To School (3)
After entering the family home, the first thing that Kang Jin-Ho did was to take a good look at his room.
'Is this what my room looked like?'
Unfortunately for him, he couldn't remember a thing about this place.
Perhaps that explained the awkwardness he felt instead of relief even though he had finally come home.
“Get some rest, Jin-Ho,” said Kang Jin-Ho's mother.
“You need to attend school tomorrow, after all.”
His mother looked at him with a cocked brow, asking him what was wrong.
“You weren't planning to go back? It's no good to keep missing school, Jin-Ho.
Now that you've got a clean bill of health, it's time to go back.”
“Of course.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
Kang Eun-Yeong suddenly butted in.
“Mom, he probably doesn't wanna go back to school.
He'll suddenly fall ill tomorrow.
“Do you really think that your oppa is the same as you? Don't you remember that he's a model student, unlike you?”
“Mom, that’s so unfair! You only care about Oppa!”
“Then give me a reason to care about you!” His mother shouted in a shrill voice, and all Kang Eun-Yeong could do was pout in dissatisfaction.
'School is it…'
Of course, he had to go. Kang Jin-Ho was still a high schooler, after all.
He might not feel the necessity of education, but the prospect of going back to school didn't dissatisfy him, either.
Kang Jin-Ho finished putting on the school uniform.
It felt like the stuffy shoulder line of the clothes was squeezing down on him.
“It's getting late, Jin-Ho! You should hurry up!” His mother's yell pushed Kang Jin-Ho into a bit of a dilemma.
There was a topic he had to bring up to his family sooner or later, but the fact that he had to say it out loud…
Well, the mere thought of it flustered him.
But it needed to be brought to their attention before something major happened, so he resolved himself and bravely addressed his mother.
“What's wrong, son?”
“Well, the school…” Kang Jin-Ho's expression hardened.
“Can you tell me where it is?”
Kang Jin-Ho's mother dazedly stared at him before quickly pretending that nothing was amiss.
“Ah… That's right, you don't remember it yet.
Don't worry, I'll drive you there.”
“Don't you worry, it's fine.
You'll remember everything eventually.
My son, it'll be fine.”
Was she reassuring her son that he would be fine, or was she trying to tell herself that everything would be fine sooner or later? Kang Jin-Ho couldn't tell for sure.
He climbed into the car while his mother turned on the ignition.
This was Kang Jin-Ho's second time post-return riding in this car, but it still felt stuffy inside.
It might be quicker than walking, yes, but Kang Jin-Ho used to walk faster than any car on the market––and that resulted in a sense of stuffiness and frustration.
Things as minor as this served as a reminder that he still hadn't fully acclimatized to the modern era yet.
However, he couldn't make his mother walk all the way, so he wordlessly rode in the car.
They traveled for a while and eventually reached his school.
Dongmyeong High School—that was the name on the plaque by the front gate.
His mother asked in a slightly concerned voice, “Will you be able to find your class, Jin-Ho?”
“As long as I know which year and which class it is, yes.”
“It's the second year, third class.”
“I see,” Kang Jin-Ho briefly replied, then climbed out of the car with his school bag in tow.
Nothing was inside it, but a student was supposed to carry one regardless.
At least, that was what it looked like.
Although strange, it was yet another quirk of the modern era that he would have to get used to.
“Then, I'm off to school.”
His mother called out to him. “Jin-Ho!”
She asked him in a slightly concerned voice, “Can you find your way back home after school?”
“Yes, I can.”
“Do you want me to come and get you?”
“No, there's no need, Mom.”
But if you think it's not going to work, call me.
I'll be at home.”
“I will.” Kang Jin-Ho bowed his head a little, then entered the school premises.
'Second year, third class.
Second year, third class…'
Kang Jin-Ho kept reminding himself while walking into the building.
Finding the class should be relatively easy; he could ask around or search for it himself.
As he walked, a voice suddenly called out to him from behind.
“Uh?” Kang Jin-Ho looked back, and a person he still somehow remembered was there with his hand waving in the air.
This person, a boy, was one of the few people he still remembered with some clarity.
Jeong In-Gyu caught up and began yapping away.
“You got discharged from the hospital, eh? I wanted to visit you but I didn't know which hospital you were in.
“I see.” Kang Jin-Ho smiled back.
If Jeong In-Gyu wanted to pay him a visit, he could've found out the hospital's name somehow.
But he had always been this type of a person, at least that was what Kang Jin-Ho's memories said. He was someone who always used affectionate words to proclaim himself as the best friend but turned his back on Kang Jin-Ho when it mattered most.
Indeed, if he was the real friend he claimed to be, he should have remained Kang Jin-Ho's friend even after the latter became a paraplegic.
But three years of confinement in a wheelchair was enough to drive all the so-called friends away.
'Right, this is how friends operate.'
Kang Jin-Ho mulled that as the memories of someone he believed to be his friend back in gangho luring him into a trap resurfaced in his head.
He didn't want to place his trust in some tenuous 'friendship' not connected through blood, but was there a reason to openly display that right now?
Kang Jin-Ho replied, “Yeah, I was discharged.”
Why did you have to come to school today of all days?”
Jeong In-Gyu tutted.
“You should've stayed in the hospital, at least until today, you know.”
Kang Jin-Ho asked, slightly perturbed, “What are you talking about?”
“Don't you remember, dude?”
“I asked you what you're talking about.”
“Today's the test day, you know?”
“I'm talking about the midterms, dude.”
Kang Jin-Ho's cheeks twitched a little.
“Yeah, dude. Judging from your expression, I guess you forgot.
Anyway, let's hurry before it's too late.”
“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho followed Jeong In-Gyu to their classroom.
Since he was already inside the school, it didn't seem feasible to walk right back out anymore.
He quietly muttered, “I still remember, though.”
All his studies in the past weren't for nothing.
Sure, it had been decades, but his memories should still contain the knowledge he learned all those years ago.
He believed that things should work out somehow.
Unfortunately, his foolish optimism was shattered less than two hours later.
The teacher roared.
“Don't you dare look anywhere else, you hear me!”
But Kang Jin-Ho's eyes were already swimming helplessly everywhere by then.
“Hey, Kang Jin-Ho! Keep your head down, now!”
“…” Kang Jin-Ho kept quiet, lowered his head, and glared at the test paper.
Indeed, his studies hadn't been in vain.
After all, he could tell that the test paper in front of him was supposed to test his knowledge of English. He should know since he spent twelve years between elementary and high school trying to learn this damned language used by the most number of countries in the world.
'That is indeed the case, but…'
His current problem was that…
He could tell that the test was about English, but he had no clue what any of the letters written on the paper were supposed to mean.
Then again, he had been living for several decades without seeing a single alphabet.
People living overseas apparently would forget their mother tongue in a few decades if they didn’t speak it regularly, so how on Earth was Kang Jin-Ho supposed to remember not Hangul, but English of all things?
Kang Jin-Ho quickly recognized the truth.
'I don't remember anything.'
From the first question all the way down to the 25th, Kang Jin-Ho couldn't answer a single one.
Thankfully, though, there was still something in his brain that he still hadn't forgotten until now.
'If I don't know the answer, I'll just randomly pick one.'
There it was, the solution born out of necessity when the test system called 'multiple choice' came into existence!
This was obviously a far better—smarter—way to go about this test than submitting a blank answer sheet.
Kang Jin-Ho unhesitantly got down to it, randomly picked all of his answers, then rested his head on the desk.
He might have completely forgotten about the vital part of being a student, which was being knowledgeable, but he still somehow hadn't forgotten about the virtue of taking a nap.
'Let's get some Zs.'
Today's test was about three subjects: English, Science, and Han-mun.
Kang Jin-Ho discovered during the English test how pointless it was to try and decipher a foreign language.
And, during the science test, he discovered that Hangul could easily become a foreign language, too.
Those letters were definitely Korean, but they were not Korean at the same time.
They had to be a foreign language since he couldn't understand the contents despite reading what was written on the paper.
But a content smile bloomed on his face after seeing the Han-mun test.
'This doesn't even qualify as a test.'
He spent a lifetime speaking and using nothing but Chinese in Zhongyuan.
He might not have learned a lot of knowledge of that era, but the level of this test barely qualified as the basics of basics.
Something like this didn't pose any challenge to him.
He spotted a few letters that looked different from the past, but they still were easy enough for him to use his intuition.
And so, he got to finish the Han-mun test just as quickly as the other two that utilized his random picking technique.
Now that the tests were over, Kang Jin-Ho picked up his bag and left the classroom.
But Jeong In-Gyu called out to him.
“Mm?” He looked back at his 'best' friend.
The latter tilted his head.
“What's the rush, dude? The tests are over, right? Let's go to the PC Room and blow off some steam. Tae-Ho and Min-Jae said that they wanna go, too.”
“PC Room…?” Kang Jin-Ho searched his memories and recalled that it was a place where people went to play computer games.
“Maybe next time.”
“Wah? Did you lose your mind or something? What do you mean, next time?”
“I'm taking a rain check.
I've got something to do.”
“What?” Jeong In-Gyu stared weirdly at Kang Jin-Ho.
Going to a PC Room after the end of a test was an unwritten rule for all four of them.
But Kang Jin-Ho straight-up broke that rule.
Jeong Jin-Gyu tilted his head again.
“That's so weird.”
Kang Jin-Ho stepped outside the classroom and began walking in the corridor, only for someone to call his name out again from behind.
He turned his head and found an unfamiliar man standing there.
The unfamiliar older man sounded unhappy.
“You, come with me.”
“Shut up, and come to the faculty room, right now!”
“Yes,” said Kang Jin-Ho, slightly confused.
Who was this man? Judging from his age and his forceful command about going to the faculty room, he must've been a teacher, but…
Eventually, though, a faint recollection of the past popped up in Kang Jin-Ho's head.
This man was his homeroom teacher.
Although the name still escaped Kang Jin-Ho's grasp, he managed to recall that this person was in charge of his second-year class in high school.
Kang Jin-Ho followed his teacher to the faculty room, then stood before the latter's desk.
The teacher pushed forward a small wheeled chair.
“Take a seat.”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly settled down.
The teacher continued.
“Did you study for the tests?
I did not.”
“Hey, you dumbass.
Even if you haven't studied, you got thirty points in English.
How the heck does that make any sense? Even if you only answered those you know, you still should've gotten around eighty points.
What are you going to do about the academic report, then?”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly pondered.
What was the academic report? Was it related to how well he did in school?
“Seriously now! If you're not feeling well, you shouldn't have come to school.
That way, I could have just subbed today's result with your scores from the last test, you know? But why do you have to give me a headache like this! If your English teacher hadn't personally told me about this, things could've been real ugly, Jin-Ho!”
From the sound of it, the teacher scoring the English test was alarmed by the sudden drop in Kang Jin-Ho's academic performance and alerted his homeroom teacher.
Kang Jin-Ho calmly replied, “It's fine, sir.”
“No, I'm not fine at all!” The homeroom teacher grabbed his head and sighed as if a migraine was assaulting him.
“Hey, let's just pretend that you never came to school today.
I'll just say that you're still on sick leave.
“But sir, I did come to school today.”
“You think I'm blind? Have I been chatting to my imagination, then?”
“That's the only way I can sub the results, you dumbass! Did you know that you're dead-last in English in the entire school?!”
“Mmmm…” Dead-last in the entire school, was it? It wasn't as if Kang Jin-Ho was obsessed with studying, but that revelation still soured his mood somewhat.
“If you were randomly picking stuff, couldn't you have done a better job? How can your test score be worse than kids from the Judo team?! You dumbass…”
Kang Jin-Ho's brows quivered in shock.
Worse than the Judo team?! His scores were actually worse than the sports-mad jocks that had never even touched a textbook in their lives?!
Sure, they were in a better starting position than Kang Jin-Ho, but they still probably had to resort to the same random picking technique as him.
His pride was pricked by the fact that he had even lost the battle of probabilities against them.
The homeroom teacher sighed grandly.
“…Jin-Ho, don't do this ever again.
It's not cool to put your homeroom teacher through a wringer like this, you know what I mean?”
But the teacher's eyes widened the next second.
“Hang on a minute? You got full marks in the Han-mun test?”
“Hey! What's the meaning of this? You going through a rebellious phase or something?”
“But this means your Han-mun scores will enter the system… Argh, I don't know anymore.
Even so, let's just say that you were absent since you’re still sick! That's for the best.”
I guess you're still not feeling 100%.
You've been in an accident, so yeah, I get it.
However, if you give me scores like these during the next test? I'm not going to take that lying down.
You hear me?”
“Okay, go home now.”
“Well, then.” Kang Jin-Ho bowed deeply, then stepped outside the faculty room.
A quiet whisper escaped his lips, “Studying, huh…”
He couldn't help but frown a little.
Studying didn't seem all that necessary to him.
The past him would've never thought like this, but the post-gangho Kang Jin-Ho already knew what the future had in store for him.
His opinion on studying was that it wouldn’t improve his life that much.
Sure, he might get to live a slightly better life if he studied and got good marks, but none of it mattered in the face of a sudden accident. But today’s events made him realize that perhaps studying a little bit was necessary, after all.
Kang Jin-Ho muttered, “Right.
Being too clueless is not helpful to living an ordinary life.”
Besides, his homeroom teacher might lose even more hair, too.
For the sake of the teacher's ordinary life, Kang Jin-Ho needed to achieve at least the minimum acceptable academic scores.
And no, he didn’t resolve himself like this because of the looming crisis waiting for him at home once his parents got a hold of his report card.
Kang Jin-Ho, with a bit of a sheepish look, headed back to his classroom.
the study of Hanja, AKA the Classical Chinese ☜
2. The Korean version of internet cafe, but you play online games there. ☜
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