Chapter 12: On the Move (1)
“Where did you steal these flight tickets from, Youngho?”
Just as usual, it’s not Jongil if he talks nicely unless he’s deadly sick.
Park Jongil thanked Youngho on behalf of all of his friends with a joke.
“I received the full instructor payment without working full-time all because of you. And you won’t sit still if I don’t pay for that.”
It was not cheap, but Youngho bought all round-trip flight tickets for five people including him.
“Yeah, you surely have to give back at least half. Don’t you dare think getting the tickets were enough.”
All of his friends burst into laughter at Jongil’s remark.
“I’ll get you a girl, how about that? Yunsuh said you looked ready to settle down. She has someone she wants to introduce.”
“Are you crazy? Introduce who? There are plenty of walking Barbie dolls around here. They’re not like sassy Korean girls.”
“Insoo, did he get a girl now? He can’t even communicate with the people here.”
“I don’t know. He goes out every night. Who knows what he is up to?”
Youngho was astonished at Insoo’s words. Youngho knew how Jongil used to chase women all the time.
“Dude, girls here are innocent and nice. Don’t make them cry. That will affect my business too, okay?”
“Hey! I go learn English at night, all right? And why would I look for other girls when Karajan is there?”
“What, Karajan? Since when do you even know her? This crazy dude is going to ruin my business here.”
“Dude, since when? She was charmed by my manliness when we had beer together at the Phoenix pub last night. I like her a lot. Her dark hair and Asian vibe.”
This womanizer was into Karajan. To Youngho, Karajan was a great employee. Youngho knew it would affect his business if Jongil caused any problems with her. Youngho had to stop him.
“Do not cause any trouble. Everyone who works for me is her friend or her family. She is my business partner. Okay?”
“Ha! There are no boundaries to love. It’s just between a man and a woman. Why are you bringing your business between us? This is like agape. Don’t you think it would be awesome if your business partner becomes your friend’s wife? Man, I love this!”
“Oh my, this guy. He will cause a big problem. Hey, Training General! Take him out of the instructor list. He turned out to be not qualified.”
“Man, is he still my friend? He’s ruining my love life. I’m going to stay in Baku forever. Remember, you pulled me into this, so you are responsible for me.”
Inside a Korean A Airlines plane heading to Seoul from Istanbul, the gang had random conversations.
At Incheon Airport, Yunsuh, whose belly was fairly big as the due date was closing in, and Cho Sangchun greeted Youngho in excitement.
“Youngho, you worked so hard.”
Youngho pulled apart from Sangchun’s long hug.
“If you know I’ve worked hard, why not bring a girl at the airport instead of giving me a long hug?”
Yunsuh, who had been nagging on the phone when Youngho was in Baku, threw herself into Youngho’s arms with tears in her eyes.
“I’m fine. Why are you crying like I’m going to die?”
Yunsuh snapped at Youngho while drying her eyes.
“You really don’t know how to treat your little sister.”
“Now you are showing your true self. Look at your belly! Why didn’t you just stay home?”
The airport was crowded. Youngho’s friends already disappeared to go look for their families.
“Oppa, try this. This is the sweet rice punch that mom used to make. I made it.”
“Yunsuh, you don’t have to make anything for me.”
“Do you like it?”
“It’s good. Okay, make me some more. I’ve got to take this when I leave.”
“What a man of moods....”
“I like your new place, Sangchun. It was good thing you moved!”
“Say no more. It was hard to please Yunsuh.”
Yunsuh chewed Sangchun’s ear off when they searched for a new place.
When Sangchun decided to marry Yunsuh, Youngho knew that he would end up like this, but Sangchun did not see this coming for he was under Yunsuh’s charm.
“Well, did your parents visit here too?”
“Yeah, they loved it. They like Yunsuh so much. They said Yunsuh is a lucky charm to the family.”
“Tell them to come live with you. He can get people to work for the orchard. Your parents must be lonely in the countryside by themselves. They can help you two when their grandchild arrives.”
“They just agreed on coming here. They are going to help taking care of our child until kindergarten. They also asked if you can visit them when you get here.”
“Yeah, of course I should visit them on New Year’s Day. It’s been so long.”
Fields turned white after the snowfall from three days ago.
The road to Sangchun’s parents’ house in the countryside was rough and slippery. After getting out of the highway, the gang had to chain the tires to stop skidding on the local roads. After a long drive, the three of them finally arrived at Sangchun’s parents’ house.
Sangchun’s mother greeted Youngho and Yunsuh the same as before.
“Welcome, Youngho! I heard you are going through hoops overseas.”
With tears in her eyes, Sangchun’s mother gave Youngho a big hug. She was always tender like this. Now she was Youngho’s mother-in-law, but they had always been like a family since Youngho and Sangchun were young.
“Mother, I’m sorry for worrying you, and I didn’t go through hoops overseas. The climate is great and the people are kind to me.”
“It’s not the same living far away from your hometown. I should thank you. Because of your hard work, they’ve got a home now.”
“Mom, I’m the one who’s working hard. He just stays at a hotel room and talks on the phone all the time. That’s it,” said Sangchun.
Sangchun’s mother gave Sangchun a little spanking on his back.
“Sangchun, why would foreigners buy Korean products? It’s all because of Youngho’s hard work. He has to bend his pride to sell products to people.”
“Mother, you know the truth. I am the one who feeds them, haha,” said Youngho.
Even though they were making a ruckus, Sangchun’s father didn’t show up.
“Mom, where’s Dad?”
“Your dad’s still drunk. His former students came to say their New Year’s greetings and they drank a little too much. He’s still in bed.”
“He’s still the same. When he moves to Seoul, it’s not going to be fun for him anymore.”
Youngho was familiar with how Sangchun’s father was like.
“Hey, kiddo, say no more. I get sick of his drinking habit. It’s always my job to make him snacks when he drinks.”
Sangchun’s father was a retired teacher from Hongchun High School in his hometown. Because their house was close to Seoul and it had a beautiful river nearby, his former students and friends frequently visited him and his orchard. They always brought drinks for him, and the mother hated making snacks for them.
Hearing people in the living room, their father came out from his bedroom, looking messy.
“Is Youngho here?”
“Yes, Father. I couldn’t come see you from overseas.”
“That’s fine. You’ve done a lot taking care of these kids.”
“Dad, we are not kids...!” added Sangchun.
“Quiet, Sangchun. He’s now your brother-in-law, not your friend anymore. Did you chase him away to the foreign land to live by yourselves?”
Sangchun’s father always favored Youngho, who used to come and help him work in the orchard.
“Yes, Father. You are right. They are just like kids. Why not give them some punishment drinks today? I brought a 100-year-old wine from Armenia.”
“What? Talking about drinking when you are not even fully awake?”
“Honey, it’s not just alcohol. It’s a 100-year-old drink, made out of grapes.”
“What is it if it’s not alcohol?”
“Mother, I also brought some expensive Chaga mushrooms known to be good for cancers and liver health. This much drink is nothing when you have these.”
“Youngho, you know how to deal with people. Hahaha!”
In this welcoming atmosphere, they started a wine party with their lunch meals.
“Youngho, it looks like you spend all of your money for your sister and brother. I feel sorry for you.”
“No, Father. I’m happy to help my family, and I save some for myself.”
He was confident since his stores in Baku were successful.
“I don’t believe you. You always use all of your money for others and don’t take it for yourself.”
The father stopped and had a sip of wine.
“When I go to Seoul, I won’t be coming to the orchard except maybe twice a year. I will give you the orchard when I die. Sangchun is not interested in getting his hands dirty.”
At their father’s shocking remark, Youngho tried to reject his offer.
“No, please, Father. There is Sangchun now, and there will be your grandchildren in the future. Why give it to me?”
“You always liked the dirt.”
“Yes. It gives me peace when I touch dirt.”
“The orchard in here doesn’t cost much. If I give it to Sangchun, he will sell it in one month.”
“Father, when have I...?”
“Just be quite, Sangchun. You would never take care of the land.”
“Well, that is....”
“I expanded the orchard little by little with my small teacher’s pay. It’s not much, but I have cared for the land for a great deal. I think you will be the one who can take care of this when I’m gone.”
Sangchun’s father felt sorry that Youngho had been selflessly using most of his earnings for his sister and brother-in-law. Because he knew that Youngho always cherished the orchard, he asked him to take the land.
Youngho decided to take the orchard since the old guy was asking sincerely. It was not a good manner to say ‘no’ to an elder.
“Yes, I see what you mean. Please give it to me. I will take care of it well.”
“That’s right. You should do fine. Honey, please get me the document. Maybe I should write on the land title that I’ll be passing it down to him as inheritance.”
“Darling, you are rushing it like you are on your deathbed.”
“If I don’t do it now, Sangchun will sell it while Youngho’s gone overseas.”
“Dad, you’re kidding. Do you really think I would ever do that? The money Youngho and I are making now can buy multiple orchards like this. I will never sell it.”
“Look at him. He never talks about taking care of the orchard. He only talks about buying orchards that’s already been taken care of by other people. Humph.”
Sangchun muttered with a sulky look, “Phew, I have been a devoted son, but you are making me into someone bad here.”
“How are you a devoted son? You just came because your wife Yunsuh has been grilling you.”
“Dad, if you are talking about last time, I had been so busy, so Yunsuh came to see you for me.”
“Hey, you bad son. Take the drink. I hope you are not too hurt that you didn’t get the orchard,” said Youngho.
“You are making it even worse for me.”
While the two bickered at each other, the father made a statement.
“Anyway, don’t you live in the foreign land for too long. Come back and live in Korea, that’s my one condition. If you don’t come back, I will take my word back.”
Youngho felt a prick at his conscience. Youngho wanted to focus fully on the three nations along Caucasus Mountains for now, but the old man had just put a break in Youngho’s decision.
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