The real life of a wounded and sick man in Shajiabang

My father was born in 1916 in Wujin, Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, in a family that was not rich, but not too poor either. My grandfather sent his son to private school at the age of six, and later told him to study Chinese medicine, hoping that he would grow up to be a doctor who could save the people. My father did not disappoint my grandfather’s expectations, and he did very well in Chinese medicine, and this medical skill really came in handy later in his military career.

In my impression, my father is very meek, a good son who will not rebel against his parents and elders. But I guessed wrong, my father joined the New Fourth Army in 1938 without telling his family.

This was the year when China entered the years of the fierce war of resistance. The birthplace and headquarters of the New Fourth Army was in the area of northern Jiangsu and southern Anhui. It seems that my father was still relatively filial and did not go too far from home. The full name at that time was: the National Revolutionary Army New Fourth Army. Abbreviated as “New Fourth Army”. The team was founded by Xiang Ying and was under the leadership of the Central Military Committee of the Communist Party of China. In essence, it was not under the command of the Nationalist government at the time.

Soldiers in the war years were not as comfortable as the young master soldiers in the peace years. They faced the bloody and cruel battlefield every day. My father was wounded in battle after battle, big and small. And there was shrapnel left in the lung lobe for the rest of his life could not be removed. Time and time again, then time and time again, he recuperated from his wounds. The most horrifying thing was to recuperate in the old cemetery, and my father experienced what it was like to recuperate in a grave.

Father recalled: that the empty grave inside is the coffin body has long been rotted out and dissolved into one with the soil. Their wounded with a single frame directly into that grave hole. The wounded lay inside, without anti-inflammatory drugs to take, not to mention the penicillin shot, all rely on their own immunity to fight the inflammation of gunshot wounds bayonet wounds. Eating are the people in the evening secretly sent in some rice soup thin gruel and other food.

Later, there were too many wounded in the army, and they couldn’t find so many old empty graves, so they used small boats tied into rows of “sickbeds” similar to those that could lie down, all hidden in the reeds. Hundreds of miles around the surface of the lake, a piece of reeds, layers of reeds form a natural barrier, strangers are difficult to find, even if the boat into, may have no sense of direction can not find the north. Because the area was so large, a large number of wounded people were very safe in the reeds.

This true story was later turned into a documentary novel, “Bloodstained Names: A Chronicle of the Struggle of Thirty-Six Sick and Wounded”, and later a playwright adapted it into a play called “The Fires of the Reeds”, which was premiered by the Shanghai Opera Company. The script was transplanted to Peking Opera during the Cultural Revolution, which is also known as “Shajiabang”.

After the war ended in 1945, the number of the “New Fourth Army” did not change. Until the famous civil war “Huaihai Campaign”, the Republican government called “Xu Bu Battle”, then the number was changed to “East China Field Army”. The real power of command was in the hands of several generals such as Chen Yi, Su Yu and Tan Zhenlin. My father went from being a white-skinned scholar soldier during the war against Japan (my mother said my father had white skin when he was young, but I think my father always had white skin) to experiencing the Huaihai Campaign, the Battle of the Yangtze River Graben, the Battle of Nanjing, and being one of the first Chinese Communist troops to enter Shanghai. My father has long been a soldier who has actually been through a hundred battles.

Perhaps my father went to private school a little culture, after entering Shanghai he was responsible for guarding Sun Yat-sen’s former residence, located in Xiangshan Road. Now I think about my father’s job back then, it was very lucky! At least you don’t have to sleep on the main road in Shanghai.

Most of the soldiers of my father’s generation were sons and daughters of workers and peasants. Those who went to school like my father, who could prescribe Chinese medicine, and who could write beautiful lowercase penmanship, naturally became the most technically advanced soldiers: the artillery regiment.

In 1949, the dust of the civil war settled and the People’s Republic of China was founded. My father went to Beijing to participate in the military parade for the founding of the country. I’m sure he didn’t have a part in the Tiananmen Square, but he was a small soldier in the military formation, saluting to the city tower and walking in the right step to be happy.

In 1951, after attending the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference in Beijing, my father went to Korea to fight in the war. Father said, “The Korean War was a war of flesh and blood. Many soldiers froze to death because they did not have enough warm clothes and equipment. The food and water supply could not keep up, so they drank snow and ice as water and gnawed on cold buns like stones. My father, who was already covered with gunshot wounds, had his stomach completely destroyed this time as well. A few years after returning from Korea, he had two-thirds of his stomach removed.

In the second half of 1953, my father returned from North Korea. The troops went south to Zhejiang, whether they wanted to fight from Zhoushan Island to Taiwan is not known, since the war could not be fought, the troops rested in the area of Jiangnan. Field troops do not fight, suddenly rested, certainly idle panic. It was also overwhelming for the officers and soldiers. The head of the army ordered that officers of a certain rank could organize help to find a wife to start a family. Of course, the young soldiers themselves have the ability to find or go home to their hometowns to start a family, all the way to the green light. At that time, the local organization department officials, have become the bridesmaids, commonly known as matchmakers. My mother was from Shaoxing, and was introduced by the organization’s red-head at the time.

When my brother was born, my parents were still enjoying the “supply system”, and the army was responsible for all the family’s expenses plus babysitting fees. Soon after that, the family switched to the “salary system”. My father’s salary of more than 100 yuan a month was a huge sum of money at that time. Mother said that at that time a person’s monthly living expenses of four yuan was enough. At this time, my father in front of relatives, became the “Wong Tai Sin”, to relatives back home in Changzhou to send cloth, are sent one by one …… some years later actually have relatives asked to buy a private car. The father, who has been fighting for half his life, may feel that there is no great use for money. The more there is no habit of saving, when the wife and children after a large family, only to know no money inch hard to walk, real life taught him a hard lesson!

Father troops in Hangzhou to stay down. Because of the relationship with the field troops, family members are not allowed to live inside the barracks. So, we lived in Qinghefang, Hu Qing Yu Tang mansion. The former red-top merchant Hu Xueyan’s house. I was not yet born. My mother recalls the grandeur of the mansion, the beauty and classicality, the carved beams, the cloister pattern, the compartments and study, any of which could be the top artwork of ancient architecture today. It is a pity that the receiver at that time did not understand, dismantling and changing. It is really Yuan Qing Hua jar into the hands of the pickle woman, to use the pickle just right and smooth.

The regime was stable and did not need to fight. The huge army was divided into four areas for construction: building railroads, digging for oil, growing cotton and rice in Xinjiang, and building hydroelectric power stations. My father was assigned to the fourth one to build hydroelectric power stations.

In 1956, my father officially took off his uniform and was transferred to the Xin’an River in the southwestern part of the Hangzhou area to build the first large hydroelectric power station in New China. Father was specially appointed as the district chief of the Xin’anjiang Special Administrative Region. At that time, that place was very desolate and backward, divided into three place names: Zijin Tan, Changtan and Wangga. It was only after the power plant was completed that it was always called Xin’anjiang Hydropower Station. Now it is also called Qiandao Lake. My mother, a petty and delicate woman, refused to go with my father to be the first lady in that uninhabited countryside. She preferred to stay in Hangzhou, where the landscape was enchanting and the scenery was like a fairy land, to be a small citizen.

Xin’an River was built very well two years later. Because, this project was a national key project, supervised by Zhou Enlai himself. At that time, the Minister of Water Resources was Fu Zuoyi, who actually had no say in the matter, and took on a false name. My father went to Beijing once every three months to report on the progress of the project and specific work. At that time, Zhou Enlai, Zhu De and his wife and the whole family (children and grandchildren) and other big leaders came. Mother later recalled that meeting the head of the central government was a piece of cake in Xin’anjiang. My mother actually went to my father’s place soon after.

Since it was a key project, it must have gathered water experts from the Soviet Union and East Germany. There were also a large number of water conservancy graduates from Tsinghua University, a filming crew from Shanghai Tianma Film Production (they were responsible for the large documentary), and the best surgical medical team in the country. There is also the first water conservancy and electric power secondary school in China. There was also a guest house for foreign guests, ready to receive experts from other countries. All these departments were considered under my father. Xin’anjiang was considered a special supply area at that time, where milk, beef, white flour, etc. had to be supplied because there were too many foreign water experts.

In 1960, the first unit started to generate electricity. That beautiful and elegant city – Chunan, finally lying quietly underwater for more than 60 years now. Unexpectedly a group of precious cultural relics are kept intact. The forgotten corner of the city has escaped the years! Starting from 1962, the generation of fathers who were once military builders began to retreat in batches.

Father’s name is Zhengzhong, do things formally, pertinent. Rules and regulations, there is a beginning and an end. New Anjiang construction project is completed, a large number of old cadres from the south are to be reassigned to work positions. Many of them were at the level of local and municipal cadres, and my father let them go first, and he took care of the aftermath. They unintentionally took the lead and went to various places in Zhejiang as mayors and party secretaries. At this time, my father was like a cook, the feast broke up, the guests left, leaving him alone in the kitchen cleaning dishes, sweeping the floor and wiping the table.

This is what made my mother very angry! In her later years, my mother said, “Those cadres who left first, no one of their rank is higher than your father, how can he be left alone to clean the backyard? I said: my father’s awareness is high, who asked him to be a special administrative district chief, ha ha ha. The time dragged on, waiting for my father to take office in the unit impatient, engaged in the four clean-up movement of cadres are back to the Organization Department and other work, just as you do not come to report, others on. The provincial capital of Hangzhou has begun to control the population!

By the time our family left Xinanjiang and arrived in another city, we were about to start the movement that turned the world upside down. The movement was called unprecedented, and rightly so, with everyone involved. The movement was also a great display of the good and the ugly of human nature. When our family first arrived, everything was new to the city. There were no good friends or friends with whom we had problems.

The Cultural Revolution began with a bang, and my father wore a plaque on his chest that read: a powerbroker on the road to capitalism. This title was too common a charge, so let’s add one more: traitor! This charge was more exciting and eye-catching. My father asked: Where do you get the word “traitor”? Where is the evidence? The leader of the rebellion said with conviction: You fought from the war to the war against the United States, how come you did not die? How come others have died? This proves that you must have defected several times in front of the enemy to save your life. They this reasoning, think very smart and wise ……

Despite such a situation, the father was always calm. At this time, the mother also suddenly enlightened, in front of the father relieved that: we are fortunate to have only come to this place not long ago, the work has not had friction with what people. This movement is actually a personal revenge between people’s grudges! You fight me, I fight you, exposing each other, snitching on each other …… mother’s insight and wisdom finally showed up.

The mother’s prediction is accurate, the father has no “enemies”, in addition to accompany the fight or fight, than other capitalist situation is much better.

When the model play “Shajiabang” became popular throughout China, my father suddenly received preferential treatment. The wounded and sick in “Shajiabang” were the heroes of that era, the “eighteen pines” that could not be overwhelmed by Tarzan, and they were glorified on stage and screen every day. In this environment, my father was less pressured by the movement, and was much less likely to accompany the fight. The label of capitalist and traitor was still on his head. Work could not be resumed, that word: stand aside. But every now and then he was called to the party school to give a class on the revolutionary history of “Shajiabang”.

I heard my father say: the group listening to the lecture, the most concerned about whether there is a sister-in-law Ah Qing. It was like that Hong Xuefei in the Peking Opera movie. My father recalled that there could not be just one transportation station, but in those turbulent years, there would have been two or three to facilitate mobile contact. My father never spoke to the situation, let alone to please the head of the rebellion. There were more than 18 wounded in the reeds, and 36 was not really a number. Literature is literature, acting is acting, real history can not be made up, not to mention nonsense ……

In this period of time there are often foreign investigators come to my house, asking my father to sign to confirm that his comrades are anti-party elements, traitors, etc.. The reason was that all of their old comrades had become officials at the local level and had also become capitalists. My father flatly refused and did not sign a “confirmation”.

The opera “Shajiabang” became popular, but the real sick and wounded were still the capitalists and traitors! Isn’t it funny?

One’s mental stress and depression can quickly break one’s body. Due to his excessive war injuries, my father was rated as a second-degree invalid, all internal injuries, with shrapnel still in his lungs (with a military disability certificate and a disability allowance of several tens of dollars per year to collect). At this moment, my father’s health is deteriorating extremely fast. The lung lobes atrophied, compressing the heart and eventually becoming pulmonary heart disease.

Word of my father’s condition spread among their comrades. I remember in the early 1970s, at the entrance of my house, there was often a jeep used by the head of the local military subdistrict parked, and it was my father’s old comrades who were still in the army who visited him and brought some good or special medicine. Medicine can cure illnesses, but not necessarily save lives. Before the end of the Cultural Revolution, my father was gone, less than a year old. We were a few siblings, two of us were still in high school.

Soon the news of my father’s departure reached my comrades in Beijing, who were all senior officials in important departments of the central government. They wrote to our local government offices, asking for proper handling of my father’s affairs, including his family, including rehabilitating him. My father’s funeral was very grand, with more than 260 wreaths alone, which was an unreal extreme grief.

There was no way to rehabilitate him for the time being. My father was really rehabilitated after 1977.

Before he left, my father left three words to my mother: I can’t figure it out. I think it can also be interpreted as: don’t understand. “Can’t figure it out, don’t understand” actually included the question marks of everyone at that time.

Human nature should be good, beautiful and honest, but reality seems to have no room for it.

My father has been kind and righteous all his life, just and honest and square. Two highlights of his life: the wounded and sick in Shajiabang, and the pioneer of the Xin’an River Hydropower Station. The first hydroelectric power station in China is now a tourist attraction “Qiandao Lake”.

The real history should be true. A nation that knows how to reflect will have hope!

This article is only 4,000 words long and can only be considered a fragment of my father’s life. The group of wounded and sick in Shajiabang are almost all ancient, so I hope to add a real stroke to that war era with this humble article!