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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“I was told that they prefer that you’re in the middle of moving.”
Juho stopped packing upon hearing the news from Nabi. As he held his phone, which he had had between his face and his shoulder, more securely in his hand, he beheld the untidy state of the room.
“As long as you’re OK with it, they want to have photoshoot session while you’re still moving. What would you like to do?”
Having assumed that the interview wouldn’t take place until after he had moved into his new place, Juho asked, perplexed, “Do they have a thing for messy rooms or something?”
Then, chuckling quietly, Nabi explained, “They like things as is. They’re probably going for the dynamic feel of somebody still moving into a place rather than the calm and organized feel of a home that’s been settled in already, which would make things a lot less interesting.”
Just like she had said, the magazine often tended to include photos of untidy desks or unmade beds, while revealing authors’ favorite baseball teams, favorite drinks, or the pens or pencils they use to write, providing the opportunity to get a better look at the authors’ everyday lives.
“They seem to understand the benefit of visiting authors at their homes,” Nabi said, adding that she was fond of their style. However, Juho couldn’t help but feel hesitant. Seeing as it was going to be one of the things that would determine how the rest of the world viewed him, this interview was crucial, and Juho felt the need to be really mindful of what he was showing.
“Can I really show them the place? With the boxes and all?” Juho asked.
“Like I said, Mr. Woo, they would prefer that,” Nabi said and added, “Tell you what, why don’t we take the opportunity and do something about the doubters out there once and for all? I think you’re just in the right place and time for that.”
Then, in order to reassure the young author, she told him everything she had heard up to that point. As long as Yun Woo gave the OK, where he lived was hardly an issue.
“The untidiness can give the background some character, Mr. Woo. From what I’ve heard, they’ve interviewed authors in rooms that looked borderline like garbage dumps. I was told that they want something original, and they also asked me to ask for your forgiveness for interviewing you when you’re in the middle of moving.”
Hearing Nabi’s explanation, it occurred to Juho that not all authors lived in neat and organized rooms, and the coffee stains in Coin’s room were a good example of that. While the authors revealed themselves, they took photos of them and their living spaces. Then, after some contemplation, Juho made up his mind, “All right. Let’s do it.”
At that, with a more cheerful voice, Nabi gave him a brief explanation about how things would progress from then on.
“You just gotta act according to the plan. That’s all you gotta do. By the way, is everything going OK with the move?” she asked, and at the sight of the books and manuscripts scattered about the floor, Juho hesitated and said, “Uh… It’s going all right, I suppose.”
“You’re not getting sick or anything, are you?”
“So far, so good.”
“You’re not gonna be under the weather during the interview, right?” she asked. Although she sounded playful, there was a subtle warning behind her question, made to remind the young author to take care of himself until the interview.
“No, I’ll take good care of myself,” Juho said, and after hanging up, Juho decided to follow Nabi’s advice and take a short break, slowly rolling his stiff wrists. Then, he rose from his seat and picked up his sunglasses. ‘I’m goin’ for a walk.’
It wasn’t until he arrived at the park that Juho took his hat and sunglasses off, which often got in the way of his view. There was nobody around. Nobody who would shout his name when they saw him. Although there had been a handful of people who’d given him suspicious looks, Juho hadn’t minded it all that much. As long as he didn’t say it himself, there was no chance that people would catch him, and because of that, he was able to arrive at the park more easily than he had anticipated.
As he walked into the botanical garden, he was greeted by the warm, damp air that he was well acquainted with by that point. Further into the garden, was a tree that looked a lot like a banana tree, and even further in, was an old door that was rusting from the humidity in the air. Because the leaves were covering the boundary between the doorpost and the wall, the door was difficult to spot, and the door handle was rusty and discolored, enough to make anyone hesitant to touch it. However, in reality, it was just a plain ol’ door handle that left no trace on the hand whatsoever.
“Why, if it isn’t our beloved writer.”
As Juho stepped in, an unexpected visitor greeted him. It was the custodian, who had explained the history and purpose of the room when the young author had first discovered it. He had described the space as abandoned, although there were no signs of it being off limits. With that, the young author walked to where the custodian was sitting. Like Juho, he was also wearing a hat with a cup of Job’s Tears tea on it.
“Long time no see.”
“Our schedules are different.”
It was rare for custodians to be in a resting area at that hour, and unlike Juho, most of them either had breakfast before work or a cup of tea during or after work.
“You have no idea of how shocked I was when I saw you on TV.”
From his response when Juho had first walked in, the custodian seemed to know about Juho’s identity.
“Would you like an autograph?” Juho asked as he put his sunglasses down, and the custodian burst out into hearty laughter. After buying himself a cup of tea from the vending machine, the young author sat across from him. On a shelf that had probably been filled with works of pottery once, were various tools for people, and all that being behind a custodian made for a different sight.
“I saw you in a different light when I found out that you are an author.”
“Really?” Juho asked, holding the warm paper cup with both of his hands, while the custodian fidgeted with his. There was something about him that was more awkward than usual.
“So, there’s something I’ve been wanting to know.”
Perhaps, he wasn’t used to seeing Juho as Yun Woo just yet.
“What is it?” Juho asked, pretending not to show the bitterness on his face. “Ask away,” he said.
As soon as the young author gave the custodian permission to ask, the custodian lowered his head, covered his mouth with one hand, and whispered to him, “You had meetings here, didn’t you?”
“… I’m sorry?”
At that, Juho couldn’t hold back his laughter, and interpreting that as confirmation, the custodian said with more confidence, “I knew it! I guess I did contribute to keeping your secret, huh?”
Although it had been a completely unexpected question, Juho nodded slowly. Just as the custodian had said, he hadn’t only been taking care of the garden, but of the young author’s secret as well.
“I was able to live my life in peace, thanks to you.”
“I knew something was odd. It’s not like there’s anything to do around here, especially for somebody your age. Did you write here and all?”
“Occasionally,” Juho said, and as he learned that he had contributed to Yun Woo’s work in some capacity, the custodian smiled with satisfaction.
“I knew something was different about you from the first time I saw you here,” he said with a proud expression on his face.
“But you didn’t know I was gonna be Yun Woo?”
“Nope. Didn’t get that far,” the custodian said, pouring the rest of the steaming tea into his mouth. “You seemed like a good speaker on TV. Why didn’t you give me some sort of clue?”
“We didn’t really run into each other all that much.”
“You came here when I was not around on purpose, huh?”
“We wouldn’t have met today if I hadn’t come here,” the custodian muttered playfully.
“I guess that’s true.”
With that, the air sank into an awkward silence, and in order to validate that silence, Juho brought his cup up to his mouth. Since he couldn’t understand what the plants were telling him, the place was quiet.
“Does that mean you won’t be needing this place anymore?” the custodian asked quietly with a slightly playful expression on his face still. And as they locked eyes with each other without saying much, the custodian added, “Since this place was for you to hide that you’re Yun Woo, wouldn’t that mean you won’t be coming here anymore?”
“I doubt that,” Juho said, lowering his cup slightly and getting a whiff of the tea. “I came here to drink Job’s Tears tea. There’s something about vending machine teas. They have this unique flavor.”
“Vending machine teas are all the same, aren’t they?”
“And teas all taste different depending on the person who makes them.”
The Job’s Tears tea in Juho’s hand could be found nowhere else but in that room in the garden. Should the place and/or the situation change, the taste of the tea would also change, even if it were to be brewed exactly as it always had been. Similarly, lunch at a picnic or having a glass of wine with loved ones tended to taste significantly better. The Job’s Tears tea was a unique experience that could be found nowhere else outside of that garden.
“So I’ll probably come by every now and then.”
The custodian fixed his hat without saying a word. Just like the first time they had met, he neither told him not to come, nor to come more often. Even when the young author set foot on the place for the first time, the custodian didn’t try to impose anything on him.
“Besides, I think I’m finding myself in a need of a place like this even more now that I revealed myself,” Juho said.
“Where’d you get the sunglasses?” the custodian asked, nudging the sunglasses ever so slightly and adding as he rose from his seat, “I bought your book. I don’t know how far I’ll get through this time, but I’ll definitely give it a go. So, you keep writing, all right?”
“Will do,” Juho answered immediately.
“Is this the country Yun Woo’s from?” somebody said while looking out of the window on his plane ride to Korea. The sole purpose of his trip was to meet Yun Woo. Although everything looked similar from up in the sky, the list of differences grew exponentially once one stepped out of the plane, and his reason for insisting on meeting authors in person was similar to that idea: to get a better look at them. Meeting an author person allowed him to learn about them in greater detail. Everything in this world operated under principles that were rather simple.
He was carrying a copy of the most recent issue of a magazine, which had a photo of an Italian author on the cover.
The company the man worked for never insisted on just interviewing authors. In fact, they interviewed an array of people, from politicians to human rights lawyer, and at times, even presidential candidates. The interviewees were mostly people leading a successful lives. But how many of them were teenagers?
“Has no home,” he let out the part that had bothered him the most when requesting the interview with the young author. Although Yun Woo did have a home, it didn’t necessarily belong to him. It belonged to his parents, technically, as with most teenagers. However, that was a very unusual case for a magazine that often visited authors of international acclaim because no other author had succeeded in their career at such a young age. Since the author was a teenager, not only did they have to wait for the author’s consensus, but they also had to respect his parents’ decision. Although it was awkward, it wasn’t necessarily hindering him in any way. If that was the environment in which the author lived, then it was just what they were looking for.
After waiting anxiously, the magazine had received an incredible answer. It was delightful news that the young author was moving into a place of his own for the first time in his life. The young author was becoming an adult, a transitional period in his life, and the man wanted to capture the scene in its entirety.
Then, he opened the magazine, which contained his questions and the Italian author’s responses like a script. Just like his rightful title, his questions were labeled: ‘Interviewer.’
“Check your equipment once we land.”
“Will do,” the photographer answered in an excited tone.
“You gotta put your heart and soul into this, all right?”
“Of course! I was heartbroken when I saw how blurry the first Yun Woo picture that came out to the world was,” the photographer said, humming.
“Start off with a picture as soon as he opens the door.”
Then, an announcement came from the speakers saying that the plane was about to land. When reading Yun Woo’s books up to that point, the man had been asking himself: ‘What kind of answers would he have to offer? What kind of questions would he find tricky? Offensive? Delightful? Comfortable?’ He had had no certain answers for those questions whatsoever, as he had never met the young author in person. However, things had taken a turn. Yun Woo had finally come out to the world and revealed himself.
The long-awaited interview with Yun Woo was finally happening. A conversation with Yun Woo. The interviewer was finally going to see the young author and find out just how he was able to write such incredible books.
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