Chapter 302 - Buddha
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Ji Yunshu folded that piece of paper and hid it underneath her pillow.
Wei Yi stared at it and scratched his head in curiosity, “Shu’er, what’s that?”
“Oh!” Wei Yi probed no further.
Ji Yunshu properly kept Wei Yi’s jade pendant and glanced outside, only just realizing it was already nightfall. She caressed Wei Yi’s head, speaking gently, “It’s already so late - you don’t have to keep me company anymore. Quickly, go rest.”
“Is Shu’er trying to chase me away?” Wei Yi felt wronged.
“No,” Ji Yunshu shook her head, “Keep me company these few days; don’t return to Yuhua Pavillion.”
“Really?” Wei Yi’s eyes lit up with surprise and disbelief.
Ji Yunshu nodded affirmatively, “Good boy, now go rest, Wei Yi.”
“Mm, then I’ll come look for Shu’er first thing in the morning tomorrow.” Wei Yi hopped away and went to bed.
Looking at Wei Yi’s excited silhouette, Ji Yunshu’s gaze darkened. With Kong Yu’s death, Mo Ruo must have been in great despair and it was not difficult to see why he would turn to drown his sorrows in alcohol. Hence, having Wei Yi by her side was the most appropriate in this period. At this, Ji Yunshu sighed.
She could no longer sleep, and she dressed herself simply in some robes when she felt comfortable enough. She stood outside in the corridor, her figure and rosy cheeks highlighted by the faintest flames emanating from the two red lanterns hanging above. The cold, harsh winds were still blowing in the deep night, but luckily, the rain had stopped; it was the beginning of April, and the climate should have brightened up with the change of seasons.
A shadowy figure dropped down to her side, keeping her company for a very long time. Ji Yunshu glanced over at Shi Zijin and asked, “How is it?”
She replied, “The palace is in a state of chaos and disarray. His Majesty has ordered to keep the Crown Prince’s rebellion a secret from the public, only stating that the Crown Prince has passed away from illness, and the Crown Princess followed suit out of grief. His Majesty also ordered that they would be buried in the imperial tombs in three days.”
“There’s nothing else.”
“Mm,” Ji Yunshu mumbled, then frowned, “Well, what about Prince Rong?”
“He has already been released from the Supreme Court Prison and headed straight for the palace. He is still keeping watch there.” Shi Zijin answered monotonously.
Ji Yunshu did not question further, only wrapping her arms around her shivering shoulders, with an unexplainable sense of unease hanging over her. Shi Zijin asked, “Teacher, are you really not planning on telling Prince Rong?”
“What about?” Ji Yunshu pretended to not understand.
“About your deal with Prince Yi, and the missing heir that Old General Li mentioned, about Miss Kong’s murders - do you plan to keep all this from Prince Rong?”
Ji Yunshu’s fingers curled up into fists, not answering. She wrapped her robes more tightly around herself, saying, “You wouldn’t understand - there are some things better left unsaid; the more one knows, the more one would have to consider and pay attention to. I don’t want him to suffer like me.”
Shi Zijin felt like she could understand Ji Yunshu’s stance, but she was not entirely sure.
Ji Yunshu stood in the corridor all night, not sleeping a wink. As dawn broke, the weather improved, hues of orange dyeing the white sky, bringing a sense of warmth and life to the day.
Wei Yi woke up extremely early that morning and returned to Ji Yunshu’s chambers to have breakfast, chattering excitedly to no end. Ji Yunshu only had two bites before stopping and kept filling up Wei Yi’s bowl with meat. He had gotten slimmer since spending time at Yuhua Pavillion.
“Shu’er, I dreamt about you yesterday - you were wearing a bridal gown and sitting in the sedan. Then, I kicked the sedan door and piggybacked you out. We paid our respects to the heavens, and even spent our newlywed night together!”
Pfft! Ji Yunshu rapped her chopsticks smartly on his head, “What are you thinking about! Eat up, I’ll take you out once you finish your breakfast.”
Wei Yi rubbed his sore head and was about to protest, but he immediately lit up at Ji Yunshu’s words. “Okay!” He hurriedly stuffed himself with rice, cheeks puffing.
Ji Yunshu kept her word and brought Wei Yi around once he finished his meal. Along the way, Wei Yi tugged at her sleeves, asking continuously about their destination but received no reply. They arrived at the Kong Estate after about an hour. There were no white mourning lanterns or silks hung outside the estate gates, and nothing looked amiss, save for a sense of loneliness. Since Kong Yu had married into the royal family and was crowned ‘princess’, her body could not be returned to the Kong Family, let alone be buried within the Kong Family tombs; they were to adhere to imperial traditions strictly, and Kong Yu could only be buried within the imperial tombs.
Ji Yunshu knocked on the gates. A servant opened the door and peeked outside, “Who are you?”
“This humble one is here to see Madame Kong.”
“The Madame is not seeing any guests,” he refuted immediately.
Ji Yunshu was calm, “This one only wishes to see Madame Kong, may I trouble you to bring a message, saying that the Princess’ last wishes have not been fulfilled.” The servant’s face paled at Ji Yunshu’s words, and he quickly shut the door and scurried away. He returned a while later and invited Ji Yunshu in through the slightest crack in the estate gates.
As Ji Yunshu followed the servant into the courtyard, she turned back to Wei Yi, “Stay in this courtyard and keep yourself busy for a while - I’ll bring you back when you’re tired, okay?”
“Okay!” Wei Yi was pleased with the courtyard full of peach blossoms, and he quickly scuttled into the garden, nowhere to be seen.
Ji Yunshu followed the servant to a temple within the estate. Madame Kong was always religious and spent her time devoted to the Buddha within these temple grounds, waiting for the day she would eventually ascend to nirvana. Ji Yunshu could not help but cringe as she entered the temple - she could stand the stench of blood or rotting flesh, but she could not, for some reason, bear the smells of the burning candles and incense. There was something unsettling about it!
Madame Kong was kneeling before a Buddha idol, 99 Buddhist prayer beads in one hand, chanting with her eyes closed and unmoved by the outside world. Her own daughter was dead, but she was still here chanting mantras - what magnanimity!
Ji Yunshu walked up to her and knelt beside her on the straw cushion, placing her palms together as she looked up at the Guanyin statue before her. Ji Yunshu said, “This one has never believed in religion, but I want to believe in it once this time. The Buddha Bodhi states that one should aim to deliver life from suffering, the core of the faith is within oneself and about forgiveness. The Buddhist beliefs explain that there are eight types of suffering in life - the pain of life, the pain of growing old, the pain of falling ill, the pain of dying, the pain of anger, the pain of losing one’s freedom, the pain of not fulfilling one’s needs, and the pain of worldly desires. These are borne from greed, and so the Buddha has always emphasized that the creation and destruction in the world were always up to and decided by fate; nothing should be forced and one should go with the flow.” These words were obviously aimed at Madame Kong.
Madame Kong’s hands stopped and she took a deep breath, “Is Teacher acquainted with the Buddha?”
Grenn's Rants Corner
I feel Madame Kong threw herself into Buddhist, mentioning about fate because her life is something that has always been out of her control, which is also the reality of most women in ancient China.
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