IRNDGL - Chapter 41: The Farmer And The Viper
6.30 a.m. Lin Jie opened his eyes at the sound of his alarm clock ringing and began an ordinary day as per usual.
It was the same routine every day for three years. Waking up, changing, washing up.
"Somehow it increasingly seems like something isn't quite right..." Lin Jie couldn't help ridiculing himself in the mirror.
His general appearance didn't seem to have changed much, and he still possessed that deceit...no, persuasive ability. However, from a minute aspect, he was already completely different.
Yet, he couldn't tell how exactly he was different.
It was as if Lin Jie had been given a modifier software and forced to speak. From his original base, it was as if he had turned in to the head speaker of a Multilevel marketing firm.
This wasn't a negative connotation. Just that originally, he would have to chat a little first, provide some guidance followed by flashing a professional smile and the other party would view this life mentor Lin Jie in a glowing light.
But now, with some slight exaggeration, if someone were to ask Lin Jie to be a priest, all he probably had to do was don priest robes and give an appropriate smile.
"Perhaps someone might even do a confession on the spot," he chuckled mockingly as he kneaded his cheeks and could feel the outline of those extra few teeth.
Lin Jie trusted his own eyesight and memory and was certain he hadn't perceived it wrongly.
However, given the sudden appearance of eight teeth, Lin Jie didn’t find the new developments too surprising. However, the appearance of extra teeth was problematic.
In Buddhism, Buddha was said to have the 'Thirty-two Marks of a Great Man' and 'forty teeth' was one of these characteristics.
Forty teeth symbolized Buddha’s avoidance of harsh words and treating all people with benevolence and kindness.
From other unofficial historical accounts, it was said that Laozi also had forty teeth.
[TL Note: Laozi is an ancient Chinese philosopher and the founder of philosophical Taoism]
Forty teeth symbolized a 'perfect person'.
Naturally an academic specializing in folklore studies like Lin Jie definitely knew about the symbolism of eight extra teeth. Just that he didn't bother to delve into researching this stuff.
In his process of studying folklore and popular customs, Lin Jie would often encounter some bizarre things that were hard to explain. However, Lin Jie would just treat it as something inconsequential, and merely make a record of the source material.
He was a folklore studies academic and not a scientist that searched for answers.
"But isn't this a little excessive?" sighed Lin Jie as he made his way downstairs. "I'll ask Blackie when he appears again."
No matter how much he thought about it, Blackie was probably the only one who could answer his doubts.
After all, Lin Jie didn't know too many people in this world and the majority were all his customers. Each of these people needed him to dole out chicken soup from time to time. As their spiritual pillar and life mentor, wouldn't asking them such a question destroy the image each of them had of Lin Jie?
Moreover, how could he even speak to others about this matter? Could he even randomly tell others that he had suddenly grown eight new teeth?
Haa, that would definitely scare others. Forget it, I don't want to be like that Melissa brat and give others unnecessary and strange inconveniences. Lin Jie shook his head as he thought to himself.
He headed over to the counter and did a little simple tidying up. Then, as he was about to set the electric kettle to boil, he suddenly heard a knocking on his door.
With skepticism, Lin Jie turned his head towards the entrance. Normally, there wouldn't be any customers at this sort of time. Moreover, there shouldn't be anyone willing to get up so early and come over to his rundown bookstore in such horrible weather.
Now that Lin Jie thought about it, he reckoned that it would probably be a regular customer.
Although the sky was as dusky as ever, Lin Jie was able to see the silhouette of the person outside and found it familiar.
The silhouette outside uttered a response while withdrawing his umbrella and keeping it away.
Now certain that his guess was right, Lin Jie walked over and opened the door. "Welcome..."
Deep down though, he was wondering. Why has Old Wil returned that quickly? Three visits within two weeks, this is almost half his quota for the past two years.
Lin Jie felt that half a month wasn't enough for Old Wil to have thoroughly mastered Ceremonies AndCustoms. Moreover, all this wasn't in something in Old Wil's domain of study so it was probably something impossible to achieve.
After all, this touched upon two different cultures. Without learning from the basics, it would be just like studying about ancient ways in modern times and one would only be able to get a rough understanding.
But from what Old Wil had said previously, this book had given him a great deal of inspiration and enlightenment, probably in terms of his own sphere of research.
Lin Jie had similar experiences like this before. In times like this, it's best to take such an opportunity to bury one's head in research and churn out study results.
Old Wil had been the same way in the previous times. He could disappear for months on end after borrowing a book and would only return several months later.
It doesn't seem normal if he's returning in such a short time frame. Could something have happened?
Feeling doubtful, Lin Jie opened the door. Indeed, it was Old Wil standing outside.
As usual, Old Wil was dressed in a tidy old suit and his iconic gentleman's hat. His black umbrella was kept away beside the door and water was still dripping off it.
He looked up towards Lin Jie, his eyes hidden beneath his mask revealing a look of reverence. He took off his hat and bowedslightly. "Mr. Lin, good morning."
Lin Jie returned the smile and opened the door all the way, allowing Old Wil to enter. Then, he returned back to the counter, shut off the electric kettle, and poured a cup of hot water for Old Wil.
"Something urgent this early, Old Wil? If I was still asleep, you might have been frozen outside. The likelihood of accidents occurring is high at your age. Remember to pay more attention to your own safety in the future.
"Many people nowadays have cold hearts and would even be unwilling to help the elderly as they don't want inconveniences.
"Haa... Actually, we can't blame them either. Old Wil... Have you heard of the story of ‘The Farmer And The Viper’?"
Chatting with customers was part of fostering a closer relationship.
Moreover, Old Wil would probably be a little tired having rushed over so early in the morning. Immediately asking "Do you wish to borrow a book" might be a little too callous so Lin Jie decided to tell a little story to start the ball rolling.
Wilde shook his head.
"The story is very simple, yet worth thinking about——
"One winter a Farmer found a Viper frozen and numb with cold, and out of pity picked it up and placed it in his bosom.
“The Viper was no sooner revived by the warmth than it turned upon its benefactor and inflicted a fatal bite upon him."
Lin Jie poured himself a cup of water as he rambled on. With a chuckle, he mused, "However, if you collapsed at my door, I definitely wouldn't just leave you lying there. We are friends after all."
Of course, a qualified teacher wouldn't forget to provide an after-class interactive assignment.
"Old Wil, who do you think is at fault in this story? The farmer, or the viper? As he lay dying, would the farmer blame himself for being ignorant or would he blame the snake for being cruel and indifferent?"
Wilde looked up into those profound eyes of the bookstore owner and his entire body shuddered, causing some stray droplets to escape the cup in his hands.
Special thanks to Tetra & Aco for editing and pr-ing
BeetleBarker's Discord: https://discord.gg/bEr3QYN