Faced with Yang Xuan’s near-persecuting eyes, Tang Junhe lowered his eyelids and repeatedly pinched his fingers, before saying after a while, “He is stalking me.”
Yang Xuan did not respond but just looked at him.
Tang Junhe bit his lower lip apprehensively and when he saw no reaction from him, he sniffled and said again. “He has tried to violate me… either by sexual assault or by molestation… I didn’t know anything at that time but I got away.” Perhaps because of the repression for too long and fear of talking about it with others, when faced with Yang Xuan, he opened his mouth and was somewhat self-absorbed and frank.
“You can beat him up.” Yang Xuan had little expression on his face.
“I was only 10 years old, I was very young, and he was my math teacher. I didn’t know what he was going to do to me and just felt a little scared.” Like a prisoner under interrogation, Tang Junhe hung his head and gave a frank account of his past, “I told my mother after I got home, and the next day she took me to the principal, and I realized it was something very serious.”
“The principal didn’t care?”
“Hmm.” Tang Junhe said. He could never forget that scene where Tang Xiaonian held that single fruit knife against Zhou Lin and then was rudely driven out by the security guards and only when she calmed down did the principal come over and placate that he would look into the matter. When Tang Xiaonian did not relent, the principal then threatened to call the police to come and handle the matter.
“Hah! Do it!” Tang Xiaonian looked at the principal with undaunted sidelong glances, “and see if the police are going to arrest me or that perverted teacher!”
But when the police really came, they took Tang Xiaonian away and found the fruit knife, which was called the “murder weapon”, on her body, and detained her for “disturbing public order”.
Later on, the police naturally did not detain her. Tang Xiaonian had no choice but to make a phone call to Yang Chengchuan, and then she was released. At that time, Yang Chengchuan was facing the pressure of promotion from Deputy Director to Bureau Chief. He was supervised by his superiors before being reviewed by his father-in-law, so he naturally didn’t dare to get involved in any troubles. When he received the phone call from Tang Xiaonian, he swore on the surface. After hanging up the phone, he hastily arranged for his subordinates to pick up Tang Xiaonian, and then there was no follow-up.
Tang Junhe will never forget the scene when Tang Xiaonian was taken away by the police; he thought his mother, Tang Xiaonian, would never come back. He cried uncontrollably and begged them to let his mother go, but the answer was just a heavy kick that sent him to the corner.
Since that time, Tang Junhe understood that tears are useless and never cried again. He did not cry when he was being followed by Zhou Lin after school, did not cry when he was wrongly accused of stealing in the classroom in full view of everyone, and did not cry when he encountered cold violence on campus. He learned to fight this not-so-friendly world with indifference.
“From the age of 10,” Yang Xuan stood up and walked to the window and stopped, “that’s six years of stalking.”
“When I was in elementary school, he didn’t often follow me because we were in the same school. Then when I was in high school, he started coming over every Friday to follow me.”
“At first it was just following, later he came up to talk to me and tried to touch me. But if he was drunk…” Tang Junhe said after a pause and gulped, “…he would try to do something more excessive, you saw it happen before, that time at the bar…”
Yang Xuan looked out the window, and after a few minutes said, “You couldn’t fight at the age of 10, but you can always fight later.”
“I’ve tried to fight him and he doesn’t fight back much, but beating him is useless, he still continues to follow me.”
“That’s because the beating wasn’t hard enough.” When Yang Xuan said this, he did not speak fast, but his tone carried an imperceptible hostility.
“Maybe.” Tang Junhe was silent after saying this word. He didn’t want to say in front of Yang Xuan that he couldn’t beat Zhou Lin, nor did he want to admit that Zhou Lin’s strength was far superior to his own. He couldn’t let Yang Xuan feel like he was showing weakness and begging for his help. An hour ago he was crying in front of Yang Xuan helpless and wretched, but now he was holding up a ridiculous amount of pride.
“Did you report it to the police?” After a few minutes, Yang Xuan asked again.
“It was reported,” Tang Junhe said, “He did not constitute substantial harm to me, and the police could not control it.”
“And you didn’t tell your mother?”
“I’m afraid he’ll hurt her, and I,” Tang Junhe still kept his head down, “I have no other relatives.”
After these words, the two people are silent, the indoor air conditioning is turned on low and the room appears dead silent, setting off the cicadas outside the window for a moment to be extraordinarily noisy.
“Nor did I tell—”
Both spoke and stopped at the same time.