Shanghai Life and Death(64)

I was already hungry and worried about missing the only rice meal of the day.

Because of the evening yams, I often ate indigestion. When I returned to my cell, the female guard on duty told me that my portion of rice had been wrapped in a blanket to keep me warm. She also said she could give me some hot boiled water if I needed it.

Although I always thought she was one of the kindest guards, I felt flattered by her humane care. A box of rice and vegetables was wrapped in a towel and tucked under a blanket, still slightly warm. After that, the guard brought a hot water bottle and poured me a glass of boiling water through the small window. I sat down at the edge of the bed, eating while recalling and analyzing the morning’s series of circumstances.

It seems that of the five of them, the interrogator was the most educated and the most resourceful. Just by looking at his self-righteous accent, I could deduce that he was an old Communist Party cadre, but whether he was really a leftist or not, I couldn’t be sure. But as an interrogator, he was undoubtedly used by the left. The old worker could not be a real leftist. Maybe he just represented the Labor Propaganda Team. Because he was a long-serving industrial worker, he was chosen as a representative of the labor propaganda team, just to put on a facade. The young man who took notes looked indifferent, and I think he was just treating the recorder as a profession; because when I was defending Liu Shaoqi, he did not show the slightest anger. Only the young workers and the PLA were the real “leftists. Their appearance and demeanor were typical of the youth of the ultra-left era. They came from poor families, and after a long period of political incubation, they had lost all their ability to think independently.

The behavior of the guards on duty at the women’s prison was the most surprising to me. I desperately tried to remember what I had done in the morning to make her feel so good about me. I chewed on the raw, hard skin of the vegetables, while thinking hard about this thing that confused me. I think the only thing I did that stood out was to say something for poor Liu Shaoqi. Did she thank me so generously because I spoke from her own heart – which a prison guard is not allowed to speak?

Looking back at China’s thousands of years of historical tradition, human relations are very important. Communists are no exception. When a communist leader loses his dignity, those who have worked for him for a long time, no matter how distant their relationship is, will feel undignified. Since the City Public Security Bureau was completely smashed by the ultra-leftists, there must have been a group of people in the First Detention Center who sympathized with Liu Shaoqi because their fate was tied to his line. If one could get a better treatment in prison because of defending Liu Shaoqi, and a kind of concern out of humanity, it would be well worth doing so. If I could get a better chance to keep my own flesh alive, that would be the first priority for me. But when I defended Liu Shaoqi out of an impulse of a sense of justice, I did not expect this.

In the afternoon, I was summoned to the interrogation room again. The interrogator waved his hand at the portrait of Mao Zedong, and I bowed to it. Then he selected a quotation from Mao Zedong and made me read it: “All reactionaries are paper tigers. It looks like the reactionaries look scary, but in reality there is no great power ……” At this point, the interrogator took out a large stack of documents from the drawer and browsed through them, while the other two men carefully watched my face expression. The inquisitor shook his head frequently at me with each page, as if he had found some surprising information from the documents. I knew that he was pretending, pretending to be false. He pretended to read those documents, perhaps I have heard the old calendar is familiar. So I took an indifferent attitude and waited for him to open his mouth again.

After a while, he put down the documents and said, “The other employees of your company are more conscious than you, they know what is good for them. They have given a full account of the problem.” He gestured to the pile of papers.

“Why do you insist that I give a vain account when you have been given the materials you need?”

“Each of you needs to tell your own problems.”

“If you want me to speak, I can only speak the truth. Asia is a trading company, it has nothing to do with politics. Asia stays in business in Shanghai to trade with China. In short, it stayed in Shanghai because it was approved by the People’s Government. Both my husband and I have stamped documents from the responsible Beijing cadres with whom we are associated to prove that the People’s Government requested Asia to set up a branch in Shanghai.”

“This is exactly what happened. The party goons needed a foreign secret service to cover themselves. This is clear.” So said the interrogator.

“I advise you to be careful in your speech. Asia’s stay in Shanghai was approved by the State Council.”

I just about failed to point out that the decision to grant Asia permission to stay in Shanghai was approved by Premier Zhou Enlai. And the interrogator must have sensed this. I would really like to know if Premier Zhou was one of the leaders that the ultra-leftists wanted to bring down. But as long as Premier Zhou remains Premier of the State Council, I guess they wouldn’t dare to attack him openly.

“Asean is a multinational corporation. According to Marx, it is the highest form of capitalist enterprise development. It exploits the workers of many countries. Such companies are politically the most anti-communist and reactionary. They must not be tolerated to remain in Shanghai after the liberation of the country.” The interrogator said.

“I don’t agree with you. It was very wise to allow BP to remain in Shanghai when the United States imposed an embargo policy on China. It dismantled the enemy camp, and what could be smarter than that? I learned from Chairman Mao’s writings that he advocated a strategic approach to class struggle by creating disintegration and division in the enemy camp.” I said.

The young worker interjected, “The Great Leader Chairman Mao taught us to be self-reliant; we don’t need assistance from foreign companies.”

“The great leader Chairman Mao said, ‘We are not against foreign aid, but rely mainly on self-reliance.’ He did not oppose friendly aid.”

“You can’t describe trading with Asia as friendly aid.” The interrogator said.

“What could be more friendly than that, when for several years Asia has never traded with Taiwan, nor has it had an office there?”

“You’re quite eloquent. First you reversed the case for Liu Shaoqi, and now you are defending the reactionary international trade organization. Even if you had no other crimes, based on your performance in this interrogation room today, it would be enough to give you a sentence.” That interrogator said.

“What I have told you is the truth. What you have said is all false accusations based on supposition and imagination. You are the wise rebels representing the People’s Government and the Communist Party, while I am just an old woman in the sunset.”

My words made the interrogator angry again, and he slapped the table again: “Don’t forget your birth date, this is the interrogation room of the dictatorship of the proletariat!”

“Get up! Stand up! Stand up for me. You have slandered the dictatorship of the proletariat, and you must be severely punished.” The young worker also helped in an aggressive manner.

I stood up.