OCN C37 The Truth Needs to Be Said

Qian Huang stared at the door with a complicated expression. He was of half a mind to rush after Xiao Ming to try and comfort him but finally, he remained where he was. With a sigh, he turned to Li Shui, his expression turning a little angry. “Couldn’t you have given us a bit more of a warning? Did he really need to have to read that?”

Li Shui also looked over his shoulder, feeling guilty. While he had said that what the text described sounded eerily familiar, he probably hadn’t been explicit enough that Xiao Ming was able to understand. It really would’ve been better to explain more.

Still, he felt that he hadn’t necessarily done anything wrong. Turning back to Qian Huang, he shook his head. “You know, if this was auntie Zhang telling her niece to put something positive about us online or one of our friends from that time spilled the beans, I would’ve kept it to myself. Or maybe I would’ve told you so we can decide how to deal with it together. But the thing is, that’s not what this is. Something is up here and I’m not sure if I like it. In any case, I don’t think we can keep this from Xiao Ming. It’s too big for that.”

Qian Huang raised his brows and glanced at the screen of the laptop again. “Shi Ru Qiu … Who exactly is that guy?” He himself wasn’t much of a reader so he had never paid attention to what Xiao Ming was reading in his free time. He didn’t think that he had ever really heard of the name. But just looking at the Weibo account of the person that had posted this text, he knew that he had a formidable following online. He clearly wasn’t a small name author. If there was such a person among their acquaintances, they wouldn’t have been able to keep it quiet. So this man was definitely a stranger. That begged the question: How did a stranger know so much about them?

When Qian Huang thought of that, he couldn’t help but become worried again albeit for a different reason this time. Naturally, he didn’t want to see Xiao Ming distressed. But Li Shui was right in that they had to ask themselves what the heck was going on here.

This person might have taken a bit of a creative license when it came to describing the feelings and some of the details but the overall story was precisely right. From the accident of auntie and uncle Xiao to Xiao Ming dropping out of culinary school before he had even been able to start and Li Shui and him finally convincing him to move in together and start ‘Bright Yellow Water’ with them in a last attempt to live his dream.

All of that was true. And he didn’t even want to think about what the second half of the text might look like. From Li Shui’s expression, he knew that it should be even more accurately presenting their situation. That couldn’t be a coincidence. “Was there any clue at all why he did this? You’ve read the whole text, haven’t you?”

Li Shui shook his head. “I did and he mentioned that our channel somehow inspired him to some kind of short story the other day so when he saw what that Misses Youya had written, he got angry and felt that he needed to make things clear. He actually apologized at the end.” Li Shui’s expression was dismayed when he said so. What about that apology? Since he had already posted things online, apologizing also wouldn’t change anything.

Qian Huang also furrowed his brows when he heard that. “Why that?” It seemed a little strange. He was helping them in a way, right? After all, he was criticizing Misses Youya who had been badmouthing them. So why would he apologize?

Li Shui just nodded to the screen though. “Just read on. You’ll understand when you’ve read it.”

Qian Huang raised his brows but still turned back to the laptop, reading on. In any case, he wanted to thoroughly understand what was going on. What did this person have to say about the things that had happened after ‘Bright Yellow Water’ had finally been established?

[Things aren’t easy for you and neither are they for your friends. For a long time, you can’t help but wonder if you dragged them down with you, if you really did the right things. The hardships that you face … you don’t feel like it is right that they have to face them alongside you.

The three of you are going out early in the morning and only returning late at night to work several jobs while hardly having the time to work toward your actual dream. And still, you sometimes struggle to pay a bill or don’t have enough money over to put food on your table. It really isn’t easy.

And all this while, you know that had they not offered to stay with you, to walk this path with you, they could be doing much better now. They could have followed their own dreams. After all, who doesn’t have one? Most likely, your friends have to give up theirs so you can reach yours. Isn’t it selfish to accept that?

When you bring it up, they will just wave your concerns away. It is as if in their eyes, your wishes are more important than theirs. It isn’t something that you can really understand. And you feel guilty for not being more assertive, for not telling them to go back to the future they should have. But no matter how often you think like this, you can’t bring yourself to do it. Because if they leave, then you will be alone to face these questions again and you’re still not at the point where you can do so.

Even though one year passes, two years, three years, the hurt doesn’t go away. Whenever you think back, tears are still gathering in your eyes and your heart will still hurt just like on the day when your feelings finally caught up with you. Nothing has changed about that. It is just that slowly, you are able not to think of it every single waking moment. That is some progress, wouldn’t you say so?

And it is not the only progress that you made. When you look back now after a few years have passed, you are starting to see that things might be turning around for you. The path you follow, it seems not to be as hard anymore as it was in the beginning. You are still struggling, no question, but you’re struggling a little less now. You are not rich by any means but at the very least, you’re managing to get by. Right now, all three of you just have one job at the side and still manage to make ends meet. Within another year, you might be able to support yourself just by following your dream. Wouldn’t that be great? You just have to push yourself a little more, put in a little more effort, try a little while longer, and then, everything will finally work out.

You tell this to yourself every single day and you follow these words as if they were the greatest insight you have ever been granted. You feel like you can’t allow yourself a single day of rest. Each day, you will try something new to get closer to that future you imagine. And, well, what is there to say? If you put in so much effort, then one day, things will change. And finally, that time arrives for the three of you.

You don’t have to work another job at the side anymore. And despite that, you are still able to pay all your bills and even treat yourself to something nice every now and then. The dream you’ve had for so long is now actually in your hands. It’s not just something that you imagine anymore, not just a wish, but it’s your actual, lived reality. You’ve made it. You’ve accomplished what you set out to do. Not in the way that you originally imagined but you still did it.

You can’t help but be in a daze every now and then, thinking of how you finally managed to do this. How proud would your family be? Just thinking of it, you can’t help but smile to yourself. Even though things were hard and you had to suffer through a lot of heartbreak, now, you feel that you have not wasted your life. Those years were worth it. That decision was the right one. You did not make a mistake. Your parents … they would be proud of you. You know it in your heart.

And your journey still hasn’t ended. You know that if you continue to try, if you keep working hard, then you will be able to go even further. You will be able to pay back your friends for what they’ve done for you. And you swear to yourself that you will make it possible for them to live their own dreams as well. You know them well enough. You know what they want. So even without them knowing, you slowly try to work toward their dreams as well.

And finally, the day comes where everything seems to be in reach. You have gotten an opportunity that you wouldn’t even have been able to dream of just a year ago. This is a breakthrough, a once in a million years opportunity, something you will never, ever be granted again. You have to grasp it. Because you know that with this, not just your dream would be fulfilled but also the dreams of your friends. The promise you’ve silently made to yourself: You will be able to keep it.

And then, while you are preparing for that grand moment, for what might very well be the peak of your career, things change once again.

One day, your friend suddenly finds a post online. It is written by a person that stays anonymous, using a made-up name to denounce celebrities. Because the opportunity you have just gotten has put you in the eye of the public, this person has also taken an interest in you. Who knows what they have against you but despite not being that kind of famous person they usually go after, they want to tear you down.

In this post, they do not acknowledge all the hard work you’ve put in over the years. Instead, they make it sound as if this opportunity and the success you earned were gotten through dishonest means.

Reading these vicious lines, you are unable to make either heads or tails of it. The things they pretend you did, how would you ever have gotten the opportunity? When you started out, you were just a simple youth fresh from school. You did not have any connections, no money, nothing. How are you supposed to use any of that to pave your way? If you had that kind of option, would you have needed to struggle so hard? Would your friends have needed to give up their dreams for yours?

Reading this is like a slap in the face. But what can you do? Your world seems to be crashing down once again, just when you’ve finally managed to pull yourself out of the mud and piece the shard back together. It seems that there’s no way to turn things around again this time.

The last time, just putting in hard work was enough. If you have nothing, you can start to work to gain something. But if your skill is doubted, if your reputation is smeared, if you lose the trust of the people out there that make it possible for you to live your dream, what can you do? Work even harder? How? You’ve already given everything that you can give. What can you do to show them that none of this is the truth?

No matter how you think about it, you can’t think of anything. And after everything you’ve gone through, after all the losses you’ve suffered, the sacrifices you had to make, after losing out on those beautiful years as a young adult that you should have had, you are suddenly once again faced with the question if there is a way forward. And for a moment, it really seems as if that isn’t the case.]

Qian Huang tightly furrowed his brows. He had almost reached the end of the text and by now, there really wasn’t any way that this was not referring to them. He could’ve maybe told himself so if it was just about a person losing their parents and being helped to stand up by their friends but all the details that had been put into this second half were too much. He started to understand just what Li Shui meant when he said that this was something they couldn’t just ignore. He silently shook his head and then went on to read the last part that was separated from the rest with an empty line.

[Maybe this sounded familiar to some of you. Maybe you already know who I am talking about. If you don’t, then let me tell you: This is about the three young men from ‘Bright Yellow Water’, an online cooking channel that was recently vilified by an online blogger who is going by the alias ‘Misses Youya’.

I originally stumbled over ‘Bright Yellow Water’ just a week ago when it was revealed that their chef, Xiao Ming, was invited to be a judge on the show ‘Golden Spoon’ that will soon be shown on national TV. Being curious, I looked a little deeper and was soon inspired to a short story that my readers will certainly remember: The Onion-Cutting Ninja’s Secret Crush.

As the title suggests this is a silly little story about a man raised as the last heir of a mighty ninja clan who falls in love with a food anchor but as they are separated by a screen, he can only confess by leaving bold statements in the comments, hoping to somehow garner the attention of this crush of his.

As usual, I did quite a bit of research about the source of my inspiration, namely the life of Xiao Ming and his channel, to understand better how the protagonist would fall in love despite not even meeting in real life. To say I was shocked after I realized just how much suffering this young man has gone through would be an understatement.

Xiao Ming is only in his twenties but he has already lost almost everything a person can lose. The only thing left are the two good friends at his side that stayed with him through everything, not turning their backs on him in his times of need but instead supporting him from behind, even sacrificing something of their own to let him have the last link to his past and a part of the future that should have been his.

So when Misses Youya published a post denouncing Xiao Ming’s work and ridiculing his friends, I was angry on behalf Xiao Ming. This kind of thing, how can she casually say it? Has she not looked into the truth of the matter? Does she not understand just what these three have gone through? Is she not clear on what her careless words might cause?

Thinking of all that, I couldn’t help myself but lay out the truth in this post. To be honest, I have to apologize for writing this because this is not my story to tell. While there is always a piece of truth in the stories that I write, I don’t publicize the personal information of the people I inquire about when researching. They are merely an inspiration for me, something I keep in my heart and mind. But this time, I was not been able to hold onto that.

Seeing not only what she wrote but also witnessing in yesterday’s live stream how Xiao Ming’s friend Qian Huang had clearly found out and struggled with keeping this to himself to not upset his friend, I was reminded of how strong the friendship of these three young men is and I couldn’t help but find it distasteful how somebody could slander them like that. Having researched them, Xiao Ming would never step out to clarify this matter and Qian Huang and Li Shui would not want to open old wounds and just try to keep everything from him, hoping that this issue will quietly dissolve on its own. But then, who is going to show the truth?

An actress like Tao Jin has fans that will go to great lengths to defend her online. But who do the three men from ‘Bright Yellow Water’ have? They are not famous to that degree. So, I could not help myself. Since I knew the truth, I boldly came out and stated it. I am sorry if I’ve overstepped. I did not want to make anyone uncomfortable but I feel that this needed to be said.

I loathe people that dare to judge others without knowing the whole story. Clearly, their life wasn’t easy. To accuse them of using a backdoor to get where they are is especially vile in front of the background of their personal history.

I hope that everyone who reads this post of mine will examine their own behavior and that of those around them. We should not judge somebody just based on some words and some so-called evidence that is at best circumstantial. What they’ve truly gone through, how their life looks, what they needed to give up in order to get where they are, can you really judge that without having lived it? I doubt it.

So do not destroy the years of hard work that have gone into this. Give them a chance. Even if you feel that maybe there’s a bit of truth to what Misses Youya wrote, won’t you just have to wait three more weeks to find out? If Xiao Ming really didn’t have the skills, then you would find out as soon as he acts as a judge on ‘Golden Spoon’. So why not just wait until then instead of blaming him now? If you still feel that he does not deserve to be where he is by then, you can still go and write an angry comment. But until then, hold your hands. Just give him a chance. Because he sure deserves it.]

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