Shanghai Life and Death(77)

I could only see two of their legs. A man stood in front of me and spoke, and he reported my family origins, my personal life story. I had learned long ago that every time the rebels reported on my situation, they always added fuel to the fire, portraying me as richer, with a more corrupt and extravagant lifestyle. Now this farce has reached its whimsical, fanciful climax. Because I had promised them not to fight back, I just stood there and played dumb. It was easier to feel at ease than the struggle in 1966. However, when the speaker told them that I was an imperialist agent, the participants jumped up from their seats and gathered around me to show their hatred and anger toward me by hurling insults.

Such vicious slander and humiliation was unbearable to me. Out of an instinct, I subconsciously raised my head. The woman suddenly and violently twisted my hands that were clasped backwards, and there was a sharp pain in the joint at the shoulder blade, as if it had been torn. I had to bend my head forward to relieve some of the pain. When the others came forward to accuse me, I had to remain in this position. Only when they shouted slogans was I allowed to lower both arms. I later learned that they were “jetting” me. This is a way invented by the rebels to destroy what they consider to be their recalcitrant victims, so as to force them to bow their heads.

Another person spoke next, accusing me of “fighting against the orders of the rebels, who represent the Communist Party” and resisting an explanation. It was then that I realized that my refusal to confess my guilt was a manifestation of my opposition to the Party. At this point, the participants became even more intolerant. Did it seem that the crime against the Party was more serious than that of being a secret agent? Before I had a chance to answer for myself, I was pushed to the ground, and the strong, giant-like women dragged me up and back to my original place.

A third person spoke next, exposing me for overturning Liu Shaoqi’s case. Since the Central Committee issued the resolution to overthrow Liu Shaoqi, there has been a lot of publicity about the wisdom of the resolution, so the name “Liu Shaoqi” seems very sensitive, and those who do not want to get into trouble politically, when they want to show his feelings that are not from the heart, will certainly exaggerate, and those who are present in the audience, of course No exception. The two women seemed very sensitive at this point, ready to put both my hands behind my back. On a few occasions, they even struck me.

The participants became hysterical, their shouting overpowering the speaker’s speech, and someone shoved behind me. I stumbled and knocked the microphone over. A woman tried to pick it up, but tripped over a wire and was dragged to the ground with me. I fell to the ground in a very ungainly position, with my face on the ground, because my arms were locked behind my back by handcuffs. Many people tripped and fell on us one after another in this sudden commotion, and the whole place was a noisy and messy place. After a few minutes, I was pulled up again.

I was exhausted and was looking forward to the end of the conference. But there was a steady stream of speakers, and it seemed that those on the stage surrounding the podium were trying to express themselves. After the criticism of me had finally stopped, they began to sing songs in praise of Lin Biao, using these songs, which were full of praise, to praise Lin Biao as much as they could. I think the only way they could seem so fervent and loyal is if Lin Biao’s cronies were inspecting a hidden place at the moment, otherwise this excessive fervor seems unexplainable.

Suddenly the door behind me opened and a man said, “Let’s go!” It meant that someone was leaving the venue. These two simple words like a flash of lightning, that is speaking immediately stop speaking. Because in another place to observe all the important people have gone, so the play does not need to continue. Some people had already stood up, and some were starting to pack their coats and bags. The speaker had hastily led them in chanting slogans, but now he had been greatly left out, and only a few, while leaving the meeting, followed him perfunctorily with a few shouts. It seemed as if their anger at me had also subsided, and although they did not smile at me, the glances that drifted in were completely different. I was just a victim of one of the many critique sessions they had attended. They had completed the task set by their superiors, and now it was all over. When someone brushed past me and accidentally touched me, the person behind me would actually reach out and hold me back.

Only a short time, the venue is almost empty. Those people were still chatting with each other while walking: “It’s still a bit cold, don’t you think?” “Where are we going to eat tonight?” “Is it raining?” And so on, as if they had just finished watching a play or a movie.

It was like a balloon had popped, and all of a sudden there was this sagging atmosphere everywhere. The two women escorted me to the waiting car, and this time, they no longer held me by the shoulders, leaving me to walk alone with tired steps. For them, their drama was over.

The celebration of the Ninth Congress lasted for several weeks. Every few days, I was taken to various struggle meetings. There were several conferences that were not as well organized as the first one. Sometimes I had to suffer more when the participants were overly enthusiastic and active. Then I was summoned for arraignment and repeatedly questioned whether I was prepared to give an explanation. I either said, “I have nothing to explain,” or “I am not guilty,” or I simply did not say anything. They took me to another session, which was called a “tour de force”, a kind of nerve-racking corporal punishment. Day after day, my ears were filled with angry voices, my eyes were filled with hostile faces, and my body ached from the handcuffing and physical abuse. I felt that I was no longer a person, just a lifeless thing. Sometimes I felt that my soul had left my shell and was watching everything that was happening in front of me with a transcendent and objective gaze. Although afterwards, I would come back to the reality in front of me, I never felt panic and fear because of it.

In my personal experience, the “wandering” was very painful, but it was relatively “mild” compared to others. After Mao’s death in 1976, the masses began to talk freely about what happened to them during the Cultural Revolution. I once heard a shriveled old man talk humorously and unconcernedly about his experiences during the Cultural Revolution. He told me that he had been beaten more than a hundred times, often with a thick iron chain around his head and neck, which was used against victims who refused to bow down. Only when he mentioned that some of his friends and colleagues had died on the spot during the struggle did he show a frown on his face. When I talked to him about the “jet”, he said with an air of insignificance: “It’s a taste that every fighter has tasted.”