Shanghai Life and Death(11)

After Zhao went out, I heard him arguing something fierce with them on the phone, and then he came back and said, “They insist that you go immediately, saying it’s something very important.”

“Who’s calling? If it’s really important, don’t delay because of me.” Mr. Hu said.

“It’s the people who want to examine me.” I told him.

“Wow? Then you have to go quickly. How can you not listen to what they say? I’ll be right here waiting for you, and I’m going to analyze your current situation. I’m a good friend of your husband, I have to do my duty to him, it’s my duty. You lack the experience to deal with them, these people are mean and ruthless, you must not offend them!” Mr. Hu said. He seemed to be very worried about me.

I was relieved to hear that he would be waiting for me here. I wanted to hear some of his views on the Cultural Revolution and the Central Committee. I left home at four o’clock, and when I got home, it was eight o’clock, and Mr. Hu was still waiting for me at my house. When he came out of the parlor and greeted me, I could see that he was greatly relieved.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting.”

“Come, sit down and take a break. What’s going on over there?”

Old Zhao handed me a cup of hot tea, I sipped the tea and told him all about the situation over there.

Today, in addition to the usual two conveners, there was another guy who looked like their superior, and probably to please the new superior, the two men became more aggressive with me. As soon as I stepped into the room, one of them said aggressively, “Why don’t you want to come when you’re told to?”

“I was busy. You should have called first in the morning to let me know.”

Once upon a time, they would let me sit down and talk, but today, they kept me standing.

“We’re not treating you to dinner; we’re censoring you. You should be at your beck and call.” The man said with a sneer.

I always want to sit down and talk.

“Look at your long list of foreigners! Where did you get so many foreigner friends? You must be very much in tune with them and admire their way of life?” He stared at me with condemnation and continued, “You say they are friendly to China and the Chinese people, that some of them were born and raised in China, and that you tout their admiration for Chinese culture and their proficiency in Chinese. But the last few generations of them have made a fortune in opium trafficking. They owned factories, merchant ships, warehouses, and everything else in China. After liberation, they lost all that. How can they have good feelings towards the people’s government? When the Kuomintang ruled the world, they loved China. They could plunder and exploit the Chinese people, and they could make a lot of money. But now, they definitely don’t like China anymore. Your claim that foreigners are friendly to China is the biggest joke in the world. Those diplomats are all secret agents sent by their government to gather information to subvert the regime against us. How can they be friendly to us? You don’t even have to stick up for them and pretend they are Bodhisattvas of great compassion and mercy. They are our enemies. But they are your friends. Now should you be clear about what you stand for?”

“I do not know them because I want to browbeat them. Most of them were acquainted when my late husband was a diplomat, or when he headed the Shanghai office of the Foreign Ministry in the old days.”

“That was the Shanghai office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kuomintang reactionary faction! Your husband was a senior KMT reactionary official and later the general manager of a foreign capitalist company.” He sneered and sarcastic, “What does your husband have to brag about in his experience?”

“His appointment as general manager of the Shanghai office of the Asia Oil Company was approved by the Shanghai Bureau of Industry and Commerce of the People’s Government. The Bureau of Commerce and Industry issued him a letter of appointment. As for the claim that he was a reactionary official of the Kuomintang, after the liberation in 1949, he stayed in Shanghai and did not go to Taiwan with the Kuomintang government, does this not prove that he supported the Communist revolution and embraced the People’s Government?”

“There may be other reasons for him to stay in Shanghai, and we will study this slowly later. Now you must give an account of all the crimes you committed as a faithful agent of the Asean Company at the behest of British imperialism.”

“Everything I did in the Asean Company was done in accordance with government laws and regulations.” I said with a straight face.

The newcomer, who had not said a word, just kept smoking a cigarette, making a pandemonium all over the room. At that moment, he threw the cigarette butt on the floor, stamped his foot on it, and looked me up and down for half a day to show his threat before he slowly started to speak: “Don’t you have any problem with your life style? You’ve been friends with foreigners for so long, haven’t you ever said or done anything wrong during that time?”

“Whether or not I have said or done anything wrong, it is certain that I have not done anything against the government.” I said in no uncertain terms.

“That’s something we’ll have to conclude. Now, you must admit that you have spoken wrongly and done wrongly.” He said with a wicked smile.

“What words! I don’t admit it.” I said.

The new one was more sinister than the other two; his voice was not high, but I was sure that he was secretly making a trick to lure me in. So, he changed the subject and said, “Tell me briefly about your company.”

I briefly told the situation of our company, and after that the man said: “This is exactly the same as what you wrote down, I think you have memorized all those written. Why are you so careful?”

“No matter how many times you question me, I’m going to say that’s all I have to write, because that’s what happened.” I said. It seemed to me that this conversation had gone on for quite some time, and that Mr. Hu was still waiting for me. I looked at my watch.

“What’s the matter? Anxious? Is this conversation making you uncomfortable?” The guy said smugly.

“I think you’re wasting your time.” I said.

“We’re not afraid of wasting time, we’re extremely patient. It took us Communists twenty-two years to defeat the Kuomintang reactionaries, and in the end we won. As long as we recognize our target, we will pursue it to the end.”

There was an embarrassing silence, and we just froze. Suddenly, the same person who had spoken at the last struggle meeting came back with his accent, and he yelled at me in a hoarse voice: “We will never let you pass. You must give an honest account of your series of actions to show your determination to change your position, otherwise, your consequences are unthinkable. We can be sure that you are a British secret agent.”

This was the first time they had used the word “agent.” In the past, they had only vaguely hinted at it. Perhaps this was beyond the scope of the superiors, and the other two looked at him with some surprise.

I was amused by his cock-and-bull accent, and I mumbled softly in my throat, “You’re the one who’s been sent here by someone else!”

The newcomer took over and said, “At the moment, you may not remember what you said or did. Go back and remember again, okay? Write down what you have said and done, one by one. We can give you plenty of time. Will two weeks be enough?”

“Two years won’t help, and I don’t want to make up stories.” I told them.

“Okay, just two weeks. It’s painful to admit your mistakes, but you have to do that. The great leader Chairman Mao allows people to admit their mistakes, but it takes a process to admit mistakes. This process is indeed painful, but it is the only way to make people change their bones. You want to be a good citizen in our socialist country, right? Then you must not fall behind. We want you to admit your mistakes, not that we don’t have the facts, but we just want to give you a chance to show your loyalty to the Party.”

I wanted to tell him that he was a little out of his mind, but held my tongue. I was unwilling to continue this pointless conversation.