My High School Entrance Exam

In early September 1977, Xiao Tang, a Shanghai youth who had returned from visiting his family in Shanghai, told me the important news that the country would resume the college entrance examination this year, so I should hurry up and prepare.

Xiao Tang was a man of few words, and I believed him. But at that time I was already the father of two children, I think the college entrance examination and I do not have a dime relationship, pressed James did not take it seriously.

Soon, Xiao Tang’s news was confirmed, I saw the notice posted on the wall of the commune’s supply and marketing agency at the time about the resumption of college and university entrance exams in 1977. The notice specifically stated that “the old three students are also within the application, regardless of whether they are married”.

It had always been my dream to go to college, but since 1968, when I returned to the countryside as a farmer, this “dream” was shattered, and became a permanent pain in my heart.

My father was a high school teacher, often proud of his teaching profession. He told me many times: “Doctor, teacher, and head shaver are the three professions in the world that will never lose their jobs”. Therefore, when I graduated from junior high school in 1963, I was asked to apply for a teacher training program that included food, housing, and assignment. At that time, the country was still in a difficult period, and teachers’ salaries were meager, and because my family had many siblings, life at home was unbearable, which was the main reason why my father asked me to enroll in the teacher training program. Seeing my father’s hard work, low income and humble social status, I was very much against the teaching profession. Therefore, I repeatedly told my father that I was determined not to go to teacher training, and that either I should go to high school, or I should shave my head! My father had no choice but to let me shave my head, so he gritted his teeth and agreed to let me go to high school. At that time, it was quite difficult to enter high school, and Ningdu was a large county in southern Ganzhou. I counted my strength and successfully passed the exam.

In 1966, on the eve of the college entrance examination, a sudden storm of the Cultural Revolution took all students hostage, and enrollment in colleges and universities was stopped, and the college entrance examination was postponed indefinitely. 1968, under Chairman Mao’s order of “intellectual youths going to the mountains and going to the countryside to receive re-education from the poor peasants”, the old three were sent to the countryside as the first group of youths.

I left my hometown since I was a child and lived with my father in the countryside. During the movement of intellectual youths going to the mountains and going to the countryside, my family changed from “commercial food” to “agricultural food”. I returned to Dongzhao Commune in Ningdu County, Ganzhou. In those years, the youths were sent to the countryside with red colors and gongs and drums. The name of the “rural youth” was loud, the status was honorable, and they enjoyed a certain social status. But as a young man returning to his hometown, I returned to my hometown with a gray face and no reputation.

Fate was like a roller coaster, we instantly changed from students to farmers.

The hard rural life lasted for long years, planting rice seedlings in spring, double robbery in summer, building reservoirs in autumn and repairing roads in winter, and the youthful frivolity and ambition that we once had were long gone.

I was fortunate to serve as a brigade “barefoot doctor” in ’71, then married and started a family, life was hard and uneventful, and if there were no changes in life, being a village boy, this is how I would have spent my life.

The announcement of the resumption of college entrance examinations, like a spring rain and dew, was like a thunderclap, awakening the seeds of the dream of college that had been frozen inside for a long time.

God closed the door of fate, but opened a window of hope for me. This window is my only chance to break the cocoon into a butterfly and fly to the outside world, I decided to take this college entrance exam, whether I succeed or not.

On the same day, I found the 66th and 67th classmates in the same village and told them the great news that the country had resumed the college entrance examination, which made them both excited and decided to apply for the examination together, stand out and accept the selection of the motherland.

The same classmate was the accountant of our commune’s snack department at that time, and the three of us held a grand ceremony in the snack department at night – a meal of vegetarian dumplings.

The next day, the three of us brought our brigade certificates and high school diplomas and successfully enrolled in the commune. I enrolled in the science department, and they both enrolled in the arts department. At this time, there were less than 40 days left before the entrance exam date.

When I returned home, I found that all my high school textbooks were gone, but I was fortunate enough to have precious high school math and physics and chemistry review materials left behind, plus nearly 200 political review questions collected from various sources in a short period of time, which were the three magic weapons I used to take the college entrance exam.

In our mountain nook, the traffic is not convenient, the information is closed, there is no city students’ college entrance examination tutorials, lack of relevant study materials, and the revision is clueless. I’ve been cut off from books for more than 10 years, and I’ve long forgotten about mathematics and chemistry, I’ve forgotten all about chemical equations, I can’t even solve simple quadratic equations, and I can’t find the north of physics. In addition to memorizing a hundred questions of politics, the week down, mathematics and chemistry in the brain into a pot of mush.

With the countdown to the college entrance exam, the anxiety in my heart is increasing day by day, self-confidence is slowly collapsing, once played a retreat, do not intend to take the test. At this time, a group of my friends cheered me up at this critical moment: “You are the most educated and hopeful candidate in our brigade and even the whole commune, miss this opportunity, you will regret for the rest of your life! The encouragement of my friends undoubtedly gave me a chicken blood. I’d like to see the Yellow River and then die, hit the wall and then turn back, and try my luck!

In order to concentrate on studying, I took a leave of absence from the brigade, put down my job as a barefoot doctor, hid in a small room in the commune radio station, and began to sprint to the college entrance exam.

The potential of the body at the critical moment can be instantly stimulated, during that time, adrenaline spikes, every cell in the body, every nerve is in a state of hyperactivity. The problem is that you have to do it day and night, read the book. The brain is full of theorems, laws, formulas, chemical equations …, six relatives will not recognize the outside world forgotten.

But after all, the review time is too hasty, to remember the knowledge of too much, to meet this college entrance examination, there is no bottom.

The 1977 Jiangxi Provincial College Entrance Examination was scheduled for December 3-4, and on December 2, a group of three of us, with dreams, hopes, and expectations, rushed from the countryside to the county town and embarked on the road to this unsure college entrance examination.

The examination site is located in our county Ningdu Middle School, which is my former alma mater, more than ten years, or the same old, in this school of the past vividly, the alma mater of a brick, a tile, a grass and a tree make me feel very dear.

On the morning of December 3, we came to the examination room early and saw that the outside wall of the former school kitchen was covered with answers to political questions copied on white paper, and many candidates were here to watch. There was an article criticizing the “Gang of Four” for implementing a bourgeois black line on the education front for 17 years before the Cultural Revolution, which caught my attention and I used my memory to my advantage and immediately memorized it. The first time I opened the paper, I remembered that the question I had just memorized was on it, and it was 15 points! The morning political exam went well, and I was quite pleased to have won.

In the afternoon, I did not need to be taught math in the upper grades of elementary school, I could do it just by looking at the book, and then from middle school to high school, my math scores were in the middle to upper levels. However, when I opened the test questions, I was dumbfounded, several questions would not do it, some questions did not do half of it, to hand in the paper estimated that there is a certainty that only about 30 points. This gave me a big blow to my self-confidence.

I didn’t sleep a wink that night!

The morning of December 4, the language test, essay question “unforgettable moments”, the article is good to write, at least the content will not be off-topic. In fact, the easier it is to write an essay, the more difficult it is to write an essay not only to choose special and meaningful events, people, and wonderful words to move the reader, so that people feel the same way.

There are many “unforgettable moments” in life, moments of pain and sorrow, moments of happiness and joy. Reason told me that this unforgettable moment must highlight the politics, in today’s words, to write positive energy. So I chose Chairman Mao’s meeting with the Red Guards as an unforgettable happy moment, and the death of Chairman Mao as an unforgettable sad moment, these two unforgettable moments echoed back and forth. The article was completed in one go, and to be honest, our older three students have good writing skills and should be comfortable writing this kind of article, so I feel good about this essay.

In the afternoon, I took the physics and chemistry test, and I finished the chemistry test in an hour or so, and I scored close to 40 points. Physics is my weakness, but also my “Waterloo” in this college entrance examination, I racked my brain to do a few small questions, only 6-7 points, the brain seems to stop, facing the physics examination paper, dumb as a chicken, like a fool, that state with “stupid pig” to describe themselves are I think the word is tarnished.

After the exam, I estimated my score: politics should be above 80, language should also be above 80, math is full of 33 points, science and chemistry score of 40 points or so. The total score was about 230.

I was so frustrated with this score. I felt that my dream of going to university was completely shattered.

The sunset was hanging on the western mountain, big and round, especially beautiful, the golden afterglow sprinkled on my body, and my heart how can not get up.

After returning home, several nights of insomnia, but also hiding at home, “Gueyue lie” for two days. I never drink alcohol, I also went to the supply agency to buy bulk white wine to drink a drunk, things I forget, the gods of the world.

Experienced several days of depression, pain, mood slowly calmed down.

Glass heart broken more, learn to endure, the south wall hit, have to accept defeat. College can not be studied, the day must go on. The good thing is that you can continue to be a “barefoot doctor”, so as to release the pain of failure, to soothe the unbearable in life.

In the old inspirational words, each candidate should have a red heart, two kinds of preparation, the examination, for the motherland to study hard, failed for the revolutionary farming, to do a new socialist farmers. In the self slowly mentality adjustment, the heart gradually brighten up, life is back to the original.

When I figured it out, I answered frankly in the face of many inquiries from my friends and neighbors: “No hope”! The other two arts examiners seemed to have done well, and they had great hopes of going to university. The villagers were most vocal about me getting into college, and one old man even said, “In our brigade and even the whole commune, if Li Bao can’t get in, no one else can”! This comment, which I was so proud of, now made me feel ashamed of myself. For this reason for a long time I was embarrassed to go out, deeply ashamed to face the father and mother of Jiangdong.

One afternoon, a month or so after the college entrance exams, I was sitting in the cooperative medical room, dazed and bored. Suddenly Yan, a teacher from the commune’s central elementary school, came rushing in and said, “Li Bao, you got into college!” I was stunned: “Mr. Yan, you’re laughing at me again.” Mr. Yan seriously told me that the results of the college entrance examination had been released and that I had made it to the top of the list. But I thought it was a joke, I didn’t believe it, but I was lucky, maybe it was true. After he left, I walked down the street alone with a thief’s head. The first batch of candidates who reached the admission mark in our commune were announced on big red paper, six in the university and one in the junior college.

I was like an old man who had won the examination, Fan Jin, a little dazed, afraid of hallucinations, hurriedly rubbed his eyes, and pinch thighs, know that the pain, to confirm that all this is true.

The test is so bad, but also reached the score line, so I have doubts, always feel a little wrong, is not a certain part of the error? Did the admissions office staff carelessly write down the wrong name? Did the marker miscalculate the test score? Or even a candidate from another place with the same surname and name as mine was wrongly written to our commune? In short, I was very unsure of myself, I may have been a “waterboy”.

Fortunately, I was nervous to think too much, after a few days notice to fill out the volunteer, the heart then down.

I took the medical profession for granted. The first volunteer Jiangxi Medical College, the second volunteer Gannan Medical College, we this material, to this kind of university will be satisfied.

Immediately after the medical examination to the county hospital, it happened to run into the same high school classmates Zhang Jingchuan, old classmates meet, congratulate each other, not overjoyed (Zhang Jingchuan did not fill in the medical profession, but was transferred to Jiangxi Medical College, but also and I was in the same class, and served as our class party group leader).

Everything went well, just waiting for the acceptance letter, the door of university has opened to me.

The resumption of the college entrance examination, my two brothers together on the list, in our small mountain village caused a small sensation, neighbors, friends and relatives are happy for us, this period of time in the heart is very cool, a kind of “spring breeze, the horse’s hooves raised, a day to see all the flowers in Chang’an,” the complacency.

But there are also people who are not happy, my neighbor × × × × was the director of the commune in charge of organizational work at the time, in that happy time when I was waiting for the admission notice, he once found our brigade secretary, pull the following to him: “How can his family two people at the same time to go to school?” The brigade secretary was a student of my father’s, and afterwards he whispered to me to be careful. He reminded me of this, let me chill down my spine, thinking about it, he is not a big official, but the power is not small, in our political review of the school to make some name that is easy to do.

A vague concern looms over the heart, once the complacency is gone.

The wait thereafter was long and torturous.

Soon, the Spring Festival of 1978 arrived, the first day of the year, the weather was exceptionally good, the mountains were warm and sunny, the wind and sunny, the sound of celebratory firecrackers.

In the morning I played poker with a few poker friends in the brigade office, almost noon, Shanghai youth Xiao Lu handed me a registered letter, addressed to Jiangxi Medical College, hurriedly opened, is my acceptance letter to Jiangxi Medical College.

This acceptance letter, a thin sheet of paper, a few hundred words, no ups and downs of the story, no beautiful and moving words, but it is better than the gold book, silver book! This book has changed my life and fate!

Holding the acceptance letter in my hand, I have mixed feelings, for it, I used up all my strength to fight, spent all my efforts to struggle, just a few months, intertwined with excitement and frustration, hope and confusion, pain and joy, and today finally turned into great happiness. It is said that life is like an accordion, it has to be compressed to zero by life and hardship, and then pulled up from zero to finally play a moving melody.

However, I did not realize that the golden afterglow of the sunset was the light of good fortune, and that moment was the moment when my accordion started from zero.

At this moment, the excitement is difficult to express, I am a little excited to forget, back home, many neighbors are sunbathing, × × × × director also happened to be in, I have no fear of raising the acceptance letter in hand, deliberately show off to tell everyone: “I went to college notice came! This is the first college acceptance letter in our village for decades, everyone scrambled to pass it around, everyone congratulated me, only the director did not say anything, only squeezed out a very forced smile.

The sound of apes crying on both sides of the shore cannot be stopped.
The light boat has passed ten thousand mountains.

Yesterday’s dream has become today’s reality, and no one can stop me from going to university.

The 1977 college entrance examination was the only winter examination in China’s history. 5.7 million students, youths, peasants and workers from all over the country entered the examination hall, and finally, 270,000 young people entered the college of their dreams in the spring of 1978, and I, an old third-year student, became one of the lucky ones.

On the Lantern Festival of that year, the 66th classmates who referred with me received the acceptance letter from Gannan Teachers College, while my brother was accepted in Ningdu Teachers College.

Later, I learned that the admission mark for undergraduates in the 1977 college entrance examination in Jiangxi Province was 220 points, and I happened to be on that line. From that year onwards, the political examination of the candidates was also basically abolished.

Sometimes fate is a hidden door, you just have to be brave to push it, the door of luck will be open for you, I did the right thing in this life is to push the door open.

April 25, 2021