Couple of Mirrors – Chapter 42: The Moon is Beautiful, Isn’t it?
Yan Wei sits alone on the studio’s roof terrace, drinking beer. There are already two empty bottles on the table beside her.
As she brings a third bottle to her lips, Xu Youyi appears behind her and snatches it out of her hand. ‘Drinking alone? Why didn’t you ask me to join you?’
Yan Wei snatches the bottle right back. ‘Pregnant women shouldn’t drink.’
Xu Youyi sits down in the chair on the other side of the table. ‘Fine,’ she pouts.
Yan Wei leans down, picks up another bottle, and flicks the lid off with her finger.
‘Oh!’ Xu Youyi exclaims appreciatively.
Yan Wei hands her the bottle. ‘Fruit juice.’
Xu Youyi takes Yan Wei’s hand and studies it closely.
‘Very impressive!’ she concludes.
Yan Wei doesn’t say anything. She does, however, swallow visibly.
‘You don’t seem very happy tonight, Weiwei,’ says Xu Youyi. Did I do or say something to make you unhappy?’
Yan Wei quickly snatches her hand away.
Don’t get so close to me, she thinks. And don’t be so nice to me.
‘If that’s the case,’ Xu Youyi goes on, ‘then I should apologise to you. My heart aches for what you’ve been through, but if that makes you uncomfortable…’
‘It’s not your fault,’ says Yan Wei. She gets up and walks over to the railing of the terrace. ‘I only have myself to blame.’
‘Weiwei…’ Xu Youyi murmurs.
She gets up too, and joins Yan Wei at the railing.
Yan Wei gazes up at the moon. ‘As Tagore said, “The moon is beautiful, isn’t it?”‘ She turns and looks meaningfully at Xu Youyi. ‘Do you think he was right?’
Xu Youyi smiles. ‘Oh, Weiwei. You really should read more! Tagore never said that.’
Yan Wei looks crestfallen. ‘Oh.’
‘That’s a quotation from Natsume Sōseki,’ Xu Youyi continues. ‘It was in the context of a translation from English to Japanese. The original meaning of the sentence is…’[see translator’s note below]
She trails off, realisation dawning on her.
She flashes back to a past conversation with Yan Wei.
‘Why do you have those dark circles under your eyes?’ asks Xu Youyi anxiously. ‘Didn’t you sleep well?’
‘It was too noisy last night,’ Yan Wei replies.
“Really?’ says Xu Youyi. ‘But I never snore…’
‘It wasn’t you,’ says Yan Wei. ‘It was my heartbeat.’
Yan Wei is looking at her intently. ‘What is it?’
‘It’s very late, and I’m a little tired,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘I’ll explain it all to you another day.’
‘You’re probably right,’ says Yan Wei. ‘Pregnant women need adequate sleep. You should go back to bed.’
Xu Youyi starts to head back inside, then she turns to look at Yan Wei again. ‘Aren’t you coming?’
‘I’d like to be alone for a while,’ says Yan Wei.
Xu Youyi gets back into bed, but is unable to sleep. She keeps tossing and turning.
Did she really not understand what I was trying to say just now? Xu Youyi wonders. Or perhaps…
Outside on the terrace, Yan Wei is also wondering, Was she really feeling too tired just now? Or perhaps…
They both flash back to the many moments they’ve shared together. But when I think about everything we’ve been through together since we met… they wonder in unison. All of this — is this really just friendship?
Xu Youyi opens her eyes abruptly and sits up in bed. Or perhaps calling it friendship is only a kind of mental inertia, a form of self-deception, she thinks. Hiding my feelings under a veil of decorum, so that I feel safe. But as a modern woman, I don’t need to agonise over whether my feelings conform to society’s expectations!
She gets out of bed, and marches towards the door. All I need to do is follow my heart.
At the door, she hesitates. Wait. What if she doesn’t share my feelings? What if she really didn’t understand what I was talking about?
Just then, the door opens, hitting Xu Youyi in the face. ‘Ouch!’ she exclaims, clutching her forehead.
‘You’re back?’ asks Xu Youyi, just as Yan Wei asks, ‘You’re still up?’
‘I just got up to go to the bathroom,’ says Xu Youyi.
‘Oh,’ says Yan Wei. ‘Go ahead.’
The door shuts behind Xu Youyi. They stand on either side of the door, silent.
Meanwhile, at the police station, Chen Yong is hauling a dripping suitcase into Jiang Bin’s office. ‘Boss! After days of hard work, the fishermen finally dragged this up!’
‘Wonderful!’ says Jiang Bin excitedly, as Chen Yong places the suitcase on his desk.
‘Chen Yong, find me a crowbar!’ he orders.
‘Yes!’ says Chen Yong.
They prise off the lock with the crowbar.
Jiang Bin lifts the lid of the suitcase.
Inside is the rifle.
‘I knew it!’ Jiang Bin exclaims.
Please view the original manhua here.
- ‘The moon is beautiful, isn’t it?’ is a phrase attributed to the Japanese novelist Natsume Sōseki (1867 – 1916). During his teaching years, he supposedly overheard a student translating the English phrase ‘I love you’ rather awkwardly into its literal and direct Japanese equivalent. According to this account, Sōseki, believing that this direct translation ran counter to Japanese sensibility, offered a more subtle translation, namely: ‘The moon is beautiful, isn’t it?’