Shanghai Life and Death(83)

“You have to be reasonable. First of all, are you sure that there is a KMT flag hanging in front of Zhongshan Memorial Hall? If there is no longer a KMT flag over there after the KMT left Nanking, then how is it possible for us to photograph in front of it? Secondly, assuming that there was indeed a Kuomintang flag over there, and assuming that your claim that I was there to show my loyalty to the Kuomintang when they returned is also valid, did the Kuomintang believe that I was loyal to them just because of such a picture of me? Wouldn’t the KMT officers, who were no fools, have suspected me? Because they knew that my husband and I, in 1949, had chosen to stay rather than go to Taiwan with them.” I said.

“They will trust you because you are a KMT agent.” The young man affirmed.

“If it were true that I was a Nationalist agent, there would be no need to confirm to them my loyalty to them. You yourselves are full of contradictions.”

The two Peking men yelled in the same voice: “You must honestly explain that you and your brother had their picture taken in front of the Kuomintang flag at the Zhongshan Memorial Hall in Nanjing.”

“Then please ask my brothers and my sisters-in-law, and they will tell you whether there is such a thing. We have never been to the Zhongshan Memorial Hall in Nanjing.”

“We have already asked your brother at the Beijing Institute of Foreign Trade. At first he also denied it, but after the rebels helped him, he recognized the way he should go. Now he has given a full account, he said that you initiated to go to Zhongshan Memorial Hall. He also said that he used your camera, and that you developed the photos in Shanghai and sent them to him. How dare you deny it?” The young man shouted.

I just felt a blow to the head. Of course, everything was a fabrication. I didn’t know how those ultra-leftists had tormented my poor brother to make him say such things against his will. However, I can imagine the inhuman treatment he has received.

To deal with this unusually difficult matter, I had to turn to Mao’s quotations. I held it aloft and said, “Chairman Mao, the Great Leader, taught us that we must eat our rice one bite at a time; we must take the road one step at a time. I hope you will follow his instructions and ask you to visit the Zhongshan Memorial Hall in Nanjing in person. The Zhongshan Memorial Hall is managed by a department of the Nanjing Municipal Government, and many foreign guests also visit there. It has been so many years since the Kuomintang left Nanjing that there is absolutely no way that there will be a Kuomintang flag there. Go and see for yourselves. If you see it, it is too late to come back and punish me. I can’t escape.”

The two Pekingese just stared at me dryly, while the interrogator stood up with a flourish and said, “You can go back to your cell now and reconsider your question.”

I think maybe in the end he admitted that what I said was logical reasoning. The only way to resolve this doubt was to ask those two men to go to Zhongshan Memorial Hall and see for themselves. I hope they will do so. If they don’t find a KMT flag at Zhongshan Memorial Hall, they will go back to Beijing and report back. That may have been the case, because for weeks on end, they did not come back to me.

Throughout the Cultural Revolution, the rebels spent a lot of public money to go around “investigating” the crimes of the class enemy, and they used the opportunity to travel to the mountains and visit friends and relatives, and many of them deliberately delayed their business trips in order to visit all the scenic spots. Because Shanghai is the most desired shopping city in China, the rebels all wanted to come to Shanghai. I don’t think they were willing to go to Nanjing to check whether there was a Kuomintang flag in front of Zhongshan Hall, because if they had found out that there was no Kuomintang flag there, they would have had to go back to Beijing and missed the opportunity to come to Shanghai. So each time they interrogated me for at most two hours, if so, the rest of the time they were free to go. Because their travel and accommodation expenses were paid by their unit’s revolutionary committee, they were allowed to enjoy themselves in Shanghai. These trips were often allocated to the more active rebels to encourage their loyalty to the extreme leftist leaders.

I was alone in my cell, recalling this unexpected tidbit over and over again. At first I was a little angry, how could my own brother also succumb to their pressure? But when I thought of all the bad luck he had suffered since the early 1950s and the cruel persecution he had suffered during the Cultural Revolution, I was calmed down and replaced by sympathy and pity for his misfortune. I could only imagine that it was because the rebels had gotten hot-headed and made up such a paragraph in order to dig up a large number of followers of the Kuomintang and force my brother to confess. They had already disturbed and destroyed my brother’s analytical ability beforehand. For generally speaking, my brother was neither stupid nor treacherous.

In the early 1950s, my brother was one of the young economists who were invited by the Communist Party to return to China to participate in the construction of the motherland. They were all doing research work at that time. After his return, he worked for the Ministry of Foreign Trade as an economics expert. His job was to analyze and prepare economic profiles of the world, and he enjoyed a high status and generous remuneration. However, it soon became clear that although his work was valued by the specialists in the technical departments of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and their branches abroad, it did not satisfy the authorities. So the communist secretary of his unit began to control him from life and work. Because the reports he wrote did not go along with the propaganda line of the time, i.e., the prediction of the coming capitalist world economic crisis. My brother was depressed by his situation all these years. Academically, he was caught between what he knew to be the truth and what the authorities wanted him to say in order to implement their policies. He became silent and rarely smiled. It seems that even if he works harder and harder, it is still futile. Unless he was in the company of the liars. His party secretary always exerted pressure on him, and their relationship deteriorated. Once that secretary reprimanded him to his face: “I can no longer allow these reports, which sing praises of the economy of capitalist countries, to be sent out from this institution. If you write like this again, you are anti-communist.”