Chapter 46: Reunion Dinner
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This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
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When she arrived at the little room housing the chickens and rabbits, her eyes nearly popped out! The mother rabbit had already been placed in a private nesting area that had a broken board on top to protect her from the chickens.
But now, in her nesting area, there were quite a few pink balls lying next to her stomach!
Liu Xu’er was so happy, she nearly screamed! She hurriedly turned and ran out, before loudly calling, “Dage, erge! Quick, come see! The rabbit has given birth! What do we need to do, what do we need to do” She was so anxious, she paced around the entire courtyard.
Liu Shu emerged from his room.
When he heard what she said, he exclaimed, “What!” and ran toward their nesting room.
Liu Lin, too, dashed out excitedly, holding up his trousers as he ran.
“Let me see, let me see!” Hopping along, he rushed to the room.
Liu Xu’er ran to the room with them.
All three of them surrounded the rabbit nest and stared wide-eyed at the clump of pink, plump bodies.
The baby rabbits were tiny.
Their eyes were sealed shut, and they were huddled so closely together it was hard to make out where their head and feet were.
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Mbl qlo nbkzeald pvyale yv vblx kdvldvzu.
Mblu pnyanlzu eyale calyvbl! Gqvla y zsdt obkzl, Nkw Nkd iwklvzu ypjle, “Mblpl aycckvp….
Ebu yal vblu zkjl vbkp Mblu pllx ps nwvl.” Mbld bl iwknjzu ypjle, “Ps ol dlle vs tkhl vblx psxlvbkdt vs lyv Ebyv es vblu lyv”
Nkw Fbw zywtble, “Xchkswpzu vbl xsvbla aycckv oswze qlle vblx xkzj! Rp vblal y dlle vs ypj”
Nkw Nkd czkdjle.
Nkw Dw’la dseele, “Mbl xsvbla aycckv oswze elqkdkvlzu dlle vs qlle vbl cycu aycckvp.
Mbl cycklp yal ps vkdu – vblu osd’v cl yczl vs lyv taypp ulv.”
Kwpv yp vblu olal prlyjkdt, vblu blyae vbl pswde sq xshkdt nawvnblp qasx clbkde vblx.
Tl pbk’p hsknl aydt swv, ypvsdkpble, “Tyhl vbl cycu aycckvp clld csad Tso oyp kv Rp vbl xsvbla aycckv….
Nkw Dw’la vwadle kdektdydvzu yv vbyv.
“Ywx! Psd’v usw zkjl xu aycckvp”
Tl pbk zywtble, “Xq nswapl R zkjl vblx, R zkjl vblx hlau xwnb! R oyp fwpv osaakle.” Fyukdt vbkp, pbl zssjle shla vbl nbkzeald’p blyep vs rlla kdpkel.
Fbl pyo vbyv vbl dlpv oyp ayvbla xlppu yde kv’p pwaaswdekdtp zssjle iwkvl ekavu,
Gzz sq vbl nbkzeald’p yvvldvksd olal sd vbl cycu aycckvp, ps vblu eked’v dsvknl vbyv yv yzz, cwv kv oyp ayvbla schkswp vs Tl pbk.
Fbl iwknjzu kdpvawnvle, “Fbw, ts yde cskz psxl oyvla.
Dw’la vyjl psxl nzlyd nsvvsd nzsvb shla.
Rv xwpv cl nzlyd.
Nkd, cakdt xl y pxyzz pvssz.”
Gzvbswtb vbl vball sq vblx eked’v wdelapvyde vbl kdpvawnvksdp, vblu sclekldvzu xshle sqq vs ralryal.
Tl pbk pvyavle vs vkeu wr vbl dlpv yde vbl xsvbla aycckv.
Nkw Dw’la iwknjzu oldv vs tayc psxl nzsvb, elvlaxkdlezu vyjkdt yzz vblka zlqvshla ckvp sq nzsvb shla.
Lscseu oswze byhl esdl vbkp clqsal – vbkp oyp yzz tsse nzsvb!
Liu Changgeng had woken too.
He was just moving toward the edge of the kang when Senzi woke.
Upset, he wailed loudly.
Liu Changgeng had no choice but to try and coax the little boy, letting him know that the mother rabbit had given birth to baby rabbits.
From today onwards, our family has over 10 rabbits!
When Senzi heard that, he got curious.
He stopped crying and started fussing that he wanted to go over and have a look.
Liu Changgeng had to wrap him up well before carrying him over.
When they arrived, He shi had already tidied up the nest.
Those little rabbits looked so soft and warm, but she didn’t dare to touch them.
She only took all the dirtied bedding and cloth out.
The mother rabbit was lying on her side.
Her babies, eyes closed, were rolling around next to her.
Their bodies, pink and hairless, looked like little meatballs.
Liu Changgeng knew a little bit about rearing animals.
When he saw Liu Sen stretch his arms out to try and catch the tiny bundles, he quickly stopped him and said, “You absolutely cannot touch the rabbits with your hands.
If the little rabbits smell of other people, their mother won’t feed them.”
Liu Xu’er was just chasing all the chickens out of the room when she overheard him saying this.
She abruptly recalled this matter and agreed.
“That’s right! I seem to remember… The rabbit seller said something like that!” Actually, this was based on her previous experience.
Liu Sen went “Oh, oh, oh!” before quickly retracting his hands.
He moved closer to the little rabbits, so he could have a good look.
Liu Changgeng asked He shi, “Did you touch the little rabbits If you did, rub some grass gently on their bodies.”
He shi quickly shook her head, “No, I just cleaned out the surrounding areas….” She then recalled the cloth that Liu Xu’er had brought in.
She quickly rubbed some grass on the cloth, smearing them green, before lightly rubbing it on some rabbit droppings and carefully pushing it in with a wooden stick.
Liu Changgeng nodded, “It’s not easy to take care of these baby rabbits, especially since this is the rabbit’s first litter.”
Liu Xu’er quickly came over and asked, “Dad, mum, are the rabbits alright Will they be able to survive”
Liu Changgeng lifted up the rabbit nest.
He instructed He shi to push the wooden frame against the wall shared with Liu Xu’er’s bedroom.
Then he placed the nest back gently on top.
“They should be able to survive.
We just need to make sure it’s warm enough.
Since we would definitely be keeping the kang in your room warm for the New Year, this wall should be quite warm and help keep their nest warm.
Apart from that, there shouldn’t be any other issues….” He thought for a moment before leaving a bit of borrowed wisdom from breeding mother pigs, “Don’t feed the mother anything for the first day.”
“Huh, then wouldn’t she be hungry” Liu Xu’er immediately asked.
“No, it needs to be clean….” Liu Changgeng couldn’t explain it clearly.
He scratched his head before spotting and grabbing hold of Liu Sen.
Liu Sen had been slowly inching forward in his eagerness to see.
“Alright, that’s enough.
We need to stop disturbing the little rabbits, or they will be too scared to drink milk!”
Liu Sen whined as he was carried away by Liu Changgeng.
He was wriggling and struggling to go back in, so Liu Xu’er quickly ran out to soothe him.
Bringing him to the kitchen, she told him that if he was good and cleaned his face, she would give him some egg custard.
After spending some time coaxing him, he finally quieted down.
Liu Xu’er asked Liu Lin to help him wash up before quickly hurrying to make the morning meal.
He shi entered.
Seeing her there, she said, “It’s alright.
I will do it today.”
Liu Xu’er quickly said, “Mum, let me make breakfast at least.”
He shi smiled and waved her away.
“There’s a lot to do today! I need to get started on my tasks now anyway, so I may as well also make the morning meal.
Go out and see where else needs your help.”
Liu Xu’er left the kitchen and saw that Liu Sen had already washed up.
He had snuck out when no one was watching and was running toward the little room! She rushed over and caught him.
Carrying him back to the room, she smiled and showed him what they had made in the past few days.
Liu Changgeng’s wooden fishes and beetles all had a thread tied around it.
They had tied a decorative knot in the thread and a tassel dangled beneath.
It wasn’t fancy, but the important thing was that they looked good!
Liu Sen looked at them for a while before losing interest and struggled to get down.
So Liu Xu’er took one and tied it onto his clothes.
Smiling, she said, “I hope that you will grow up safely and that you will always be healthy and happy!” Then she planted a kiss on his face.
Liu Sen dipped his head to take a look.
He found it really nice, so he temporarily forgot about the little rabbits.
Instead, he tried to get off to show dad and mum his newest ornament.
Everyone showered him with praise.
Happy, Senzi took off, chasing the little chickens in the yard.
Liu Xu’er couldn’t stay still.
After tidying up, she headed to the kitchen to watch He shi cook.
Seeing that breakfast was ready, she dished them out and called for everyone to eat while He shi called from the kitchen, “Go ahead and eat.
I’ve already eaten!”
Breakfast was a simple affair.
Outside, fireworks could be heard from near and far away.
Liu Xu’er went to the kitchen to help out and heard He shi mumble, “Why are they setting the fireworks off so early”
Liu Xu’er saw her leaning on the countertop kneading dough.
Her injured leg resting on a short stool, she was relying on her body weight to help with the kneading.
Liu Xu’er quickly rushed over, “Mum….
Why don’t I do that”
He shi laughed.
“You don’t have the strength! Just be my little kitchen helper for the day….
Oh and get your brother to fill the tank with water.”
Liu Xu’er agreed before asking, “Wasn’t it filled last night”
“There’s only half left.” He shi replied.
Liu Xu’er took a look at the water tank.
Sure enough, they had already used a half tank of water.
Sticking her tongue out, she was about to call Liu Shu when Liu Lin ran in and took the bucket to draw water.
Liu Xu’er helped out around the kitchen.
She cleaned the two chickens as well as the fish that sishu had brought over.
Then she went to wash the vegetables.
Buried in work, it took over two hours before she managed to wash everything she needed to.
Liu Lin had ceaselessly brought seven or eight buckets of water over but the tank was still not filled.
Exhausted, Liu Lin got Liu Shu to take over just as he returned from buying some wine from the village provision shop.
The afternoon meal was also rather simple, but a chicken was already stewing on the stove, while vegetables were cooking in another pot.
One after the other, they cooked up all the different vegetables.
The remainder of the cabbage and some wild vegetables were all fished out of the pot, left to cool and then wrung out by hand.
Minced into pieces, they were placed in a basin.
Liu Xu’er took the remaining meat out.
After washing it, she passed it to He shi.
He shi said, “Go and rest.
There’s nothing else that needs to be done for now.”
“Ok, but call me when it’s time to wrap dumplings!” Liu Xu’er agreed.
Tired, her neck aching, she returned to her room and collapsed on her kang.
Outside, she heard Senzi running around playing.
From the kitchen came the sound of meat being chopped – a repetitive and soothing noise as the knife rose and fell.
After a while, Liu Xu’er drifted off.
She had gotten up really early, and was tired from all the work that she had done.
Her little body was exhausted.
After waking up, the first thing she noticed was that many people had started setting off fireworks.
When she went to the kitchen, she saw that the dough had already been divided into two.
One portion had already been made into noodles while the other portion, about the size of a child’s fist, was left on the chopping board with some flour sprinkled over to prevent it from getting sticky.
On the other side, He shi had already rolled out some dough and was wrapping the dumplings.
The kitchen was filled with the delicious scent of chicken.
Liu Xu’er quickly washed her hands and went over to help.
She asked, “Mum, what time is it now”
He shi looked out and said, “Probably between 5-7pm Your dad was just saying that Senzi is hungry!”
Just as she said that, Liu Shu carried a squawking Senzi in.
Senzi kept calling out, “Mum, mum! I’m hungry, Senzi is hungry!” Then he lifted his nose, gave a good sniff and immediately said, “I want to eat a chicken drumstick!”
Outside, Liu Lin gave a good laugh.
“What a sharp nose! Nobody can say that I have a good sense of smell anymore.
Clearly Senzi has me beat!”
He shi smiled.
Senzi was loudly saying, amid everyone’s laughter, that he wanted to eat the chicken drumstick.
He shi told Liu Xu’er to wash her hands and bring Senzi some chicken soup.
She could finish wrapping the dumplings herself.
Liu Xu’er did as she was told.
She ladled Senzi some soup and even added some very soft meat to the bowl for him.
Smiling, she brought it out amid Senzi’s demands for food.
Liu Shu had no choice but to carry him and follow her out.
Translator: A note about the title – Reunion Dinner is the term my region uses to refer to the dinner held on the eve of Chinese New Year.
All family members are expected to come for the dinner (hence the term “Reunion”).