I did not grow up fascinated with having a meadow all by myself like a day at amusement park, but it must be a wonderland for a child a certain era bygone. XJS’ childhood would be in the 1910s in poor rural China, orphaned quite young. We saw how it was a favorite pastime for even the ‘city slickers’ XX and XM visiting XiangTan a decade+ later. XJS’ idea of utopia must still be that pasture of rice field in his dream where his PingOn can giggle and run around without a care…putting his mind at ease, however little.
It will put her mind at ease, somewhat, asking her husband to stay the night. She never had to, but now she is pleading, tears in her eyes. She thought he had a lover, and they have a daughter, a daughter she knows he has always wanted, but she frustratedly has been barren. She is not a new woman, he can bring the other woman back if he likes, living together as family, his family. XJS is shaken as he tightens his embrace of her. He is trying to keep the distance, it hurts him too much thinking if he accepts this new reality of his wife doting another child he has to pretend is PingOn, he has abandoned his own son. XJS can not let go, he is forever his Dad.
I do not have another woman, I only have you.
XiangJun understands he could have been tired of this, weary of this family, but she…(can not live without him). She is interrupted by XJS stopping her from thinking too much.
You used to love PingOn very much…
if you do not have another child outside,
why would you hate PingOn so much back from the battlefield?
XJS can not bear another word.
I do not hate him,
I love him.
Holding her face in his hands, looking straight into her eyes, he kisses her worrying head, he could never leave her, he would never leave this family, the only family he has as he stares at ‘PingOn’ on their bed, sleeping sweetly like his PingOn.
XiaoHe grabs XJS for breakfast, he has many ideas how to help his BigBro get rid of the child if he wants to stop his suffering. Even if MaoMao has no living relatives, they can invent a few. XJS yells at him for his awful plans. He tells XH frankly he wants to keep the boy, that is why it is necessary to look into if MM has living relatives. He needs the peace of mind the child is an orphan, for his wife’s sake, if she has to part with MM now, sending him back to his relative, she will suffer for a while, but it would kill her if the child could be taken from her after years of loving MM as her own.
They will start their investigation from the clue XH heard from XX, MM was found by wounded soldiers. XJS asks XH to ask around at the hospital.
Have we ever wronged you?!
Hearing from JF XH is asking around the wounded soldiers from JinPan about MM, she assumes what he is up to at once, finding MM’s relative and giving the child back, most probably under BIL’s orders. XH admits he is asking around for BiL, but XX is misunderstanding BiL’s intention.
XX tells XM XH is asking around the wounded soldiers about MaoMao per BiL’s order. XM is furious BiL has no compassion towards MaoMao and how Sis will fall apart without MM as PingOn.
XX yells at him to lower his voice, do not let Sis hear them. XM vents BiL is responsible for PingOn’s death, he causes Sis’ suffering of infertility,
‘he is to blame I have lost my nephew! ‘
Do you think he can put the blame of everything on the Japanese?!
XX says frankly it is the fault of the Japanese. XM rages on there is still the option of divorce. XX tells him to swallow every word and never mention it.
While the twins are discussing emotionally in their room, Grandmama and the parents are figuring out the situation. Mom is in denial XH is capable of doing them harm, and this will kill XJ, he has always been kind to them. Grandmama said she heard XH is just asking around looking for work, I doubt she really believes it, but she wants to trust XH and by association BiL. Dad is petty, he says bluntly from a man’s pov, it is impossible to take in a boy of unknown means as his own son, which gets him a deserving slap of words from Grandmama.
Are you clueless in saying anything sensible?
Dad should know very well MaoMao is a sweet child, a poor orphan with his parents killed by the japs. He suggests he will talk to JunShan, he always listen to XiangJun it is weird he can not overcome this obstacle. Grandmama shuts him from being more silly. There is nothing he can sensibly say, it is JunShan’s child, the Xue family’s child to accept as his own, Dad and the Hus have no say. Moreover, if MM’s relatives were found, they can not be selfish keeping the child for XJ and take away his right to be with his family, which is the best for the child. JunShan is the only one left in his bloodline, XiangJun can not bear him any more children, even if he remarries and kicks them out of the house, there is nothing they can do but accept their fate.
There is a limping soldier waiting for XJS. It is someone who knows MM XH found, it is also the officer who was ruthlessly following orders to arrest XJS after the fire still on the operating table, if not for XiaoDi’s fierce protection.
MM is the son of the soldier’s team leader who has perished and MM’s Mom died in childbirth. MaoMao is the nickname his nanny calls him. The soldier must have promised his team leader he would take care of his son he left behind, MM has no other relatives.
In other words, you are not his relative.
XJS always have better plans. He and his family can take much better care of MaoMao, the soldier can visit the child any time, without spelling out this would make XiangJun and his family happy, always his agenda.
At my house, his name will be Ping On.
At his house, XiuXiu rushes in the room telling them BiL is back, he said he has to see PingOn.
Xue PingOn, the name written in gold paint on the spirit tablet, his beloved son.
*And I have already started crying*
how are you doing over there?
Mom and Dad miss you.
There is no one taking care of you at the other side,
you have to look after yourself.
Make more friends like Dad
What? No no no, Dad is not a hero.
Ask Mom, she will never say Dad is a hero.
Dad has done a lot of bad things,
The power above is making me pay
making me atone my sin…with you.
Daddy did not cry. Daddy is not crying.
Don’t you cry PingOn. Don’t cry.
Do not worry about Mom and Dad,
you should know Dad loves Mom very much.
Let me be your son in our next lifetime.
Lets be together,
XJS drops the spirit tablet, so devastated in grief and guilt, he is giving hope to himself it is PingOn’s sign of being here, listening with hurt the premonition of what he is about to say.
Yes, PingOn you are going to have a younger brother.
We are also calling him PingOn.
Nononononono, Mom and Dad love you.
You will agree.
Dad is not crying. Dad will not cry.
PingOn will not cry as well.
XX is leaving for work when MaoMao is being insanely adorable seeing her off, saying goodbye to lil’ Aunt, putting a smile on her face.
She is invited to a drink by GCM’s sister, quick to pick up the pleasantry, she is not shy to ask if there is still BiLuoChun tea to savor. Anything you want, sister answers with a wide smile.
Even though XX must have expected this meeting, it is still daunting stepping into the luxurious mansion, meeting Mr. Gu Senior. He is showing an air, still reading the newspaper as she takes her seat. Taking a moment gathering herself, she greets him properly, introducing herself as Hu XiangXiang with a smile. The room freezes more at his first words to her:
With Mr Gu being so to the point, XX knows he is putting up a stern front to pressure her into persuading GCM to leave ChangSha. She smiles because she is proud, proud of her GCM strong with his principles, forcing his Dad to make this desperate move on her, proud of…herself. She was the very smart but ignorant girl, unable to comprehend why they have to be soldiers, risking a certain death and the sorrow for their family, their dear ones who would be devastated like her, left behind. She has now become a soulmate of GCM, sharing same ideal, striving for the same goal, supporting each other unconditionally that they are stronger, and never as sure on the worth of life, fight the japs hand in hand so they can have a future…together.
Just like he did not come to ChangSha because of me, he is staying not because of me.
Mr Gu Sr harshly reminds XX it is ignorant to think there is still a fight in the war, after years of hardest battles, ChangSha is not going to be safe from under siege any longer. His only son, GCM would lost his life here. He wants XX to help him persuading GCM to leave for ChongQing.
Mr Gu senior, I am afraid I can not be of help in this matter.
Mr Gu senses there is no use intimidating the young lady,
You are the only one who can help me.
This is a plea.
XX soothes the old man, reminding him he knows his son the best. GCM has a mind of his own, once made up, nobody can persuade him otherwise. Thanks for the senior Mr Gu highest regard of how important she is to GCM but she has no control over him.
When he can not get his way with niceties, Mr Gu is back on the intimidation.
If you can not even accomplish that, why bother marrying into our Gu family?
Mr Gu senior, the relationship between ChingMing and I is not about controlling the other person. We support and encourage each other, we understand each other.
Mr Gu Sr goes further with his coercion, if XX would not do as told, Mr Gu would force GCM back to ChongQing by any duress necessary. XX says it as is, this would only break his spirit. XX stresses again there is nothing she can do to persuade GCM. Mr Gu can tell she will put his son’s wishes above crossing him, he switches the table on her.
I respect ChingMing’s every decision.
And I accept all the consequences.
Since the day she has fallen for the man, she has prepared herself for all the consequences. Even when she started out questioning him in XiangTan, unable to understand why he would rather inflict heartache on his dear ones, after the death of her cousins, she has since started working diligently within herself and comes to share GCM’s thoughts on her own, finding her way daily how to toughen, prepare and accept the loss of GCM constantly. The lost will be unbearable, written all over her face, as she is freshly prompted the thought, but it is her loss to bear when there is a country to be saved, in need of GCM’s service she can no longer selfishly wish he would turn his back on his duty because of her peace of mind. There is no peace of mind to be had, there was never a choice as there is a conscience for her to face, same with GCM.
Mr Gu puts in his last harsh plea accusing XX of not obeying him. XX insists she will obey his every wish…with this exception. GCM is not putting his life at dire risk because of anything self-serving. It is the fear of putting all his countrymen, especially his dear ones at risk if he does not fight and guard the front line when he is capable. In the face of a war just outside their doorstep, with bullets flying disturbing sleep every night the walls can no longer block out the tremor shaking their soul, every walking out of the front door of their house even MaoMao has a premonition he needs to hug his lil Aunt a goodbye, fearing for her safe return, a war they can not afford to lose, they can only put up their best fight. ChangSha is not safe, but the entire country is under siege. XX must be pondering how much safer is ChongQing and for how long? The walls of their house withstand the great fire, but they never open their door, nor close it without a tensed cautious awareness no walls, no doors are making their world safer.
It is time for her to take a bow and excuse herself, she has made her firm stance politely, the air is clear, up to Mr Gu to inhale however unwillingly and process.
Clearly, how she carries herself, courteous but never budging on her dignity, how poignantly she professes her love and understanding of his only son in nuanced tenderness, fearless under his intimidation are all observed by Mr Gu, impressing the old man so much he holds her up as she is exiting, frankly expressing his love for his son to her by asking how his ShaoHeng is doing.
XX must have realized the reluctant olive branch extended, a slight smile of relief on her face, she eases the old man’s mind,
Do not worry, he is doing very well.
Standing up to address her for the first time,
As she is walking out, XX must be feeling like she has just handed in her answers of the most difficult impromptu exam in her life she is unsure how horrible she has flunk it. It is hitting XX she has braved a formidable man holding her own…yet against what is expected of a young lady to timidly submissively addressing her future Father in Law for the first time. It is until she sees GCM waiting for her that puts her mind at ease instantaneously, her face brightens to a smile right away, throwing all the worry and brooding to the back of her mind.
But forever the sharp lass, midway dashing to her prince, she realizes it is rude and unladylike abandoning Bigsis’ company, as if forgetting she exists in the same frame as they are.
Nobody is expecting GCM to be waiting outside, not coming in. Sis must be feeling snubbed with everything she has done for him to deserve just a wave of goodbye as he drives off with XX. GCM tells XX he did not come in because he has faith she can carry herself, but that is not saying he is worried she can not handle it well enough in need of his support just outside the walls.
It’s good to know how high this perfect specimen of a young man regards you to tackle his dad he has not been too successful himself and more precious to know even though he trusts your ability, he still worries about you madly. XX teases a double entendre the Gu house is frigid inside, it was not a warmest first meeting. GCM tells XX this is a mansion of a family friend, their house have been besieged.
We will get it back.
Big Sis waves them off with contemplation. My guess is this is her idea, she arranges the meeting as the last straw. She must have exhausted all their connections and resources to keep GCM safe all these years but at this stage, CS is at the brink of succumbence, they are gambling on how love can weaken XX’s resolve, when love can also make HXX tougher than her cute girly looks can lead on.
XM and XiuXiu is making another trip to buy rice, with the help of XH, they got 5 extra catties free. XM insists on paying back the money they owe, as XiuXiu says earlier to JF, deep down XM is a good boy with his values straight. He is so excited to bump into XiangPing, who is urgently making his way out of the city. XM enthusiastically bumps shoulder with XP, who gives him a cold shoulder and a warning not to let anyone know XM has seen him.
XM senses XP must be in some trouble, they follow him secretly to find out where he is staying. (XP, how can you miss these two and their bike?!)
As they are knocking on their front door for Grandmama, they meet Grandpapa and XiaoQiu making a very rare visit, gifts in hand. Grandmama turns and walks back into the her room, closing the door seeing Grandpapa for the first time after what must have been decades, or a lifetime.
Mom and Dad leads Grandpapa into the house, this is the first time Grandpapa meets ‘PingOn’. Grandpapa is so delighted seeing the bright boy, but he whines while he is so happy for their lively family, his branch of Hus at XiangTan is withered.
Grandpapa immediately pays his respect to his brother and his nephew dying too young.
Not before long, I will be six feet under apologizing to you for my sins.
He urges XM to be very filial to Grandmama with the spirit tablets bearing witness.
In her room, Grandmama cries in front of the portraits of her husband and son, as if getting their forgiveness in advance. She wipes off her tears before stepping out of her room to invite Grandpapa in.
When XiangNing and XiangShui passed on, they were wearing summer clothes.
I want to make two padded outfits for them so they will not lose face down under.
They will forever be her grandchildren, never out of her mind.
Grandpapa stresses they are a family, but Grandmama puts it bluntly even though they are a family, he would not make this trip if absolutely necessary. There must be something Grandpapa needs her help desperately he has no other choice.
It is XiangPing.
It was not easy for Grandpapa to coerce XP back home for his own wedding, hoping he could force his grandson to stay put. XP is trying to report back to KunMing but the railway through GuiLin is cut off by the japs, he must be trapped in CS finding his way out. Grandpa has to make it back to his hotel, there are only a handful of decent hotels left in CS opening their doors and he will try his luck narrowing down XP’s whereabouts. He is hoping Grandmama can be on a lookout for XP.
XP is her grandson too. She suggests they ask for the help from her grandsons in law. She knows the pain of the heartbreak herself, knowing how devastated grandpapa is, trying to keep his only grandson left from harm but powerless.
XX is at XP’s room, she brings him food and money XM gathers to pay for his road fare. She has no idea Grandpapa is following her.
They will execute me thinking I am a runaway!
XP yells for help from a commander on the street. Grandpapa is also taken into custody for refusing to hand over XP in bounds. HE IS MY GRANDSON! Grandpapa hollers.
I should not have put your name down on our family records of the Hu when your mother gave birth to you!
Grandpapa is trying to make his case to the officers XP is the only child left from his bloodline and should be exempted from enlistment. The commander tries to persuade him XP is a brilliant pilot, who can be put to much better use for his country than being his grandson. XP insists he has to avenge his dead brothers, he has to kill all the japs he can.
He salutes Grandpa like the soldier he is before he leaves.
I think MaoMao, being such a a bright child, is always on the alert, knowing the danger outside their front door. He sees Grandpapa kneeling and calls him
So smart sensing the absurd, he runs inside, alerting the adults.
Grandmama gathers her two competent grandsons in her room. BiL suggests the easy way out, asking XH to find a substitute for XP to KunMing. GCM shoots him down, it is impossible to randomly substitute a brilliant pilot from the most prestigious navy school. GCM urges them to respect XP wishes.
Who do you think we should respect?!
BiL has lost his patience with GCM, Grandpapa is kneeling at their front door, begging for them to get XP out of duty, there is no one deserving their respect more. It is hard for GCM to disrespect Grandpapa’s wishes, it is impossible to say no when Grandmama begs him as well, just on how unbearable it is to see Grandpapa suffering at his age after being the master of his domain all his life. It is not like Grandmama is not suffering worrying about her grandson as well.
BiL throws in the KO, mimicking Grandmama begging, ChingMing~! Lest the stubborn commander is still battling his principle of Country before Family.
Begging a superior, obviously friend of his Father, calling GCM by his given name ShaoHeng, he reaches General OuYang in charge at KunMing. He is snubbed right away, being addressed smugly as Young Master Gu, reminding him he is the one using his Father’s connection to recommend the boy against procedure, and now with a phone call he wants to have his way, robbing the country of a well trained top of his class pilot, his favorite student. General OuYang bluntly refuses to help, cutting the call short.