They opened a window for me

Leibniz said: No two leaves in the world are exactly the same. In a huge group of tens of millions of young people, everyone’s situation is not exactly the same either. The local villagers and grassroots cadres I met back then were mostly honest and virtuous. In the era of “class struggle as a platform”, they gave me the feeling of humanity over class; the help they gave me changed the course of my life, and opened a window for me when I was lost and desperate!


During the first two months of my stay in the countryside in 1969, perhaps because there were still six months of fixed state food rations; perhaps because the turn of life was too quick to confirm my identity in place, I did not take it as my real life to join the household and earn wages to support myself like the peasants. The three girls in the same household were as ignorant as I thought, and we were unanimous in using various excuses to avoid going to work: going to the county town together, visiting other youth households, catching up at every scene (one scene in five days in the countryside), and receiving students who came to our youth household to visit us were also good reasons for not going to work.

However, forgetfulness is not the same as righteousness, we also need to embolden ourselves, and our biggest strength is that we do not work and do not get work points anyway, and the production team does not lose. This kind of playing around for three days left a very bad impression on everyone in the production team.

It was not the strong stimulus of any sudden event that woke me up, but the iron rule that “good things don’t go unnoticed, bad things spread a thousand miles”. In those days, although communication was very underdeveloped, like our commune, where there were no roads, it took ten days and half a month to send and receive a letter home, but our performance was like a radio message, which was quickly broadcast to the ears of parents, and just as the farmers said that very simple but very philosophical words: “The more you bring something, the less you bring, the more you bring words. “. In the message that my parents received, we had become the “sky stick” (the name given to the alternative teenagers who behaved and dressed differently from the norm) who smoked and drank and played with friends. My parents were desperate and thought I was slipping on the brink of becoming a hooligan, so they wrote to me repeatedly to admonish and advise me.

The first day my brother went to the countryside let himself in place, no shortage of work less rushed to work without picking and choosing, he was initially settled in the Nanyang Commune as a youth advanced model. A few of our classmates from the Xinmin Sixth Team next door have been working normally since they returned to the team after their escape attempt, leading the members of our production team to put them in front of us in a particularly exaggerated tone, deliberately putting them in front of the dragon: Hey ah, those few women are willing to work drops (dragging out the sound)! Hey, those women are hard-working! Hey ah, those few women are called to eat the bitter …… in fact, they are pushed in front of us as “demon mirror”, so that we are ashamed of themselves.

These are the most vivid and concrete examples close at hand, naturally forming a powerful impact on the mind, the change of consciousness will be in a flash, without any hard work to change. In fact, there was another important reason for me, at that time, my mother was still in the position of being hung up as a class enemy, and this undertone made me play less carefree and openly than others.

We began to work out of the labor force normally, and it didn’t take long to correct the bad impressions.

By the end of 1970, the “rootedness” of “practicing the red heart in the wide world and doing revolution in the countryside” was loosened, and the recruitment of workers, which we once thought was an eternal dream, came into reality. The “rootedness” of “practicing the red heart in the broad world and doing revolutionary work in the countryside” was loosened. At that time, it was the coldest winter of the year, but the youths came into the colorful season of peach blossoms and plum blossoms and vegetable blossoms in spring.

The recruitment of workers let many youths re-enter the city and turn a new page of life; it also let many youths appreciate the disappointment of being blocked from recruiting workers one after another, and even fall into the despair of unlimited yearning for returning to the city.

The recruitment is different from going to the countryside, there is no big noise, not to mention that all the youths are welcomed back to the city at the same time in big trucks with big red flowers in the joyful sound of gongs and drums. The recruitment was limited, there was secret competition, and at the later stage, it was full of mystery – there were special recruiting units with lists of indicators. The epidemic of finding connections and going through the back door spread rapidly, and the parents of the youths and the youths made use of or looked for channels to establish connections, and the still water flowed deeper and deeper, and under the surface calmness, each showed its own skills, and fierce fights were raging.


Ever since I understood, I had doubts about the lack of grandparents and aunts and uncles in our family. One weekend night after I entered high school, I had the courage to ask my father. My father did not dodge, he lowered his voice and told me: they are in Taiwan.

Because of the long education we received, Taiwan in our minds, is a deep and dark place, and a place where the Kuomintang agents are all over the streets, I do not know if my grandfather’s aunts and uncles are Kuomintang agents, did not dare to continue to ask. In fact, my father did not know either.

The answer my father gave made a huge exclamation point flash inside me, accompanied by a surprisingly small sense of being different – Taiwan was, after all, distant and mysterious.

My father had overestimated my mental maturity, my awareness of the complexity of society, and my grasp of the complexity of human relationships. My father’s confusion made me like the barber who saw the king with donkey ears, and finally failed to suppress the secret tumbling inside. During a work session, when the class was digging on a slope, I quietly whispered this “dark secret” to my close friend. A few years later, the consequences of my childishness accurately illustrated the incisive philosophy of life that “trouble comes out of the mouth”.

In 1971 (I don’t remember the exact month), the Chongqing Second Light Bureau went to Cangxi to recruit workers, and I was recommended to the commune by the production team and the brigade, but I was not officially notified to fill out the recruitment form at the commune.

I did not know and did not expect that the production team and brigade would recommend me first, but I was excited to learn the news of being recommended in the evening after work. That day, the evening sun was gorgeous, as if to match my mood. I stood by the dam and looked out over the cascading mountains, and I felt as if I could see the happy life beyond the mountains unfolding in the evening sun. I certainly could not have imagined that the eager yearning brought to me by the gossip was just a daydream; moreover, I could not have imagined that the “bomb” that shattered the beautiful dream was handed out by my own hands.

It was only after two years that I heard about the whole process of being reported. The only close friend I ever told our family secrets, after the end of the day, the line hurried to the second production team of the same brigade Zhiqing household. The “bombshell” that I had hand-delivered a few years earlier was passed to another person by a drum – a flower.

This “bomb” is that I am a Taiwanese.

That year, after I quietly revealed my secret to her, I only heard her softly repeat the phrase “in Taiwan,” and did not say a word more, and could not see that this incident would leave more traces in her heart. I thought all my peers were as blunt and naive as I was, but I didn’t know that a few years later, the secret became a heavy bomb, and at the critical moment of recruitment back to the city, it was thrown out without a sound. This throwing, not only my “leap farm gate” stranded, originally I tried to hide in the heart of the secret, but also suddenly became a public mark on the face, everyone knows.

I heard that a high school student from the second team, whom I was not familiar with, went straight to the commune that night with the information he had just received about my family having major problems, and threw the “king bomb” of “Taiwanese” in front of the commune cadres, questioning: Why did you recommend a Why recommend a “Taiwanese” but not a “Red Five” child? In the era when class struggle was the platform, this question was a major right and wrong issue reflecting the class position, and the commune cadres could not help but re-examine the recommendation list. It was not clear whether the commune itself had a file on our “Taiwanese family”; it was not clear how the commune changed the list of nominees. The fact before me was that before the form was filled out and the political review started, the dream of returning to the city was killed by a report.

By the end of this year, the recruitment of workers recommended by the production team and commune at each level was gradually replaced by “special recruitment”. The recruiting units came down with specific targets and lists, and the recommendations were not real, but the commune just carried out the relevant procedures according to the usual practice, and many people left quietly.

In 1972, a new group of young people went to the countryside and were placed in the production team where our group of young people had left, and our title had changed to “old youth”. The word “old” slapped us on the beach after the wave of labor recruitment had receded, and we sank down in despair.

Desperate to desperate, broken, at least I did not see in their own surroundings, we all understand in their hearts, really broken, can never recover.


Before that, I was considered to have performed well mainly because I was willing to contribute a little more labor in the youth households.

When we first went to the countryside, the production team sent people to plant all kinds of seasonal vegetables on the land set aside for us, and we also applied chemical fertilizers, which were extremely precious at that time, and the vegetables with sufficient nutrients were so vigorous that we picked them until our hands were weak.

We are happy to sit back and enjoy the harvest without asking about the work. However, this kind of life, after the first season of vegetables will be over, we need to work on their own garden to have vegetables to eat. When I came back from work every day, I was too tired to move, so I used to carry a bucket of manure to the collective pig pens of the production team and carry the manure to our own land, so that we could at least get some edible vegetables.

In order not to delay the daytime work, I also had the experience of getting up in the middle of the night to set the oxen to pull the mill to grind flour. When I look back on that time, I still feel scared. I got up and gently pulled open the door to take a look, outside the door, everything was tightly shrouded by the canopy of ink, far and near even a hum of insects, surrounded by those shadows of trees and shrubs flailing, so that the dam full of eerie all ghostly, I held the door frame sweat instantly upright, but two legs are too soft to stand up. The only thing I wanted to do was to escape to bed and cover myself tightly in the bunk nest.

However, I can not regret. I had to take a step out of the threshold to the barn to get the cows, set up the cows, and yell at them to pull the mill before my soul fled. The fear beyond the physical limit motivated me to push and pull the sieve, to make the rhythmic sound of the sieve, to break through the silence of the siege, to embolden myself. Until dawn in the east, the morning sun finally tore the black canopy, the nerves that were about to be tense relaxed. At that time, the flour was also ground, and I was covered in dust, I let out a long breath – escaped from the ghost gate!

When I was the only youth left in the production team, the public affairs that belonged to the collective household became private affairs, and there was no more advancement to speak of. After 4 years in the countryside, we became familiar with all kinds of farming work, and it became our basic life routine to work hard to earn work credits, and the “old” youth gradually drowned in the vast world of peasants who work at sunrise and rest at sunset.

How can we not be forgotten when the opportunity comes? The only way is to become a typical youth leader. But as I had no red family background to rely on and no outstanding expertise in arts and sports, I didn’t know how I should work hard to make this modest personal goal a reality. I did not and could not make any feasible plan for my future.


In the mountains, farmers work hard all year, but nearly half of their food rations are red pota, which they start digging after the rice harvest. Unlike other grains, there is no need to gather them together in a collective sun-dam for uniform distribution. There is too much red pota, and all of it is easily composted when carried back to the pile, and the rotten red pota is not eaten by pigs, so it cannot enter the distribution process, and the members have to bear the loss of reduced rations. After the harvest is finished, the unified distribution is not effective, so we just collect as much as we can in the field and carry it home.

The production team always took great care of us, and every time they gave us red potaos, they were near our houses, so that we would not have to carry the weight over long distances.

One time, we were digging in the highest hill of the production team and it was not given to me as a rule. People went home carrying their share of the red pota on their backs. There was a girl who was about my age and had a large family with little labor. The rations were distributed according to the population, so her family could not finish carrying all the red pota at once, and if she carried it home for a second trip, it would be completely dark. The production team took care of me, I could not turn a blind eye to the difficulties of others and enjoy the care with peace of mind, not to mention the composition of this family is under the middle peasants, so I volunteered to help.

I remember that the back of the red camp was more than 120 pounds, and it was an overload for me to carry it down from the mountain. I was left at the end. If you look at it from a distance, it should be a small black dot moving slowly against the huge mountain. The local farmers have a saying, called “up the mountain legs are weak, down the mountain legs shaking (shaking)”, carrying heavy things down the mountain more difficult. The rural mountain roads are not considered roads, Lu Xun said “more people walking, it becomes a road”, the so-called sheep intestine path, referring to such a road. In some places on the mountain road, a stone is a natural staircase, the high can be more than 40 centimeters, empty-handed down need to be careful.

That day I stood on such a stepping stone with a red potato on my back. The left side was a steep wall, the right side was an uncovered slope, and the back was more than 120 pounds, so it was impossible to walk down the ladder according to the normal walking gait. There was no one in front and behind, as if I was in a hundred years of loneliness, standing on the ladder, gasping for breath and turning in place a few circles, but I did not think of any way to go down. At that moment, I suddenly realized deeply what is called “calling the sky not, calling the earth not”.

The sky has darkened, I had to cross my heart to close my eyes a jump, legs violently and substantially “flash”, I even heard the right knee joints issued a dull sound, but carrying more than 120 pounds of heavy I stood firm, and can continue to move forward. This freed up my mind to glance at the bare slope on the right, beads of sweat dripping down from my forehead, so close! If I did not stand firm, it must be rolled down the slope, a hundred meters without any cover, lost other people’s rations, their own lives to pick up or not to pick back, unknown.

I can take such a risky way, safe and sound through the seemingly insurmountable difficulties, must be God’s mercy!

I settled in the mountains of Daba, for some historical reasons, is located in the mountainside production teams are extremely short of firewood.

Every year during the flood season of the Jialing River, there is a lot of garbage washed down the upper reaches, many of which are dead branches and rotten wood blocks, these wastes come to our lack of firewood downstream, it becomes a treasure. Every year, when the season arrives, each production team along the hillside of the river will automatically take a day or two off, so that each family to salvage dead wood and rotten branches at the river.

When the flood season came, it often rained heavily, and the young and strong male laborers of each family came to the riverside in the middle of the night, wearing straw raincoats and hats, and salvaged with homemade special nets. At dawn, the riverside is filled with such garbage belonging to each family.

I have never seen how spectacular it is to salvage the garbage washed down from upstream, but I imagine it should be the sound of the rain, the sound of the river, the shouting of family members, and the surprise of finding and salvaging large pieces of wood, mixed together with the noise and bustle of the market.

The Jialing River was at the bottom of the valley, and our production team was on the hillside. The slope from the hillside to the valley was the kind of slope where your hat would fall off if you tilted your head, so carrying firewood was a very hard labor job. The production team basically guaranteed us firewood for cooking and did not require us to go to the river to get firewood by ourselves. Therefore, we looked forward to these two days of rare vacation, the sound of rain outside the house lullaby, we legitimately stretched to sleep.

The first two years in the countryside, I did not carry the water for firewood, I did not experience that kind of hard work. In the third year, sitting on the sidelines began to make me feel uneasy, of course, there is also the potential purpose of fighting for better performance, I put on a large back to the river valley, to help the production team is relatively short of labor to carry water for firewood.

Carrying water and firewood was private work, no work points, but I could eat two meals of thick rice soup (the kind that does not fall down when chopsticks are inserted), kang bun (pancake), noodles or dry rice, which were usually rare to eat in other people’s homes. Carrying a large backpack more than half a man’s height, the backpack was full of wet broken branches and scraps of wood, climbing up the steep paths, panting like a cow, the pores of the whole body were like open faucets, sweat gushing out like a fountain. In general, is a back before breakfast, two or three round trips in the morning, two or three round trips in the afternoon. The only thing left in the day was the desire to fall into bed.

Such hardship I did not pay in vain, members of the community by word of mouth, soon, I gained a “hard-working helpers” reputation, and reputation. I still remember when I was enrolled in Chuan Wei Technical School, I chatted with the admissions teacher, who asked about the labor situation in the countryside, and I said I could carry more than 130 pounds. The admissions teacher scanned up and down the small size of me, and all that shot out of his eyes was disbelief.


One day in early 1973 (I don’t remember the exact time), He Tianhong, the secretary of the brigade’s branch, came to see me. He Tianhong was also a young intellectual who had returned to the countryside. I don’t know when he returned to the countryside, but his family lived in the third team of Xinmin.

He Tianhong came to the place where I was working and shouted, “Jiang Rong…

I answered and walked up to him.

He said, Minister Han (Minister of the Commune’s Armed Forces Department and Secretary of the Youth League Committee) asked me to bring you a message, asking you to write an application to join the league.

He also said, “Our branch is going to hold a general meeting this evening to discuss your application for membership. Minister Han said he was going to be on a business trip in three days and was going to take care of your membership before he left. You take the time to write your application, and go to the meeting in the classroom of Xinmin Second Team School in the evening.

The cadres of the commune, the youth know each other, but the degree of familiarity varies. I didn’t know Minister Han particularly well at that time. I approached him about the issue of family composition (it had been some time since I was removed from the recommendation list when Minister Han was transferred to our commune). I didn’t get the answer I was expecting, even if it was just a statement, after the conversation. Minister Han did not go beyond the principle of official business and only said that I should go back to the production team and work well. He gave me the impression that he was calm and friendly, but introverted and cautious; he was not angry, but never calculating.

The news brought by He Tianhong was so sudden that it was hard for me to digest for a while, and I felt a little dazed, even a little unaware of what day it was. For me at that time, it was a luxury to join the group. I had been eliminated due to family problems, not to mention joining a revolutionary organization. So I never thought in that direction.

After He Tianhong left I took a leave of absence and returned to the house to write the application for the regiment on the edge of the bed, with a little excitement in my heart, as everyone knew in those days, political progress was possible to advance in other things.

That night’s regimental branch meeting, leaving me with a knife and axe marks, is the process of the meeting.

A dimly lit kerosene lamp was lit on the lectern in the classroom, and I sat in the middle of the room, with my head buried low, and read out my application for membership in the league according to the procedure. After the motivation for joining the league was read out smoothly and smoothly, the next step was to read out in public the information about family members and main social relations. Because of the experience of being killed in the recruitment, everything about my family, especially my family composition, became a secret that I was most reluctant to show to others. But I couldn’t not write, let alone not read, the most primary one of joining the revolutionary organization is not to have any concealment from the organization.

I started with my grandfather, my voice trembled: grandfather XXX, composition landlord, grandmother XXX, composition landlord, father XXX, family origin landlord, uncle, aunt ……, a series of seven or eight landlords from my mouth fish out, I would like to have a crack in the ground and forget. My voice is getting weaker and weaker, as weak as a mosquito buzzing, and the room, it seems that everyone is holding their breath, so quiet that dropping a pin is considered a rattle, everyone can clearly hear “landlord, landlord ……”, I do not know if they have been shocked.

In fact, writing this application I also took some thought, on the immediate family grandparents should be counted, on the main social relations aunt and uncle should be counted. 1971 recruitment production team recommended me, because they are these immediate family members and the main social relations, I was beaten back to the original, this time really do not dare to put down ironclad evidence in black and white. Fortunately, the rural tradition is to look mainly at the paternal line, the maternal line can be ignored, I exploited this loophole, to avoid the more difficult to say “Taiwan family” problem.

When I finally finished reading the application, I was drenched in sweat, and my eyes were the most damp. I didn’t dare to look forward to it, and even wanted to run away and not listen to anything, including the vote. However, what all the members of the Xinmin Brigade unanimously gave me was a surprise. Everyone spoke in recognition of my labor performance in the countryside, and did not dwell on my family composition, which I could not choose. The materials for joining the league were sent to the commune the next day, and on the third day I was approved as a member of the Communist Youth League.

Joining the league opened a new curtain in my life.

Soon after, Minister Han Yujin of the commune and Secretary Han Guangde, who was in charge of youth work in the district, recommended me to participate in the Nanchong Regional Youth League Congress. After my return, the commune arranged for me to convey the spirit of the conference to the whole commune at the cable radio station, and also let me go to the commune elementary school and Wulong District High School to make a report on “Practicing Red Heart in a Wide World”.

In this way, I became an advanced model of youth in the commune and the district.

Recommended by Han Yujin, the minister of the commune’s armed forces and secretary of the Commune Youth League Committee, I became the secretary of the brigade’s Youth League Branch, a member of the Commune Youth League Committee and a member of the Commune Women’s Committee. Within a year, various honors came one after another: I participated in the Cangxi County Model Worker Conference; I participated in the Cangxi County Knowledge Youth Congress; I represented the advanced youth back to Beibei District to participate in the Women’s Congress. Later, I heard from my father that I had gained a certain popularity in my parents’ workplace, Southwest Division. When my father attended the youth sympathy group organized by the West Division, he was told before he left that I was attending the Knowledge Youth Congress in the county.

More than fifty years have passed, and the young me is now a blurred shadow on the other side of the time tunnel. But the past is not like the wind like smoke. Those simple villagers, those kind grass-roots cadres, and the help they gave me with all their might are still fresh in my heart. When the door of recruiting workers back to the city was closed, when I was so frustrated that I felt lost and desperate about my future, they opened a window with a different scenery for me and let me go forward on a brand new road of life.