Life, Once Again! - Chapter 944
Park Okhwa looked at the door that her daughter just left through. Her daughter was an obedient girl. She educated her that way. Her education started when she was still breastfeeding. She warned her daughter with her eyes when the little infant tried to bite. The young girl had yet to even take her first step, but ever since then, she would no longer use her teeth. Her early education showed during kindergarten as well. All of her teachers would say that there was no one more obedient than Yoojin. Even throughout puberty, she would grumble but never disappoint her. Okhwa believed that this was the ideal parent-child relationship. She would do diligence as a parent by focusing everything on raising her, while her daughter would fulfill her filial piety by respecting and following her parent.
Okhwa did not want her daughter to achieve success after many hardships. Was it necessary to choose a path of suffering when there was an obviously easy route? She alone was enough when it came to being disdained and looked down upon just because she was a woman. Her daughter just had to reap the benefits. She had given her daughter the know-how of life that she had learned. It might be rather authoritarian, but from how her daughter followed her without complaints, it definitely wasn’t wrong. As a result of all that, things did turn out quite well.
Okhwa pulled her lips with her fingers. She could still vividly picture her daughter shouting at her from right in front of her. She had never seen that before. It was sudden, unfamiliar, and above all, disconcerted. The change in her daughter that had arrived without warning pressured her heart and made her head dizzy. It was also shocking that her daughter knew about the ‘ladies.’ Since when did she know that? How did she know that? Okhwa had never let those women inside the house nor ever talk about them at her shop. She always proceeded with everything in this room quietly with Hong Janghae or his head manager. If her daughter found out, there was only one possible cause: she came to this room without permission.
She was puzzled even more by this, as her daughter had done something that was disallowed to her, than that she raised her voice. Yoojin was not that kind of girl. She was someone who was unable to do something like that. Her chaotic mind started stabilizing. The words that her daughter said started to be put in order. Cautiously asking about the truth, telling her to take her hands off because it’s dangerous, and lastly, the fact that a friend of hers was aware of this matter — that last one jolted her head. This was no time to be surprised by her daughter’s sudden actions. A stranger knew about this matter, which would not end with just an apology if it was exposed to the public.
Okhwa hurriedly went to the 2nd floor. Her daughter was sitting on the stairs with her arms hugging her knees. Okhwa hurriedly spoke,
“I need to call that friend of yours.”
Her daughter complied and put her phone against her ear. It seemed that she was calling that friend. Okhwa sat on the sofa in the living room and waited for her daughter to bring the phone. Did that fellow find out about the prostitution service through Yoojin? Or maybe it was from some other route? It would be okay if it was the former. It would mean that there was no source of leaks. If it came from somewhere else though, it would be a big problem. This was supposed to be a confidential matter that staked the lives of many.
Yoojin gave her the phone, telling her that this was for her sake until the end. Okhwa ignored her words and put her ear against the phone. Right now, she was more concerned about this ‘friend’ of hers rather than the sudden change in her daughter.
“Who is this?” she asked right away.
She blatantly wanted to ask where the information was leaked, but she held back for now.
-It has been a long time, madam. My name is Han Maru. I wonder if you still remember me.
When she probed her memories, she did recall a boy that looked rather aloof. Although she had heard about him through the people around her, she did not watch dramas these days and only remembered what he looked like when he was young.
“So it’s you. It’s been a long time.”
-How have you been?
“I’ve been doing well until moments ago, but I can’t be sure of that now. I’ve heard something rather absurd through my daughter. It made me flabbergasted.”
-So you’re feigning ignorance for the time being?
“I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. If you’re doing this because you trust what my daughter said to you out of a misunderstanding, this won’t be good for you. This old lady has a lot of acquaintances you see.”
-Of course this is how you would act. It’d be funny if you admitted it immediately. I’ll fall for your probing question then. This is not something I found out through Yoojin. You know what that means, right?
Her teeth clattered. This was what she was worried about. There was a possibility that he was lying, but from the confidence in his voice, it seemed that he was ready to back it up. Perhaps he even had concrete evidence.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’ll listen to you anyway. Forget the details. Go straight to the point.”
-I will. It’s not polite of me to take away the time of someone busy. Madam, please take your hands off what you’re doing. You’re doing more than enough by running those shops of yours. I don’t know what you receive in return for being a middlewoman, but if you keep holding onto that, you might lose everything that you have built up.
“Are you threatening me?”
-Did that sound like a threat? I am helping you so that you can avoid the impending catastrophe. The dam has been broken, and the water is overflowing, so you might end up getting swept by the tide if you keep watching.
“I will not get swayed by someone’s words. No matter how much you threaten me, I am firm and proud so I will not be scared. It’s funny to get scared because of something I never did. I’m sure you’re lying when you said you heard it from another sour….”
-Should I tell Mari that you said hi?
Okhwa felt the back of her neck stiffening up. She never imagined that that name would pop up right now. Her daughter only knew that she was involved in the business and not the details. Not only that, Mari was someone she had crossed off the list. Knowing Mari was not something to be taken lightly. It practically meant that he knew everything. There was no way he would say ‘Mari’ just by guessing.
She went inside her room, away from her daughter’s prying gaze. It was too early to admit to and reveal everything, but this was no time to be acting tough either.
“Mari? Who is that woman?”
-Sounds like she’s someone you know. I only said the name, yet you already decided that she’s a woman. I thought it must be a dog’s name when I first heard it.
She was being played. She was hectic right now because the problem came on top of the changes in her daughter. Had she maintained her calm, she would not have made such a mistake. Did Han Maru expect this when he told her daughter to talk to her first? She could vaguely recall the rather bold-looking eyes.
-Should I send you a photo or something? How about a photo of her with her boyfriend? Still, though, you went too far, locking up a person. I wonder what Yoojin would think if she found out. She must be plenty shocked as she is, but once she finds out that her mother tried to tamper with someone’s life….
“That was not me!”
Okhwa cut in midway. The moment Maru talked about Yoojin, she was given a big jolt. Only then did she realize that while she was afraid of being socially buried after being exposed for being a middlewoman for prostitution, she was even more terrified of her daughter Yoojin looking at her with complete contempt. She didn’t care about anyone else, but she had to be a perfect mother in front of her daughter. That was how she had lived until now.
-Indeed. It was not you who did it.
-I said it’s not you. Only the one who is holding the knife at the very end will be labeled the culprit. If you clean your hands before that, who would even know that a woman known as Park Okhwa was involved? It hasn’t been that long since you started that business, right?
Han Maru seemed to know everything. Her body loosened. Any strength to resist was drained through her feet.
-You know it already, don’t you? Who will take the brunt of it if this is exposed to the public? Do you think the leaders of huge conglomerates and government officials will even go on the investigation list? Half a year ago, a photo revealed that the chairman of some company had an orgy party, but what happened after that? Did the stocks fall? Did the chairman abdicate from his position? No, it was just quietly buried. The same thing will happen this time as well. However, someone will have to stand on the execution ground in order to quell the fury of the masses. Like back then, only the broker will be the one to die. Do you want to let Yoojin see you like that? The figure of you sitting down in the interview room wearing prisoner clothes?
For a brief moment, she could imagine that. She had been to the prison a few times since there were some people among her acquaintances who were related to trouble. Whenever she looked at those people who were smiling like fools with lifeless faces, she always resolved to herself that she must not fail. She even felt that it was better to die than become like that.
“Why are you telling me all this?”
-I told you. I really want to save you.
“Who the heck are you? How did you know about this?”
-To tell you the truth, I’m nothing more than a meddlesome guy in this. There’s someone else who’s doing the real work. That person should contact you in a while. You should get the details from him. I only found out coincidentally that you were involved in this and said that I would try to persuade you. The mother of a friend of mine is about to run into big trouble, so I can’t exactly stay still.
It only took an instant for a goddamned guy to turn into a savior. The more she listened to him, the more she felt truly grateful. She thought that a catastrophe might have befallen her if her daughter wasn’t friends with this boy. Not long later, she came to herself with the thought that this might be a trap, but it was true that her anger had died down. She also had some vague hope.
“But how do I believe you? I believe that you know a lot about this matter, but when it comes to helping me, I can’t help but….”
-That’s why I told you that I’m just a meddlesome guy. I am going to go to that person and tell him that I’ve successfully persuaded you. Then, you should get contacted by him. You should decide for yourself at that time.
There were many things she wanted to ask, but Han Maru drew the line, saying that he should hang up here.
-I’m telling you this out of worry, but the moment our conversation is exposed anywhere else, you will become a kite with a snapped string. The man known as Hong Janghae is more than capable of doing that. The moment he realizes that he’s exposed to danger, he will immediately start tampering with the evidence or erasing them outright. Though, I’m sure you know that better than me without having to tell you since you’ve been working closely with him.
The phone then hung up. Okhwa put the phone down on the bed. Despite that she was exposed, there was a way out for her. While she said that she couldn’t trust him, she honestly felt like she would cling to whoever would call her tomorrow. Mari alone was enough to prove what she had done. She could picture herself praying that she would escape this safely.
Her daughter put her head through the door. For some reason, her daughter looked really tall today. When did she grow up like that?
“Go back to your room for now.”
She wanted to get consolation, but the person doing it could not be her daughter. She had to keep the image of a perfect mother for life. Yoojin slowly closed the door. As the door closed, Okhwa could see her daughter sighing in relief, as though she was glad that her mother ordered her firmly like usual. Okhwa let out a deep sigh. She felt like she wasn’t going to get any sleep tonight.