Shanghai Life and Death(68)

After the bleeding stopped, the female doctor who had treated me for pneumonia in 1967 came to check on my ward. She took me to a small office and told me that she had tried to advocate sending me to the city hospital for a gynecological examination, but at that time the hospitals in Shanghai were controlled by the Red Guards and the rebel faction and were not allowed to treat class enemies.

“What kind of disease do you think I have?” I asked her.

“It could be some kind of tumor or something, but it could be nothing, just a reaction to menopause.”

“Could it be malignant?”

“Without a biopsy, it’s hard to say.” She said.

“I’m not afraid of dying,” I said, “but I mustn’t die before my problem is clarified. I can’t leave my problems hanging there unexplained, thus affecting my daughter for the rest of her life, which would ruin her lifelong happiness. In addition, I would like to meet with her again, I miss her ……” said here, I choked up, could not say anymore.

She gently patted her hand on my arm in sympathy, “I will report to the First Watchman and ask them to give you additional nutrition.”

“Doctor, please tell me, how can I prolong my life?” I asked her.

“Swallow all the food you are given, even if it is difficult to eat, it is more or less always nutritious. Also, be relaxed and optimistic.”

I was in mourning, but I could not cry, but the physician, with tears in her eyes, gently said to me, “May God bless you!”

A week later, I was taken back to the First Detention Center. I was served two meals of rice every day. The morning meal included, in addition to the rice, vegetables and a piece of meat or fish, which was usually fatty and sometimes had a lot of hair on the skin that had not been plucked. The fish, never fresh. But I kept in mind the advice of the physician and swallowed everything. The young physician in the guardhouse issued a certificate giving me permission to buy a little vitamin with my own money. The male guard took my bankbook and bought me cod liver oil pills and B complex. vitamin C was effective in treating bleeding gums, but it was not available anywhere in Shanghai at that time.

The guards reacted differently to the improvement in my treatment in the detention center. The ultra-leftist military guard was very unhappy with the leadership’s approval to buy me vitamins and increased nutrition. At every opportunity, he threatened me or treated me in a rude and violent manner. Sometimes, when I stepped out of my cell to go to the air or to be interrogated, I was shoved from behind, making me trip and fall to the ground. Or they twisted my arms and kicked me in the thighs. When I asked for vitamins, I was always denied and reprimanded, “You want to eat vitamins for food?” “Do you treat this place like a sanatorium?”

The guards, who were of the moderate school, followed the doctor’s orders and let me buy more vitamins without saying anything when I ran out. But only one or two bottles could be purchased at a time. A few guards, perhaps belonging to Liu Shaoqi’s conservative faction, who were on duty, bought me several bottles each time. Occasionally there are so one or two, actually bought me a few bags of glucose, they quickly to the pile of stuff to my cell a stuff, not let other guards see.

On the day I returned from the prison hospital, the guard on duty gave me a piece of paper, a pen and a bottle of ink. She said, “Go ahead and write your statement, the interrogator is waiting.”

I took the stack of paper, and it was different from the paper I had been asked to write my autobiography on in 1966. Last time, the paper was blank, but this time, on the first page, there were quotations from Mao Zedong. Under the heading “Supreme Instructions” was a box with a red line that read: “They are only allowed to be honest, they are not allowed to talk and move around”. At the bottom, where the inmates usually sign, the words “Convict Signature” are printed.

I was first annoyed with the word “convict” and was determined not to sign after it. After thinking about it for a while, I decided that I had to devise a clever plan to take advantage of the opportunity to counteract these ultra-leftists.

Under Mao’s quotation, I also put a box and wrote a quotation from Mao. That quotation was not taken from the book of quotations, but from Mao’s work “On the Correct Handling of the Contradictions within the People’s Capital”. The quotation reads, “Where there is a counter-revolution, we will certainly suppress it; if we have done wrong, we will immediately correct it.”

Then I wrote about my husband’s trip to Europe in 1956, giving details of all the activities I could recall during my visits to various countries, and the names of the people I had contacted. When I wrote about the conversations, I tried to write something that was not political. When I was almost finished, it occurred to me that two major events were taking place in the world while we were in England: the Hungarian Incident of 1956 and the Suez Canal War. It is difficult for me to comment on the former, but I have no qualms about the latter. So I made this incident the subject of a conversation between me and a friend, because it had nothing to do with China and communism. Then I added the words “an innocent man” below the printed “signature of the criminal” and signed my name.

I handed the written material to the guards. In the afternoon of the same day, I was summoned to another trial.

Except for the PLA, it was the same group of people, all with furrowed brows. I had been prepared for this attitude when I decided to argue with them that I was innocent. Before the interrogator could wave his hand, I bowed to the portrait of Mao Zedong. The quotation chosen by the interrogator on this occasion read: “Against imperialism and all its lackeys who represent the interests of the landlords and the reactionary faction of the Kuomintang. We must impose a total dictatorship on them and allow them only to be honest, not to talk and move around.”

The interrogator had my account resting before him. When I sat down, he slapped the table and glared at me, then slapped the table again and reprimanded me loudly, “Look what you have done.” He pointed to the account, “Do you think we’re playing games with you?”

I was reticent.

“Your attitude is not correct enough.” The teacher said.

“If you don’t have the right attitude, don’t even think about leaving here.” The young worker said.

Before I could say anything, the interrogator threw the account I had written to the ground, and it flew all over the place, then stood up “Huo” and said: “Go back to your cell and rewrite it!

A guard at the door shouted: “Come out!”

I followed him back into the cell. The roll of paper he gave me was the same as the last one, with the quotation printed on the first page, with a box underlined, and the “convict’s signature” printed underneath. Because I had set out to use this as a counter-attacking gap, I had to fight to the end. So without hesitation, I copied the last quote again, again adding “an innocent man” to my signature. My memory was good, and I wrote basically the same thing as last time. On the third day I gave it to the guards, and immediately afterwards I was summoned to another interrogation. The interrogator still threw the material I had written on the floor, scattered it all over the place, and asked me to rewrite it again.