Yes… another one more week to the end of my bachelorhood.
The end of my freedom.
The end of being single.
The end of… Xi Men.
Sigh. What am I thinking?
I should be happy thinking that I am going to marry someone and have a family.
Sadly… it is not Xiao You.
The person I am going to marry with is not Xiao You.
Am I being fair to Kanako?
Of course… the answer is no.
But I can’t help it. I tried my best.
I am still feeling guilty about agreeing to the marriage, which I believe is the start of Kanako’s nightmare.
I guess I can give her anything and everything… but my love.
I’m so sorry, Kanako…
With both elbows on the desk, I dunked my head and pressed my hands hard at the back of my head, feeling guilt all over me.
“CEO Xi Men,”
I looked up to the desk phone. I pressed the respond button.
“Yes, Secretary Xu?”
“CEO Dao Ming, CEO Ling and CEO Hua Ze are here with their wives,”
“Let them in,” I said, leaning my back against the CEO chair.
“Right away, CEO Xi Men,”
It takes a few seconds to hear knocks on the door and Secretary Xu opened the door.
“CEO Xi Men,” he greeted me, as he opened the door widely and stood aside, letting Ah Si, Lei and Mei Zhuo walked in into my room with their wives.
“Yo bro,” Mei Zhuo called.
“Hey,” Ah Si called.
“Hi,” Lei smiled.
I smiled and acknowledge all of them as they scattered around in my room.
“So another one more week to go,” Lei smirked.
“How are you feeling?” Ah Si asked.
I fling my head lightly, indicate so-so.
But then I remembered none of them knows how to read my sign language, so I end up opening my mouth, “So-so,”
“Still not feeling happy about it?” Xiao Qiao asked me.
I smiled. “I’m just okay with it,”
“Do you need to call your wedding off or maybe postponed it?” San Chai asked.
Everyone looked at San Chai for her unproductive, impossible-to-happen statement.
“I’m fine, San Chai, thanks,” I rubbed my head.
“You call us over to…?” Mei Zhuo called.
“Oh ya,” I almost forgot. “To pass you guys my wedding invitation cards,” I said as I pushed myself to my drawer.
“Finally!!!” Mei Zhuo said. “Gosh, I have been waiting for that!”
“What took you so long, dude? Still not enough cards as claimed by Mei Zhuo?” Lei asked.
“I’m done with giving all out, and now’s left you guys,” I said as I pulled the drawer and search for the cards.
“What kind of buddy are you to pass us the cards last!” Mei Zhuo exclaimed.
“You guys will definitely attend my wedding, I am not that worried. So I quickly send all the cards off to everybody else. So you guys can wait,” I said, still searching.
“Duh…” Lei said.
“And I spent a lot of time talking and explaining about my wedding and marriage to Kanako so I’m exhausted. I don’t think you guys will be excluded later on,” I said.
Darn… where are the cards?
“What else is there to ask about your marriage to Kanako anyway, we’ve ask all we wanted to know already,” Jing said.
“True,” Lei said.
I smiled. You’ll never know… you’ll never know.
“I am still wondering,” Ah Si said.
“What are you wondering?” I asked Ah Si.
“You are going to get married already… I wonder how’s Xiao You doing,” Ah Si said, touching his chin as he leaned his back against the chair.
Everyone looked at Ah Si.
Particularly they have not raised any topic regarding Xiao You for quite some time now.
“She’s fine,” I said, shifting my sight away from him, continue looking for the cards.
Darn, it’s not in this drawer.
I pushed the drawer close and I opened another.
“She’s fine? You found out about her? I thought you said to call all the PIs to stop looking for her already?” Ah Si said, looking straight at me.
“Or she contacts you?” San Chai asked.
“Yes, she called me,” I said.
“Really? How is she doing?” San Chai walked to me. “When was that?”
“Last month,” I said. “We meet up,”
“And??” Mei Zhuo asked, anxiously.
“She said she dropped by Taipei, so… she ask me out for a coffee,” I said, abruptly stopped searching for the cards and leaned my back against my chair comfortably. Somehow my thoughts were filled all around Xiao You at this very moment.
“So she is not in Taipei already?” Jing asked.
I smiled and shook. “Only that time,”
“How come you never told us about this?” Lei asked.
I looked at Lei. “I don’t see the need… since…” I stammered. “Since… since I am going to marry Kanako, and it will not change,” I looked down.
“But…” Lei said.
“And she will be marrying someone else,” I continued.
All of them looked at me.
“She is going to marry too?” San Chai said, pathetically.
“Yes,” I responded, clasping my hands together.
“To who?” Xiao Qiao asked.
“I don’t know,” I looked at her. “I almost did,”
“What?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“She gave me her wedding invitation card. But she take it back,” I said.
“Why is she taking it back?!” Mei Zhuo exclaimed.
I frowned and looked at his reaction, wonder why he reacted that way.
“Look, I care about you too buddy… I didn’t know one can handed the card out and take it back,” Mei Zhuo said.
I smiled and shook lightly. “At that same time I give her mine,”
“Oh?” they all responded.
“So there were 2 cards on the table. I pushed mine to her, but I pushed hers one too,”
“This is so complicated,” Ah Si scratched his head.
“She is marrying on the same day as mine. I won’t be able to attend… to be honest, even if it’s on different day, I don’t think I could attend either…” I closed my eyes and I rubbed my forehead, as the image of Xiao You walking down the aisle to say ‘I do’ to another man kills me.
“Same day?” they asked.
“So I pushed the card off, she pushed my card off… and…” I suddenly run the probability on my mind. “Left or right?”
“What?” they asked.
Duh. Bad probability calculation in my mind. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter.
“Anyway, since we both rejected each other’s card so… I took back mine. I guess by mistake or by intention… it’s all alright,” I smiled at them.
“She came back to Taipei but she didn’t look for me…” San Chai said.
“She said she knew all of you would attend my wedding, so she is not going to invite you guys then,” I dunked down my head. “After all, since she is not based in Taipei anymore, means her wedding is somewhere else too, so it is pretty difficult for me, or any of us to go, even if we want to,”
What am I saying?
Do I really WANT to go to her wedding?
NO! HELL NO! I can’t bear to see her marrying someone else!
“Is she happy?” Jing asked.
I looked at Jing and I don’t know how to answer her. Xiao You, to me, gave me a mixed feeling about how she felt.
“I guess so… but I wish her all the best,” I said.
“Do you still keep in touch with her? Can you give her contacts to me so I can drop her a call or…” Mei Zhuo said.
“Not at a moment. I’ll see after the wedding. And I guess it’s not an appropriate time to contact her now since her wedding is nearing,” I said. “…next week,”
“Not even a minute of conversation?” Mei Zhuo asked sarcastically.
Xiao Qiao patted Mei Zhuo’s chest. “Xi Men is right. A bride will be extremely busy during the final few days… and I guess she is not expecting any calls from us just yet. We should let her marry first… and we’ll see if…” Xiao Qiao turned and looked at me. “…if we need to remain in contact with her,” she continued.
“Of course we will remain in contact with her! Even if none of you wants to, I will!” San Chai said.
I looked away, and all went silent.
“Did she tell you why she runs off back then?” Lei asked.
“Her parents died. She has to change her life. That’s all,” I said, without looking at them.
“Her parents died?” all of them said together.
“If you guys are kind enough, don’t try to dig her contacts from me at this very moment during her happiest time and ask about her parents’ death,” I said, sarcastically. “Despite she is no longer my girlfriend, I still care for her as a friend. I respect her and I will protect her. So I will not be giving out her details for you guys, not until the marriage is over,”
All of them looked around. Ah Si tried to look at my computer screen. I dive my hand into my pants’ pocket to take my Blackberry Storm out.
“You changed phone?” Lei asked.
“No, this is corporate line,” I said, as I poked at the screen, finding out it is a junk mail delivered to my inbox. “My phone is here,” I took out my Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 out and showed them before I put it back into my pants’ pocket.
“Corporate line? What kind of line is that?” Ah Si asked.
“Don’t ask so much, will you?” I asked looking at Ah Si, to which I placed my Blackberry Storm on the desk.
Ah Si glared at me.
“So where’s my card?” Mei Zhuo asked, extending his hand out.
“Oh yeah. I keep forgetting that,” I immediately forward my body over and pulled open another drawer to see the cards were placed in that particular drawer!
DARN! I kept my cards here all the while! I just realized I have too many drawers.
I took out the cards.
I looked at Ah Si and smiled. “This is for Mr. Dao Ming Si and family, so bring both your kids,” I handed out a card to him.
Ah Si and San Chai smiled as Ah Si took the card from my hand.
I turned at Mei Zhuo, “This is for Mr. Ling Mei Zhuo and family, you bring your son too,” I handed out the card to him.
Then I faced Lei who is smiling at me, “And this is for Mr. Hua Ze Lei and family, invitation includes your 1 year old daughter,”
“Expected,” Lei smiled as he took the card from my hand.
“Dude! You did not write our names on the envelopes? How insincere you are!” Ah Si snarled.
“I didn’t write to any of the cards actually. I just put the maroon cards into the envelope and passed the cards out,” I said.
I looked at them taking the maroon cards from the beige envelope.
“Wow, the design’s nice!” Jing smiled.
“Kanako selects it,” I smiled.
I looked at them flipped the card open, and I looked at all the six faces transformed from a smiling face to a weird face. The smiles were completely wiped off from their face.
“Bloody!” Mei Zhuo yelled out. “Whose wedding is this?!”
THERE WE GO AGAIN. Another round of explanation to do… thank goodness this is going to be the last time for me to explain after all the exhaustive meetings in the past few weeks.
It happens each time I pass the card out.
I looked at how Lei and Ah Si exchange their glare and then looked at me sharply.
“Whose wedding card is this?” Ah Si asked me.
“It’s mine. Didn’t I said it clearly to you that this is my wedding?” I said.
Maybe I wasn’t expecting their reactions’ going to be like this.
“I guess you owe us a LOT of explanations,” Lei said, looking at the card and then back at me.
“I know… but… but I didn’t…” I choked on my words upon seeing their reactions.
“KEN ZHU and KANAKO MATSUYUKI?!” all of them yelled together looking at the cards.
“Father,” I called before father left my room.
Father turned and looked at me, “Yes, Xiao You?”
I smiled. “Do you remember that the moment I choose to follow you, I leave my past?”
“Yes, why?” he asked.
“I’m going to marry Ken soon. And he didn’t know my name is Xiao You. I guess, you can just erase that name and call me the name you have given me. And I supposed you have to adapt to it because I will live with it for the rest of my life, and that’s the name that I will be bearing to be sent off for marriage, and to which, all your friends and guests knew,” I smiled.
Father smiled. “Sure, Kanako. Kanako Matsuyuki. The daughter of Toshihiro Matsuyuki… my daughter,”
I nodded and smiled at father. Father showed me the greatest smile he had ever bared on his face.
“This is ridiculous Xi Men, you are KEN ZHU?!” Mei Zhuo snarled.
“Yes,” I answered shortly.
“And that means all this while you are the owner of TWBC? Why are you lying to us? And…” Ah Si looked at the card. “What the heck are you putting Ken Zhu in your card and not Xi Men your real name?!”
“You don’t like your name? Or you’ve gone crazy?” Lei asked. “Are you ok? What the heck is happening?!”
I rubbed my forehead, and abruptly ended with squeezing my nasal bridge.
“You owe us tremendous of explanation, Xi Men!” Mei Zhuo yelled.
“Yes, and I am going to explain now. So, please… calm down and sit,” I said, still squeezing my nasal bridge.
I open my eyes to see all the faces in front of me were angry, confused and even frustrated. They abruptly sat down in front of me after they pulled the scattered chairs all over my room to face me. Ah Si slammed down the card on my desk.
It was moment of silence, and they waited for me to start. I took a deep breath.
“Since Xiao You left me, I have been leading double life. I abruptly changed and soon, I found out I have turned into someone I am not, and I didn’t want you guys to worry about me or to know this is happening to me, because, I admit, I have been pretending as if Xiao You’s leaving did not impact me. In order for me to move on in daily basis, I called myself Ken Zhu. I build the character and portrayed him as a low profile entrepreneur and I bought 70% of TWBC after I did research and I know where and how to develop this company and earn profit. Slowly, I grow to like this character a lot, more than myself… so I have been using this name widely in the industry. I did not appear in media as I have kept this character well-hidden. I am only being fondly called as Xi Men within my parents, Xi Men Corporation… and you guys. Otherwise I am Ken Zhu. I am doing this, just so I can move on without Xiao You. Therefore Ken Zhu is me. I am Ken Zhu,”
All this while, my alter ego has been Ken Zhu.
Ah Si closed his eyes as he let out a deep sigh.
Mei Zhuo slammed his fist on my desk.
“Why didn’t you tell us that you can’t move on, Xi Men?” Lei asked, abruptly looking away.
“We will be glad to help you, Xi Men…as long as you voice out,” Jing said.
“Leading a double life is a psychological problem, Xi Men,” Xiao Qiao said.
“It doesn’t matter as long as I can continue living, Xiao Qiao,” I said.
“And you lied to us about all of this?” Ah Si asked. “You better tell us everything you are hiding from us now before we found out more by ourselves,”
“What do you want to know then?” I asked, smiling lightly. “I am the tiger that you feared will bite your ass, darn confirm I am that tiger,”
Ah Si glared at me. “That is not funny,”
Mei Zhuo let out a small laugh and Lei smirked.
“You remember that,” Mei Zhuo said.
“But you kept from us! We asked if you’ve seen Ken Zhu, you said no, and…” Lei said.
“Yes, I have to lie,” I said. “Maybe you should have noticed how I protect Ken by saying he will not climb over us and saying so many things to get Ken covered,”
“I am the one making headlines in Taiwan media for weeks. I am the one settled the sponsorship with Toshihiro Matsuyuki for TWBC. When dad talked to Toshihiro Matsuyuki about a deal for Xi Men Corporation, I have actually met Toshihiro a couple of weeks before that. When dad told me about the marriage of convenience, I said I will deal directly with Toshihiro, and then…” I looked at them. “My dad questioned me why am I being called Ken Zhu in front of Toshihiro. I tell dad I wanted a new image. I didn’t tell him about Xiao You. He didn’t know anything about Xiao You,” I took a deep breath.
“When can I have the Xi Men I know back?” Lei asked.
I looked at Lei.
“I don’t think so,” I smiled lightly. “I have stepped in into this, and I am leading the life of Ken Zhu now. I smoked. I’m bad-tempered. I bought another phone. I own TBWC. And Ken Zhu is going to marry Kanako Matsuyuki,”
Mei Zhuo covered his face with his hands. “My buddy…”
“Ken Zhu uses Blackberry Storm, where as Xi Men uses Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1,” I said. “Ken Zhu is corporate. Xi Men is personal,”
“And being a ‘corporate’ to marry Kanako?” Ah Si asked.
“Kanako is business. She is never personal,” I said. “Call me mean, but that’s the way it is,”
“Is it fair for her?” San Chai asked.
“It never is. It is not fair to me either,”
“I don’t know you anymore, Xi Men,” Lei said.
I looked at him.
“The Xi Men I know is not like this,” Lei explained.
“People changed. No… I guess it’s time for you to meet Ken and get to know him,” I said.
“Xi Men…” they pleaded.
I shook. “I will always be Ken Zhu… Xi Men and Ken Zhu,”
“Look, if you are going to still lead a double identity I will not let you marry Kanako Matsuyuki and ruin her life!” Mei Zhuo yelled as he slammed his fist on the desk. “I will NOT let it happen!”