A boy rescued a little girl when she fell into a rabbit hole. Dedicated to all things fluffy and happy in the world (I think I need this after Alan Rickman’s death yesterday). Also dedicated to Michael Miu and Barbara Yung, of course... The New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung 1984 is the property of TVB Hong Kong. No copyright infringement intended.
|Can't find a pix, so I stole from Kaguyahime Monogatari (Little Kaguya and Sutemaru)|
The boy watched as the rich-looking little girl stumbled over and fell into the hole. He gasped and then screamed "Idiot!!" before he ran towards the rabbit hole. Lucky for the little girl, the hole wasn't a deep one. Still, the fall would hurt her.
"Are you okay?" He peeked through the hole. The afternoon sunlight illuminated the hole slightly, such that he could see her little face crying from shock. "Don't cry. I told you not to chase the rabbit, but you still did that. Idiot."
"Will you just shut up and help me?!" came the unexpected order from the hole, slightly echoed. The boy chuckled. "I take it you're not injured, then?" He asked her. When she said she didn't know whether she was injured or not, he rolled his eyes heavenwards. Girls! "Try getting up, see if you can stand up." The girl did so and then screamed.
The boy frowned. Yep, most likely a twisted ankle, at least. He then looked around. "Wait, I'll get some ivy to help you."
The boy left and returned in a few minutes with a long ivy wound on his skinny left arm. He then lowered the ivy before effortlessly jumped into the rabbit hole. He landed with a soft thud before squatting to examine the girl's legs. The right ankle looked red.
The boy nodded. "Yep, you got one twisted ankle, but I don’t think you broke your foot. Since you can't climb the ivy yourself, guess you need to hop on my back, then I'll carry you."
The girl blinked. "Can you do that?"
"Well, you don't look heavy, so I should be able to carry you. Hop on now." He squatted to let the little girl slowly climbed on his back. Once she was settled, he gripped the Ivy and climbed the hole with a considerable ease. They were out of the hole in a few moments.
"Here we are!" The boy hoisted himself and the girl out of the hole. The little girl rolled to the side and laid there still for a while, holding her injured ankle. She then tried to get up before screaming and slouching down again. "Ouch!"
The boy looked alarmed. "Watch out! That's a serious twist you have there!" He got up and checked the ankle again under the sun. He frowned as he thought of something. He then palpated the ankle and the surrounding bones and muscles. "Your injury is similar to the one I had last year... So if I'm not wrong..." The little girl suddenly screamed again.
"Oww!! What did you-!" Then she blinked and checked her ankle again. The pain was almost gone, and the ankle didn't look weird anymore. "...what, what did you do?"
"I just fixed your ankle the way my teacher fixed mine last year," was the answer as the boy wiped his own forehead. "Phew, I was actually afraid it'd gone south..."
"You experimented with my ankle??" The girl's big eyes widened in disbelief.
"Hey, it worked, didn't it?"
"Yeah, but it could indeed gone wrong! I could've asked the doctors at the pal..." She suddenly remembered something, then she changed her attitude. "Thank you. For fixing my ankle, and also for carrying me up here."
The boy, who was ready for another combative conversation with the girl, softened up. He smiled. "I'm glad you're okay. You should be truly okay after a few days' rest."
The girl examined her right foot again. "Thank you," she eventually said. "If you didn't see me running, I wouldn't be found for a while..."
"Told you not to chase the rabbits, and you didn't listen!"
"... They were so cute..."
"They almost cost you your leg! Be careful next time..." He then added, "I might not be around here to rescue you."
"Oh," the little girl looked disappointed. "And here I thought I have found a new friend. So you don't live here?"
"No. My teacher and I are wanderers. We like moving around, trying new stuff, finding new places."
"You don't live with your parents?"
Darkness momentarily clouded the boy's jovial face. "No."
"... They passed away two years ago when bandits looted our village. My master saved me and made me his student."
"So you don't have your mother with you?"
The boy looked away. "No, not exactly. But I have her in my heart."
The little girl contemplated this statement for a while. "I'm sorry I made you sad... You see, I don't have my mother with me anymore too..."
The boy turned to face the girl again with a renewed interest. "Bandits looted your home too?"
"No. She fell ill last winter and died soon after. My father is still sad, you know. That's why I wanted to catch the rabbits for Dad."
The boy clicked his tongue. "Tsk! The rabbits won't like it if you catch them and bring them to the city where you live. Cos their home is here."
"I guess you're right," said the girl after a thought. She nodded. "I won't catch them anymore then."
"Good girl. How's your foot?"
She moved her foot slightly before reporting back. "It doesn't feel painful anymore, but I'm not sure I can walk already."
The boy knelt down to check the foot again. "Don't worry about your foot. A bit of ointment and a good rest will do good. You're a strong girl, you'll be okay."
The girl was about to ask how did the boy know so much, but then she noticed something at the horizon and screamed in delight.
|Art by Xuedaixun|
"Nanny! I'm here!!" She waved frantically to an elegantly dressed elderly lady, then turned to the boy, who just got up and cleaned his clothes. "That's my nanny there!"
The boy looked up to see the lady practically running towards him and the little girl. He nodded. "Good! You're okay now. Just walk slowly with her. I've gotta go now."
"Where are you going?" The girl asked as she studied the boy's face. He had a friendly smile, she concluded.
"Well, my master is waiting for me, so I need to go."
She was disappointed to have him go. "Will I see you again?"
He looked at the little girl. When she wasn't being bossy, she was actually nice. She also, as he further noticed, had rabbit teeth, which made her very cute. As cute as a little girl could be in the eyes of a teenage boy. Then he shrugged. "Perhaps one day."
Then, without bothering to give his name or ask the little girl's name, he said goodbye and left. As he walked away, he overheard the girl talking to the nanny. He didn't turn back. He thought he left his bamboo water bottle somewhere, and now his focus was to find that water bottle and some water for his master.
|This art is from here|
The little girl and her mother both cried. Well, the little girl screamed and the mother sobbed so pitifully, such that when the girl's father found them, he was so surprised and concerned.
"Siu Ching, what happened??" Chor Lau Heung ran swiftly towards his wife.
"I'm such a baaaad motheeeerrr!!!" Song Siu Ching wallowed as their daughter Lau Ying screamed on top of her lungs. Lingering Fragrance blinked and checked his daughter and her surroundings. They were under a tree of medium height. A Ying's palms and knees were bleeding, but it wasn't a profuse bleeding, more like blisters. His daughter was wearing pants underneath her cute frilly pink frock, hence she needed a fall to have such injuries. At that time, So Yung Yung arrived at the site, asking the same question he asked before. Ignoring her question, he turned to Siu Ching.
"Did A Ying fall?"
"I'm the worst mother in the wooooorld!!!" Siu Ching wallowed even harder. Taking it as a confirmation to his question, Lau Heung turned to Yung Yung. "Could you check her?" She was on it already, checking her adopted niece for any fractures on the girl's young bones.
"She's fine, Chor tai-gor," was her reply a little while later. "She's just shocked."
"That was what I thought too." Turning his attention back to his crying wife, Lingering Fragrance then squatted next to her and said, "Siu Ching, our daughter is fine. Those are just blisters. Please stop crying."
"No, you don't get it," Siu Ching shook her dishevelled hair. "We were walking the cliff to look for dolphins. Then I saw them on the water, popping up and down, their pink bodies. Then I told A Ying about it. But then the dolphins disappeared. I looked around to find them again, but when I found them, A Ying wasn't with me." She sniffled and continued. "Then I heard her calling me, and then a scream. I looked up this tree, but I was too late! She already fell from the branch she was climbing. I couldn't catch her in time." She ended her story with another wail. "She could've fallen off the cliff!! I'm a baaaad motheeeerrr....!!!"
Chor Lau Heung mentally measures the distance between the cliff edge and the tree and concluded that, for his daughter to fall over the cliff, she had to actually leap forward with a considerable momentum. That wouldn't have been achieved with a slippery mis-step that, he suspected, caused the fall. In short, Siu Ching's fear wasn't well-founded. However, he knew better than to argue with the young mother. He looked at Yung Yung who smiled back at him and nodded.
"Siu Ching, is that okay if I bring A Ying to the boat? Tim Yi and Jan Jan are preparing some fruit beverage for us. In fact, we came here to tell you about it."
"Fuut!" A Ying suddenly stopped crying. She loved fruits. "Fuut, Mama, fuut!"
"Fuut! Yes, darling, shall we have fuut?" Yung Yung cooed her niece and scooped her. "She'll be fine, Siu Ching. I'll see you two later?" With that, she left Chor tai-gor with his still sobbing wife.
Chor Lau Heung then sat down next to his wife and held her tight as he caressed her hair. Looking at the sea over the cliff, he sat silently with her as her tears subsided. They had spent at least two weeks on that island off the Pearl River estuary. The island was one of the fertile yet nearly uninhabited islands clustering off the estuary. Only some small fishing villages inhabited by people who spoke a different dialect than theirs dotted the islands' coasts. They originally just planned to stay for a week there, but when they found some pink dolphins inhabiting the local waters, they decided to stay longer. Their two years old daughter Chor Lau Ying loved the dolphins and always wanted to walk down the beach every day to see them. Siu Ching had brought A Ying to the cliff overseeing the bay where the Fragrant Boat anchored today to have a better chance to see the dolphins, for sometimes it wasn't that easy to see them from the beach.
Chor Lau Heung heard his wife's cries dissipating, but she was still sobbing slightly. He held her tighter. She was always a petite woman, and even after her labour, she didn't need much time to return to her pre-pregnancy shape. Chor Lau Heung suddenly realised that they, he and her, had been A Ying's parents for two years, and oftentimes they forgot that they were lovers too, husband and wife too. He was about to talk about that when she whispered.
"She's only two. How come she knew how to climb a tree??"
Lingering Fragrance looked at the problematic tree. It wasn't a tall tree. Higher than Siu Ching definitely, but he'd be able to reach for the closest branch easily to, if he'd like to, put A Ying on the branch. Still, a two years old toddler wouldn't be able to climb up that easily. Then he smiled.
"Perhaps...because she's my daughter?" After all, he was famous for his gravity defying skills, and his mother used to complain about him climbing up trees at his earliest age.
It was a while before his wife replied. "You might be right. It's a bit mind blowing, but it's possible that she takes after your ching kung. And..." Siu Ching finally turned to face her husband, "She should be fine too, right? Considering she's your daughter?" Since Chor Lau Heung just looked at her with a weird expression, she added, "I mean, your stamina is good; so she should have a good stamina too?"
"Perhaps," Lau Heung slowly smiled. "But I think she takes after your resilience."
"Me?" Siu Ching pointed at her own nose incredulously. "No way!"
"Why not? Your ching kung is much better now." That was true; Siu Ching's gravity-defying skills had improved considerably since the last few years due to constant training. "At any rate, I'm not talking about her climbing skill. I'm talking about her resilience."
Siu Ching shook her head. "I'm don’t understand..."
"You have a great resilience, Siu Ching. You have adapted so much since we decided to share our lives together. That is resilience, and also flexibility. The ability to bounce back after falling; that's your trait. Hence, I'm sure our daughter takes after you. Besides..." Lingering Fragrance smiled and meaningfully added, "You're a strong girl. You'll be alright..."
Siu Ching blinked. "What did you just say..."
"You're a strong girl. You'll be alright...", replied her husband slowly.
It was a while before she spoke again. "Chor tai-gor..."
He looked deeply into her eyes. "Do you remember..."
She tilted her head, as if trying to remember something. "When I was but a little girl..."
He smiled slightly. "I saved a little girl from a rabbit hole..."
She hesitated for a second before resuming, "And after the boy fixed my injured ankle, he said..."
He didn't miss a beat when he finished her sentence. "I said something like, 'You're a strong girl. You'll be alright...' to that little girl."
"And then the boy went away, because he had to meet -"
"- my teacher who was waiting for me." He smiled with stars and sun in his eyes. "Then I left, and, although I did think about that little girl for a few days, I eventually forgot about her."
"Same here," Siu Ching looked at her feet. "I remembered the boy until my foot was fully healed, then I forgot about him."
Gently, Chor Lau Heung grabbed his wife's arms and turned her to squarely face him. "So the little girl was truly you then..."
Siu Ching nodded, still slightly dazed. "What made you think it was me, though? It was, more than 15 years ago, and I was very little, about five I think. When did you remember?"
Lau Heung tilted his head slightly, folded his arms and stared at the afternoon light that danced on the surface of the sea. "I'm not entirely sure... But it was definitely recently. I guess having a little girl helped triggering it. I can't pinpoint when, but recently whenever I saw A Ying and you, the memories of that day returned to me, slowly." He chuckled and returned his attention to Siu Ching. "What about you?"
The young mother shook her head. "Not sure either, but I guess it's the same with yours. Watching you taking care of A Ying brought back those precious memories. I totally forgot about that event until recently. I now think we're so lucky to have those precious moments..."
"I agree." Her husband pinched he chin playfully. "So...now you need to smile. A Ying will be fine. She takes after you and me, and she'll grow into a beautiful, strong, smart and resilient woman like her mother." He pointed at something down the cliff. Siu Ching strained her neck. She saw the Fragrant Boat parked at the bay. Her little daughter was playing barefooted on the sand, collecting sea shells with her aunts. Siu Ching eventually relented.
"I guess you're right. I worry too much."
"And that's normal. But I think we shouldn't treat her like a fragile vase. She will grow up to be a fine girl, a gorgeous woman. And she needs to learn to pick herself up too. She'll be fine." Chor Lau Heung folded Siu Ching again into his embrace. She leaned on his comforting chest, but she freed herself moments later as she pointed at the sea.
"Chor tai-gor! The dolphins are here again! Look! With the babies!" True, Lingering Fragrance saw a group of pink dolphins swimming very close to the shore with their grey babies. "I must tell A Ying!" resumed Siu Ching excitedly. Yet, he stopped her. "Don't worry, Siu Ching. She sees the dolphins already."
He pointed down again at the beach, and true enough, their daughter was jumping up and down in excitement as she spotted the dolphins; her aunts by her side. He guided her to sit down again next to him.
"Siu Ching..." He started again. "We've been parents for two years now," he resumed. "We're doing a good job at it. But, oftentimes, we forgot we're a couple too. That you're my wife and I'm your husband." He gazed deeply into Siu Ching's big eyes. "We don't always have to be A Ying's parents all the time. Give the other girls a chance to be aunts they want to be. Give ourselves time to just be you and me." The young mother, his wife, blushed. "I think you know what I mean..." When she nodded shyly, he kissed her. Exposed by the ocean wind, her sweet mouth was slightly salty, but he liked it even more.
"Now, what do you say about a stroll on the beach later after dinner, just the two of us?"
Wiki said that CLH's age was around early 30s during the Gu Long stories. Song Siu Ching, I'd say, was about 20 years old, no more than 22. I always imagine a maximum of 10 years gap between CLH and SSC, for she indeed looked less mature than him in the series (she did mature with him as the series progressed, though). Hence, for this story, I placed the little SC at about 5 years old and CLH as a 12-13 years old boy.
Also, the islands that I was referring to were the Hong Kong islands, with the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in their waters. These dolphins are famous for their pink skin for mature individuals, and grey skin for the calves and their habitat range extends from the Pearl River estuary up to the Hong Kong waters.
And last but not least, I stole the idea of the young SC falling into the hole after watching the beautiful Kaguyahimeno Monogatari (I’m a hopeless fan for Kaguya and Sutemaru...). A total must-watch from Studio Ghibli...