Who Cares – Chapter 93
Chapter 93 Sacrificial Eulogy
Even if the Ruan family didn’t come to make a noise, Guan Suyi planned to hold a large transcending ritual for her sister-in-law. Because the emperor personally visited the Zhao Mansion yesterday to worship, many relatives and important people came to Jueyin Temple to participate in the ceremony, and there were also Zhao Jinyu’s comrades in arms that come to help, the scene was grand. And he himself was still fighting on the battlefield, and it’s unknown when he would be able to return.
The Ruan family didn’t arrive until after noon, all of them with bruised noses and swollen faces, as if they had suffered a great disaster. Without saying a word, they rushed to the old madam’s feet and shouted for help, bluntly saying that all the money was looted by the bandits, and now they didn’t even have the money to return home, begging the Zhao Mansion to be kind enough to take them in.
After all, it was the Ruan shi’s family, and at her funeral, even if the old madam hated them, she had to pinch her nose to prepare a few rooms and settle them in the Jueyin Temple.
At the same time, Guan Suyi was locking herself in her room to write a sacrificial eulogy for Ruan shi, and later would recite and burn it on the altar to comfort her spirit in heaven. As she said before, she would never admit her mistake for taking out the child by cutting up the stomach, not for her own reputation, but for the child’s future. So what should she write?
She abandoned her distracting thoughts and carefully recalled every bits and pieces of her time with Ruan shi. Not only felt distressed that she was burdened by her appearance and was trapped in poverty, but also admired her for her filial piety to her mother-in-law and kindness to the juniors, and maintaining a harmonious relationship with herself, supported and considerate to each other. Eventually teardrops were dripping down, wetting her lapel.
After a while, she finally picked up the brush and slowly wrote, “In September of the fourth year of Sheng Yuan, at the Jueyin Temple I mourned my sister-in-law Ruan, first met at the beginning of the year…” After writing for a full hour, she cried and wrote, cried and wrote until her eyes turned red before slowly finished the last stroke and sat in a chair in a daze.
At this moment, her mind was filled with Ruan shi‘s voice, face, smile, and dying cries, and completely forgot that Hunnar and Huo Shengzhe person. What continuous love between men and women, what pursuing glory and wealth? Being able to live well and raising a few children is the sweetest thing in the world.
Remembering the heartbroken Mu Mu and the little baby who was waiting to be fed, whom she had named Zhao Huai’en, she finally wiped away the last tear and went to the mourning hall with the sacrificial eulogy.
“Benefactor Guan, has the sacrificial eulogy been written?” Master Xuan Guang asked in a warm voice.
“It’s written, do you want to see it, Master?” Guan Suyi cupped her hands and saluted respectfully.
“No, let the deceased see it first.” Master Xuan Guang stretched out his hand and motioned her to walk up to the altar. When she sat down and struck the wooden fish, he ordered the monks sitting around the altar to start chanting. Damaging a deceased’ body was a major taboo, and it required sincere repentance and recitation of the rebirth scriptures for seven, seven and forty-nine days to make up for it.
The Sanskrit sound and the hazy smoke lingered in the air, a strong sandalwood fragrance invading the left and the right sides, which made people feel solemn and at the same time extraordinarily calm and peaceful. The relatives and dignitaries who came to worship knelt down one after another on the praying mats, put their hands together, and chanted the scriptures.
They looked up to Madam Guan on the viewing altar, wanting to hear how she consoled the dead.
Guan Suyi knelt in front of the coffin with her back to the crowd, and recited a passage of rebirth scriptures sincerely, and then picked up the manuscript paper to recite the sacrificial eulogy. At this period of time, most of the sacrificial eulogy imitated the four-character rhyme of the “Book of Songs” elegant ode, or used parallel prose, aiming to be solemn and serious; but she recalled the sadness of the past, and did not want to limit the expression with four or five characters or six or seven sentences that blocked the grief-stricken thoughts. So she broke the convention and format, and wrote an essay.
The first few paragraphs recall how the two people had familiarity at first sight, loved each other like sisters, and how Ruan shi was filial to her mother-in-law and caring for the juniors. Next, she briefly described several major changes that occurred in the Zhao Mansion, and how the family stayed calm when facing death, supported each other, and took care of each other. The process of overcoming difficulties together was written so expressively that it seemed to be in front of the eyes. There were many sufferings and fears, but there were more warmth and peace, which vividly rendered Ruan shi‘s idyllic, gentle and suppleness image.
The next few paragraphs turned sharply, and she began to detail her poisoning and dystocia until she died of blood loss. In order to save the child, how she struggled desperately and tried to survive; knowing that both the mother and the fetus were in danger, how she resolutely abandoned herself and asked to keep the child alive. With layers of peeling brushwork, it showed how she was soft on the outside and firm on the inside, and her most affectionate side were completely revealed.
The voices and shouts before her death, accompanied by Guan Suyi’s choked recitation, seemed to ring on the altar and touched people’s ears, causing the relatives, friends and nobles in the audiences to burst into tears, feeling grief-stricken. Even the monks who had never been sad or happy, and who had attained great enlightenment, also cut off the scriptures and stopped knocking the wooden fish to wipe their tears. They had never heard such a mournful sacrificial eulogy, which made people feel like they were at the scene, felt it had happened to themselves and wished they could lift the coffin and shake the dead with all their might, crying and begging her to come back to life.
The chanting ceased, and the reciting continued. Everyone listened carefully with tears in their eyes.
The last few paragraphs finally emerged from the tragic scene and began to describe the arrival of the newborn. He spit out a mouthful of amniotic fluid, and then cried out loudly; when he was hugged into the arms, he automatically grabbed his aunt’s clothes, his small hands were soft but so strong; he laid down beside his mother to say goodbye to her, a little child who was still ignorant, but he used his surging vitality to dispel the breath of death, the mother’s wide-open eyes slowly closed, and she left with satisfaction.
Three turns in a row, rising and falling, laughing after crying, but wanting to cry even more after laughing, a sacrificial eulogy less than a thousand words, but the entire Jueyin Temple fell into silence, only the sound of choking with emotions and the cry of pain reverberated in the air. Not to mention the relatives who come and go frequently, even those who had never know Ruan shi, all cried until their eyes red for this gentle and strong mother, and felt pain like their liver and intestines were broken.
Guan Suyi’s throat was completely hoarse, and when she was about to throw the sacrificial eulogy into the brazier, her hand was firmly grasped by someone, and when she looked to the side, it was Master Xuan Guang.
His eyes were red, his lapel were soaked, it was obvious that he had just cry. After doing so many rituals and helped transcend so many departed spirits, this was the first time he had interrupted his chanting because of a sacrificial eulogy. But he loved literature so much, and he must not let this outstanding article that mourns the heaven and the earth to be burned.
“Benefactor Guan’s writing ability is superb, it can moved emotions, breaks the limit of rhythm, and creates the peak of a eulogy. This sacrificial eulogy, written with the beads of tears and the blood in the heart, is enough to make the dead sleep peacefully and the living to be relieved, so why do we need to recite the scriptures? Benefactor Guan, please sacrifice this article in front of the spirit and do not burn it, otherwise this poor monk will worry every day and feel uneasy.” He carefully took the manuscript, packed it in a sandalwood box, and placed it on the altar table, and then put his hands together and bowed three times.
He had already heard about the fame of the Guan family’s literary name, and he had also read a lot of works by Old Master Guan and Guan Father, but he was still shocked when he listened to this sacrificial eulogy.
Madam Guan broke the parallel prose into pieces, not imitating the ancients or imitating the present, not sticking to the form, not trapped in the routine, and the writing followed the heart, provoking the emotions and thoughts. The entire writing forged with tears and painted with blood, making the grief pierce the bones and the sorrow pierced the heart, so how could everyone bear it?
Master Xuan Guang reminisced over the words and phrases again and again, his eyes were red again and again, until his tears fell, and in his heart he had already enshrined this sacrificial eulogy as the poetic masterpiece of this era and the highest attainment of literary world. When it came to the power of writing, describing the scene and generating emotions, Madam Guan stood at the forefront, not to mention Xu Guangzhi, even her grandfather and father had to take a step back.
Most of the people who came to worship today were powerful people, and there were also relatives and friends of the two great literary families of Guan and Zhong, who were proficient in literary and calligraphy. Moreover they were from the secular world, their feeling were abundant, so they felt more touched than Master Xuan Guang.
“This article is the pinnacle of sacrificial eulogy, and such a sorrowful reciting!” A great scholar praised with tears in his eyes, and the rest choked up and agreed, it was actually hard to say a word.
Old Master Guan and Guan Father hurriedly waved their hands in humble manner, but in their heart they were proud of their beloved daughter. They knew that Yiyi did not write this article for fame, but to rectify the name. The scene of taking a child by cutting open the stomach must be bloody and terrifying for ordinary people to think about. Although the emperor had his eyes open, but it couldn’t stop others from feeling disgusted. But she described this passage from Ruan shi‘s perspective, all the blood had turned into a mother’s love that gave up her life and a grief that was too thick to be dissolved; all the horror had turned into the ultimate joy of the newborn’s birth and hope for the future life.
By the time this poignant and unusual, sincere and moving sacrificial eulogy were spread, no one would scold witches and demons again, but they would only remember Ruan shi‘s chastity and bravery. That’s the power of words.
When the crowd around the altar was weeping sadly, Emperor Sheng Yuan in the white dragon fish suit stood in an inconspicuous corner, silently listening and staring.
“This is the first time I shed tears for unrelated people.” He turned back to look at Baifu, tears welling up in his eyes.
“Your Majesty, Your Majesty, Madam’s writing is so good and touching. Let this servant, let this servant cry for a while. That wretched Miao people, he poisoned the Zhao Mansion, causing Ruan shi and her own child to separate forever and never see each other again. Woohoo…” Baifu burst into tears and was out of breath from crying.
Emperor Sheng Yuan didn’t blame him, and after he had cried enough, he order in a low voice, “Go and invite Madam to the backyard room, I want to talk to her.”
Baifu didn’t dare to delay, blew out his snot, wiped it with a handkerchief, and then sneaked away.
After the first day’s ritual completed, Guan Suyi was exhausted. Hearing that Master Xuan Guang had invited her, she thought he was going to discuss the next day’s ritual with her. Before she even had time to drink tea she hurried to the backyard, and as soon as she opened the door, she was pulled into a broad and warm chest, firmly hugged, and tightly clasped.
“You bastard, you’re here again!” She was so angry that her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were spitting fire. She clenched her hands into fists and kept pounding the man’s back, but it felt like she hit the iron wall, instead her joints hurt badly.
“Stop hitting, be careful of hurting your hands.” Emperor Sheng Yuan held her wrist and gently pulled it down to his side.
“Madam, can you let Zhen hug you for a while? Zhen is very sad.” He buried his cheeks in Madam sweet neck curve and pleaded in a muffled voice.
Guan Suyi noticed that her shoulder was wet, it seemed that tears soaked through the fabric and touched her skin, and she couldn’t help but feel a little dazed. This man was crying, the majestic emperor was actually crying beside her ear, why? Or – for whom?
She stopped struggling, waited quietly, and then said solemnly when the person’s mood eased a little, “Your Majesty, please look up to see where this is, and what am I wearing? Doing such frivolous things at my sister-in-law’s sacrificial ceremony, aren’t you ashamed?”
Emperor Sheng Yuan slowly raised his head and said as if it was matter of course, “Just holding one’s own madam and crying for a moment, how can it be considered frivolous? What Zhen did is completely in line with the solemnity and sadness of the sacrificial ceremony.”