Shanghai Life and Death(69)

As it was repeated again, the interrogator said to me, “You’re crazy, aren’t you? We’re sending you to a mental hospital to be handcuffed with the insane.”

“I am not crazy. If you think there is anything wrong with what I have written, you can point it out and I am willing to correct it.”

“Why did you write another quotation below the printed quotation? And why did you write such an epithet before your signature?” That inquisitor asked.

“I just want to make what I write a true reflection of the facts.” I said, “I want to remind you that Chairman Mao, the great leader, once said that we should be good at correcting mistakes. I hope you will carry out Chairman Mao’s instruction and correct the wrong treatment of my case. As for adding such an epithet before my signature, I think it is appropriate because I have committed no crime. If you must call me a ‘criminal,’ then I am a criminal who has committed no crime.”

“You do not give an honest account of your crime, and you take great pains to argue it.” The interrogator said, but had stopped growling.

“I have never committed any crime, you must say so, then you must verify it with evidence.”

“Of course we have to verify. But we are going to give you the opportunity to give an account, the only way you can be treated leniently.”

“Have I not repeated many times that I have not committed a crime? Haven’t I already written a note to prove that you can shoot me if it is found that I have really committed a crime?”

“Don’t be a scoundrel! You don’t have to be anxious either, at some point we will shoot you.” The young worker screamed at me.

“Go back to your cell and rewrite it.” The interrogator said.

The recorder gave me another roll of paper and I followed the guard back to my cell.

I opened the roll of paper and looked down to see that the first page was a blank sheet of paper, with neither a printed quotation nor a column for the offender’s signature. I wrote another status report. Two days later it was given to the guards on duty.

To those who had not fought with the extreme leftists, my protracted struggle with them might have seemed useless and pointless. But the truth is that these people are all soft and soft at heart. If I let them abuse me as they wish, they will take advantage of it and my life in the detention center will be even more unthinkable. Moreover, every word I said in the interrogation room was recorded. I am always an optimist. I look forward to the day when an impartial person will come to investigate my problems. Then all that I had said might assist him to give me a correct conclusion.

Another few days passed, and I waited every day for the interrogator to come and bring me in for further questioning. But no one came to bring me up. Finally, one morning, the soldier guard who had kicked me came to the door of my cell, opened the door wide and bellowed, “Come out!”

When I leaned over to fetch the transcript, the guard followed me in and gave me a cold push, for which I was unprepared and almost fell to the ground.

“You don’t need this where you’re going.” She snatched the transcript out of my hand and threw it on the bed. Then she cut my hands behind my back and the male guard came in and locked a pair of handcuffs around my wrists. The female guard pushed me again, I stumbled, and when I was just standing firm, she did it again.

“Come on, come on!” She barked.

I followed the guards out of the women’s prison, across the courtyard, and to the entrance of the gate. The interrogator and the youth worker, along with another man, were waiting at the second iron gate. A small white car was parked in the driveway, its engine still humming.

“Get in! Sit in the middle.” The interrogator said.

I got into the car and sat down in the middle, because my hands were handcuffed behind my back, I had to sit upright. The first thing I felt was that the car seat was very soft and I hadn’t sat on a couch in a long time.

The interrogator and the youth worker were sitting on either side of me. There was another man and the driver, sitting in the front. After the car started slowly, it accelerated and drove out of the prison gate.

Where were they taking me? Were they going to send me to a mental hospital to avoid further confrontation with me? I was sure they would not send me to be shot. Because the death penalty is often carried out quietly within the vicinity of the prison. And if they kill me, they won’t be able to get a confession from me. Maybe they want to keep me alive and tortured, I think, to send me to a mental hospital is very likely. But there I could hardly continue to fight, and the screams of the mentally ill would be demoralizing. I soon realized, however, that the car was not headed for a mental hospital in the suburbs. Through the small, gently fluttering curtains, I could see that the car was heading through the downtown area, towards the western suburbs. There were few pedestrians and not many cars. These familiar streets brought back memories of my old life. We rounded a corner and my home was close at hand. That was the first medical school, where I met Vinnie in the summer of 1966, when I first saw the evening of the Cultural Revolution, the criticism session, and flashed through the big metal door. All this is now like a lifetime ago for me. I don’t know what happened to Vinnie now. Had she been sent to the May 7 Cadre School?

The car drove slowly into the technical school where I had attended my first criticism meeting and where I had been sent to the First Detention Center on September 27, 1966. It was now early March of 1969, and for more than two years I had been wearing the hat of a counter-revolutionary, a charge that did not exist.

A few men, standing in the lazy early spring sun, one of them opened the car door and took me to a small room, while the one behind me snapped my head down so that all I could see were the two legs of the one in front of me moving forward, and once inside, they left me alone and locked the door.

It was a dusty, empty room with only a wooden bench resting alone inside. The windows were covered with paper, so you couldn’t see out of them. The four walls from the floor to the roof, covered with large print, in the corner of the house and a large pile. Those large print on the wall is not the most recent, some have simply torn, some chaotic overlapping a sheet. When they later opened the door to call me out, with a gust of wind blowing in the door, clattering and scraping down several large-character posters.

I sat down on a wooden bench and skimmed through the large-print posters, and I realized that they had exhibited two and a half years of old large-print posters one by one, just to launch a psychological attack on me. The signatures were all old employees of Asia, some were written by one person, some were written jointly by several people, the content was mostly to expose Asia, my late husband and myself. Many of the “crimes” listed, mostly reversing right and wrong, confusing black and white, some of them are just their personal assumptions, our friends and three British managers who came to Shanghai to replace my husband after his death, were accused of being “foreign spies” closely associated with me. Scout and Austin were named in several of the large letters. The White Russian secretary employed by our company was revealed to be a double agent for the British and the Soviets. I closed my eyes, not wanting to see any more of those obnoxious posters. After waiting for a while, I didn’t know what was going on outside again, so I leaned in and listened, and when I heard footsteps outside the door, I knocked.