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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
From senior centers to elderly welfare, from the Korean Senior Citizens Association to private and public schools, Juho had been visiting an array of places with Nam Kyung in order to listen to the stories of the elderly. Finding a difference between those stories wasn’t all that difficult. As long as one decided that they wanted to distinguish them from each other, that was all it took. However, none of them were of the young author’s interest.
Upon returning home, Juho took the pictures he had taken from the places he had visited throughout the day and scattered them across his desk. What was particularly interesting was that the dynamic between Juho and the elderly hadn’t exactly been similar to that of a grandparent and their grandchild. Both the young author and the elderly each had a role in their respective groups. Amid the atmosphere created among the elderly, Juho found them in a peculiar position. It seemed to be the result of trying to strike a balance between having their own volition and respecting others’ opinions. In other words, both the young author and the elderly were members of the society in their own rights. In the end, Juho had been led to decide that the protagonist’s relationship with her peers would be that of friends rather than family. Suffice to say, they would be friends with a significant number of years in between them, and soon, it wouldn’t be long until they started cursing each other out for fun.
Juho wrote in solitude. Living in his own home granted him the benefit of silence, which allowed him to focus on writing even more. On the flip side, it also came with its own side effects, such as forgetting to eat, not going out, or simply staying up into the next day. Bathing, eating a quick breakfast, and writing had become a daily routine for the young author, and once he had finished writing, he would go to sleep, only to repeat the pattern the next day.
After some time had passed, Juho looked at his manuscript, which contained two months worth of writing. He was writing at a pace that felt satisfactory to him. Of course, there were parts that gave Juho the urge to change them, but he couldn’t afford to let his urges hold him back. After collecting himself, he imagined the next scene, the scene of the protagonist walking into her school’s campus. After getting involved in incidents, she found herself in a world of trouble, progressing the story in her own way.
At that moment, the doorbell echoed through the house. Taking some time to recognize the sound, since he had been interrupted during his creative process, Juho thought about who the unwelcome guest could be. Then, unable to think of anyone, he walked over to the door to look through the peephole and saw a familiar face on the other side.
Juho wasn’t all that glad to see his friend who had been busy adapting to college life. In the end, smacking his lips for a brief moment, he closed the door to his room and opened the front door to let Seo Kwang in. Waiting unhurriedly in the hallway, Seo Kwang looked very natural standing there.
“What do you want?”
“Dude, you look like crap,” Seo Kwang said nonchalantly despite Juho’s seemingly aggressive question.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You look like a zombie, a zombie with bad circulation from sitting down for too long,” Seo Kwang said. It was quite the roundabout way of saying that his friend looked pale. At that, Juho chuckled and rephrased the question, “But really, what brings you here?”
“I was in the area, so I thought I should drop by and eat with ya.”
“I kinda wanna focus on writing.”
“My mom packed you some food.”
Since finding out that her son’s friend had started living on his own, Seo Kwang’s mother had been sending Juho some food from time to time. In the end, Juho moved aside to let his friend in. When he checked the time after coming inside, it was precisely the time he usually had lunch. If Seo Kwang hadn’t come, Juho would have certainly forgotten to eat.
“You didn’t even touch the food I brought you last time,” Seo Kwang said, looking into the refrigerator, and ignoring him, Juho grabbed some chunks of rice, which he had frozen prior to his friend’s visit.
“So, what’s for lunch?” Juho asked.
“Fresh kimchi with pork.”
Adding that his mother had made enough kimchi for the winter, Seo Kwang unpacked the food that was in the plastic bag haphazardly, not even bothering to put the bag away. And just like that, the table was set in no time.
“This is good,” Juho said. Both the kimchi and the pork were quite tasty. Meanwhile, Seo Kwang was splitting the leaves of the pickled cabbage with his fingers. Then, he stuffed his mouth with kimchi, pork, and rice until his cheeks bulged out like a squirrel.
(TL’s Note: Koreans believe that kimchi’s in particular tastes better when the uncut leaves are split by hand.)
“How’s college?” Juho asked while Seo Kwang was still busy chewing. Judging from the look on his face, college life hadn’t been kind to him.
“You know, I’m realizing that this world is filled with all kinds of people. It’s pretty damn mind-boggling,” Seo Kwang said. The aggression in his tone, especially toward the end of the sentence, was telling Juho that his friend wasn’t coming from a good place. “I don’t know what these people are thinking or why they do what they do! Do they not know that they’re being nuisances? Or maybe they do know, but they just don’t care. In that case, those are some class A jerks. Is this world supposed to be filled to the brim with douchebags?”
“You don’t sound like you’re havin’ a good time in college,” Juho said as he got the gist of his friend’s life, giving him a pitiful look. Then, sighing deeply, Seo Kwang picked up a couple of slices of pork and shoved them into his mouth.
“Well, how about you? How’s writing?”
“Not too bad. Although, it’s too early to relax.”
“Don’t take too long now. Your friend could use some healing.”
Juho thought back to the story he had been working on. Although he wasn’t exactly sure if it would comfort his friend in any way, Juho was confident that it will make him laugh. In hindsight, the young author was glad that he had decided to write a story that was cheerful and uplifting. Although, the decision hadn’t necessarily been made with Seo Kwang in mind, writing an uplifting story tended to bring small, unexpected joy like that.
Then, Seo Kwang said, “Speaking of which…”
“Can I see your writing space?”
Seo Kwang squirmed in his seat at the young author’s emphatic rejection. Although he had been desperate to take even a glance at Juho’s new work-in-progress, the young author didn’t allow him to. Soon, Seo Kwang gave up, stuffing his mouth with a spoonful of rice. By the time they had finished the pork as they talked about college, Seo Kwang brought something up, which had to be about one of two things: either a book or language.
“Oh! Did you hear?” he asked. There was a certainty in his voice.
“Hear what?” Juho asked.
Then, giving his author friend who was slow to catch up a judgmental look, Seo Kwang said, “Hyun Do Lim?”
At that, Juho responded by reflex, “Ah! His new book?”
The release date of Hyun Do’s new book was just around the corner. ‘When was it?’ Juho thought to himself.
“It comes out tomorrow.”
“You can’t be serious,” Seo Kwang said with his brow furrowed.
“I’ve been losing track of time lately.”
It had been a daily occurrence for the young author to look up from the monitor or a sheet manuscript paper and suddenly realize that it was morning or night. Then, shaking his head, Seo Kwang said, “So, this is what happens when you’re left alone. Going berserk.”
“I still exercise, though.”
At that, Seo Kwang narrowed his eyes. He seemed concerned for his author friend on one hand, while happy for him on the other. But, the subject of the conversation reverted back to what they had talked about previously: Hyun Do’s new book was coming out tomorrow.
“I’m gonna get a copy right away. I have a feeling that it’s gonna be mind-blowing.”
Most of Hyun Do’s books were mind-bogglingly good. Looking displeased by Juho’s indifferent response, Seo Kwang asked, “Well, what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Are you gonna check it out?”
Chuckling quietly, the young author said, “Not everyone in this world decides whether they wanna read a book or not as soon as it’s released, you know.”
“Then, consider it. Oh, wait. You’re not gonna read since you’re in the middle of writing, huh? But you used to read Hyun Do Lim’s books from time to time.”
Juho thought for a brief moment. Hyun Do’s book had been about the only novel that he had actually gotten his hands on during his time in the Literature Club, especially when he had been in the middle of writing a book himself. Although Juho tried not to read other novels during his writing phase, he had made an exception for Hyun Do’s books and read them whenever he felt like it. Reminded of that, Juho found himself in a dilemma. ‘What do I do this time? What would be the better choice?’
“What do you think I should do?” he asked.
“You’re asking me? I’d read it without thinking twice since I’m not a writer.”
With a look of impatience and curiosity on his face, Seo Kwang silently rushed Juho for an answer. However, Juho was struggling to reach a decision. There were conflicting desires in his heart. Then, Seo Kwang started talking about everything he knew about Hyun Do’s books and his thoughts on them, releasing his affection for literature like a flood.
“You do realize that it’s Hyun Do Lim we’re talking about here, right? As in THE Hyun Do Lim? His take on this world is just magnificent, to say the least.”
Used to hearing Seo Kwang rave about the literary great, Juho let his friend talk, pretending to listen. Then, after finishing his food, Juho rose from his seat and grabbed a cup from the drying rack, and as Seo Kwang said, “Oh! Me too!” the young author grabbed another cup, filling them both with water.
“I really hope he keeps writing for a long time.”
“I hope so too.”
Fortunately, their hopes would eventually become a reality. Hyun Do would go on to write well into his old age and become the the nation’s most recognized author. His readers would see the world through his eyes, sharing his perspective, and that, in and of itself, was a tremendous achievement.
“He’s already one of the top authors in Korea, but he’s still growing and improving, moving forward one step at a time. He keeps on training himself relentlessly. Isn’t that incredible?”
“It sure is.”
“You can just feel it in his writing. Just how much effort he put into embodying as much or little as possible.”
“I don’t know how he’s able to come up with ideas like that. It makes me wonder how he sees everything. All I’m capable of doing is imagine as I read. If he were to write about a math class, I’d actually want to read about the solving processes.”
“Are you listening?” Seo Kwang asked.
Juho had been very much listening. In fact, the more he heard about Hyun Do, the bigger his desire to read his book grew. However, as if entirely oblivious to Juho’s state of mind, Seo Kwang kept on about the literary great until they had cleaned up the table after having finished their meal.
“I read Yun Seo Baek’s testimonial in one of his books. I’d never heard of her complimenting somebody like that, let alone Hyun Do Lim.”
“… what did she say?”
“You haven’t read it yet, have you? No wonder you’re so nonchalant,” Seo Kwang said, making sense of things. Then, he quoted Yun Seo’s sentences word for word, “‘This is my most favorite piece by far.’ She called it her ‘most favorite’ and she thinks that Hyun Do feels similarly. I mean, this is from Yun Seo Baek, so it’s gotta be accurate. The author himself is satisfied with his work, and it even has Yun Seo Baek’s approval. What more do you need?” Seo Kwang said, looking even hungrier than when he had been eating.
“That makes me wanna read it,” Juho said quietly.
“But would I be able to write as I read such an amazing book?”
“… Ah,” Seo Kwang let out, as if just realizing what he had been doing. Raving about a good book had already become somewhat instinctual to him.
“Well, I was just wondering if you’re interested in checking out the book or not, so I thought I should ask, but I ended up sounding like I’m selling the book somehow.”
“You know, I’ve noticed that you talk even more than you used to now that you’ve started your translation studies.”
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
“It’s an insult.”
At that, Seo Kwang chuckled quietly and said, “I don’t think it’s impossible. You’re Yun Woo.”
“I don’t know. I’ve never actually read Mr. Lim’s books while writing,” Juho said. Since he had no idea what Hyun Do’s new book was like, there was no way to know whether he would be able to keep his composure after reading it. From then on, after eating dessert, Seo Kwang got ready to head out. He hadn’t stayed all that long, as if trying to be considerate of his author friend’s time.
“All right. I’m off now,” Seo Kwang said.
After exchanging brief goodbyes, Seo Kwang disappeared out the door. The house sank back into silence. Although there wasn’t anything to talk about because there wasn’t anyone to talk to, Juho did feel pleasantly full. Instead of going back to his room and writing, Juho sat in the living room.
“Mr. Lim,” he murmured. For a while, the literary great had drawn quite the attention when the news had gotten out that he had inspired the young author to write ‘Language of God,’ However, he had remained at his place, unaffected and without response. He simply wrote as he always did. No matter what he wrote and how it was received by the masses, the literary great remained still and tranquil, humbly going about his way.
“What would it be like for me?”
Would it be possible for the young author to do the same? Juho reminisced to his past life, when he had let the noise created by his work get the best of him. Like the amateur writer that he had been, he had let himself get carried away by the tumultuous tornado of his life, thinking that he had been moving forward when he had been merely losing his footing in reality. He remembered having read Hyun Do’s books back then. One of them was the only book that he had taken to heart back when he hadn’t even been able to afford a book from the bookstore. It had given the young author courage, and thinking of his calm and tranquil demeanor, Juho recalled finding himself in tranquil silence.
“I really wanna read it,” Juho said as if sighing, feeling an insatiable desire for the book. Then, he rose from his seat and opened the door to his room, where the manuscript of his work-in-progress was. Although he tried to write, he couldn’t get past forty words before he put the pen down.
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