Tea Leaves and Purple Robes

Flowers and the Ocean

Match Twelve: Flowers and the Ocean:

-Beijing, China, 1991-

Chi Ju was out of his element. He hadn’t been on mainland China in months. In fact, he looked so tense. His suit felt like it was squeezing him. Sweat covered his face. He could feel his heart pounding against his chest.

A hand rested on his shoulder. Chi Ju whipped his head around. His new bride, Wan, looked up at him.

“It’s okay,” she whispered. He didn’t speak at first. Then he slowly nodded.

“Right, right,” he said. Chi Ju cleared his throat. Wan gave him a sympathetic smile.

“You’re going to do great,” she said.

“Thank you,” he said. He bowed his head. A few weeks ago, he applied for a job in Beijing. Nothing really special. Chi Ju needed the money for his new family. He would have to move away from the island. Wan didn’t mind that. She was happy, in fact.

“I had always wanted to see Beijing in person!” Wan said. She happily hugged her new husband. Chi Ju could only sigh and smile.

They had just gotten married three weeks ago. He had planned to leave Shanghai forever. The man would enjoy his new island life. His new bride saw to that otherwise.

“I always wanted to go to the mainland,” she said. Chi Ju gave her a strange look.

“Why would you want to do that?” he asked. Wan whirled around.

“I have always wanted to live in the city,” she said. Chi Ju frowned. His beloved wife only had a romanticized version of the city. He just wanted to get away.

And now, here he was. Back again.

Someone tugged him on the arm. Chi Ju came back to earth. Wan looked up at him with her head cocked to the side.

“Don’t you have to go?” she asked. “Liao xiansheng is expecting us.”

“Oh, yeah, yeah!” he was quick to say. “Of course.” The couple left the harbor and their way towards the road.


The main house was massive. Chi Ju’s jaw dropped.

“Whoa!” he said. Wan clapped her hands together with stars in her eyes.

“I love it!” she shouted. Chi Ju wanted to turn around and run. Wan gripped his shoulder. He turned his head. The look on her face told him that she was not going to let him back out of this. The man forced himself to smile.

“Okay,” he said. Chi Ju walked up to front door.

“Good luck,” Wan whispered at his back. He nervously laughed to himself. Oh buddy…

Chi Ju knocked on the door. He turned to see his new bride watching him. Was she really going to stand there the whole time? This felt too weird. He turned his head when the door opened. Another man dressed in a black and gold traditional robes stood in the doorway. Staring at this man made Chi Ju feel so small.

“Uh… are you Liao xiansheng?” he asked.

“Yes,” Khai said. “And you are?”

“C-C-C-Chi Ju,” Chi Ju said. “Qin Chi Ju. It’s nice to meet you.” The men didn’t speak. Chi Ju tried to act normal. He shifted a little in place.

“Who is that behind you?” Khai asked. Chi Ju turned around and looked. Wan stood, watching intently.

“Oh that’s my wife, Wan,” he said. “We just got married three weeks ago.”

“I see,” Khai said. “Come inside.”

“Thank you, Liao xiansheng,” Chi Ju said, bowing. He followed the clan leader into the house. Khai closed the door behind him. Wan walked up just as it closed.


They met in Khai’s office.

“Please take a seat,” Khai said, holding his hand out to the chair in front of the desk. Chi Ju sat down in silence.

“Now why do you want to work for me?” Khai asked without missing a beat. Chi Ju sat up straighter.

“I want to provide for my wife,” he said.

“But why here?”

“My wife has never been to the city. She always wanted to live in Beijing. This was the first job I spotted in the paper.”

Khai raised an eyebrow at him. “But what do you want?”

Chi Ju stared at him blankly. “What do I want?”

“Yes.”

“I want to make my wife happy.”

“What do you love about her?”

“I’m sorry but what does this have to do with the job?”

“I’m just curious. What do you love about your wife?”

Chi Ju took a moment to think about the question. “Well…” He paused and looked at his potential boss. The man shrugged his shoulders.

“I can’t really explain it,” Chi Ju admitted. “Wan has this weird charm around her. She’s very pushy. And she loves expensive things. I can understand why the way she is.” Khai only listened in silence. Chi Ju gulped.

“We met when my family and I were on vacation,” he said. “She seems to have an idea in her head that I was rich.” He rubbed the back of his head and chuckled.

“She just latched onto me ever since,” he said. “I don’t think I’m making this any clearer than that.” Khai leaned back as he listened. Chi Ju nervously laughed.

“I was going to live in her hometown after we got married,” he added.

“But she wanted to come here instead?” the clan leader asked. Chi Ju nodded once. Both men sat in silence. Chi Ju gulped again. Oh no. I’m going to lose this job, aren’t I?

Khai pulled out the other man’s folder. He opened it and looked inside.

“Hm,” the clan leader said. “You have a strong work ethic. First job at sixteen too, huh?”

“Yes, Liao xiansheng,” Chi Ju said. Khai put up his hand.

“Please,” he said. “Call me Khai.”

“Okay,” the other man said. “Yes, Khai.”

“Shanghai native, I see.”

“Yes.”

“Are you willing to live on the property?”

Chi Ju gave him an odd look. “What do you mean?”

“I have unused houses on the property. If I hire you, you will have to move into the house with your wife. Are you willing to do that?”

The other man sat up straight. “Yes!”

Khai closed up his folder. “Why don’t you take a walk around the city for the day? I will talk to you when I make decision.”

Chi Ju frowned. “What does that mean?” Khai rested his hand on his.

“I will talk to you when I make my decision,” he said again. Khai stood up. Chi Ju looked worried as he stood up as well.

“It was nice to meet you,” the clan leader said.

“Same to you too,” Chi Ju said. The men bowed.

“Where can I get in touch with you?” Khai asked.

“Wan and I are staying in the Hilton,” Chi Ju said. “We’re in room 228.”

“I will give you a call,” the clan leader said. The men bowed again and the soon-to-be subordinate walked out of the office.


Wan stood around waiting when she heard the door open. Chi Ju stepped outside. His wife hurried over to him.

“Well?” she asked. “Did you get it?” Chi Ju took a deep breath.

“He will call me back,” he said. His wife gave him a confused look.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“He’ll call us,” Chi Ju said. He took her by the arm and hauled her away before she could ask any more questions. Wan looked so confused. The whole time, her husband had a worried look on his face.

Meanwhile, Khai looked Chi Ju’s file again and smiled. This one was going to be fine.

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