The Cross Over Of A Loving Wife - 8
There was still some time before lunch, so Ding-Xiang went and gathered the dirty clothes. He went to the kitchen to wash it. The dirty clothes mostly came from Hui-Liang and Hui-Zhong, since both of them always wet the bed. During the separation process, Ding-Xiang was so busy that he had forgotten to ask for a latrine pot from his former in-laws. He thought it was dangerous to go out at night to use the toilet.
Hui-Ling was mature enough that she just held it in until the morning, and then ran out to pee. However, Ding-Xiang needed to get one soon because as he gets nearer to his due date, he will not be able to hold it anymore. He washed the clothes quickly, rinsed them, and then took them out to dry. When he was done, he tossed out the dirty water and went to prepare lunch for his family.
There was enough meat for his family to use for today. He divided it in half and prepared it for dinner, before moving on to make lunch. He simply washed out the new pot in salt water and then put on the rice. He went over to the basket and took out the tofu and vegetables he had bought, chopped them up. He added some salt and ginger, then with the meat, stir-fried them in oil.
There was nothing much left to do while waiting for the food to be ready, so Ding-Xiang started his embroidery. He took the robes to his room; he spread them out and stared at them until he came up with a design. It was large enough and could match the blue; it also matched the client’s criteria for being pretty. Ding-Xiang first put away the outer robe and began working on the second layer. At one point he asked told Hui-Ling to check on the rice and then continued working. He knew the work would take close to a month so he did not rush but worked diligently.
It was noon when he got up and went to the kitchen. He prepared the table when he remembered about Hui-Liang. He took out some money and called Hui-Ling. He told her, “Take a bowl and go to the uncle that sells milk. Ask him if he has any more milk left and buy some.”
Hui-Ling nodded. She took the money and the bowl, and then dashed out of the house.
Ding-Xiang went back to prepare lunch. Startled by a loud cry, he went into the room to see Hui-Liang looking at him with watery eyes. He picked him up and swayed him but he continued to cry. Ding-Xiang sighed and checked his napkin; it was a bit damp but was clean. He decided to wake up Hui-Zhong while he carried Hui-Liang into the kitchen with him. As they went in Hui-Ling came back with the bowl filled with milk and set it on the table.
“Uncle said that he had sold out the milk. However, he was just boiling some for birdy, so he sent this over. I tried to give him the money but he wouldn’t take it; and said that tomorrow when he milks the goat, he’ll keep some so you can come and buy for Liang-er,” Hui-Ling said breathlessly.
Ding-Xiang took the money from her and put it away. He let them eat, poured some milk into a smaller bowl, and started feeding Hui-Liang. At the first scoop of milk, Hui-Liang stopped crying and just whimpered as he ate. Ding-Xiang sighed and fed him slowly, cooing sweetly to the baby, he said, “Mama’s sorry for forgetting your milk, it won’t happen again, okay?”
He was not sure if Hui-Liang understood him but he stopped whimpering and contentedly drank his milk. When he finished, he was burped but refused to be put down back so Ding-Xiang held him and ate his lunch. Hui-Liang cooed and tried to reach for his older brother, but Hui-Zhong had his head down as he ate and did not notice his brother’s movements. Ding-Xiang chuckled and patted Hui-Liang’s head.
After eating, Ding-Xiang passed Hui-Liang over to his older sister and sent them into the bedroom. He cleaned up the kitchen and washed the dishes. He went outside and looked into the tank, it needed to be refilled, but he and the children obviously could not do it, so he had to go and ask someone to do it.
He went back to the bedroom, sat down, and looked at Hui-Ling. He asked, “What’s the name of that aunt that came to the house the other day to check my pulse?”
The milk bottle looked up at him, she furrowed her brows for a second and then smiled at him. She replied sweetly, “Auntie Ming.”
“Does she live close by?”
The milk bottle nodded and Ding-Xiang then told her, “Go to her and ask if she knows anyone that can refill our tank. I’ll pay them some coppers to get it done today.”
“What about firewood, mama, we’re almost out?” the little milk bottle asked. She continued, “I can ask Auntie Ming to get someone to fetch firewood for us while I’m there.”
Ding-Xiang nodded and said, “Good thinking! Go on now and come back quickly.”
Hui-Ling quickly went out. Ding-Xiang watched her leave. Then he picked up a robe and continued his work. He had decided to embroider a Tibetan Bunting on a bed of flowers for the back of the outer robe. The lapels and cuffs would have butterflies and leaves on them. The inner layer would have the flowers embroidered on it. The image in his head looked beautiful, which made him smile as he continued to work.
After a while, he heard footsteps. Hui-Ling ran into the room. She patted her chest before looking at him.
“Mama, I went over to Auntie Ming and she said that her grandson is coming over just now. He’ll fetch the water and the firewood. You can pay him when he is done. Auntie Ming said that her grandson is a good boy and won’t slack on his work.”
Ding-Xiang nodded and smiled at her.
“Thank you, baby. Go and get some water to drink, and then come and rest.”
The milk bottle nodded. Ding-Xiang smiled to himself and continued his work. He calculated that he’ll be able to finish his embroidery, a few days before it’s due. By that time, he should be over four months pregnant and so it would be hard to go back and forth from town. He might need to ask Auntie Ming’s grandson to go to town and pick up more stuff. Maybe, he can even have him continue to work for them until Wei-Sheng came back.
Aunt Ming’s grandson came over; the boy appeared to thirteen-years-old. He was tall and lanky but was cleanly dressed.
The boy smiled and politely greeted, “Hello Hui-Lings Niang. I am Ming Shi. My grandma told me you needed my help?”
Ding-Xiang nodded and told the boy his work.
“Don’t worry I can get it done, I’ll go ahead now,” Ming Shi said reassuringly.
Ding-Xiang went back to the room and continued his embroidery. From time to time, he could hear Ming Shi coming and going, water splashing as he filled the tank.
Hui-Zhong suddenly got up and jumped off the bed, startling Ding-Xiang from his work.
Hui-Zhong shouted, “Got to go pee!”
Ding-Xiang laughed. He took this time to check on Hui-Liang. The baby looked at him, tears flooding his eyes, and then he started peeing. Ding-Xiang let him finish and started to change him. He changed him into a fresh set of clothes and napkin and laid him down on the bed. He surrounded Hui-Liang with pillows before going out to check the laundry. The clothes he hung up were already dry, so he rinsed his hands and picked them up, folded them, and carried them back into the house.
He put them away in the trunk and then checked on Hui-Ling and Hui-Zhong. They were both working quietly on their numbers. Hui-Ling was teaching Hui-Zhong, she counted it out and then wrote the answer down for him. Ding-Xiang saw this, smiled to himself, and then went back to his work.
“Hui-Ling’s Niang,” Ming Shi called out.
Ding-Xiang got up and went out to see him.
He checked the tank and it was filled to the brim. The firewood was piled high in the kitchen. They obviously would not need to go and fetch more for a long time.
Ding-Xiang took out twelve wens and handed them to him.
“Thank you, Ming Shi. I might need some more help in the near future. I hope I can count on you.”
The boy smiled and said, “Okay, whenever you need me, just let me know.”