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Lao Ye (standard:Fan Fiction, 4517 words)
Author: Mookoo LiangAdded: Feb 27 2006Views/Reads: 2107/1416Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This story is fictitious; if it sounds like a true story, please bear in mind that what a storyteller regards as "truth" exists in his imagination rather than in the real world. This is my first statement. And my second statement is....

Lao Ye<1> 

By Mookoo Liang 


I have a dozen of "very close friends," including an architect, a
doctor, two clergymen, and . . . well, most of them are or used to be 
schoolteachers, so I usually call them by their surnames plus the 
Chinese word for "teacher" such as "Li laoshi" and "Chen laoshi." But 
three of them I call in a more "intimate" way: "Lao Zhan," "Lao Wang," 
"Lao Ye" --- with their surnames following the Chinese word for "old." 
Of course, when you call your Chinese friends "Lao A," "Lao B," or "Lao 
C," you don't mean that they are old people; you mean you and they have 
been good friends for a long time, or you mean nothing but "Hi, 
brother!" However, Lao Ye is actually the oldest one among my "very 
close friends," who are either in their late 40's or early 50's; and he 
is definitely the most interesting friend of mine. 

Lao Ye comes from a remote village in the mountains. In fact, his home
village is next to mine; the two villages are bordered by a hill, with 
a graveled path winding up and down it to connect the two "small but 
beautiful" places. Beautiful places deserve special names: his home 
village is called "Bei-gang-xi" (implying a creek from the north) while 
mine is called "Shui-chang-liu" (meaning water flowing a long way). 
There are indeed two streams with the same names over there. With 
mountains, valleys, and fields in different shapes and colors; with the 
streams below, the sky above, and sometimes the breeze in between; with 
various kinds of birds, animals, fishes, and insects---such a beautiful 
place could have made a great many poets and artists. And Lao Ye is an 
artist who is very good at painting. 

I don't like Lao Ye because he is a good painter, but because he and I
are "birds of a feather," just as my other "very close friends" and I 
are. In my mind Lao Ye is much more similar to me than the others. He 
also comes from a very poor family. His parents had been "peasants" 
working so hard but making so little money in those "old difficult 
days," so he has learned how to restrain himself from overindulgence 
and how to enjoy a very simple life. Besides, among my "very close 
friends" only Lao Ye and I are Hakka people. Hakka people are generally 
regarded as being a little frugal or stingy, and inheriting the 
"hard-neck spirit"<2> from their ancestors, which means they would 
persevere in dealing with all kinds of difficulties. 

Lao Ye is a typical Hakka person: once he has set a goal for himself, he
will try his best to reach it. But talking about his shortcomings, some 
of our common friends joked behind his back, "Lao Ye is a niggard! No 
way will he invite us for a big meal!" 

Well, I didn't really laugh at him when I heard such a joke. In my eyes
he was a good example: He made good use of his time and money. He was 
busy with his teaching job, and with his creative work as well. From 
time to time he sketched still life, or drew birds and flowers, and yet 
most of the time he painted landscapes from nature. To create a picture 
of his own, he observed the natural scenery, decided what to adopt, 
modified or rearranged the adopted parts, and finally completed a 
beautiful and meaningful picture on paper. This time-consuming process, 
as well as the good result it might turn out, would make Lao Ye very 
pleased; so he kept on drawing and painting, no matter how much time 
and money he had to spend on a new piece of work, or on a personal art 

In the past few years Lao Ye was so busy that he couldn't afford coming
to the weekend parties that my other "very close friends" hosted in 
turn. Regular comers to the party such as Li laoshi, Chen laoshi, Lao 
Zhan and Lao Wang would talk about Lao Ye. They sometimes gossiped 
about his love life. It was said that Lao Ye's wife was a "native," 
daughter of the chief of an aboriginal tribe in central Taiwan. "No 
wonder she looks so pretty!" "Indeed, she has big and bright eyes!" 
"But she's too shy to come with us, isn't she?" "It must be the 
husband's fault: Lao Ye shouldn't have overprotected his wife . . . " 
They began to laugh at Lao Ye again behind his back, saying that he 
might have been afraid of losing his wife as she was so young and 

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