Hexi Village is a small village in the west of Hecheng County.
Hecheng County is the land of fish and rice located at the south of the Yangtze River. It is very rich. The Grand Canal, which spans from the south of the Yangtze River to the capital city, also crosses He Cheng County, making it very prosperous. Hexi Village is close to the county town, making the villagers’ lives naturally very good.
Today is a big day for Jiang Chengxiang, the third son of Jiang’s family, a wealthy household in Hexi Village. The village is even more lively.
The Jiang family sits on 15 mu of good paddy fields, 10 mu of fine mulberry forest, plus 10 mu of dry land. Old Jiang very skilled at butchering pigs and sheep, so the life of a family is naturally not bad.
You know, Hecheng County is not a sparsely populated area. There are many people but little land, but the land is fertile. Because the rivers cross it vertically and horizontally and are not far from the sea, there are no droughts or floods. Generally speaking, as long as you are willing to take care of the land, the harvest in the field will not be bad. Usually, people that have seven or eight mu of paddy fields plus a few mu of dry land can already achieve a good life.
The Jiang’s third child studied in the county school. Although he did not even pass the entrance examination for young students, he found a good job two years ago because of his literacy. He went to work at the county pier every day. As long as he recorded how many bags of rice and pieces of clothes were carried by laborers on the dock, he could be paid two or three times as much as these laborers.
Because he gained a little face, he can introduce the men of the village as a laborer on the dock in their spare time, and he has a lot of prestige in the village.
Today, for Jiang’s third son wedding, one after another, the people in the village took their best tables, chairs, bowls, and chopsticks to the Jiang family so that the Jiang family could hold the wedding with dignity. There was not enough space in the Jiang residence, so some families also gave their own family halls to assist them in welcoming their guests.
Dressed in a brand-new red robe adorned with big red flowers on his chest, Jiang third son, with a high-spirited appearance, welcomed Zhu Shufen, the youngest daughter of the Zhu Xiucai family, back from the neighboring village.
Zhu Shufen is the daughter of the scholar, and she is very good-looking. All the men in the village were envious that Jiang’s third son was able to marry her. The people who spoke to Jiang third son came forward one after another to congratulate him, and the joy on Jiang’s third son’s face added to him a few more points.
The wedding was very lively and respectable. The Jiang family killed two pigs yesterday and bought back a lot of fish. There was a bowl of pork, a bowl of pig blood soup, a bowl of pig’s tail and a bowl of steamed fish on each table plus a lot of seasonal vegetables. The tables are full.
There are thirty tables for the Jiang family’s relatives and friends, as well as for the people who came to help from the village. After the lunch, there is another meal in the evening, making the atmosphere lively.
A relative of Jiang’s family grabbed some tea leaves and put it in a bowl. With a gourd ladle, he scooped a spoonful of boiling water from the iron pot, washed the tea, and looked at the smiling old man standing by the tea bowl. “Uncle Jiang, where’s Eldest Jiang? His brother got married. Why haven’t we seen him? “
The families in the village get married early, and there are no shortage of grandparents in their thirties. They generally looked older, looking like in their forties or fifties, and they could be regarded as long lived when they reach their sixties and seventies. But old man Jiang is still very strong and stands tall although he is nearly fifty years old. When he heard someone ask about the eldest son, his brows wrinkled. His eldest son was a good worker. At this time, he should be at home to help. Why hadn’t he seen him today?
Puzzled, old man Jiang went to the kitchen to find his mother-in-law. “Mother, where’s the eldest one?”
“Didn’t he fall into the river a few days ago? He became ill. I asked him to go to the old house at the western end of the village, ” Old Madam Jiang said. Her drooping eyes were full of dissatisfaction. “Even if he falls into the water, he should have been better after three or four days. I think he is just lazy. After today, I will take good care of him!”
Old man Jiang was not in charge of family affairs, and he was also very displeased with the eldest Jiang. When he heard his mother-in-law say so, he frowned. “That unproductive bastard!”
Old man Jiang reprimanded the eldest Jiang and soon left him behind. He got busy with Jiang third son marriage.
Everyone celebrated the happy event in a lively manner, completely forgetting the eldest son Jiang, who had never had much presence.
In the western part of Hexi Village, there are several dilapidated houses where the Zhao family, that has a very bad life in Hexi Village, resides in a piece of land, which is next to the Jiang family. The dilapidated dirt house was handed down by the old generation of Jiang’s family. The House is so run-down that it has long been uninhabitable. But right then, a man was inside, lying on the ground.
When Jiang Zhen woke up, he felt dizzy and felt a pain in his stomach.
For a moment, he could not see what was around him. He blinked several times before his vision became a little clearer, Then he saw the broken roof and shining sun through the hole.
Wasn’t he dead? How can he feel the cold and pain again?
Even if he had survived, he should have been in the hospital by now. How could he lie in such a dirty and messy place?
Jiang Zhen instinctively felt that something was wrong. He wanted to jump up from the ground, but he couldn’t even move.
Jiang Zhen almost fainted again because of his heavy body and severe stomachache. At that moment, his head ached and some memories that did not belong to him suddenly poured into his mind.
The memories belong to an ancient man.
This ancient man, like him, was surnamed Jiang, but his name was not Jiang Zhen. They called him Jiang Zhenwei. He was the eldest son of the family, and the villagers generally called him Eldest Jiang. He was born on the fifth day of May. May is the evil month. This day is ominous. Therefore, the term, “suppressing evil,” is used on this day to stave it off.
It is said that children born on this day will interfere with their parents, and eldest Jiang indeed “interfered” with his parents.
The day before Eldest Jiang was born, old man Jiang was taken away for military service. His parents were no longer alive at that time, and Lady Jiang’s family was far away, so she had to give birth alone at home. It was difficult to give birth to her first child by herself; she almost lost her life that night.
After birth, old Lady Jiang remained unattended and was hungry for a day. After that, she had to get up to cook and clean the soiled clothes and bedding. She couldn’t sit for a month at all.
She never knew how difficult it was, being alone at home and having to take care of a child. From the beginning, Madam. Jiang did not like her eldest son and decided that her eldest son was a star of suffering.
It’s just that old man Jiang left for military service, and he was bound to die outside. At that time, if the child died, Madam. Jiang would certainly be driven out of the house by Jiang’s uncle and he would seize the field. Although she wished she could drown Eldest Jiang, Mrs. Jiang still pinched her nose to feed him.
But it’s only limited to feeding.
Mrs. Jiang often beat and scolded Eldest Jiang. She ate and drank well but only gave him a mouthful of leftover food. When she went out to work, she tied the eldest Jiang to a straw rope at home. She never wanted to touch this star of suffering.
When old man Jiang returned from military service five years later, the eldest Jiang, who was already five years old, was thin and small and could not even talk.
When old man Jiang came home, life became easier for the Jiang family. Old man Jiang brought back some money to buy land, and he would butcher pigs and sell them at home during the holidays. Old men Jiang was still a good silkworm farmer. In the end, the Jiang family finally became the richest family in the village.
But for Eldest Jiang, life was no easier.
Old man Jiang has always been concerned with his work regardless of his family’s affairs. He would not interfere with the disobedient children disciplined by his wife, and Eldest Jiang, who can’t speak clearly, did not please him at all.
One year after old Jiang came back, the second son in the Jiang family was born. Two years later, the third member of the Jiang family was also born, and two years later, a little Jiang sister was born. These three children were born and raised by old man Jiang. He loved them very much. What about old lady Jiang? When she gave birth to three more children, her family was doing well enough that they can eat and dress warmly. Old man Jiang even hired an old woman in the village to wait on her. She live a comfortable life and fell in love with these three children.
For a long time, the second brother, the third brother and the Jiang sister were the darlings of the Jiang family, but the eldest boss is the existence that the Jiang family dislikes.
At a young age, Eldest Jiang had to take his brother and sister and work in the field. That’s not all. Madam Jiang was even reluctant to let him have enough to eat. If they had eggs and fish at home, he would never have a share.
Because he was beaten and scolded and squeezed out of the family from an early age, the oldest Jiang child became quieter and quieter. He only knew how to bury his head in his work. Because of this, when he was sixteen or seventeen years old, he was basically doing all the farmwork for the family.
He was diligent and did a good job with the farmwork, and the Jiang family still had money, so naturally, some people were willing to act as a matchmaker for him. But old man Jiang had the money to send the second and third brothers to go to the county town to study, and he also had the money to make new clothes for the Jiang little sister, but he did not have the money for the eldest Jiang to marry. This wasted time lasted for 10 years.
This day, the eldest Jiang is 26 years old and is one of the oldest bachelors in Hexi Village. When a man in the countryside has not gotten a wife at this age, he can’t expect to marry a woman for the rest of his life.
Eldest Jiang became more and more silent and had not said a few words in a year. In addition to working and sleeping, like an invisible man, the rest of the Jiang family had a prosperous life.
Jiang’s second son married his wife two or three years ago, and now, he has a son. Jiang’s third son is eighteen this year, and today he is getting married. The Jiang’s daughter is sixteen years old. Countless people for ten miles and eight townships want to marry her.
And eldest Jiang is dead.
Madam Jiang had him prepare a lot of things for the third Jiang son’s marriage. A few days ago, Madam Jiang asked the eldest Jiang to catch fish. Eldest Jiang can do farmwork. He learned to kill pigs with Mr. Jiang, but he knew nothing about catching fish. When he was young, he didn’t have a chance to play like crazy like the other children in the village. He couldn’t swim and fish at all. But he dared not ignore Madam Jiang’s words and went into the water after all.
While catching fish, the eldest Jiang accidentally fell on the water and nearly lost his life. Later, someone in the village saw him and saved him, but he developed a high fever the next day.
If anyone in the Jiang family had a fever, even if they did not invite a doctor, they could rest in the house and eat good eggs and fine grain served to them. But when the eldest Jiang had a fever, Madam Jiang asked the unlucky second son was asked to use his cart to push him into an abandoned house of the Jiang family and he was left alone.
Jiang burned with fever so badly and he was thrown into a ventilated room, and that was all. Madam. Jiang was so busy preparing for the third son’s wedding that she forgot to deliver food to the eldest Jiang.
Eldest Jiang starved to death.
He was hungry before, when he was catching fish, and he was hungry for three days in that worn-down house. The dripping water from the roof did not reach him, so he starved to death.
Edited by : Faro