Novel Name : Mercenary Black Mamba

Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 558

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Chapter 558: Chapter 50 Episode 22 Age-old Connection
Yeong-ji rose from her short slumber and opened her eyes just a slit. ‘What sound is this? Her head was in a drowsy, foggy state. Even when she stretched her legs, her toes didn’t touch the bathtub. The warm water sloshed. It smelled of something good. Her eyes closed again. A louder sound was heard.
Something was rumbling. Her stomach was asking for food. Her conscious mind, jolted awake, connected with reality. Her shaky eyeballs scanned her surroundings.
She heaved a sigh of relief. It wasn’t the hellish room at the inn. It was the bathroom in the manor of a handsome young man.
“God, Buddha, thank you.”
Yeong-ji prayed solemnly. Her father and mother were Buddhists but she was a Christian. So she prayed for both gods to be fair. As she was praying, her stomach rumbled again and her intestines seemed to twist together. It was painful. It was hunger pangs, the symptoms of starving for more than 24
“Everyone must be waiting for me!”
Yeong-ji toweled her body hurriedly then washed her hair. It was quite a mess.
It took two hours for Kim Gi-taek’s family to reunite. Mrs. Yang gave Yeong-ji, who was late, a disapproving look. Yeong-ji stuck out her tongue at her and sat at the table. Her mother’s threatening gaze was not a match to the tempting smell of the food.
“What a coincidence!”
‘Mu Ssang smiled bittersweetly. On the sweatshirt Yeong-ji borrowed was printed a cute drawing of a cat raising both of their paws. Mu Ssang reminisced about the fallen leaves in the garden of the house from the colonial era.
‘Are you doing well? You must be!”
‘Mu Ssang’s eyes gazed upon a distant place.
“Whoa, you two are quite beautiful, in proper lighting. You are tempting this bachelor quite a bit!”
‘Mu Ssang jested. It was true. The sisters, bathed and dressed, were quite beautiful. Yeong-ji blushed and Yeong-hee’s eyes glinted.
“They can be when they primp up. But they are still no match to your wife.”
Kim Gi-taek smiled with a bit of sadness. He was both glad and heartbroken to see his daughters who regained their brilliance and beauty. A small favor he exercised long ago hauled his family from hell. He contributed nothing to it as a father. He was ashamed and saddened as a father.
“Did you say you are a bachelor?” Yeong-hee asked.
Mu Ssang smiled.
Yeong-hee resumed her reverie.
‘Is that girl serious? Who does she think he is?”
Mal Soon, who was also late, gave Yeong-hee a disapproving look. She was about to smack the back of Yeong-hee’s head.
“Mal Soon, bring the soup pot to the table and get cutlery for the guests.”
Jin Soon restrained Mal Soon with a stern order.
“Since it’s late night, we couldn’t prepare much. Eat plentifully and go rest.”
“Lam so sorry. We are such a bother!”
Mrs. Yang was flabbergasted. The meal was “simple” to Eungsim-je’s standards. Various dishes, each roasted, stir-fried, or boiled, filled the table.
“Thank you for this meal!”
Yeong-ji was already gorging herself. Twenty-four hours have passed since she last ate. Now was the time she would feel the most hungry. Mrs. Yang gazed at her daughter with a pitying gaze, stood, and joined her hands together.
“Our measly favor long ago returned as godsend grace. We have no face. We have no excuse. We will never forget this favor.”
“Eat first. You shall share words when your souls feel dry. You shall share food when your souls feel lonely.”
Mina imitated Mu Ssang’s voice with a solemn face. Kim Gi-taek’s family was dumbfounded and the five sisters burst out laughing. Mina was interested in imitating Mu Ssang these days.
“Do you even understand the words you are saying? You bean-sized girl,” Mal Soon jested.
“Ido. am also most happy when I talk with my sisters, eating snacks. Also, I am thousands of times bigger than a bean.”
“You think you are being clever!”
Mal Soon, countered, mock-wielded her fist.
“Haha. Mina is right. The bigger the family, the better. Everyone is hurt in this harsh world. Listening to someone intently when they are hurting simply is healing. Two words, “It’s okay,” instills hope. Since now we are one family, we must know each other. I will introduce my lovely sisters. The eldest, Jin
Soon, 25. Yeon Soon, 23. Gye Soon, 20. Mal Soon, 18. Ou Soon, the youngest, is at her mother’s house in the countryside, so absent.”
Mrs. Yang covered her mouth and laughed at the rhyming names of the five sisters. Yeong-hee and Yeong-ji laughed too. So did Kim Gi-taek.
‘When Jin Soon laughed after a period of mock-frown, her sisters followed suit and laughed. The ice was completely broken around the table with the women’s laughter. Mu Ssang turned to Kim Gi-taek and grinned. Kim Gi-taek smiled too.
“My daughter, Mina, is the most beautiful and cutest in the world. I work overseas and enjoy my vacation in Korea. So here, I am a lucky bum. Call me Wakil if there is no other apt appellation.”
“Here, my wife, Yang Mi-ja, went through a horrible ordeal because of her stupid husband. My elder daughter, Kim Yeong-hee, 20. Next, Kim Yeong-ji, 18. I am Ki Gi-taek, saved by Wakil after foiling his own business. Just call me Kim.”
Kim Gi-taek imitated the way Mu Ssang introduced his family.
‘He regained his calm after seeing his family in safety.’
The tails of Mu Ssang’s mouth rose. He was glad to see Mr. Kim keeping his sense of humor in the worst of distress.
‘Mu Ssang and Kim Gi-taek drank Sciaccarello and the three women kept feasting on the dishes. The instinct of self-preservation preceded the instinct of species-preservation. The desire connected to self-preservation was appetite. In front of hunger, face didn’t matter.
“That was such a great meal. Your sisters are young ladies but their cooking is on another level!”
Mrs. Yang smiled shyly, looking at the smorgasbord-turned-mess. Not a single grain of rice was left nor was a single drop of fermented soybean paste soup.
“My sisters are as beautiful as they are great cooks. You must have had a hard time.”
“I did. I have never encountered such vicious people ever in my life. My heart was more hurt than the time when my father was caught in a collapsed mine. If it weren’t for my daughters, I would have drowned myself in the river.”
Mrs. Yang looked at her daughters and shook her head.
“A mine? The two-skies mine?”
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“How do you know that?”
Mrs. Yang’s eyes widened. The “two-skies” was slang among miners. It referred to the ceiling of the mining corridors as another sky.
“Lalso worked in a mine in Mungyeong. I almost drowned when a water tank burst. I was also crushed in rubble and visited the afterlife.”
“Oh my God. Our savior was also a miner in the past. If you were in Mungyeong, you must have worked in a coal mine. My hometown is Jeomchon.”
Mrs. Yang became friendly. Her father, barely surviving the incident, dropped the pickaxe and opened a mill. Only miners knew the pain of miners.
“Mu Ssang, Mi-sook’s hometown is also Jeomchon.”
“Yeah, it is.”
Yang Mi-sook was three years Mu Ssang’s senior. They lived together in the same house since the day Mu Ssang started going to middle school. He sometimes was overwhelmed by her kind meddling in his life but it was true that she benefitted him in many ways. It was Yang Mi-sook who introduced him
to Lee, the head of the Mungyeong mine. It was also Yang Mi-sook who ran around, collecting all possible compensations, when Mu Ssang was hurt in the incident.
“Do you know Yang Mi-sook? She is also from Jeomchon.”
“How old is this Yang Mi-sook?”
“She is 29 now. Her father ran a mill in Jeomchon. Thanks to that, I could get rice for several years.”
“Oh my! That Mi-sook is my younger sister.”
Mrs. Yang jumped.
“Namu Amita Buddha!”
Mu Ssang recited the mantra too. Yeong-hee and Yeong-ji were surprised by the sudden advent of a Buddhist mantra. They couldn’t figure this man out.
“Could your name be Park Mu Ssang?”
“Lam. I am Park Mu Ssang.”
“Oh my!”
Mrs. Yang opened her mouth wide. Jin Soon knew well how close Mu Ssang and Yang Mi-sook were. They lived together in one house for five years, relying upon each other. Mu Ssang was as passionate he was about helping people as he was lazy. If he benefitted from Mr. Kim solely financially, he was
just going to pay him back and be done with it. It must have meant something if he went all the way to save his family. The thread of fate reached Yang Mi-sook eventually. Monk Dae Woo had said that the thread of fate knew no end.
“Lam Mi-sook’s elder sister. She is the youngest of the litter. When she went to school, she always complimented you. She said you are a smart student, a strong fighter, a great cook, a great anything. She cried a river and said that you were on a deathbed because she introduced you to a mine.”
‘Mu Ssang let out a sound similar to what a monk would utter at the moment of enlightenment. He felt chills down his back at the odd connection of relations that kept going on through time. The conversation he had with Teacher after he returned from Operation Fist of Justice, was shaped again in his
head like a printed artwork.
“Teacher, is a human dignified?”
“They are.”
“Is a human-eating tiger dignified?”
“They are.”
“Which is more dignified, the human or the tiger?”
“They are equally dignified.”
“Shall we kill a human-eating tiger?”
“Let your heart decide.”
“Shouldn’t we kill the tiger and save the human?”
“If that tiger has cubs, to save the human, you end up killing three lives.”
“Isn’t the human more important than the tiger?”
“Mu Ssang, is an earthworm’s life more dignified than a leech’s? Does a carp’s life have more weight than a gible’s?”
‘Mu Ssang had no response. All lives were equal. There was no differentiation.
“Every living thing, differing in form, shares the same essence. For a monk to eat plants only to keep his oath of non-killing, is quite futile as well. Is killing an animal a murder? Then what is killing a plant?”
“Isn’t an animal more advanced than a plant?”
“Huh. Who gave humans the authority to categorize living beings into ‘more advanced’ and ‘less advanced’? Who dares determine that plants are inferior to animals? The smug human, to their standards, judged and categorized things for no reason whatsoever.”
“Are you saying that killing thousands of humans is the same as felling thousands of oak trees?”
“It is so. If there is a living being that surpasses the intelligence of the human, they must deem the human the same grade as an animal or a plant. Anyone who says that humans are superior to any other living being must be smacked in the head with a woodblock. Every living being is at the same time,
dignified and nothing. This is the precept of ‘existence equals emptiness.’ A human’s dignity is earned. No living being is exempt from this.”
“When I felled an oak tree, you were silent. When I killed a human, you made me console their soul. Why is that?”
“You are quite stupid. I explained it to you several times and you are still lost. When you felled the oak tree, did you feel a murderous intent in your heart? Did you feel a desire to destroy it? Karma is self-earned. If you hadn’t accumulated the bad karma on your own, there wouldn’t have been the need to
waste incense and console the souls you killed!”
“Are you saying I was consoling my own heart as I consoled the souls?”
“Haha! Everything depends on the intent. To the same guarding dog, its owner says trustworthy, a thief says troublesome, and a coward says fearsome. The being called “dog” didn’t change. Only people’s mindsets did. When you have no reluctance, you shall be unstoppable. This is the precept of
non-attachment. This is completion.”
“Karma was also intent! Everything is derived from the mind! This is the difference between knowing and understanding.’
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‘Mu Ssang entered a state of profound enlightenment. The thousands of people killed by his hands. The dozens of thousands saved by the same hands. The begrudged. The graced. They rapidly passed in front of his mind’s eye like a film roll. Humans incarcerated themselves and others in rules of ethics,
human rights, religion, etc., in order to maintain the mold of collective living. Mu Ssang himself also made a mold of a human and crammed it with his being.
His spirit was liberated. The weight of guilt pressing on his soul was lifted. His headspace became cool and clean as if cleansed by ethanol. A cool breeze danced in his headspace. Mu Ssang, on a whim, recited a mantra given to him by Teacher.
“Every bodhisattva must let go of the colors of the world! Stay detached! I could simply follow my heart all this time. I sought reasons and causes for nothing. I was obsessed with futile objects that are inherently like fallen leaves dancing in the autumn breeze. I only preached enlightenment but didn’t
practise it. I couldn’t see the inner world only was fixated on the external. I was lost in the colors. The finger pointed at the moon but I only looked at the finger. I didn’t whip the ox but the cart. I could simply let go but I was holding onto futilely!”
The smile across his lips expanded across his whole face. The joy of enlightenment filled each and every cell of his body. Resonance Wave was activated on its own. Strong currents of air danced around Mu Ssang. The plates on the table clinked. Everyone’s breath was taken away at the odd phenomenon.
‘That must be enlightenment!’
Jin Soon was overwhelmed with joy. She was so proud of Mu Ssang. Jin Soon stood silently and joined her hands together. Mrs. Yang and Kim Gi-taek followed suit..
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