The bus stopped at the foot of the mountains. We got off and gathered our things a moment, and then we got ready to set off. I was given two cameras and was in charge of taking photos of everyone.
I was infatuated with photography, like Master Chen.1 But due to financial issues, I’d yet to own my own camera, and my phone didn’t even have the capability to take photos. I applied to be on the photography committee for this trip, and after a long battle with the other applicants, with my skills, I became one of the two photographers for team three. (Cocky one, aren’t you?)
Because we couldn’t charge the cameras, two cameras were prepared for each committee member. One of mine was an ordinary, red Sony camera. But the other was actually a Canon EOS 5D Mark II…
My eyes were glued to it when I saw it was a Canon. After inspecting it for a while, and coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t a knockoff, I couldn’t help sighing. My god, I used to think that I would only be able to touch this camera in my dreams. Who’d have guessed… The sudden joy nearly brought me to tears…
I wondered which rich club lent us the camera. I really wanted to know which club was so lovely and kind.
I carried this 20-plus-thousand yuan SLR camera and asked Senior Ling Ling excitedly, “Senior Ling ling, who did we borrow this Canon from?”
She glared at me with utter animosity and seethed, “Isn’t that Zhong Yuan’s? Did you really not know, or are you just pretending?”
Zhong… Zhong Yuan’s?
I was taken aback a moment, but then I hurried away from Senior Ling Ling’s despising stare, over to Zhong Yuan’s side. I held up the camera and asked, “Is this… yours?”
Zhong Yuan nodded, and then asked back, “Is there a problem?”
I gave a flattering laugh, but didn’t reply. Although I didn’t really like Zhong Yuan as a person, I couldn’t help but admit that he had some taste. Of course, having taste wasn’t all it took to buy a Canon EOS 5D Mark II; one also needed adequate capital. I remember that I asked Miss Fourth to check the online mall for it before. When I saw the functions and features of the camera, my eyes lit up with stars. But then when I saw the price, I could only cry.
At the time, the camera was priced at 19,900 yuan. That’s right, you didn’t mishear. That’s a five-figure camera. Nearly 20 thousand yuan. And what’s worse is that the seller called it a special price!
So, as you could imagine, as I held this treasure in my arms, I felt an utter sense of satisfaction!
Zhong Yuan noticed my idiotic look and laughed lightly. “Blockhead, if you do a good job, I’ll let you borrow the camera when you want.”
My eyes shimmered as I nodded. But then I asked with some reservation, “What do you mean by ‘do a good job’?”
Zhong Yuan seemed to consider for a moment, and then he replied, “That’s for you to think about. I’m just responsible for the judging.”
Well, you might as well not have said anything! His words pissed me off, but I also felt a bit helpless in the situation. And then Zhong Yuan smiled and added, “Anyway, you just need to keep me in a good mood, or at the least, don’t make me angry.”
OK, I think I get it… Fine, I just have to kiss up to him a bit. For my precious Canon baby, I can do it!
The X Mountains had already been developed into a national park, which meant that there was an official path up the mountain. But due to the irregular nature of a mountain, it goes without saying that parts of the path would be uneven.
The main peak of the X Mountains was more than 1.5 kilometers above sea level. Our plan was to look around some of the smaller hills and then hike halfway up the mountain. We would continue the climb the next day up to the top and then take a different path back down.
When we first started hiking, I was still very alert and not at all tired. After we walked around a bit, we had lunch at a rest area. The meal was simple. Everyone got a mantou, fermented tofu, and a sausage. I couldn’t help thinking about my precious Canon, so I pushed myself to give my sausage to Zhong Yuan. And that guy, he didn’t even reject the offer once. He just smiled and ate every last bit of that sausage.
After we ate, we started our trek up. The climb itself was rather boring, as we were just hiking up the steps. On the side of the mountain though, there were clusters of purple flowers that I couldn’t recall the name of. They were in full bloom and looked particularly lively against the sea of green. All kinds of bird calls could be heard from between the trees. Some were delicate and cheerful, like a lively girl yet to be betrothed. Some were deep and profound, like an old monk speaking of life and death. Every so often, small creeks would also appear, though they were dried-up since the rainy season had yet to arrive.
But hiking was a physical activity. Although the scenery around us was beautiful, when we were drenched in sweat and breathing unevenly, who would be in the mood to appreciate their surroundings?
What made things worse was that I was in charge of taking photos, which meant I had to run ahead and run back to get good shots.
And even worse than that, every time I was bent over, catching my breath, Zhong Yuan would snap a photo of me. He held up his phone and said, “Blockhead, you really look like a puppy here.” It made me so angry. I really wanted to grab the phone from his hand and stomp on it… Of course, that was only what I wanted to do, not what I actually did.
But worst of all was that I had to rack my brain for ways to kiss up to this awful person. When he sweat too much, I smiled and handed him a towel. When he was thirsty, I had to offer up water to him. When he said, “Blockhead, you’re too slow,” I had to hurry and catch up…
I was living through a fucking tragedy.