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After returning from my hike, I see that my younger sister, Hyun-ji, is home. It seems she has just returned from school.
“Oh my gosh! Oppa, you’ve lost a lot of weight.”
“It’s from all the struggles from studying.”
“Haha that’s funny. It’s probably because of eating only cup ramen and triangle rice from the convenience store you worked at.”
“Oh…so you know.”
“Anyway, did you do all the cleaning and the dishes?”
“I know you’re really busy preparing for the workforce right now. I temporarily have nothing to do, so all this stuff I’ll do for you.”
At my words, Hyun-ji’s eyes become wide. With an uneasy and anxious expression she says.
“Who are you?”
“I’m your oppa”
“Lies. My oppa is not this kind.”
“I think you need to get hit.”
As I am about to flick her forehead, she squeals and runs away and after going back and forth, Hyun-ji says this.
“Don’t you need to eat dinner? Mom and unni* says they’re going to be late.”
(TN: Unni is what a younger sister calls her older sister. Pronounced uhn-nee.)
“Oh really? You want to order something?”
“What do you mean order? Mom made bossam already? I’ll set the table.”
This time I stare at her with eyes full of suspicion.
“Who are you? My younger sister is not so domesticated as to set the table.”
Hyun-ji giggles and laughs.
And then she says.
“I have my integrity. You said you did all the dishes and cleaned the house. The least I can do is set up the table and dinner for you.”
“Really? Sounds about right. It’s not like just because you’re a senior, you’re going to start studying all of a sudden when you didn’t study before…”
“Hey. Excuse me. But I am working hard at preparing for the workforce right now, ok?”
“I heard that mom caught you last time you went to play at the club.”
At my criticism, Hyun-ji pouts her lips.
“It was just to uplift my mood. I didn’t go meet guys and play with them. I just went with a friend and danced.”
“Tsk tsk. It’s really a problem that you like to play so much.”
“Oh shut up. Go and wash up while I set up the table. You daebak* smell like sweat.”
(TN: Something similar to mean extreme, but more like fricking in this case. It can also mean amazing, crazy, etc.)
While she set the table, I took a shower and changed my clothes.
Bossam, kimchi, brown rice, and an assortment of side dishes were deliciously set up before me. I was surprised because there was even some seaweed soup*. It’s not even anyone’s birthday. But at the news of my return, it seems mom was extremely excited.
(TN: Seaweed soup is usually only made on birthdays.)
“Hurry up and eat, its cooling down.”
In good spirits we sat down at the table, watching TV while eating our dinner.
“Time really must have passed by.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, in the old days, you and I used to fight to the point where the house might flip over.”
“Yeah that’s true. Actually, up until yesterday, at the news that you might be returning home, I was full of thoughts of pushing my chores onto you. But because you did all the dishes and the cleaning, it took a poke at my integrity too.”
“You bitch. You must have been super excited at the thought of giving me all your chores.”
“Haha. Well, since you said you’ll be doing it all for me, I’ll do the cooking and laundry then.”
“Alright, sounds good. It’s not like there’s only a few women’s underwear so it would’ve been weird for me to do the laundry anyway.”
“Ha. Uncomfortable with a couple lady’s underwear? Oppa, are you still a virgin?”
“Mom and noona’s* underwear is no problem but I feel like your underwear would be frivolous. So as an oppa, it frightens me a bit”
(TN: What a younger brother calls and older sister.)
“What? What do you take me for!”
“A club addict.”
“Humph. Better than being unemployed.”
“Haha. Don’t you graduate soon?”
“Just saying. I can’t wait till next year.”
“Fine. Go on railing me. But I’m going to get employed.”
“Yeah well, when I graduated I thought it would all go according to plan too…”
“Oh don’t look at me with that expression. I’ll never become unemployed like you.”
“Hey hey, who do you keep calling unemployed?”
“Well then what are you?”
“The morning* star of the fried chicken business.”
(TN: Could possibly also mean the rising star.)
Hyun-ji rolls around laughing.
Time really passes by. To think that a day like this would come where I would talk about employment and life hopes with a sister six years my junior.
“Lately, unni has been saying she wants to get married and has been asking mom to find some suitors.*
(TN: It isn’t uncommon in Korea to ask your mom to ask her friends if they know about any available guys.)
“Really? Then again, she’s already 33 so it’s about time.”
“Isn’t it so weird? I mean she’s not lacking in anything, so why doesn’t she have a man? She’s pretty and her body is nice and she’s a lawyer. If it were me, I would have 100 guys lined up.”
“Is noona you?”
“Still, it’s weird. Seeing as how she wants to get married, she isn’t a lone wolf, and she isn’t a lesbian.”
“Well noona is a bit much. Her words are few, but her personality is really strong and her cold stare is enough to deter the average guy.”
Hyun-ji laughs at it all.
“Yeah. Unni’s expressions are a bit scary. I’m up in your face to you, but I can’t dare say a thing to unni. Even when I got caught playing at the club, I was more scared of her finding out and yelling at me.”
“Yeah well, don’t ever come crawling to me.”
I let out a deep sigh.
“Meh. Who am I to be talking about anybody else. At least noona makes good money and is pretty popular. As for all the dating I’ve ever done was when I entered college. I met eyes with a girl at orientation and we dated for half a year, and that’s all. After that, father passed away and the household became chaotic. I was going to school, working two part time jobs, and then took the army exam…”
I gather my thoughts and realized that I really might finish my life without ever feeling love. I’m seriously a pitiful guy. As I keep letting out my deep sighs, Hyun-ji stares at me with eyes full of sympathy.
“Should I introduce you to a friend of mine?”
The thought of meeting a girl right before I die enters my mind. However, I shake my head.
Maybe I’ll just keep thinking about dying. The important thing is my will.
(TN: He’s talking about his will to survive, not his will for after death.)
It’s my strong determination to clear all the exams and live.
With my firm decision, I don’t want to use my precious 11 days just meeting a girl.
“Aww. My poor brother. Do the chicken business with mom and give it some time. When you reach your 30s, there will be lots of ladies like our sister, at a precarious age, throwing themselves at you.”
I laugh together with Hyun-ji. Hyun-ji is rather exuberant and talkative and the time flew by.
After our meal, I say.
“I’ll clear the table, you go in and study.”
“Oh oppa. You’re suddenly being too good to me and it’s weird.”
“Hey. You are not adjusting well to this Olabuhni’s* kindness.
(TN: It’s how you say oppa from when there were still kings and queens. This kind of Korean was used maybe around ~500 years ago. Think Shakespearean language, but Korean.)
“Hee Hee. Thank you. I’ll be sure to pick a pretty and nice girl from my friends and introduce you.”
(TN: Shakespearean Korean again. It means something like “then let it be so.”)
I too hope that such a day can come.
Hyun-ji goes inside to study. I clear the table and after I do the dishes really quickly, I start to exercise. This time, muscle exercise. After 50 pushups, my arms begin to shake. And thanks to the hike, my legs are shaking too. I’m just a mess.
But I’m in this state after just one hike. I am exasperated with myself. Will I be able to keep this up every day for 11 days?
‘Even so, I have to keep going.’
And even so, the hike today and the pushups were but simple exercise. I also have to train to use the magic gun and spirit summons during fights.
‘Alright then. I’m tired now so I’ll rest a bit. And I’ll go out at dawn when no one is around to start training.’
It’s not like I can train to use a gun and summon a spirit in front of other people where they can see.
I don’t want to be YouTube star yet. I lie down on the sofa and close my eyes.
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