“Of course, ma'am,” Park Yu-Min replied.
Once he and Jo Gyu-Min left the VIP room, Sister Yi gestured for Kang Jin-Ho to sit on one of the empty chairs.
“Take a seat, Jin-Ho.”
“Yes, ma'am.” Kang Jin-Ho obediently settled down and waited.
Sister Yi stared at him quietly for a moment or two before smiling gently at him.
“You must have worked hard, Jin-Ho.”
He chose to maintain his silence.
If he agreed with that, he would most likely have to provide an explanation, while disagreeing would mean he would be a liar.
In a situation like this, the smartest thing to do was to keep his mouth shut.
“I had a feeling that you were trying something.
Even so, I didn't know it'd be this.”
Your own hard work was responsible for this result,” said Kang Jin-Ho, knowing he wasn't technically lying here.
Even if he did his best to minimize the rebound on her body, his method had essentially incinerated her living tissues.
Since the burden on her body during the treatment process would have been considerable, it was indeed correct to say Sister Yi had managed to hold on pretty well.
“Jin-Ho, I don't know what exactly you have done.”
“However, please do remember this…”
“Jin-Ho, you've done all you could.”
For some reason, her words seemed so…
strange to his ears.
Even though those words seemed so out of the left field, they also contained a certain inexplicable power to comfort him.
And it only reinforced Kang Jin-Ho's respect for Sister Yi even more.
Sure, she might be so much weaker physically than him.
However, Kang Jin-Ho was more than willing to respect those who were ready to sacrifice themselves for others regardless of their situations.
However, Sister Yi was giving off a feeling that went beyond that.
Never mind someone he could casually approach, Sister Yi felt like she had attained a realm far beyond even his reach at this very moment.
A person who had lived her whole life in service of others was witnessing her impending demise and seemed to have transcended her own humanity, at least judging from what she had said.
Has she already transcended her mortal coil?'
That concept might not be suitable for a Catholic nun like her, but she still oozed a similar aura only the Buddhist monks of highest virtue emitted.
And no, Kang Jin-Ho wasn't referring to those Buddhists-in-name-only baldie monks who killed people using their martial arts while yapping on about mercy and benevolence.
The true believers in Buddhism who had attained enlightenment emitted this powerful aura that made you shrink back automatically regardless of your cultivation realm.
“You've done all you could, Jin-Ho.” Sister Yi repeated herself.
After saying the same thing to Kang Jin-Ho, the smile on her face became brighter than before.
“Simply giving your best shot is enough to make something worthwhile.
Even if you didn't get the result you wanted, sometimes that might be for the best, too.”
“I understand, ma'am.”
“That's why, Jin-Ho…”
“Please, try to smile a little more.
Try to be more relaxed.
Be at ease.”
Kang Jin-Ho's brows rose up slightly.
Sister Yi continued, “Whenever I look at you, I get a feeling that you're always being chased by something.
Doesn’t the urge of having to do even better all the time make you nervous?”
am not sure.” Kang Jin-Ho slowly shook his head.
Such thoughts did enter his mind lately, but this was the best answer he could muster at this moment when the question was about being aware of it even in the past.
“How should I say this—” Sister Yi reached out to Kang Jin-Ho.
He carefully placed his hand on her outstretched hand.
She tightly grasped it and smiled at him.
“Some people live for their goals while some live their whole lives to get what they want.
“However, most people…
simply live on.”
Kang Jin-Ho's eyes powerfully quaked just then.
“It's fine to not become somebody.
It's also fine not to meet your goal.
You can simply live your life as it comes.”
“I…” Kang Jin-Ho's lips parted only for them to shut again.
He thought he had to say something, but his brain couldn't think of anything.
It even felt like something that used to torment him was trying to rear its head from deep within his heart again.
“Jin-Ho, you're doing great.
Yes, it's true.
That's why, you…
You can afford to take it a little easier than before.”
“But, ma'am, you…”
“Director, you haven’t lived like that.”
Sister Yi gently chuckled.
“Do you wish to live like me, then?”
Kang Jin-Ho couldn't bring himself to answer.
There was no doubting that he respected and valued Sister Yi's life and what she had done.
However, if he were asked if that was how he wanted to live his life—the answer would be a no.
Truth be told, Kang Jin-Ho wasn't confident about sacrificing everything of himself in the service of other people, just like what Sister Yi had done.
Such a life didn't suit him.
Not only did he lack confidence, but he also had no right to live like that after all he had done.
“Jin-Ho, find your life and live it.
Life is something one should search for, but sometimes, it simply comes to you without you realizing it.”
“It comes to me…?”
“Yes, it will come to you.
Just like the children who came to find me, to get my help.
I didn't extend my hands to them, but they reached out to me first.
I simply didn't push them away, that's all.
That's why, Jin-Ho.
You don't have to be in a hurry to reach out.
Simply by living, others will reach out to you eventually.”
'This is it…'
Kang Jin-Ho suddenly had an epiphany listening to her.
Finally, he knew why he felt so…
at ease around Sister Yi.
Everyone kept telling him the same thing.
They told him to be more active.
They said he must make his move to change his fate, his life—his world.
And if he did not act, he would fall behind.
However, Sister Yi had just told him to step back and wait.
She didn't want him to be rash; she wanted him to be more patient.
Both of these opinions were correct.
Indeed, they were not wrong, but for Kang Jin-Ho, who had been running breathlessly in his past life, Sister Yi's words gave him a certain unexplainable comfort.
“That's why, Jin-Ho.
I know you've been doing great and will keep doing great in the future…”
“Thank you for saying that, ma'am.”
“If you find yourself with just a little bit of leeway in the future…” Sister Yi stared deep into Kang Jin-Ho's eyes.
“Could you become a person willing to reach out to people who are too afraid to ask for help?”
“I don't understand…”
Sister Yi didn't try to explain herself.
She simply extended her hand and gently caressed Kang Jin-Ho's cheek before laying down on the bed.
“Babbling mindlessly for too long is a sign of a clueless old lady, isn't it? Jin-Ho, can you call Yu-Min for me, please?”
“Of course.” Kang Jin-Ho got up and opened the door, allowing Park Yu-Min to rush inside like a streak of lightning to stand right next to Sister Yi.
“Director! The doctor told me we'll know your operation date by tomorrow!”
Sister Yi gently smiled and held Park Yu-Min’s hands.
“Director, this is so…! I'm…!”
Kang Jin-Ho stepped outside the room as the teary voice of Park Yu-Min entered his ears.
He thought it would be better for the two of them to be by themselves.
Kang Jin-Ho headed to the rooftop.
He got to his usual spot, then mouthed a cigarette.
“Mister Jin-Ho, this is a non-smoking area,” said Jo Gyu-Min.
He had followed Kang Jin-Ho up to the roof even though no one had invited him.
Despite what he said, he still lit up Kang Jin-Ho's cigarette.
“I thought I wasn't allowed to smoke?” Kang Jin-Ho looked at Jo Gyu-Min weirdly.
“I don't see anyone here who'll raise a fuss, so there's no helping it, don't you agree? However, you need to stop immediately if someone shows up.”
“Alright.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded and began smoking away.
How should he explain it? This strange feeling? It felt like he had resolved a matter, but it didn't seem finished just yet…
Even though he felt at ease, something was…
Jo Gyu-Min glanced at Kang Jin-Ho and asked, “Are you worried?”
“I think so, yes.”
Kang Jin-Ho hadn't felt the emotion of ‘worry' in such a long time that he couldn't exactly explain it.
Thankfully, Jo Gyu-Min was here to help.
Indeed, Kang Jin-Ho was worried.
However, why was he worried in the first place?
“Mister Jin-Ho, be at ease.
I shall take care of the rest.”
“I understand that you'd like to see Sister Yi's successful operation before going back to the army.
You detest walking away without achieving a clear result, after all.
However, you've already done everything you could, Mister Jin-Ho.
And it's time to leave the rest to other people.”
'Is that why I was worried?'
Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded.
A part of him did want to stay and witness Sister Yi's treatment process till its end, even if there was nothing he could do from this point in time.
If he got involved in something, then he simply had to see it to its end.
That was just what his personality was like.
Unfortunately, his leave had an expiration date.
He had to return to base soon.
You're right…” Kang Jin-Ho muttered, then looked up at the sky, feeling a little lighter than before.
For some reason, the heavens dyed in the crisp blue hue looked so tall and vast today.
Kang Jin-Ho and Jo Gyu-Min went to a cafe to chat some more.
Jo Gyu-Min got the briefing going first.
“First of all, I've managed to hire the nursery teachers.
As the orphans aren't exactly normal, I've prioritized selecting candidates with a proven track record and personal history.”
“Track record, you say?” Kang Jin-Ho asked back with an arched eyebrow.
Jo Gyu-Min replied while smiling wryly, “Yes.
Seongsim's children suffer from various disabilities, after all.
'Normal' nursery teachers will not be able to cope, I'm afraid.
We're still discussing potential wages, and the offer on the table is 1.5 times the usual wages and slightly shorter working hours.
However, I think we can get a better deal if we negotiate some more.”
“No, Mister Gyu-Min.
Please proceed with those conditions.”
Those who worked fairly deserved to receive fair compensation.
Kang Jin-Ho wasn't prepared to ask the candidates to look after the orphans when his side failed to adhere to such a basic principle.
Even though most orphanages faced financial difficulties and had to scrape by in any way possible, Kang Jin-Ho had decided that he would intervene, so he didn't want to do things that way anymore.
As for an auntie as a cook, I was recommended someone with apparently great cooking skills.
She actually worked in a chaebol household until recently…”
“Could it be Chairman Hwang's house?”
She used to cook in the chairman's house.
However, after his sons were kicked out, the household didn't need as many staff members as before, and she was let go.
I contacted her, and she readily accepted the job.”
What a strange feeling Kang Jin-Ho was getting right now.
A high-class chef who previously cooked for Hwang Jeong-Hu was now cooking for a group of orphans.
Kang Jin-Ho could barely hide his smirk before asking, “Hmm. Even though the amount she must cook will be a lot?”
“If you know how many different dishes are prepared during each meal in a chaebol household, you'd say she'll have an easier time in her new job.”
“Oh…” Kang Jin-Ho nodded, thinking that might be the case.
Didn't he see how the TV dramas depicted the dinner scenes of chaebol households and thought that they had to be running traditional restaurants or something? Of course, he had no way of knowing if that was true or not.
“…What about her wage?”
“It'll be higher than the usual, but well…
Her skill level is not to be scoffed at, so…”
“That sounds fine.
Please proceed.” Kang Jin-Ho was happy with this.
Jo Gyu-Min should have a good reason for him to recommend that lady, after all.
“Alright, will do.” Jo Gyu-Min nodded.
“Then, here.” Kang Jin-Ho handed his bank card over to Jo Gyu-Min.
“Please use this to deal with the wages and the operational costs.
Sorry for making you do this, Mister Gyu-Min.”
“Not at all.
Is there anything else you'd like me to do?”
When Sister Yi recovered, the orphanage would also recover its director.
However, someone still had to take care of its operations in the meantime.
Sadly, Kang Jin-Ho only had his family and Jo Gyu-Min to entrust such a task with.
And there was no denying that Jo Gyu-Min would be the best pick.
Even if the director returns to the orphanage at a later date, please ensure that I'll still be responsible for the wages and other payments.”
It'll be done.”
Kang Jin-Ho thought he was dumping a task not even worth all that much on an already-busy man's shoulders.
That made him a bit hesitant, but he convinced himself that it should be fine.
After all, Jo Gyu-Min's role within Jaegyeong's corporate structure was to deal with every single matter involving Kang Jin-Ho.
However, this was conveniently the price for butting into Kang Jin-Ho’s private life.
Not knowing what was going on in Kang Jin-Ho's head, Jo Gyu-Min continued, “What's left now is…
You'll be returning to your army service soon, then.”
“Yes, I will be.”
“Somehow, your leave kind of feels a bit long, doesn't it? However, I heard somewhere that the person enjoying the leave would feel exactly the opposite.
Is it true?”
“You sound like you've never had a vacation before, Mister Gyu-Min.”
“Aikoo~. You got me there.” Jo Gyu-Min and Kang Jin-Ho chuckled together.
Truth be told, Jo Gyu-Min felt a bit rueful.
He thought they had gotten pretty close, and the truth of Kang Jin-Ho going back to the army was leaving a bit of a bitter taste in his mouth.
He lightly shook his head and said, “Mister Jin-Ho, please give us a call every once in a while.
I mean, I need something to make a report with, you know?”
“I'll try,” Kang Jin-Ho replied.
Jo Gyu-Min had a feeling that Kang Jin-Ho probably wouldn't bother to call despite his half-hearted promise.
“Ah, also…” Kang Jin-Ho's expression stiffened a little.
“There's one more item I'd like to discuss with you.”
Jo Gyu-Min tensed up ever so slightly.
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