On the day of his birthday event, Jian Bianlin left very early.
Chu Jian was in charge of bringing her parents as well as Jian Bianlin’s dad to the celebration’s venue. Prior to heading out, his dad actually watched the entertainment news for the first time ever. The image switched. On the screen was Lu Congwen’s face, smiling in front of a bunch of microphones as he answered some queries around the romantic rumours about him that were circulating.
Chu Jian did not listen in detail, but recalling her one and only encounter with this currently hot young actor, she remarked, “This guy shows one face in front of people and then has a whole different face behind your back. He looks down on people so badly.”
Chu Jian’s mom gave an “oh.” She knew that Jian Bianlin’s dad did not have a very good opinion about actors, singers, and other show business professions to begin with, and for fear that this would become an excuse to vent out such displeasure on Jian Bianlin and criticize him, she hurriedly tried to smooth past that comment. “That person’s occupation is being a celebrity. It stands to reason that not every sentence of his can be the truth. And plus, when you’re worshipped every day by your fans, it’s inevitable that it goes to your head a little. He’s young, after all.”
“Jian Bianlin doesn’t.” Chu Jian countered her mom’s words with this statement.
Chu Jian’s parents exchanged a look. Jian Bianlin’s dad took a drink of his hot tea and very cheerfully continued watching the television. Originally, he had wanted to watch the news rerun of Jian Bianlin’s sudden marriage announcement. Contrary to his expectations, though, that news was not shown, and he muttered, “For once, that brat has a piece of news that I actually want to watch, but then it’s not even rerun…”
Only then did Chu Jian understand Jian Bianlin’s dad’s intention. Her face hot, she instructed everyone to follow her out.
On his end, Jian Bianlin was busy with the final preparations for the birthday event so was unable to attend to them. Xie Bin’s plan had been to have a staff member bring them directly into the venue. However, this was the first time Jian Bianlin’s dad and Chu Jian’s parents were attending such an event, and they had curiosity like children, unanimously requesting that they follow all normal channels and sit in normal seats to experience the “fan culture” up close.
And so, Xiao Yu brought out a few tickets with centrally-located seats. After following Jian Bianlin’s dad, father-in-law, and mother-in-law from a distance of three steps behind and ensuring that they were all safely seated, he gestured to Chu Jian that he was slipping away and then ran off to continue with his busy work.
Front and back, left and right, there were young girls holding up LED light-up signs or glow sticks.
Honestly, they were all young girls. The ones who were slightly older did not comprise even twenty percent of the total numbers.
From the moment they took their seats, the chattering that surrounded them was all discussions about the marriage news. There were all sorts of guesses and speculations, some of them good and, of course, some of them bad. After all, aside from releasing this news, Jian Bianlin’s company truly had not paid to have any canned press releases. The meaning of that was very obvious: Anything that could be announced had already been announced, and whatever was withheld and not mentioned was, therefore, private.
“Your man forked out an arm and a leg this time. The red packets that he handed out to all the media and various marketing IDs on social media were amply padded. His reputation in the industry is good to begin with, and now that he has so clearly declared his stance in this, absolutely no one will leak your private details. You can set your mind at ease and just go live your cozy, happy life with him.”
This was what Tong Fei had told her this afternoon.
It seemed that because Chu Jian had once been attacked and isolated by everyone in high school, Jian Bianlin was being very cautious about the marriage announcement this time and had done all the preparation work first.
Even Xiao Yu had said just earlier that the night before Jian Bianlin brought her to register their marriage, their entire company had in fact already greased all the wheels and communicated with all the necessary parties, including Tieba, his fan group’s official Weibo account, etc. They had also done all the necessary internal communications about it. Otherwise, with Jian Bianlin currently being so hot and popular, how could the voices on the internet still be so harmonious after the sudden release of such news?
“Xie Zong personally made a call to the boss of Ruan Xi’s company and said, since both sides understand the situation, let’s just stop the fake rumours and hype. The marriage news has already been released, so doing that does no good to anyone.”
This was what Xiao Yu had secretly told her just a moment ago.
In short, it could all be summarized into one sentence: While he had sat nervously in the stairwell, waiting for her to wake up, everything had already been resolved and taken care of.
Chu Jian’s head was bowed as she again and again flipped her mobile phone back and forth in her hand.
There was a small matter that Chu Jian was feeling slight apprehension over, and whether or not she should tell Jian Bianlin about it was a question that was still up in the air.
Xu Jing had called her several times today. At first when she saw the number, she had not recognized it and answered the call. When she heard that “hello,” she had immediately hung up the phone out of reflex. Jian Bianlin was extremely sensitive about that little, three-day interlude in her teenage days, to the extent that she had become sensitive about it, too.
In fact, it really had been nothing…
Not tell him? But what if another phone call came, or Xu Jing used a different number and called again?
So difficult to deal with.
There in the stands, she racked her brains. In the end, she decided to call back, state everything clearly, and then let things be after that, or else if Jian Bianlin got jealous, there would also be trouble. Even now, and especially with her status as Jian Bianlin’s wife, when she thought back on that absurd incident from their youth, she still felt that Jian Bianlin had been in the wrong. Hence, she felt even more apologetic toward Xu Jing.
Finding an excuse to step out from the stands, she walked out past the ticket gates of the stadium, found a secluded corner, and dialled back.
Very quickly, the call was answered. “Chu Jian?”
“Mm-hmm. I didn’t dare pick up your call during the daytime. I was worried Jian Bianlin would get mad. Sorry about that.” Chu Jian spoke straight to the point. “Are you trying to get ahold of me for something urgent?”
With that incident back then, she and Xu Jing had broken up on a sour note, and after she went to the hospital and pleaded to him to be lenient on Jian Bianlin, the two had cut off contact with one another. They had been too young at the time and had not known what was the best way to handle the situation, so to some extent, some bitterness had been left in their hearts. Now that they had openly talked about it, they hereafter could both let go of it.
It was only after this phone call that Chu Jian learned that, during the period of Jian Bianlin’s dad’s work-related injury, Jian Bianlin and Xu Jing had actually run into each other.
The call was hung up. The staff members who were checking tickets at the entrance began urging people to hurry into the venue.
Chu Jian rushed back inside. The lights in the entire stadium had already been extinguished. Holding her mobile phone low so that the screen was illuminating the path by her feet, she continuously expressed her sorries to the young girls seated in the stands as she hunched over and returned to her own seat.
All of a sudden, fireworks burst forth. Dazzling beams of light shot up above the floor seats as well the stands…
It had begun.
Their seats were in the stands relatively further away from the stage, so watching the large screens on both sides of the venue provided a clearer view. In the shadowy half-light, Jian Bianlin made his appearance, alone on the highest point of the stage. The instant his tall, slender silhouette, which was clad in a black suit jacket, emerged, cheering immediately erupted up into the sky above the stadium.
This was Chu Jian’s first time watching his live performance.
Perhaps it was because their relationship was now different, or maybe it was because his fans were simply too enthusiastic, but Chu Jian’s heart was pounding furiously and could not stop. If her parents and Jian Bianlian’s dad were not present, she would definitely be just like those girls surrounding her who had all jumped to their feet and were raising their light-up signs and glow sticks with all their might…
The spotlights swept over to him. Pushing off with one hand on the ground, he leaped down from that two to three-metre tall platform.
His feet landed in the center of the stage.
From behind him, two female backup dancers pulled open his suit jacket to the left and right, slipped it off, and tossed it to one side. Next, it was his tie and white dress shirt, both pulled open by the persons behind him and thrown aside.
Eventually, all that remained were a simple form-fitting, black, short-sleeved shirt and his pants.
Turning his hand over and reaching two fingers behind his lower back, he tugged his waistband up slightly. With his head bowed, he adjusted the microphone that was beside his face. “It has begun.”
The next second, the stadium was roiling with excitement. His fans all shot up to their feet, screaming loudly. From the stands to the floor seating, it was completely a glowing sea of dark blue lights.
Chu Jian gripped her ticket tightly. Oh no, oh no, she really wanted to squeal…
After dancing to four upbeat songs, the backup dancers all retreated off the stage, and only he, the star of the show, remained.
Jian Bianlin was so tired his body was bent over, his hands on his knees as he panted lightly for a few breaths. Suddenly, he straightened and, in the stillness, looked directly at the camera.
Another round of screaming.
On the big screens on both sides was the side profile of his face that was covered in a thin layer of perspiration. Just a moment ago, his eyes had still been cool. And then…
Biting down on his lower lip, with his head bowed, he gave a never-before-seen smile.
“AAAAAH! My Baby is smiling. He’s smiling!” Behind Chu Jian, fans were going mad with excitement. “Have you ever seen him smile, like live, on the spot? Oh my God, never before! Ah, ah, AAAAH!”
“Gawd, his smile is so bashful, so filled with happiness! I’m going to cry. Oh no, oh no.” Someone behind Chu Jian had thrown a hand over her own mouth. “So jealous! Let me cry for a bit.”
“If he hadn’t grown up with her, I definitely would not be able to accept that he’s married! How could someone have such darn good luck, to have known him since they were both kids? …”
It was not only the fans behind Chu Jian; all around, all the fans were electrified by this action of his.
There was a variety of reactions—excitement, feeling touched, weeping…
The reaction of Chu Jian’s parents and Jian Bianlin’s dad, on the other hand, was more one of shock. They had been completely stunned by this crowd of young girls and did not know whether they should be crying or laughing. They were baffled and proud and also finding it very difficult to understand the mindset of these fans…
Chu Jian stared at that figure far away on the stage, her breathing becoming increasingly slow. She dared not even allow her gaze to shift to the side in the slightest to look at the big screen, for fear that she would get a clear view of the details of what he held in his eyes and his expression.
She was scared that even the view in the monitor would cause her to blush.
On the big screen, Jian Bianlin also seemed somewhat embarrassed. Turning his head to the side, he concealed his face slightly behind the back of his hand—more earth-shattering shrieks from all around.
He raised his microphone.“I know…” He was unexpectedly nervous. Smiling once again, he continued, “You guys want to hear me talk about her.”
When the word “her” was spoken, even without an explanation in the captions on the screen, everyone knew whom he was referring to.
That person whom they did not know the name of, his childhood playmate from when he and she were both young and innocent—Mrs. Jian.
“I moved from Guangdong to Hangzhou when I was five years old. I didn’t know how to speak Mandarin, so she liked to teach me how to speak it, one sentence at a time. For this reason, I later secretly gave her the name, Mandarin. Later still, when we went to university and were far apart in completely different places and couldn’t see each other, people would often ask me, ‘Jian Bianlin, do you have a girl whom you like?’ I would say, ‘Yes, Mandarin.’ Every person who heard this would laugh. No one believed that a girl would have such a weird name. Man da lin. Mandarin.” Jian Bianlin halted briefly before saying again, “Man da lin. My darling.”
Especially touching. Spoken from Jian Bianlin’s mouth. Spoken with such earnestness.
He had actually not said anything at all, yet it seemed like he had said everything with those words.
After saying what he wanted to say, he turned so that his back was facing the camera and strode toward the band. Stepping around the bass player, he walked up to the digital keyboard and handed his hat to an onsite staff member.
Then, he pressed down on a few keys. It was a rather familiar-sounding melody.
Chu Jian for the moment could not place what song it was.
As Jian Bianlin leaned forward and played on those keys, he began singing softly into the microphone that was in front of the keyboard.
“Once, I was like duckweed, with nothing upon which I could depend
Toward love, I had an unexplainable fear. But Heaven let me encounter you.”
He paused for a moment and lifted his eyes, purposely looking directly into the camera.
“The very first time I saw you [wo chu chu jian ni]
There, in solitary beauty, amidst the crowd…”
There were mountains and seas of people.
But no one could have guessed that he had chosen a song that encompassed her name within it. Even Chu Jian’s parents and his dad were completely unsuspecting of this subtle “love profession.”
The song was so old, and many people had performed covers of it. Everybody seemed to understand that the sudden performance of this song after that simple and slightly illogical introduction of “Mrs. Jian” must be for “her,” that he was singing to “her.” It was impossible for the fans in the stands and on the floor to not know this song, and they all sang along loudly with him, their sea of voices swelling up like the tides.
Tears had welled up in Chu Jian’s eyes. This was not an exaggeration at all. She had been moved to tears. However, beside her were her parents and his dad, and worried that she might scare them, she forced herself to repress those feelings, not daring to let them show…
As the song drew to its end, his fingers travelled over and over again on the keyboard, and he sang a few times, in a low voice, the final line that concluded the song:
“I do truly love you.”
 曼达林. These three characters in pinyin are man da lin, and they are sometimes used as the Chinese transliteration of the term “Mandarin,” which was originally the term used by Westerners to refer to the officials of imperial China and their “official’s language.” Mandarin is now the name of the official dialect of China. However, when pronounced, these three characters also sound similar to the English words “my darling.” Hence, to Jian Bianlin, there is a double meaning to man da lin, that his special girl was the one who taught him Mandarin and is also the one whom he refers to as “my darling.”
 This song is 《我是真的爱你》I Do Truly Love You. It was composed by 李宗盛 Jonathan Lee, who also wrote the lyrics, and was originally sung by 张信哲 Jeff Chang with its first release in 1993. Jonathan Lee later sang his own version in 1994.