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13. The most basic element (Part one)

The most basic element (Part one)

If you want to understand what a person is thinking, it is more important to understand not what he does, but actually the way and why he does it. Your desire determines the way, and your way speaks or does things.


Desire is the most basic element.







If you want to understand a person, then rather than understanding and knowing the content of his words, it is more important to observe the way he speaks.


We often listen to people’s advice outside our experience. Such as, your friend invited you to dinner, you sat down and flipped through the menu to order something. When you choose something, your friend suddenly says, ‘this dish doesn’t taste good’. So you hurriedly give them the menu. They* order and you just eat them, not knowing that what they ordered for you might be cheaper than the one you chose earlier.



[T/N: Since the gender of the word ‘friend’ is hermaphroditic, I’m going to use ‘they’ as its pronoun.]



Even if you don’t want to speak to your friend after saying ‘Hello’, the friend still asks, ‘how are you doing?’ It might be a late-night call, or suddenly they remembered you and thought that they haven’t seen you in a long time. Or maybe, they were just trying to find someone to talk to, because the person is waiting for you to answer: okay, and you?


A friend of mine who is a doctor once told me that a person who commits suicide usually chooses a good way to commit suicide. Jumping in the river, hanging, taking poison, lying on the rail-track, slitting their wrists. The person even goes online to look up good information, which one is more in line with their intentions. The time and possibility of death in those ways. They will know more than ordinary people about death. The people who want to suicide doesn’t feel anxious that they would be dead, rather they would be anxious of how could they die quickly.


Therefore, most of those people who buy sleeping pills to die doesn’t buy them to suicide. Their real purpose is not to die, but to intimidate, threaten, or even confuse people. Because sleeping pills do not kill people. If they are found early, they just have to drink mineral water and then vomit. And if they are found late, they have to be sent to the hospital and wash their stomach clean.


But if they buy herbicide or pesticide, it would kill them for sure. Their blood and heart would harden, giving them a painful death. If a person commits suicide by taking herbicide, they can not be resuscitated. They would face a slow but painful death, their body functions would stop working and after ten to twelve days later, they would die. There is no possibility of treatment.


If you want to understand what a person is really thinking, then it is important to pay attention and understand why and how they do things, rather than what he does.


This is the basic element to understand a person.





My college classmate, Wang Yifan, had a widely publicized crush in his sophomore year.


He is very fond of the freshmen girls. He was a king of absenteeism, but when it would come to girls, he would do heartless things such as, helping them in their all-night study. He was really generous to girls.


Of course, that character of his wasn’t something that made him popular. Rather, there was something else that made him best amongst the boys and popular in the university.


I still remember the Christmas Eve of December 2001, Wang Yifan carefully wiped a jewelry box sitting in the dormitory.


It contained a ring that he had bought for more than three thousand dollars, which included his hard earned money by tutoring and saving them by eating less food. It was an astronomical amount for a guy like him, whose monthly expenses was four hundred dollars.


Then in the evening, he went to offer his treasure with feathery footsteps.


He did not return to the dormitory until late at night. When he returned, his face was flushed. I wanted to ask him the reason but held my curiosity at bay. We went to bed and after a few tossing and turning, he finally voiced out, “Xiao Xi said it was the best gift she had ever received.”


Shit. A poor college student like me only gave a mug to a girl the other day and it costed only forty-five dollars. Motherfucker! You send a ring for over three thousand, how can she not be happy? I couldn’t help but snort at his reaction.


The next day, Wang Yifan unprecedentedly woke up early in the morning to go to the library to study.


When he came back at noon, his face was pale and his lips trembled as he said, “I can’t find Xiao Xi.”


One of our roommates joked, “Holy shit, she didn’t run away with your ring, did she?”


Wang Yifan kept calling the girl, but the girl didn’t pick up the phone. When he asked Xiao Xi’s roommate, she always replied that she was not in the dorm.


Finally, I pretended to be a professor and asked Xiao Xi’s roommate about her. Her roommate said with surprise, “Teacher, don’t you know that Xiao Xi has gone abroad to study?”


I was shocked: “When?”


Her roommate said, “This morning was her flight!”


I couldn’t help but asked curiously , “Didn’t she have a boyfriend?”


The girl giggled, “So what? There’s more than one guy chasing her. It’s better to go abroad and hook up with a better one.”


There was a silence in the dormitory, and everyone was restraining the urge to roll on the ground while laughing.


Of course it is still necessary to comfort him but, hahahahaha. I couldn’t stop laughing hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.



Did Xiao Xi really figured out that ring’s worth?


Did she mean it when she said it was the best gift she had ever received?


I didn’t know.


Because it’s not me who was dwelling on this issue, but Wang Yifan.




We weren’t in touch after graduating much, but I would drink with Wang Yifan few times a year.


Early in 2010, Wang Yifan and I reunited at a bar in Xinjiekou, Nanjing.


Four years after graduation, his other brilliant achievement had completely obliterated the ring incident. It was always rumored among my friends back then that he was the only great man among us who had 100 girlfriends in college.


We all used to plan to let him write down his four years of experience, which would be named as “Hooking up with girls”.


Wang Yifan sat across from me, holding a briefcase, calmly chatting about the memorable interaction with his 100 girlfriends.


But he seemed to be different from before this time. I saw him several times wanting to speak about something before hurriedly closing his mouth.


I did not ask. Because I knew he was someone who would tell me anything if he really planned to tell me.


Wang Yifan poured a few mouthfuls of drinks in his mouth before suddenly opening his mouth, “I want to tell you something.”


I looked at him and thought ‘Here it is’ I could feel my heart beating faster.


Wang Yifan finished the bottle, his eyes flashing sadly as he sighed.


He hesitated half a minute before recounting.


Few months before, he was riding in a train. Opposite of him in the lower bunk was a young woman. She looked someone with good temperament, her eyes looking forward and posture straight.


Of course, Wang Yifan did not tell me the specific process of hooking up with girls. Because he thinks it’s his legacy that would be passed down to his son, not to his friend.


The train stopped at the Tianjin station, the two tacitly agreed to get off directly and went to sleep.


After the young woman fell asleep, Wang Yifan suddenly found out that he had to rebuy the ticket, but he didn’t have much money on him. So he made a bold and dreamy decision, he went through the young woman’s bag, intending to borrow some money and returning it later.


When he was rummaging through the woman’s bag, he found an ID card.


Air Force Major.


Wang Yifan was terrified. He forgot to take the money, quickly dressed haphazardly and slipped away directly.


Hearing this, I also winced. This kind of way of getting entangled with army never end well.


Wang Yifan said that he was so scared that he changed his cell phone number from then on. Until a month later, he inserted his previous SIM card into the phone out of curiousity and found that there were dozens of calls from her.


I shivered and said, “Hurry up and forget it. And also completely stop using the previous number.”


Wang Yifan was silent for a while and said, “Well, but I seem to have some health problems.”


I asked nervously, “What? Do you……”


Wang Yifan said, “I’ve checked, the blood report was fine.”


I breathed a sigh of relief: “Then maybe it’s your psychological implication.”


Wang Yifan nodded: “Maybe. But you don’t tell the others.”


I agreed, but looking at his slightly pale face, I couldn’t help but also tell a story.





I used to work in a TV station and took interns under me. One of the interns drove from far away to come to the station every day but because most of the time he would be late, he had to have a pass to enter the station. But the intern had a lot of trouble getting a pass as there was rule, interns couldn’t get any pass. But within a week, I saw him sitting behind the window of his car and driving inside the station.


Either he was a relative of the station leader, or he had mixed well with the general department. Either of these two reasons made me extremely uncomfortable.


The intern probably saw my discomfort and whispered to me, “You know, Mr. Zhang, any nearest printing and copying store in the vicinity of any unit that needs an access card will be able to issue you an access card.”


I did not understand and asked, “what do you mean?”


He laughed and said, “Ha ha, I got this access card from a nearby printing store of my home. Only twenty dollar, oh, twenty-one dollar for laminating.”


Holy shit!





After telling this story, Wang Yifan’s eyes flashed with a strange expression as he asked, “What do you mean, the girl I met at the train, her ID card is a fabricated?”


I handed him a glass of wine and said, “It doesn’t make sense for an ordinary girl to have such an ID, so it could br possible.”


Wang Yifan muttered, “Fabricated, fabricated, shit.”


Well, fabricated.



Why does a person subconsciously choose a way and path to relieve themselves when they speak or do something?


Because of desire. Desire of escaping the reality.


Some people smoke, some people drink, some people take drugs, some people go on shopping sprees. This is uniformly referred to as addiction.


Addiction always forms because of sensory stimulation.


Some mild sensory stimulation comes from simple mechanized actions. You can’t stop getting high, it’s not that melon doesn’t smell good, then why don’t you just buy melon seeds? That’s why people often say that the fragrance of drugs is different because of their own addiction, this fragrance comes from repeated mechanized actions.


This is superficial, because if you want to get rid of it, your brain gives the command of getting rid of it.


But the more you become addicted, the harder it becomes to get rid of your addiction, which represents that the brain has been controlled and turned into a carrier of addiction.


Addiction is a chemical reaction. Whichever part of your body is stimulated, the feelings are fed to the brain, which receives the secretions from the chemical reaction and then becomes dependent on it.


If we want to understand a person completely, then we must understand what their addiction is.


Food is an addiction. If you like to eat, then that means your addiction is only in the filling stage, eating fills you with a sense of accomplishment, because you are full of loss in career and love. Then when you become a glutton, your addiction begins to be in the coloring stage, and it is setting your character. Everyone around you can see and feel that your are a glutton.


Finally, if you want to make sacrifices and trek for a meal, then your addiction is in the final stage; corrosion. Because it becomes your norm, and it completely corrupts the brain.


Addiction is desire. Whether it is filling, staining, or corrupting, it will present itself as desire.


Playing games, buying high heels, tweeting, staying up late, being depressed, traveling, gossiping and chatting…… are all addictions.


When it reaches the corrosion stage, the consequences that will arise would be out of your imagination.


Your desires, determine the way you talk or do things.


Desire, is the most basic element.


Call it an element, but it is more important than that. You have to understand that the real intention behind a person is not something that can be described by art, philosophy, psychology or sociology. The way to describe a person and their goal is mathematics and chemistry.


Chemistry gives you desire, and mathematics yields the probability that you will adopt in a certain way.


So, I told the story of the access card, not to explain the origin of the girl’s ID card.


My intent was to politely remind, Wang Yifan, that faking your identity is your addiction.


Fakink the identity of a womanizer, faking the identity of a hundred men, faking the identity of a fallen prodigal son.


That, he had become addicted to it.





T/N: Hello everyone! I’m the new translator of this novel. Neither English nor Chinese is my mother tongue so there may be few mistakes. If you guys see any kinds of mistakes, please let me know in the comment.


Happy reading!



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