Chapter 670: The last song (5)
The all-encompassing applause did not contain much jealousy and disdain at all.
Zhao Kangwen’s words reminded many that while the legendary Xu Tingsheng truly existed, it was actually just on the media and the internet. The Xu Tingsheng near them was an ordinary student of Yanzhou University.
In this era where official second gens and rich second gens were increasingly becoming quite derogatory terms, that impression given off by Xu Tingsheng who possessed both wealth and fame was still that of a relatively normal student.
In truth, even this image was not managed well by him, because he too skipped lessons, got into fights, hid in the back row of classrooms and slept…
Still, it was authentic that way.
Xu Tingsheng was very special, yet not all that special...this was what the teachers and students of Yanzhou University had come to know for themselves.
Also, he was very cordial and law-abiding most of the time. By law-abiding, it meant that there did not exist arrogant, show-off, chaotic behaviours with him. In stark contrast to Xu Sheng’s bunch who had shown off, running wild across campus with frequent new girlfriends in BMWs, Xu Tingsheng would always walk to class with his classmates, really seeming too well-behaved for words.
The most high-key thing he had done in Yanzhou University these past four years was basically scoring two goals in the match against Jianhai Technological University in his first year...how did this have anything to do with his wealth and fame?!
Besides that, Hucheng’s Heart, Agglomerating Yanzhou University, the fund set up for the library and such...besides Hucheng’s Heart which had been talked about before, take Agglomerating Yanzhou University...many of the students who were benefiting from it did not even know that it originated from Xu Tingsheng too. And as for the fund for the library, everyone was only hearing of it for the first time today.
It seemed to be very difficult to ask too much of or think too badly of a person like this.
The applause was still continuing.
Even Xu Tingsheng himself was a bit moved at this moment. While much of this glory originated from the wealth he had built up, its true significance could not be replaced by wealth.
Sadly, that person whom he hoped to share this glory and pride with was not by his side.
Xu Tingsheng simply did not know that Xiang Ning was actually sitting amongst the audience at this moment, secretly clapping for him, feeling proud of him.
Principal Zhao Kangwen gestured.
Xu Tingsheng walked onto the stage.
Zhao Kangwen gave him a Yanzhou University school badge and left the stage to him.
“I just made a trip back to change,” Facing the audience, Xu Tingsheng smiled a bit awkwardly.
The audience laughed.
Xu Tingsheng did not have any formal wear in his dormitory. After having been sternly lectured by Vice-Principal Niu, he was merely dressed a bit more neatly than he had been earlier.
A pair of canvas shoes, beige long pants, the most formal being a brand new white collared shirt which unfortunately had its sleeves folded up rather messily. Because of that, his attire did not look that formal too anyway.
“I actually knew that I’d be standing here today several days ago,” Xu Tingsheng said, “Next, I’ve thought earnestly about it too. If I have the chance to come back in future anniversaries, I will definitely prepare a proper speech then, showing off in front of juniors who don’t understand me.”
“Still, that’s not going to happen today. There’s no way to show off, because I’m too familiar with all of you...”
“You guys are my teachers, students from the same faculty, same batch, even same class as me. My roommates, friends, teammates too. Many more of you are girls my roommates and I chatted about while lazing about in our dormitory before.”
“In front of all of you, there’s really no way to pretend. So, I will just say a simple thank you to
everybody,” Xu Tingsheng bowed to the audience, “Also, shamelessly sing a song for you all.”
Applause, whistling and cheers arose.
This was Xu Tingsheng’s first time appearing publicly on this kind of stage in his four years of university. He was even going to sing a song...the last song at the end of their university times.
Xu Tingsheng scooped up the guitar that someone had long since placed at the side for him. He sat down, adjusted the microphone and strummed the guitar to test it.
The opening sequence for <<Those Flowers>> resounded…
“Thank you, Xu Tingsheng!” An unknown person yelled from the audience at this moment.
“Thank you for your student aid funds. Home tutor grants.”
“Thank you, senior!”
Some juniors who had received help from his student aid funds and snuck in jostled amongst the crowd, yelling.
“Thank you, Bro Xu!” Li Xingming yelled.
“Thank you, Bro Xu!” Zhang Ninglang and his junior beside him yelled.
“Thank you, Bro Xu!” Old Wai yelled while standing up emotionally.
...Immersed in memories, Li Linlin too wanted to say ‘thank you, Bro Xu’.
When she realised that Old Wai had gotten overly emotional, it was already too late to pull him back down.
Hearing that yell, Xu Tingsheng turned and glanced at Old Wai’s position. Someone in charge of the lights just happened to be so alert...he shone one of the spotlights at Old Wai who had stood up…
The next moment, illuminated by the massive beam, Xu Tingsheng saw the emotional Old Wai, Li Linlin and...Xiang Ning.
“She came. She’s here.”
“She didn’t tell me.”
“Just to see me...not letting me know.”
At this instant, feeling moved, emotional and guilty all at once, Xu Tingsheng suddenly saw a definite answer appear to what he had still been conflicted about earlier.
Without Xiang Ning, where should he go after graduation?
He already had an answer. He would stay in Yanzhou, even though he couldn’t draw near, at least within a few kilometres of her.
He stopped the opening sequence which was nearly over.
“Sorry, I want to change the song,” He said.
Then, amidst slight puzzlement, bewilderment and restlessness, his fingertips slid across the strings, a new opening sequence resounding.
As he was only playing it on the spur of the moment and was not so familiar with Joker Xue’s <<Within A Few Kilometres>>...it went a little messily, for both the accompaniment and lyrics.
“If I had been honest, it would have been good.
Not needing to swear, so childishly.
I thought that I could always follow you like this,
I have nowhere else to go anyway.”
Many people gradually realised after the very first section that they had never heard this song before. So, it was an original? Changing to an original on the spur of the moment, what was it that Xu Tingsheng wanted to express?
Xiang Ning was listening too...
When she had seen Xu Tingsheng’s gaze fall on her, she had very much felt like fleeing...yet, she had ultimately been unable to resolve herself. After guarding her for four years, Little Xiang Ning’s Uncle Liar was graduating. He had chased her to her school after breaking up but been shooed away by her...so, it might be the case that he would be leaving very soon, leaving this place.
Because of that, how could Xiang Ning not take a few more looks at him, listening to his last song?
“I’m afraid of those too responsible
They will sacrifice themselves at any time
Loving or not loving is also fine
I’ll let you do whatever
Even the reason I’ll help you find
Rather than a world where you don’t want me
Why not wipe you out of my mind…”
Because it was spur of the moment, Xu Tingsheng had no way to change all the lyrics to fit his intentions in time.
He sang the lyrics according to the original version.
Xiang Ning heard ‘Rather than a world where you don’t want me, why not wipe you out of my mind’.
Her heart involuntarily hurt even though this was her stance over this period of time. Logically speaking, she should be hoping for this as a natural course of events. Yet, she could not help it…
“Has he made up his mind? Made up his mind to forget me.”
Xiang Ning felt pained.
Fortunately, Xu Tingsheng soon reached the next line.
“Anyone can easily say this, loving uncontrollably but still insisting.”
He was only insisting against his actual will that he should forget about her.
Next came the actual sentences that had inspired Xu Tingsheng to choose this song a moment ago:
“I’m willing to stay within a few kilometres of you
If I can’t get back my heart I’ll give it to you
Because I love you, it doesn’t concern you.”
Her heart rising again after sinking to the very bottom, however angry Xiang Ning might be with Uncle, however much she could not get over it, she still did not know whether to laugh or to cry at this moment, “What’s he saying? Just being shameless? What is you love me but it does not concern me?”
“Staying within a few kilometres of you...is he saying that he won’t leave? Not disturbing me too.”
This was the second time during which while there were clearly a lot of people present, standing on stage, Xu Tingsheng was actually only singing for Miss Xiang.
The first time, she had still been young and ignorant. While she had been happy, there was not much she could comprehend. It was different this time. This time, Miss Xiang was eighteen. She had loved, been happy, been sorrowful, persisted. This time, she recognised his heartfelt voice.
Tears soundlessly rolled down her face.
In these same lyrics, the other fourth year students who were going to graduate and part heard ‘unwilling to leave’.
What did it feel like for people who were going to go their various ways to hear ‘I’m willing to stay within a few kilometres of you’?
What did it feel like for couples who had agreed to break up to hear ‘If I can’t get back my heart I’ll give it to you’?
Applause, low weeping, slowly resounded from all over the crowd.
“I’m willing to stay within a few kilometres of you
At least I can feel your sorrow and joy
When you need me, I can accompany you
In a world where you don’t want me
Why not look for someone to replace you
Sadly, I can heed no advice
I’m willing to stay within a few kilometres of you
If I can’t get back my heart I’ll give it to you.”
The second time, that same persistence. I’m willing to stay within a few kilometres of you, feeling your sorrow and joy. When you need me, I can accompany you. Persisting in a world without you, clearly knowing that it’s illogical, but just having no way to find someone to replace you…
The audience was already sobbing.
The singing continued:
“Loving or not loving is also fine, I’ll let you do whatever
Because I love you, it doesn’t concern you.
My love, spread within a few kilometres
Close enough to hear your breathing
As long as you turn, there I’ll be.”
Finishing the final section, Xu Tingsheng sat there silently just like that.
Each and every sentence had seeped into Xiang Ning’s heart…
She knew that this was Uncle telling his Miss Xiang: I won’t force you. I’ll let you do whatever, including choosing whether to love me...it’s just that I’ll still remain here. Where you can’t see me, yet definitely not far away...and if you change your mind one day, as long as you turn, there I’ll be.
Li Linlin extended a hand and embraced Xiang Ning’s shoulder, because she was already crying so hard that even breathing was difficult.
Without the spotlight, Xu Tingsheng was actually unable to clearly make out Xiang Ning from the stage. Still, he could indistinctly see her small body trembling from overly intense sobbing.
At this moment, how Xu Tingsheng wanted to wipe off her tears for her and then hug her…
Yet, he was unable to do so.
And so, another once familiar melody inadvertently appeared in his mind.
He strummed the guitar…
The sobbing or silent crowd abruptly regained their wits, focusing...on the singing that they had believed to have ended.
“I want to stroke your hair,
Just to probe simply
I want to give you a hug
Just like before, is it okay?
Is your half step back serious?
A small action has still hurt you so.
I can only act like a gentleman
Only then can I speak with you.
Can I send you home?
It may be raining soon.
Can I give you a hug,
Just as friends do?
Xu Tingsheng slowly sang a section of <<Gentleman>>.
At this point, the graduates might be thinking of how they might meet a few years in the future. Those who had once been closest to them would finally have become strangers, strangers to the point that what they had once been so used to, those simple acts of intimacy, even a hug, even just reaching out and tucking her hair behind her ear...would no longer be allowed.
They could only suppress their emotions, acting like gentlemen, saying some things calmly, these being but the simplest pleasantries.
It was something different that Xiang Ning thought of. Those were the scenes during Xu Tingsheng’s four weeks at Yanzhou’s first-tier senior high that she had not realised before…
Only at this moment did she understand that the Xu Tingsheng who had acted calm and not deliberately disturbed and paid attention to herself during those four weeks...how many times had there actually been when he had wanted to reach out to stroke her hair, or to hug her a bit.
So, how much he must have suppressed himself, acting like any teacher with any student, only then being able to say that sole sentence to her in class, that mere ‘Xiang Ning, please answer this question’.
Xiang Ning’s heart ached.Previous Chapter Next Chapter