why?” Liang Chong asked him.
“It’s hard to explain.” Ning Yiwei didn’t want to say too much because it would make him sound talkative. He simply said, “Are you doing well?”
“Not well,” Liang Chong said.
“What happened?” Ning Yiwei’s voice sounded a bit worried. “Will you be able to come back tomorrow?”
“My mom set up a blind date for me,” Liang Chong didn’t answer Ning Yiwei’s second question. He simply said, “She’s probably retired and has plenty of free time. She wants a grandchild.”
Liang Chong belatedly realized that his tone seemed like he was telling Ning Yiwei something meaningless. Ning Yiwei couldn’t provide a response, but speaking it out still made him feel somewhat relieved.
Ning Yiwei let out a puzzled “Ah,” as if unsure of what to say. After a moment, he asked, “Does a blind date involve sitting together and getting to know each other?”
Liang Chong smiled and said, “We didn’t sit together, we were far apart.”
“How was it?” Ning Yiwei asked, grasping for something to say. “Did you have a successful match?”
“What are you talking about, Ning Yiwei,” Liang Chong laughed at his teasing. “What do you mean by a successful match? Do you think we’re doing a DNA test or something?”
“So, did you two fall in love at first sight?” Ning Yiwei asked again.
Ning Yiwei’s tone was like that of a curious baby, but more than just a curious baby.
Perhaps because Liang Chong had hoped that Ning Yiwei would be unhappy about his forced blind date, he truly sensed a hint of concern in Ning Yiwei’s tone as he persistently speculated.
“Would you immediately start dating someone?” Ning Yiwei asked Liang Chong seriously.
“No, I wouldn’t,” Liang Chong said. Even if Ning Yiwei didn’t mind, he still felt the need to explain, “I don’t like her, and she doesn’t like me either.”
“Oh, not liking each other won’t work.” Ning Yiwei pretended to be knowledgeable, resolutely continuing a topic he didn’t really understand. “So, is the lady unhappy then?”
“If I hadn’t walked away on the spot, she would’ve been grateful,” Liang Chong sneered, then asked Ning Yiwei, “Where are you, Ning Yiwei?”
“Didn’t I say I’m at home?” Ning Yiwei’s voice sounded somewhat muffled.
“I can’t sleep,” Liang Chong, in a stubborn and domineering manner, commanded Ning Yiwei, “Go find a book and read it to me.”
Ning Yiwei obediently responded with an “Hmm.” Liang Chong heard the sound of Ning Yiwei walking, followed by the sound of flipping through a book.
“How about an introduction to String Theory and M-Theory by Katrin Becker?” Ning Yiwei confidently suggested, “This translation version is pretty good.”
“No, find something I can understand,” Liang Chong said with a headache.
Ning Yiwei’s voice immediately became cheerful, “You’re so silly.”
Liang Chong gritted his teeth, “Ning Yiwei—”
“I found a book called ‘Pleasure and Entertainment,'” Ning Yiwei said, “This one should do. It must be the one you bought, I won’t read this kind of book.”
Ning Yiwei finished reading the author’s preface, but there was no response from Liang Chong on the other end. Ning Yiwei guessed that he had fallen asleep, so he focused, held his breath, and listened very carefully and quietly. He could hear Liang Chong’s steady breathing.
“Liang Chong,” Ning Yiwei called Liang Chong’s name, but there was no response.
Ning Yiwei said again, “Goodnight.”
He hoped that after finishing the author’s preface of “Pleasure and Entertainment,” Liang Chong would sleep better.
Because Liang Chong sounded too tired, he shouldn’t go on blind dates with anyone. He shouldn’t spend time liking someone. He just needed to sleep and rest.
If you enjoy this novel, support the Translator ginevre on her ko-fi account :))