Chapter 12: The circumstances regarding Indigowoad Root
The teachers of Grade 12 Class 10 were gradually noticing a change in the class. This class, notorious for messing around, constantly performing the worst in all competitions all year round, was steadily and quietly changing in atmosphere. Heavily pressured by the twin forces of SARS and the university entrance examinations, the students were working hard in silence.
They were like a pack of leopards staring at their prey, awaiting action with accumulated energy, paws rubbing against the ground in search for the point of force exertion. They were hushed, focused, eyes resolute and dedicated, brimming with hunger and thirst.
The teachers began to take pleasure in talking about Class 10 in the staffroom, and it was unlike in the past, when they had only been brought up in times of unbearable frustration, with these teachers emotionally complaining to their form teacher, Old Zhou.
The ‘Forced up Mount Liang Trio’ were, as of late, being brought up frequently amidst the chatter of the staffroom. It was just like a story on the return of a prodigal son being discussed enthusiastically. Because Xu Tingsheng had uttered some big words, he was inevitably brought up several times.
“There is a kind of inexpressible sentiment.” Such was the feeling the teachers had.
Xu Tingsheng might not be paying attention during lessons, yet it was impossible to accuse him of not being serious, for he was reading books and doing practice questions, following his own pace and methods to progress along. If not for it being the last leg of twelfth grade, the teachers would most certainly not tolerate this kind of situation. However, at this stage, it was like: What abilities do you have? Come on, just display them all as you’d like.
Of course, there were also times when teachers got angry about this. They would pinpoint him once in a while and get him to answer a few questions.
He would stand up very courteously and smile shyly, “Teacher, may I bother you to repeat yourself one more time?”
One does not hit a smiling person. Helpless, the teacher would have no choice but to just repeat themselves.
If it was mathematics, he would respond, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.”
If it were the other subjects, he would smile and nod, then explain his response to the question thoroughly, adding in supplementary details as well. Afterwards, the teachers who had been prepared to touch up on his response with additional analysis would realise that it seemed like there was nothing more that they could say.
This kind of “very teacher-like” style of presentation was Xu Tingsheng’s professional habit that had unconsciously been carried over to the present.
“Perhaps he will truly improve substantially,” the teachers said, “A pity that this awakening came a little late.”
As for the running joke of attaining top 20, the teachers mostly steered clear of it, for there was no need to make things difficult for people.
On 10th April 2003, the experts from the National Administration for Chinese Medicine launched a《SARS Prevention & Cure Chinese Medicine Programme (Trial)》, advising on the prescription of indigowoad root for its preventive powers.
Thus, the ‘divine medicine’ indigowoad root entered the ultimate phase of extreme popularity. Within 3 hours, all the indigowoad root in the pharmacies of Libei County had been sold out. Over the past half month, each pack of indigowoad root (20 small sachets) which had originally cost 6 yuan had been steadily increasing in value. On this day, indigowoad root soared to the highest value of 60 yuan a pack, after which it rapidly ran out of stock, leaving the ‘unscrupulous profiteers’ who had already earned a large sum of money beating their chests, moaning in pain of having sold too early, too cheap.
On the same day, the value of white vinegar rose from 1 yuan per bottle to 50 yuan per bottle, and remained ever rising. Masks, vitamins-all of these were caught in this frenzied state of affairs as well.
That day, throughout all of Libei County, throughout the entire Libei Senior High, the stench of white vinegar permeated the air.
That day, the trio of Huang Yaming, Fu Cheng and Xu Tingsheng were heartily praised by their families, and soon after, the relatives and close friends of the three families joined in with the praising.
That day, the trio hoisted a huge chest of indigowoad root and white vinegar into the classroom of Grade 12 Class 10, becoming ‘Gods’. Soon after, they also appeared in the teacher’s office, becoming ‘the good kids whom the teachers knew about since long ago’ and ‘the most lovable students’.
That afternoon, when the entire Libei County had ran out of stock, a small pharmacy that was still under renovation began selling small quantities of indigowoad root and white vinegar.
Even after returning Fu Cheng the initial capital, the trio of Xu, Huang and Fu were able to distribute profits of over 3000 yuan to each person.
Meanwhile, over at Jianhai Province’s Yanzhou City where SARS had already appeared, Xiang Ning of Grade 7 Class 4, Xinyan Junior High, received a large parcel with no sender, containing just a simple note within: An appropriate amount is good enough, don’t drink too much. Drink slower if it scalds, don’t drink as if you were dying of thirst. Also, no going out and running around.
Mrs Liu Xueli, the form teacher, stood at the teacher’s desk, emphasizing the SARS matters to take note of. She announced the《SARS Prevention & Cure Chinese Medicine Programme》, and required every student to inform their parents that, no matter the difficulty, no matter the price, they also had to send over a box of indigowoad root to school for their child. Also, the parents of the students staying in the school dormitory had to link up to discuss ways to obtain a bottle of white vinegar.
Xiang Ning raised her hand and said, “Teacher, I have plenty.”
Mrs Liu opened the box and was stunned for a moment, hesitating before saying, “Why don’t you inform your parents to come over and take some home. As for the remainder, sell some of it to the teachers and students if you are able to.”
Mrs Liu actually very much wanted to say: child, why don’t you give a few packs to teacher. The team her husband had sent out in the morning had only managed to purchase one pack. With her extended family of eight people, how was that enough? It was only her dignity as a teacher that left her rather too embarrassed to bring this up. She thought: As a child, Xiang Ning might not understand. Better to wait for her parents to come and secretly hint it to them; they should be able to understand.
Mrs Liu returned to the staffroom after class, and found out that she herself also had a parcel, within which were two bottles of white vinegar as well as more than ten packs of indigowoad root.
On the same day, in Libei Senior High’s Grade 12 Class 10.
Tan Qingling made an exception and kissed Huang Yaming, because Huang Yaming had prepared portions for her as well as her parents.
Fu Cheng stood at the teacher’s desk and said: for the sake of caring for the class, whoever wishes to bring some home, give me a kiss...male classmates rushed up to him.
Yao Jing discovered on her table 5 packs of indigowoad root, 2 bottles of white vinegar, a stack of masks, and a note: Actually, there should be no trouble over at our side, but putting your heart at ease is still very important. Don’t drink too much, bring it home if you cannot finish it.
Yao Jing felt like she should show her thanks, although given the relationship between them two, there seemed to be no need to say thank you.
“But he doesn’t usually approach me to talk, and I also cannot be constantly looking for him. I should make use of this opportunity to talk to him and thank him,” Yao Jing was shocked by these little thoughts in her head, because since when had she become such a girl?
But she also had to admit that she actually regretted a little on what she had said back then. When she had said ‘I agree’, wasn’t that already fine? Why on earth had she gone on to add ‘let’s get together after graduation’?
Yao Jing swivelled her head around looking for Xu Tingsheng. Upon realising that he was not in the classroom, she sped out to the corridor for a look. Xu Tingsheng was currently at a corner of the opposite eleventh grade block, in the midst of handing over a bag of indigowoad root, white vinegar and masks to a pretty girl from eleventh grade.
The pungent aroma of white vinegar was strong in Libei Senior High today.
Wu Yuewei had been unable to purchase indigowoad root and white vinegar, and had been a little disappointed at that. She had originally wanted to get some for Xu Tingsheng.
“We should be fine staying within the school,” Wu Yuewei consoled herself meekly.
A classmate called from the doorway of the classroom, “Wu Yuewei, someone is looking for you.”
Then, she walked out of the classroom and saw Xu Tingsheng.
Every Monday, she would always eat her lunch early, next waiting for Xu Tingsheng by the roadside. Xu Tingsheng would always chat with her for a short time, encouraging her with her studies. Still, he had never come to look for her on his own accord before.
Today, he had come to look for her on his own accord. Wu Yuewei was very happy.
Xu Tingsheng handed the bag in his hands over to Wu Yuewei, smiling as he said, “Actually, there shouldn’t be any trouble over at our side, but putting your heart at ease is still very important. Study in peace; don’t worry too much about things. Also, every medicine has its harmful side; don’t drink too much, and share it with your classmates if you can’t finish it...Also, I am not exclusively giving this to you. I have given some to many teachers and students as well.”
As that last sentence was uttered, he felt rather embarrassed and panicky.
Wu Yuewei really liked this expression and response of his. She felt like she could see through Xu Tingsheng’s painstaking efforts to conceal his actual care and concern for her.
“Right.” Wu Yuewei said with a smile, “Heh, I know.”
Xu Tingsheng asked, “Know? What do you know?”
Wu Yuewei laughed slyly, “I know that you didn’t specifically come over to the eleventh grade block just to give me this. I know that you already no longer like me.”
Xu Tingsheng said, “Oh.”
Wu Yuewei continued, “But, I like you.”
Yao Jing came over and said in an unexpected tone, “Xu Tingsheng, why you are here? It’s almost time for class.”
Xu Tingsheng followed Yao Jing and left.
Wu Yuewei stamped her feet. She felt that she was really too useless-how could she have let him walk away with someone else just like that?
“Next time. Next time, I must be more skillful,” Wu Yuewei thought.
Just as they were reaching the classroom, Yao Jing turned to Xu Tingsheng and asked, “So, I heard that junior likes you. Do you like her that way?”
Xu Tingsheng answered, “No.”
Yao Jing nonchalantly responded, “Right, I believe you.”
Xu Tingsheng thought secretly, “Just like a bro, and a big bro at that.”
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