Chapter 33 – Room
Although it was called the educated youth spot, it was actually two connected houses.
The boys lived in one house, and the girls lived in the other.
Each house had three rooms. Upon entering, there was a living room that also served as a kitchen. On both sides of the kitchen were two large pots, each connected to a room with a heated bed (kang).
In this way, they could cook in the kitchen and heat the bed at the same time.
In the cold winters of northeastern China, most rural houses had this layout.
Lu Xia and the others quickly glanced at the rooms and then two educated youth, one male and one female, returned.
The female educated youth was in her twenties, looking capable, but the roughness and weariness on her face revealed that she had been in the countryside for a long time.
Upon seeing them, she smiled and introduced herself, “I’m Sun Shengnan, in charge of the female educated youth.”
The other male educated youth also introduced himself, “I’m Zhao Hua, in charge of the male educated youth. Unfortunately, everyone has already gone to work. Let me first show you the rooms where you’ll be staying and help you settle in.”
They nodded in agreement. They were truly tired at this point and weren’t in the mood for small talk. They just wanted to rest as soon as possible.
Sun Shengnan led the three girls to the room designated for the female educated youth on the right side.
Upon entering, they saw that a bed had already been made near the wall next to the kitchen and pots.
Sun Shengnan pointed and said, “That’s the spot for Yu Fang, one of our educated youth. You can sleep here.”
The three of them looked at the large heated bed and were momentarily stunned.
They couldn’t possibly expect the four of them to sleep together, right? There wasn’t even a partition in the middle.
But judging by Sun Shengnan’s expression, it seemed that was the case.
Lu Xia looked around and decided to place her luggage at the foot of the kang, the farthest position from the kitchen.
Lu Xia had experience sleeping on a kang. Although she had lived in a county town at the orphanage, they also lived in bungalows, and northeastern bungalows always had kangs. So she was familiar with them.
This position might not be as warm, but it was comfortable to have only one side touching another person.
Although Su Man felt reluctant, she knew there was no changing it, so she took the spot next to Lu Xia.
Only Zhuang Hongmei didn’t want to stay, “Are there no other rooms? How are we supposed to fit so many people?”
Sun Shengnan listened to her and said, “There are no more rooms. The educated youth spot only has these two houses. We’re lucky here. There are four people in each room, but on the boys’ side, there are five people in each room, even more crowded.”
After saying all this, she saw that Zhuang Hongmei still looked disgusted, so she suggested, “If you really don’t want to stay, you can apply to live with a local villager. You’ll be provided with food in that case.”
Zhuang Hongmei was somewhat tempted by the suggestion, and even Su Man seemed to be considering it.
But that was a matter for later. For now, they needed to settle down.
Afterward, Sun Shengnan briefly introduced the situation at the educated youth spot. Currently, when the boys and girls had to go to work, they ate together.
This was both to save firewood and to rest. Since they took turns cooking, it meant that they wouldn’t be too tired. Otherwise, they would be exhausted from work and still have to cook when they returned, which would be unbearable.
However, during winter, each group would cook separately because it was too cold, and every room needed a fire to heat the bed.
Since they had just arrived and didn’t have work points, they didn’t have rations. However, the brigade would lend them some food, and they could consider how to eat in the future, whether to eat with the older educated youth.
In addition, there was a vegetable garden in front of the house cultivated by the educated youth. There were plenty of vegetables there, enough for them to eat. They didn’t need to worry about vegetables.
Lu Xia and the others didn’t even hesitate and decided to eat with the older educated youth. After all, they had just arrived, and it was better to stay in line with everyone else for now.
Chapter 34 – Taking a Nap
Once they had settled down, Sun Shengnan gave them some instructions and then went back to work.
On Lu Xia’s side, after spreading out the beddings and taking out the usable items, she left the rest untouched and kept them in her bag.
She put two large canvas bags together and placed them on the opposite side of the kang near the window, so they wouldn’t be in the way.
She thought she would ask if the village had someone who could make a box and buy one. She noticed there was a box in the room, probably belonging to someone else.
Then she took a basin and went outside to fetch some water, intending to wash up.
After sitting on the train all night and feeling physically exhausted without a good night’s sleep, she planned to lie down and rest for a while.
There was a well in the courtyard of the educated youth spot, an old-fashioned hand-pumped well that was quite convenient to use. There was no need to fetch water manually.
When Lu Xia came with the basin, she saw Jiang Junmo also washing his face there. He looked much better now.
Since they had traveled together all the way, Lu Xia couldn’t just ignore him and expressed her concern, “Are you feeling better? Do you need to go to the clinic to get some medicine?”
Jiang Junmo shook his head, “No need, I just need to rest.”
Lu Xia nodded and didn’t say anything further. She studied the process of pumping water for a while, and once she figured it out, she filled the basin and returned to the room.
Inside the room, she saw that the other two were also there. She didn’t feel comfortable bathing in front of them, so she simply wiped away the sticky sweat on her body with a towel. Then she washed her feet and felt much more comfortable. She lay down on the kang directly.
Su Man saw Lu Xia doing the same and also wiped her body before lying down.
As for Zhuang Hongmei, after hesitating for a while, she finally took out her bedding. Seeing that the other two had already settled down, she also felt tired and lay down to rest.
Because it was daytime, the sunlight was a bit dazzling. Lu Xia covered her eyes with a towel and listened to the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves outside. Soon, she fell asleep.
When she woke up again, she could already hear voices outside.
She instinctively sat up and noticed that Su Man was awake as well.
They exchanged glances, got off the kang together, and went out of the room.
Outside the door, Sun Shengnan was cooking in the kitchen with a dark-skinned woman.
Seeing them come out, she smiled and said, “You’re awake? The journey must have exhausted you.”
Su Man smiled and replied, “Not too bad. After a nap, I feel much better. Shengnan sister, have you finished work already?”
Sun Shengnan nodded, “Yes, it’s my turn and Yu Fang’s turn to cook today. By the way, this is Yu Fang. She’ll be sharing a room with you later.”
Yu Fang seemed to have a relatively shy and silent personality. She appeared to be much older than them, with a weary look on her face. She nodded at them and said, “Hello.”
Then she fell silent.
Sun Shengnan seemed to understand her personality and took the lead in continuing the conversation, “Since you’ve just arrived, the grain supply hasn’t been delivered yet. So for now, you can have our food. I’ve already talked to the male educated youth, and we’ve specially bought some meat to make a nice meal for you to welcome you.”
Su Man felt embarrassed and said, “But there are so many of us.”
“It’s fine. We’ve all gone through the same thing. Don’t worry, the others had the same treatment when they arrived.”
Only then did Su Man feel reassured and asked, “Is there anything we can help with?”
Sun Shengnan glanced at her, knowing that she probably couldn’t cook, and after some thought, she suggested, “How about washing the vegetables?”
Su Man readily agreed and took the vegetables to wash them outside.