I moved into the semi-basement of a detached house in Bilevel at Pxxx Road, Rockville, MD 20852 on the night of December 4, 2009. The next afternoon, I met my new roommate for the first time. He was about 5’6″ to 5’8″ tall, rather slim and slightly hunched over. I greeted him with a hello and said I had just moved in. He nodded slightly with no expression and then went into the bathroom. I didn’t see him for a few days after that. When I ran into him again, it was by the refrigerator we shared. I asked him his surname, he said his surname was Jiang, so I called him Xiao Jiang. When I asked him where he worked, he said NIH (National Institutes of Health). We lived together in this semi-basement for more than a year and a half, but I never knew his full name. He never told me, and I didn’t bother to ask. His letters were slipped directly under his door by the landlord and I never got to see them. He never asked me who my last name was, so I guess he didn’t even know my last name, and of course he didn’t care at all.
More than a decade has passed since that day. Last night I stayed up late to write an article calling for not shooting Dr. Jiang Wenhua, the Fudan returnee who killed the leader. This morning, in a daze, I suddenly remembered that this Dr. Jiang looked especially like my roommate Xiao Jiang when I was working in DC. When I was surprised, my wife came to me and asked, “Is that Dr. Jiang, the returnee who killed the leader, the same roommate you used to have? We both tried to remember, and the more we thought about it, the more similar it became. The more we thought about it, the more we thought about it. The little Jiang was also a Rutgers graduate with a PhD and had been working at NIH for two years, and the time was right. Then we looked at Dr. Kang’s photos and videos on the Internet and felt it was him. Only he spoke in an angry and fierce tone, completely different from his soft-spoken, deep shyness in the United States. It seems that the difficult years have changed him a lot.
My first impression of this Housemate was not good, I felt he was very strange, sometimes even scary. He always looked gloomy, never spoke, and rarely came out of his room. A few times I ran into him, I greeted him, he acted as if he did not hear, ignored. But when he was in the shower, he sang loudly and strangely in a dialect I didn’t understand, sometimes with a loud, strange scream. I wrote about Zhang Chengdong’s behavior after he was abandoned by a beautiful woman in “The Broken Flower”, that is, from this source, not made up. But when I wrote the book I did not know that Jiang was also because of lost love, and thought the boy was born with this problem. I called my roommate’s strange performance to my wife in the Midwest in a large rural area and other status, she was scared half to death, asking me if I met a psychopath? Would that person come and kill me in the middle of the night? I said I didn’t even know him, I didn’t have any problems with him, how could that be possible? The door to my room has a lock, then also considered young and strong, really fight, and not afraid of him.
Xiao Jiang has never closed himself off, never mention their own affairs to others, so I do not know the cause of this matter. Now see his brother’s memories, only to understand that that time is his most painful stage of lost love. He behaved abnormally, indicating that he was very committed and serious in love, and was not just playing around. And this blow not only made him lose his love, but also might change his life completely. He probably came to NIH to be closer to his beloved, because it’s not far to the University of Maryland from our place, and it’s only a half-hour drive. If not for this girl, he could have entered Wall Street, or at worst, he could have just found a Teaching School (education school) as a math teacher and gotten his status. In the United States, the study of mathematics cattle, and have a fairly good thesis, looking for work is really not difficult.
As time went on, his strange screams got smaller and smaller, but the singing remained the same. Other than that, we don’t bother each other at all. That basement was huge. The landlord’s family lived upstairs and never came down. Ginger’s room was actually the hall room on this floor, at the other end, and was very large, probably nearly 20 square meters. My room was at this end, about ten square meters. Our two rooms are separated by the kitchen, corridor, utility room and washroom, generally no one will affect anyone. I go to work normally, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. I don’t know when he goes to work, but it may be almost noon, and he leaves work at 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m., sometimes even midnight. So we encounter the opportunity is also very little. Sometimes I play badminton back, just in time to meet him after work, we will also talk a few words. Usually very short, 3 or 5 sentences end. For example, he carried a bag of groceries, I asked him where he bought them, he said the Safeway across the street, and then just went back to his house. He was reluctant to talk, and I was posting a serial on the Internet, “Mixing in America’s Top Schools”, and I had to catch up and reply to many followers, so I didn’t care about other people’s business. All I remember is that he told me that his main form of exercise was playing blue ball and running. I also saw him sleeping most of the day on weekends, going out to play ball in the afternoon, and coming back to sing while taking a shower.
My rent at the time was $530 a month. The landlord was very nice, and I lived there for two years without any price increase. Kang’s rent should also be $550 or $560 a month, and he used about $6,000 or $7,000 a year for his stay. He was a post-doc and his salary was about $35,000 to $40,000 at the time, not rich, but certainly enough to spend. He lived an extremely simple life, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, didn’t gamble, didn’t play games, kept food in his fridge to starve, and didn’t have any bad habits. He had a car that was parked on the side of the road with my car. It seems to be a very ordinary Japanese two-handed car, I really can’t remember what model it is now.
I felt quite comfortable living with Xiao Jiang. Except for bathing and singing, he was very quiet, never bothered anyone, never looked for anything, and never stayed quietly in his own house. The vast majority of the time, I felt as if I was the only one living in such a big place. He also never made the kitchen or toilet dirty, or hung his clothes around. Other than not being chatty, I really can’t think of a better roommate than him. I had to go back home to the country from time to time and had some friends visit. He went on a few business trips, rarely went out to meet friends, and never saw any friends visiting him. I repeat, not a single one. Someone said he had been divorced in the United States, his brother did not know, and I did not see, certainly not true. It was also said that he had lived with his girlfriend. I don’t know about when he was in school, and at this part of NIH, certainly not.
Even if the painful period has passed, even if the longer he lives the more familiar he becomes, he will smile when he sees me, but if I do not speak, he will not speak. Silence is his nature. He was so pure, he didn’t know how to brag about himself at all. He never mentioned a word about how good he was, having won the Fudan University President’s Award. In my eyes, he was a bland, unworldly nerd, a young scientific researcher with a clear mind and no competition with the world. He was extremely shy, very unsociable, more or less Social Phobia, and very insensitive to outside stimuli, as if he lived in his own little world. My laptop was stolen by someone who opened the window that was attached to the floor. I rushed to tell him to be careful. He didn’t react at all after hearing it, neither a question nor a sigh, which made me feel that this person is really a bit strange. Although I am also considered a nerd and can understand his dullness, but he has been dull out of the sky, even I think he is a strange man on earth. In fact, he is staying focused, delving deep into science, not distracted by mundane matters, because doing everything, often does not do anything well. In addition, I definitely did not find him a trace of violent tendencies, have not seen him get angry and move anger. When we were cooking at the same time and saw cockroaches around the stove, I was scolding and beating them, and he was watching with a smile on his face, neither helping to beat nor scolding along.
In 2011, one of his problems was that his status was getting worse and worse, NIH only gave him a work card, not a green card, so even if he was willing to work there as a post-doc, he couldn’t do it for long and had to find a new home as soon as possible. I gave him a bunch of ideas, such as applying for EB1 (exceptional talent) or EB2 national interest waiver. Unfortunately, to solve the status problem in the United States, very distracting, because this kind of application is very tumultuous, to find a lot of people to help him write letters of recommendation, to find a lot of materials to prove that he is very good, but also to find a lawyer for him to pass the documents and so on, he is such a character, both shy to deal with people, but also do not want to ask people, but also do not want to trouble themselves, the result is that he did not move. It feels like he is hiding from everything, afraid of everything, except his little research topic, everything is too much trouble. If he were Aggressive (aggressive) a little, according to his IQ and efforts, want anything can get. But his character is there, how can not change. Character determines fate, there is really no way!
Then he told me that he was leaving, and his former mentor helped him find a place. I asked him if he could get a green card. He nodded and didn’t tell me he was actually going back to his home country. I felt that he still had some attachment to the United States, but because of his personality, his fear of the hassle of getting a green card, being an only child, and coming from a big city, he finally decided to go back to his country. He left in the summer, I can’t remember which month it was. He left very quietly, neither looking for me to say goodbye, nor left any contact information, did not see anyone to see him off, nor did I know if his lab had a farewell party for him, he left quietly as if he was going out for a walk.
My memory of Xiao Jiang is quite faint, he was not a person who could be easily remembered, and he himself did not want others to notice him. I thought I would never hear from him again, but I didn’t expect him to shock me into remembering him again in such a determined way, and for the whole world to remember his great name. According to my limited knowledge of him, given enough time and a quiet desk, he could be the second Chen Jingrun, or the next Zhang Yitang. Can we find out whether Chen Jingrun or Zhang Yitang produced more papers than Jiang at his age? He has shown outstanding talent, so why can’t he be given a little more opportunity? Why couldn’t he have been given more of a chance? Why couldn’t he have been given a slit in the thousands of universities and research institutions in China, filled with all kinds of jerks? What was it that drove such a quiet, shy, timid and simple man to the point of no return, and then to a murderous rampage? His character was more or less problematic, but I have met several people in the United States who were more biased than his character, and they all worked well and lived happily. When will China become like this?