It was so difficult for me to watch Yang Kang’s demise. I know he was full of mistakes, but he still loved Mok Nim Chi tremendously and he was actually filial in his own ways. I’m also sad that he didn’t have the chance to at least mend the bridge with Wong Yung (he did though with Kwok Ching, which was such a relief). Anyway, to console myself, I wrote this piece. It was also difficult to finish for I never wrote Yeung Hong before. And since this is a hypothetical situation, I hope I got it right somehow. Legend of Condor Heroes 1983 is the property of Jin Yong and TVB Hong Kong; no copyright infringement intended. Also inspired by LOCH 2008 which gave Yang Kang the chance to be with his wife and son for a few months. Romanisation is Cantonese... Yale, I think...
|Yeung Hong's final moments with his wife, Ep 52|
The Dragon’s Repentance
Yeung Hong stirred in his sleep and stretched his arms. The space next to him was empty. Alert, he opened his eyes and immediately got up from the bed. The movement hurt his chest, but the possible reason of the empty space was more frightening for him. He looked around the simply furnished room to find his wife Mok Nim Chi. She wasn't there. Panic, he jumped out of the bed and walked out into the living room that also functioned as the dining room and weaving place for Nim Chi. She wasn't there. Hyperventilating due to his excessive movements, his heart cried as he ran outside to the back yard. He prayed to Heaven, to Buddha, to anyone who were willing to pity his wretched soul to keep his wife safe. To keep her with him.
As if answering his prayers, the door of the little privy opened. A very pregnant Mok Nim Chi emerged from the privy, and with an immense effort walked back into the room. When her husband called her name with stars in his eyes, she looked up and smiled.
"I'm fine, Hong. I thought we've agreed that you are not going to panic if I am not in bed?"
He smiled sheepishly like a child. "Well, you know...you used to run away from me early in the morning before..."
Nim Chi studied the worried face of her husband. Touched by his fear of her leaving him, she caressed his stubbled cheeks with both hands. "That was before I was convinced that you'd change. Now...now I will not leave you even if you dump me."
"No way I will dump you! No way I will leave you!" He grabbed her hands and looked into her eyes. "I will stay with you forever...I will stay with our family forever."
Nim Chi couldn't bring herself to say that 'forever' doesn't exist, particularly for them, for a very potent poison circulated inside Yeung Hong's body, and it was just a matter of time that his body gave in. So she just smiled, blinked back her tears and asked him if he wanted some breakfast. In response, the husband asked if she was hungry, for he'd make the breakfast for her. Then, without waiting for her reply, he led her back into their simple hut. He sat her on a chair before going to the kitchen to prepare some porridge. Nim Chi raised from her chair and followed her husband a while later. She found him alternating between fanning the kitchen fire and stirring some rice in an old bronze pot. Smiling, she felt her little baby kicking in. Six months ago, she wouldn't even dare to dream of seeing this scene.
She remembered that day clearly six months ago when Kwok Ching came in a hurry to fetch her. Yeung Hong's kind sworn brother had found the arrogant Jurchen prince laying wasted inside the Iron Spear Temple, waiting for his death. It was Kwok Ching's kindness that made him forgive Yeung Hong's sins. That, added by his increasingly excellent Ching Kung, brought him to the Heart Break Valley where Mok Nim Chi had been living alone for the last three months. Despite her original doubts, Nim Chi followed Kwok Ching to the temple where she found Yeung Hong trying to conceal his imminent ending. After overcoming her anger where she thought Yeung Hong was lying again, she saw through his lie again. This time though, he didn't lie to cheat her. He lied to spare her the pain of the final goodbye. With that understanding, came forgiveness. She cried as she narrated her wishes to live a simple life with her husband again. Her husband shed his tears, narrating his wishes to teach their children how to live as decent people. All the time, Kwok Ching was faithfully standing behind, shedding his silent tears, waiting for the time to say goodbye to his sworn brother. Yeung Hong eventually looked up. He thanked Kwok tai-gor for fetching Nim Chi. Yeung Hong also asked Kwok Ching to please convey the former's regrets to Wong Yung for all his mistakes and misconducts. Kwok Ching nodded, losing the strength to utter a single word. His hatred towards his sworn brother had evaporated as he learned that the latter refused to have him transfer inner strength further, for he deserved that fate anyway.
Yet, death didn't come. After a while, Kwok Ching wondered if Yeung Hong actually managed to live. And would he return to his old path if he evaded death again? Yeung Hong also wondered about that, for he didn't feel so weak anymore. Then they remembered: before going to fetch Nim Chi, Kwok Ching actually force-fed Yeung Hong with the Nine Flower Jade Pill from the Peach Blossom Island. Wong Yung had secretly put the medicine inside Kwok Ching's pouch for a lifeline, but Kwok Ching didn't realise it until just before departing to the Heart Break Valley when he searched for anything that could prolong Yeung Hong's life. Now that he seemed to have recovered, would Yeung Hong return to his old evil path of scheming and double crossing? Seems there was little doubt in it...
Yet, as if reading Kwok Ching's thoughts, Yeung Hong shook his head. "I'm not going back to the Palace..." He whispered weakly, still thinking that it would be the last words he uttered. "My father had let himself be towed away by the two-faces who were supposed to be my guards. I've seen what type of people I've associated myself with. I'm not going back to them." He breathed in and out for a few moments, collecting his strength. "Kwok tai-gor... I fear I have to ask you one more thing."
On his part, Kwok Ching struggled with his internal conflicts of doubting Yeung Hong or giving him the nth chance. Hence, he merely nodded, preparing himself for whatever his sworn brother asked.
"Could you please dig up a grave and inscribe my name on it?" That request came so out of the blue that Kwok Ching blinked in surprise. Agog, he listened to Yeung Hong's explanation. "If I will die because of this poison, I will die anyway, anywhere. If I can still live...then let the grave be my reminder of my mistakes. If Father finds it, then let him think that I'm dead, for Yuen-ngan Hong has died anyway. In his stead, Yeung Hong...is born...even if just for a few days." He swallowed. "Even just for an hour."
Mok Nim Chi let out a sob as she embraced her husband. "You'll change now, Hong?" She asked in disbelief. "You'll leave your past behind and follow me?"
Smiling, Yeung Hong nodded. "I'll give it all up...I will follow you everywhere with whatever time I have..."
"We will live in poverty."
"I will try to help. Whatever I can. Plough the soil. Whatever so that I can be with you. Be with our child."
Kwok Ching studied Yeung Hong's face. Colour had started to return to his pale face. His blue lips weren't so blue anymore. He checked his sworn brother's pulse, and concluded to the best of his knowledge that Yeung Hong might have evaded death anyway. He nodded.
"I will do your request. But this is the last time I help you. If you lie again, I can't help you anymore." He rose, then added, "In fact, I have no more of the Nine Flower Jade Pill...and it seems you still need another dose. But we can only get it from Wong Yung, and I doubt she'll help you."
Still smiling, Yeung Hong shook his head. "Then Wong Yung had helped me despite what I did to her. I don't deserve another help from her. This is more than what I deserve now..."
Kwok Ching nodded. He went outside the temple and dug the grave as Yeung Hong requested. He then returned, half expecting to find Yeung Hong gone and Mok Nim Chi crying again. Yet, he found the two of them embracing each other as Nim Chi told Hong how the baby would kick every now and then. In fact, at that time, the baby kicked. Yeung Hong's hand was on the right spot; he could feel the kick right away. He smiled. Kwok Ching never saw him smiling like that. At that moment he knew that his sworn brother would finally keep his promise to turn a new leaf.
Kwok Ching and Nim Chi then helped Yeung Hong back to Nim Chi's house. They stopped at the mock grave where Yeung Hong asked Nim Chi to tie his silk hair ribbon to the wood inscription. "It belongs to Yuen-ngan Hong, not me." They knew that he did that to further convince Yuen-ngan Honglie that he had died, so Nim Chi tied the ribbon as requested. That night inside her house, they had a very simple meal to celebrate Yeung Hong's reborn. The former Jurchen Prince truly needed another dose of the Nine Flower Jade Pill, yet he truly didn't care if he'd get it or not. Instead, with his very limited strength, he tried to ask as many things as possible from both Nim Chi and Kwok Ching. To Nim Chi, he asked about the baby and her new life in that valley. To Kwok Ching, he asked about his brother's childhood in Mongolia. He purposely didn't want to talk about recent events, for he truly regretted his deeds. Yet, several times they inevitably talked about his misdeeds. They then found him so tearful that they had to stop the conversation, for he was sobbing like a baby. Later, Yeung Hong looked so tired that they had to stop the conversation. He begged Kwok Ching to let him send him off in the morning, and the latter consented. Kwok Ching and Nim Chi woke Yeung Hong up the day after. The former Jin Prince slowly walked his sworn brother to the door and bade him farewell, wishing him all the best in finding Wong Yung.
That was six months ago. Ever since that day, despite his limited strength, Yeung Hong had tried to make up for his misdeeds. He started simple: by trying to get healthier as soon as possible so that he could ease up Nim Chi's workload around the house. Yet, now and then he'd have a relapse from the remaining poison within his body. Originally Nim Chi would try to cure him by transferring her own blood like she did before, but Yeung Hong strictly forbade her to do that.
"You'll kill our baby if you do that, Nim Chi. Would you want me to commit another sin by killing our unborn baby?" She paused as her bleeding palm hovered over his hand. He was right. She had a large responsibility now as a mother. Yeung Hong sighed. He took Nim Chi's bleeding palm and washed it to prevent infection. "I have always listened to you these days, Nim Chi. But just for this one, please listen to me. Please rescue our baby."
She looked at him and, as she accepted his tender kiss, she abandoned the blood transfusion plan.
Despite realising that total health was rather improbable, Yeung Hong still tried to help with whatever he can, including making their meals and cleaning up the house whenever he wasn't feeling tired or having a relapse. Because Nim Chi's house was within an hour of walk to the Iron Spear Temple, he started to grow beard so that he wasn't recognised by any Jurchens that might be passing by the town. Not that he ventured out a lot anyway. Yeung Hong spent the first two months of his reunion with his wife just idling around the house. He was still very weak and he didn't want to bump into anyone he knew.
A month after the Iron Spear Temple event, they learned from their neighbours that some Jurchen armies went passed by the town without any incidents. Yeung Hong suspected that the Jins were in the area to find some news about him. No doubt that they'd seen his fake grave. Since no Jurchens came to town anymore, he and his wife then concluded that the army must have returned to Yanjing. When Nim Chi later asked if he regretted not going with the army, Yeung Hong shook his head.
"Yuen-ngan Hong is dead. I'm grateful to be just Yeung Hong now." When she tentatively asked if he missed his foster father, to her disappointment he nodded. "He's been taking care of me since I was born anyway. But it doesn't mean that I don't realise that he has been a bad influence for myself. Nim Chi -" Yeung Hong gently grabbed her hand, deciding to bare the remaining soul he had to his wife. "I know you and Kwok tai-gor wanted me to kill him. I can't do that, not even now. Not even after he abandoned me. But that's not because I want to be a prince. Not because of power. I can't kill him because no matter what, I owe him for bringing me up." He then stopped, studying the floor. It was a while before he resumed, "Yet, I know he caused my family's destruction... So if you and Kwok tai-gor want to kill him, I'm not going to stop you guys. Just do that one night when I am asleep and tell me about it in the morning, so I am not tempted to stop you. But I won't, I can't kill him. I just can't..."
It took Nim Chi a while to realise that Yeung Hong did have a point in not wanting to kill Yuen-ngan Honglie. That bastard Prince Zhao was, after all, his foster father. In his own way, Yeung Hong was a filial son after all. When she later told him this conclusion of hers, he choked on his tears and thanked her for her understanding.
Days and months passed in the Heart Break Valley as Yeung Hong accustomed himself with his new peasant life. He wasn't used to simple meals and rough clothes, but whatever initial reluctance he had when he first saw poverty at Niu Village evaporated upon realising that only by being accidentally poisoned (and rescued by Kwok Ching) then he could be together with Nim Chi. He had three pieces of gold with him in his old pocket. He gave those gold ingots to Nim Chi, telling her that she would be the wiser user between the two of them. Although she originally wanted to just give the gold to their neighbours, Nim Chi's practical side won. She saved the gold and just used them for more nutritional meals for Yeung Hong and the baby growing inside her. Yeung Hong would later give his portion to Nim Chi, so the two ended up shoving each other's plate in an attempt to give the other a better meal.
Despite his unstable condition, Yeung Hong continued helping Nim Chi cleaning the house and learning from her how to cook simple meals (he was a hopeless cook, but Nim Chi gave him high marks for trying). After the housework was done, he'd just watch his wife weaving fabric she'd later sell to feed her new family. She also prayed a lot in front of her small Boddhisatva statue, particularly after sunset. Listening to his wife chanting the sutras gave Yeung Hong immense peace he never knew existed. He'd close his eyes and let tears streamed down his cheeks. Nim Chi would then hug him and told him that the most important thing was that he repented, and that he was with his new family now. They'd sleep hugging each other, knowing well that Yeung Hong could have another relapse next day, and his repentance days would be over.
"Nim Chi, the porridge is ready." Yeung Hong waved his hand in front of his wife's face. "Hey, Nim Chi, what's wrong?"
Nim Chi jerked back into the present. She looked up to see Yeung Hong waving a bowl of porridge in front of her. She smiled. "Nothing. I was just... I'm just happy..."
Her husband smiled back. “Well, make me an honest and happy man then. Eat my porridge?”
Despite Yeung Hong’s hit and miss culinary expertise, Nim Chi was always happy to eat his dishes. This time wasn’t an exception. She took a spoonful of the porridge and sipped it. To her relief, the porridge was actually delicious. Smiling, she finished the porridge. Yeung Hong also sipped his porridge, but he stopped every now and then just to admire his wife. After Nim Chi finished her meal, Yeung Hong collected the cutleries and went back to the kitchen to wash the dishes. Minutes later, Nim Chi was about to rise from her chair to follow her husband when she felt a very sharp pain inside her uterus. She gasped and doubled over in pain. Always observant, Yeung Hong swiftly turned and ran to catch her wife.
“Nim Chi! What happens?!”
Nim Chi gasped again. Yet when she looked up, despite sweat starting to form on her forehead, she smiled. “The baby... I think it’s coming...”
Panic and excitement emerged from within Yeung Hong as he stuttered unintelligible words. He didn’t remember how he could calm himself and help his wife to go back to bed. He didn’t even remember how, despite his current condition, he managed to run to fetch Mrs Yan the midwife and returned in record time to help Nim Chi with her labour. He only remembered that he chanted “Please Heaven, please help my wife” over and over again, pleading and begging Heaven to give him the chance to be a father, a good father his child deserved, a good husband his wife deserved.
The baby was pink and tiny. He also had the most amazing power to render Yeung Hong helpless every time the latter looked at him. The baby was delivered safely last week, despite his father fretting and experiencing the worst worries of his life for about three hours. Then, as Mrs Yan placed the baby on Yeung Hong's arms, the father sobbed alongside his child. He didn't even let go of the baby; he just cradled him in his arms, pouring his tears of gratitude on to the bloody baby. Only after Mrs Yan gently reprimanded him for not sharing his happiness with his wife, Yeung Hong stopped cradling the baby. Embarrassed, he gently gave the baby to Nim Chi, while at the same time pouring his gratitude to his tired but glowing wife.
Ever since, Nim Chi almost couldn't separate the baby from Yeung Hong. The only time the baby was off his father was when he needed to feed on his mother's milk or when Yeung Hong had to go to the village to buy provisions. Other times, anyone would find the baby cradled inside his father's embrace. Even during sleep, Yeung Hong attached himself to the baby, and the baby seemed to be very fond of his father. Early on, he'd already try to grab Yeung Hong's hair, which made the new father shed happy tears.
"One would think that you're the mother, not me!" Nim Chi joked in good-nature. Truth be told, she'd rather have Yeung Hong plastering himself to the baby for the rest of his life than having the father buried behind the Iron Spear Temple, cold and lonely.
"Well, now that I know how beautiful babies are, I do envy you women for being able to give birth!" Yeung Hong chuckled as he added, "Perhaps we can have a baby girl next time? It'll be so fun to watch her growing into a beautiful woman like you..."
Even Mrs Yan had to give it to Yeung Hong; he somehow knew how to handle the baby. The midwife came every day since the baby was born to help the chores. She also taught some baby-maintenance tricks to the new father who actually wrote down those instructions lest he forgot them. She grew to like Yeung Hong, who had become more cheerful after the baby was born. Yeung Hong in turn treated the old lady like his own nursing mother.
Speaking of which... Mrs Yan was late today. Yeung Hong was aware of the likelihood of the midwife coming rather late today for she might be assisting another expecting mother. Nim Chi left to deliver her fabrics an hour ago. She would also go to the market to buy some sustenance. It was her first time going out after the labour for, despite Yeung Hong’s objection, Nim Chi wanted to go out for some fresh air today. Hence she left with a smile and a promise to return swiftly. She wouldn’t be back for another half hour or so though, hence Yeung Hong was enjoying himself with their newborn baby, swaying him back and forth in his embrace.
Thus Yeung Hong was slightly curious to hear the running steps of a woman coming into the house. He was happy though, for he missed telling Nim Chi how beautiful she was whenever she was breast-feeding (and on any other occasions, really). He gently placed the baby inside his newly-made crib and walked to the living room. To his utter shock, the door slammed open, revealing a dishevelled Nim Chi.
“Hong! Help! Elder Peng is chasing me!”
Colour drained from Yeung Hong’s face as he realised the ramification of that information. He brought an end to Elder Peng’s career in Kaypang, and naturally Peng would despise him. Yet, he soon registered the dishevelled state of Nim Chi’s hair. Anger rose within him.
“What did he do to you?!”
“They tried to take advantage of me, but I managed to defeat them.” Then she saw her husband’s face and realised that she should’ve not gone home. She should’ve tried to defend herself better. “No, Hong, don’t come after them. It’s three of them against us and our son. Let’s leave!”
“I’m not leaving!” Fire that had been gone from Yeung Hong’s eyes returned in seconds. “I won’t let anyone harass my family, let alone that slimy Peng!”
“You’re still unwell, Hong, you can’t fight them! Let’s leave!”
“Well, isn’t that a good piece of information!” a familiar voice called from outside. Yeung Hong grabbed Nim Chi’s arm and hid her behind him. Former Elder Peng strode into the house, not forgetting to kick the already opened door. Two beggars trailed seconds behind him, arrogantly entering the house.
“So you’re not dead yet, Yeung Hong!” sneered Peng. “And lo and behold, instead of returning to your father, you’ve been hiding in this shithole!”
“Mind your language, Peng! What do want?!”
“What do I want?... Let’s see...” Peng looked around before fixing his lustful gaze at Nim Chi. “I want you to crawl in front of me, apologising for ruining my career. Then I want your wife. Oh, and I want you to kill yourself. How’s that sound?”
“In your dream! Now get out before I kick your sorry teeth!”
“Ah, but Young Prince, are you not injured still?” Peng’s eyes glinted in cruel satisfaction. “Or shall I say, poisoned? How are you going to kick my sorry teeth, as you put it? How are you going to protect your wife?” He touched his moustache suggestively. “Say... if you’re sick, it means you’re not functioning either. Why don’t we just call it a day and give your wife to me? She’ll be much happier with me!”
“You slimy dog!” disgusted to no end, Yeung Hong opened attack. During his prime days, Yeung Hong wouldn’t even blink to defeat Peng and the two beggars whose names he couldn’t remember. Yet, he barely escaped death due to Ouyang Feng’s poison and his immune systems were badly compromised. Peng only needed four moves to hit Yeung Hong, sending the latter slamming on the wall and coughing blood. Yet Yeung Hong persisted. He picked himself up and fought the three beggars while shouting at Nim Chi to leave the house with the baby.
And that was what Nim Chi did. She wanted to help, but she knew Peng would hold no qualms in hurting the baby just to get his revenge. She picked the baby, currently crying in earnest as he sensed danger nearby, and ran outside the house. Her plan was to deliver the baby to a neighbouring butcher who knew a little bit of kung fu and then returned to assist Yeung Hong. However, the two beggars blocked the route to the butcher, such that she had to run to the wilderness area behind the village. Thus she ran, hoping that the two beggars would not catch up with her soon, which also meant that Yeung Hong had to only fight Peng.
Yet, Peng did catch up with her. Laughing like a mad man, he tried to disgustingly grope her as the two beggars tried to snatch the baby away from her. Mok Nim Chi fought like a manic as she tried to block the fear of having Yeung Hong lying at home drenched in blood. Yet she was outnumbered. Receiving a hard kick on her chest, she fell. Yet, as she held the baby tight in her arms, she heard a battle cry and ensuing punches. She looked up to see her husband, drenched in blood, barely able to stand, still fighting to save her and the baby. To save his family.
“You’re not giving up, are you?!” finally at wits end, Peng barked in annoyance. He had defeated Yeung Hong alright, but the bloodied and battered former prince limped up again and continued fighting. “Why don’t you just die?!” Peng swished his beggar stick here and there, hitting Yeung Hong every now and then. In response, Yeung Hong parried Peng’s stick with a staff he managed to snatch from one of the beggars. He couldn’t care less if he died right then, but he wouldn’t die without a fight, and certainly not without defending his wife’s honour. Thus a rising fire within him, which made him broke the teeth of one beggar and hit the eye of the other beggar such that they couldn’t stand anymore. Now it was only between him and Peng, circling each other like beaten dogs, neither of them wishing to back off. Then they opened attack again.
Yet, Yeung Hong was very tired. His attacks were not focused, his breathing was short. For a moment, Peng seemed to have an upper hand and he almost managed to deliver a fatal blow at Yeung Hong when an unexpected help came from Nim Chi. Deciding that she was more than just a damsel in distress, she laid the baby on the grass, picked up the staff of the second beggar, and started attacking Peng. Husband and wife cooperated together such that Peng was finally cornered under a tree. Despite his condition, Yeung Hong delivered a perfect roundhouse kick that sent Peng whirling backwards, spurting blood. Yeung Hong was quick to follow it with another kick on his chest and a shove of staff on his throat.
“End game, Peng! You lost!” ignoring the sharp pain within his chest, Yeung Hong continued with a glare. “Get out of our sights and never disturb my family again. Ever. Again!” He locked gaze with Peng and for a few scary moments, Peng felt like he was cornered by a dragon. Make no mistake. Yeung Hong’s past was indeed full of misdeeds. Yet he had always been a dragon, a scary dragon at that. Under the intense glare of the dragon, Peng’s cowardice emerged again.
“I’m so sorry, Yeung tai-hap! Please don’t kill me! Please have mercy, please...!” without shame, he begged forgiveness. He even kow-towed in front of Yeung Hong, who was clearly not impressed.
“Cut the crap, Peng! Just get out of my sight now!”
“Of course, Yeung tai-hap, whatever you say. Of course...”
Yeung Hong scorned. He loathed the fact that he once allied himself with such a coward. Lowering his staff, he hissed in disgust. “Just leave and never return to our village.”
“Of course, tai-hap... of course...”
Peng picked himself up and, followed by his two associates, scurried away from the Yeung couple. Yeung Hong sighed in relief and turned to face Nim Chi, asking her with utmost concern whether she was alright.
“I’m fine Hong, but look at you...” tears welled in her eyes. “You’re so battered...”
“I’m fine. As long as you’re –” Yeung Hong never finished the sentence. He gasped as he felt a burning sensation on his back. He heard his wife’s scream and his son’s wail. He felt something sharp was pulled from his back, followed with intense pain. He turned slowly to see Peng lifting a glinting knife and stabbing it back on his chest.
Yeung Hong fell on his knees. Blood flew from his trachea into his mouth as he whispered, “Please spare Nim Chi and my son... please let them go...”
He fell on the ground, just as Nim Chi’s scream mixed with the clank of a sword against the knife.
Yeung Hong heard his wife's sobs and his son's howls. He opened his eyes to see a blur of thick hair in front of him. Nim Chi was hugging him tightly under a tree with pink blossoms. She looked up and, when she saw that he was awake, she wiped her tears.
“Nim Chi...” he smiled weakly. Then he heard his son's cries and wondered why Nim Chi didn't hold the baby. Perhaps she laid the baby on the ground? Weakly, Yeung Hong looked around to see if the baby was safe. Then he saw him.
Their son. Carried by a girl that he knew from what seemed to be a lifetime ago. He saw his son lulled by Wong Yung. His former nemesis. The girl he hit with anger and hatred. The girl who indirectly caused his poisoning, and hence his awakening. Yeung Hong was so surprised to see Wong Yung there that he didn't say anything for a good while. The girl herself, though she was busy cooing the baby to stop him from crying, when she felt an awkward silence, she looked up. She saw her nemesis looking at her. Without hatred. Instead, she saw regret, as indicated by the tears that suddenly welled in Yeung Hong's eyes.
Always the good wife, Nim Chi sensed her husband's discomfort. "Kwok tai-gor and Yung mei-mei came just in time to prevent Elder Peng from delivering a lethal strike on you," she explained. "We debated whether we should just end Elder Peng, but in the end we let them go."
"It was a good decision," turning to see his wife, Yeung Hong whispered weakly. Surprised, Kwok Ching asked if he was truly okay with them letting go of Peng.
"He badly injured you and tried to molest your wife," said Kwok Ching.
Yeung Hong shook his head. "I made him the worse man than he originally was. I wasn't innocent either." Then he looked up and, still weakly but also with resolution, thanked Wong Yung and Kwok Ching. The ever kind Kwok tai-gor nodded and asked if he was truly okay. Yeung Hong nodded. Another lie. But this time, no one spoke the truth. Then Yeung Hong looked at Wong Yung, who was looking down on the baby again. Somehow he knew that she did that not due to hatred though. More due to discomfort, which he also felt. Yet, knowing that his time was very limited, he drew the last courage he had.
"Wong Yung, forgive me."
That came as a surprise for the girl. She looked back at Yeung Hong, totally lost in words. Yeung Hong resumed.
"Forgive me for all I've done to you. To Kwok tai-gor. I know I've done abhorrent things, I don't deserve forgiveness. But if I don't say this now, I will regret it."
"I..." Wong Yung stuttered. The truth is, after she was reunited with Kwok tai-gor again and listened to his story about Yeung Hong, she started to pity the latter. She realised that, had she been raised by a coward and a liar like Yuen-Ngan Honglie, she could end up like Yeung Hong too. Considering that she was raised by a recluse who had no qualm in killing people, and that she actually inherited that trait before Kwok Ching tempered her, she realised that nurture did play a very important role in shaping up a person. She was still lucky that she was raised by a responsible person like the East Heretic, for despite his antics and cruelty, East Heretic did not lie to his daughter, nor he evaded the consequences of his actions and blame others for it. However, had she been raised by a coward or a liar, what was the likelihood that she wouldn't turn out to be a coward and a liar?
Contemplating this, Wong Yung slowly nodded. "I forgive you..." Then, tentatively yet sincerely, she added, "I'm also sorry that we couldn't understand each other better. You know...it would've been nice to be friends instead of being..." She looked at him in the eye and resumed, "...being the enemies that we were..."
Yeung Hong whispered, "It would have been very nice indeed..." He studied Wong Yung's face again before turning to Kwok Ching. "I'm truly grateful that I have the chance to see both of you before..." He looked at Nim Chi who had been listening gratefully so far. She looked at him in the eye and felt her heart sinking.
"No..." She whispered. "No, Hong... You promised you'll stay with me forever... You promised!"
He smiled. "Nim Chi...we both know the folly of that wish of mine..."
She was having none of that. "You promised!"
Deciding to be practical, Kwok Ching squatted next to Yeung Hong. "Yeung-heng, let me have a look." He immediately opened Yeung Hong's outer jacket. "We might still be able to..."
He stopped. Peng's knife had hit both sides of Hong's heart. Blood drained from Kwok Ching's face as he turned to Wong Yung for council, but the witty girl also went pale-faced. Stuttering, she said that her Nine Flower Jade Pill might be able to save Yeung Hong. Yet, the injured man shook his head with a smile.
"I may have renounced the way of evil...but I still retain my logic. I know when my case is lost."
If Wong Yung still had some uncertainty over Yeung Hong’s regrets, this calm response of his made her doubts disappeared like a puff of smoke. Again lost in words, she could only swayed the baby back and forth as the baby cried again, apparently sensing something was wrong with his father. To mask her discomfort, she asked what the baby’s name was. Mok Nim Chi managed to overcome her tears and answered on behalf of her husband that they hadn’t found an appropriate name, despite the baby being a week’s old. Then, as she locked gaze with her husband, she knew he was sharing her thoughts.
“Would you...” Nim Chi hesitated for a few seconds. “Would you care to find a name for him? We would love your suggestion.” She looked back at her husband who resolutely gave an approving smile despite currently being too weak to open his eyes properly.
Wong Yung exchanged glances with her husband. Six months ago, she wouldn’t have dreamt of naming Yeung Hong’s son, encouraged by said man, no less! Yet now, she frowned in earnest, thinking of the most appropriate name for the baby, who admittedly was very cute and was sure to break many a girl’s heart in the future. It was Kwok Ching though who came up with an appropriate name a moment later.
“What about...” he hesitated as he looked at his sworn-brother, clearly at his death bed. Sensing his reluctance, Yeung Hong opened his eyes again and nodded to encourage Kwok Ching. After looking back and forth at Yeung Hong and the baby, Kwok Ching resumed, “What about having ‘Gor’ (過) as his given name? Gor as in ‘fault’... and then...” he looked at Yeung Hong again uncomfortably, but since he received a complete understanding in return, he resumed, “...then we give him the courtesy name 改之, as in ‘to correct’. So his name is Yeung Gor, which means –”
“ – to correct my mistakes,” nodded Yeung Hong, again with total calm and acceptance. “Yeung Gor...That is a very appropriate name. Very beautiful. Don’t you think, Nim Chi?” His wife didn’t say anything except for nodding and marvelling at the simplicity yet profound meaning of their son’s name. Yeung Hong smiled again at the Kwok couple who smiled back at him. “Thank you, Kwok tai-gor, Wong Yung. That is a beautiful parting gift for me.”
“No, Hong-heng, you won’t-” said Kwok Ching and Wong Yung in unison.
Yet, Yeung Hong shook his head. “We know it’s time...” He looked alternatingly at Wong Yung and Nim Chi. Nim Chi was obviously crying again, which pained Yeung Hong, but he was surprised to see Wong Yung shedding tears as well. He reached for baby Yeung Gor. “Nim Chi, I’d like to hold our son...”
Wong Yung sniffled her tears and gave the baby to Nim Chi, who gave him to his father. Yeung Hong kissed the cherub cheeks of Yeung Gor as silent tears streamed down his cheeks. “Forgive your ignorant father for his wrong-doings, Yeung Gor... May Heaven help you so that your life will be easy, despite my wrong-doings...” He held the baby tight, for he knew his clock was ticking. “I will miss seeing you growing up, Son. Grow up...to be a great man...like your grandfather. Learn...from my mistakes... Love and take care of your mother...”
Yeung Hong said those words slowly, for every word was a physical pain to utter. Literally, every time he spoke, blood streamed from his mouth. Finally, couldn’t take it anymore, Mok Nim Chi embraced him so tightly. “Hong! Please don’t go! Yeung Gor needs you... I need you...”
“Nim Chi...” he smiled again. "Don't cry... I'm not worth your tears..."
She sobbed. "You are worth my tears...you are worth my love..."
He smiled. "Take care of Yeung Gor..." Shakily, he lifted his right hand to caress Nim Chi’s cheek. “You’re so beautiful...and pure...”
The wind blew ever so gently as Yeung Hong left his body. Traces of pink blossoms from nearby trees caressed his tearful cheeks as a strand of his hair billowed poetically. To give more space for Nim Chi’s mourning, Wong Yung lifted baby Yeung Gor from Yeung Hong’s embrace. As she looked up with the baby in her arms, for a few seconds she thought she saw Yeung Hong’s astral body hovering in front of her, smiling in gratitude for her forgiveness. Wong Yung blinked, but when she opened her eyes again, she saw only pink blossoms blown by the wind. She wiped her tears and sighed.
“Good bye, Hong gor-gor. Rest in peace...”
I’ve come to terms with the fact that Michael’s character (Yeung Hong) and Barbara’s character (Wong Yung) had zilch camaraderie in LOCH 1983. I do think that Wong Yung was more suitable with Kwok Ching, like Yeung Hong with Mok Nim Chi. Yet, I still wished that Yeung Hong had a closure with Wong Yung before his death. Good thing about fan-fiction is that it can still fulfil your wish, in a way...