Shanghai Life and Death(60)

The radio speaker started to horn again. Two guards came to my small window hole one after another to check if I was listening to the radio. The microphone announced another batch of prisoners to be sentenced in the afternoon. One of them was declared to be a death sentence, “to be executed immediately. The number was the same as the number of the woman I lived with. The loudspeaker said she was an imperialist and Kuomintang agent who had been “hiding among the masses for several years” but had been exposed by the Red Guards and the rebel faction during the Cultural Revolution. They said that they offered her the opportunity to confess and seek leniency. But she refused to do so, trying to muddle through. Now, her fate was: “the iron fist of the dictatorship of the proletariat”, which “smashed her to pieces”.

At first my heart sank steeply; for every announcement of the death penalty is always horrible. But when I looked up without thinking, I glanced behind the peephole and saw another eye peering at me. Suddenly, a thought flashed through my mind: the woman was not a spy, and no one had accused her of being a spy, so if I showed nervousness or fear now, those guys would really think I had committed a crime. I looked at the cell door calmly, leaning casually and naturally on the bunk, acting as if I was concentrating on listening.

When the speaker was turned off, the guard opened the small window and called me over.

“Did you hear the announcement of the death sentence?” She asked me.

“Yes, I heard it.”

“What did you think?”

“Because she was an imperialist and Nationalist agent, and she deserved it.” I spoke with conviction.

“You need to connect the dots and think about yourself.” The guard pointed out to me.

“I don’t see the need to make the connection, she’s a real agent. But I’m not. I’m waiting for the government to clarify my screening.” I replied.

“You’re not being honest at all.” She said.

“On the contrary, what could be more honest than trusting the people’s government?” I retorted.

She closed the small window, but still peered through the peephole. I picked up a copy of “Mao”, and without moving my body, I read my own book in silence.

When bedtime came, the female soldier opened the cell door and a young woman from the labor camp came in, packed up the belongings of the fellow prisoner, folded up the bed again, and left with her things. This means that the woman is still alive. On a winter night like that, if she didn’t want to freeze, she must have needed a quilt, so they had to get it back for her.

I think the guards must have trusted her, so they assigned her this task to lure me in, she must be one of those cowardly and incompetent people. They must have promised her some leniency if they could catch some misstatement in me. But she failed. So they had to change their tactics and pretend to have sentenced her to death as a way to intimidate and threaten me again.

After the young woman in labor left, the military woman guard came in.

“Stand up!” She stood about a foot away from me and shouted at me.

As soon as I stood up, she slapped me across the face, causing tears to come to my eyes, but I tried my best not to let them fall. I just stood with my eyes indifferent to the front, as if nothing had happened. This angered her even more, and she slapped me again, and kicked me in the thigh with her leather boot. “Stand still and don’t move, you’re not going to end up well! You’re smart, aren’t you? The imperialists have trained you to be competent, haven’t they? But you won’t get away with it, the proletariat will destroy you. Stand there!”

She slammed the door, locked it, and stomped off with a glare.

The night watchman went to work and, as usual, checked the cells one by one, and when my turn came; he asked, “Why are you still standing here?”

“I’ve been punished.”

“Which one? The day watchman?”

“No, it’s the other one.”

“Stop thinking nonsense and go to sleep.”

It seemed as if she didn’t understand the situation, and perhaps she was unaware of the move to set a trap for me; it was probably just what the radicals in the guardhouse had come up with.

“I’ll never figure out what’s going on.” I said to myself. But I was glad that I didn’t have to stand all night.

I got a kick in the ankle. The cut was worse because it was not covered by the cotton pants, so the skin was broken and the wound hurt. The wool socks on my feet were not very clean, and the only other pair was still drying, so I was worried that the wound might get infected. “What should I do?” I asked myself. I couldn’t find a substitute for the sores in this cell with nothing to lose. Suddenly, my eyes touched the toothpaste. I thought the toothpaste was somewhat disinfectant, so I applied a thick layer of toothpaste to the wound, covered it with a cloth torn from an old shirt, and tied the wound with the only handkerchief left.

The whole night, the pain in the neck of the foot, tormenting me can not sleep, I several times from the dream, either dreaming that I became a cripple can not walk, or in the dream again by the female guards kicked.

The torment of hunger and cold, the hopeless waiting, the longing for freedom, the longing for my daughter, and the unbearable insults from the female guard, all these things made me sad and angry. But when I got up the next morning, I no longer felt depressed, but only that something was building up inside me that was almost ready to burst. At present, for me, the virtues of civility, such as kindness, tolerance and even a little humor, had become a luxury I could not crave. The far-leftists are trying hard to play tricks to get me killed, but I can’t just stand by, I have to find a way to come up with my own response.

Although I felt a little tired from lack of sleep, my mind was still clear and sharp. My feet and neck were swollen and painful, but I kept pacing back and forth in my cell, unable to resist the urge to provoke another encounter with this group of far-leftists. The more I thought about what those guys had done to me, my friends and other victims, the more I felt unjust. I wanted revenge!

Suddenly the cell door opened, as if God had come at that moment to satisfy my thirst and give me a chance to fight. “Come out and be tried!” A male guard bellowed.

I picked up the quotation book and turned around, limping along as fast as I could.

The People’s Daily editorial was playing over the loudspeaker, explaining Mao’s latest instructions. All along the way, as I followed the guards across the floor, the reverent, reverent voice of the announcer was chanting Mao’s words, “Dig deep, accumulate grain, and do not claim hegemony …….” Mao’s majestic power is like a blanket wrapped tightly around the land of China, spreading over the sky and leaving no place untouched. I secretly reminded myself to be careful not to reveal anything that would be considered anti-Mao and anti-Party and anti-government, otherwise, I would be branded as a “counter-revolutionary” so that these ultra-leftists would get straws on me. I set a strategy for myself, that is, to insist on criticizing the cadres who sponsored my case for not acting in accordance with Mao’s policies, which were completely correct. If necessary, I could say something against my will, even if I did not agree with Mao, to show that I supported him, just like other Chinese people who pretend to be fake in this way every day in order to survive. I cautioned myself again that it is not enough to just fight against them, but I must fight wisely and skillfully to do so.