Shanghai Life and Death(81)

“You are a loyal supporter of the KMT, you don’t have to be sophomoric anymore.”

“You have to have proof.” I said.

“Of course we have evidence. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have fought all the way here to interrogate you.” The older of the two said, it seemed, he was a little higher up. The tone of his speech was quite like that of a worker with a low level of education, a real proletarian; the younger one, who looked like a student.

“Have you ever had your picture taken in front of a Nationalist flag?” The interrogator asked.

“Maybe, I can’t remember.” I answered. I thought he was asking me about the period during World War II, before liberation. In those days my husband was a diplomat at the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, Australia.

“How can you not remember? You can’t try to muddle through with the excuse that your memory is bad.” The Beijing scion said.

“It’s been too long.” I said, “If there were photos, the Red Guards would have seen them when they came to my house. They took all my pictures.”

“You must have burned that picture, it wasn’t found over there.” The older one said.

“Why would I burn it? Everyone understands that when we were in Australia, my husband was a diplomat for the Nationalist government.”

“What are you babbling about? Who asked you about that time?” The interrogator said impatiently.

“You don’t mean the time we were in Australia?” I asked him.

“Nonsense! We are asking you after the liberation. Did you take any pictures in front of the Kuomintang flag after the liberation? Be honest and give a thorough explanation!” The young Beijinger leaned forward and turned to me.

I was really baffled. How could it be that after the liberation, in China, someone could still take pictures in front of the Kuomintang flag? I asked, “How can there still be a Kuomintang flag in China after the liberation? Where is it?”

“Never mind where it is, just explain why you are doing this? Is it to show great loyalty to the Kuomintang?” That interrogator asked.

“After the liberation, I never took a picture in front of the KMT flag.” I said flatly, thinking that this would put an end to this nonsense.

“Don’t close the door too early, you’ll regret it, you’ll lose your chance for leniency.” Another older Beijinger said.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying, I don’t support the KMT, and if I am what you say I am, then how come I’m not in Taiwan now?” I asked him.

The interrogator whispered a few words to the two men and then said to me, “You’d better go back to your cell now and refresh your memory. You have been here long enough to understand the government’s policy, and it should be clear to you that refusing to acknowledge proven facts is just a delusional effort.”

I was taken back to my cell and continued to think about this rather surprising event. The two men looked so serious that they must have had some evidence against me. Was there a conspiracy to frame me? I had already been convicted as an imperialist agent, so why had I suddenly turned to the Kuomintang?

Three days later, I was brought in for questioning again and forced to give an explanation; I answered in the same way as before. Later, I was taken back to my cell and asked to reconsider the matter again and again. After that, I was taken to the interrogation room every two or three days, and so on for three weeks. The air in the interrogation room was also very tense, but I could not guess what they were selling. At this stage, in order to put pressure on me, the guards refused to supply me with the anti-inflammatory tablets I desperately needed for my gingivitis, so my inflammation soon got worse, not only in my gums, but even in the recesses of my mouth, and I could not eat. I asked the guards to give me thin rice, which could be chewed without having to chew and still give my body some vital nutrients. The severe pain in my gums left me with no time to think about anything else, and even though my body was sitting in the interrogation room, I could not concentrate on the interrogation. I could see why some prisoners would succumb and surrender at this point, but it was only because the physical pain had shaken their will. I always warned myself to stay conscious, no matter how much pain I was going through.

I asked for thin rice and gave them the opportunity to reduce my food ration. When I ate, they only gave me half a bowl of gray water with a few grains of rice floating in it, and after a few days of eating this kind of food, I fainted. The kinder guard called a doctor, who gave me an intravenous injection of glucose, and together with the guard took me to the prison hospital for medical attention. I don’t know what the guard said to the doctor in private, but the doctor gave her a written certificate. When I was brought back to the detention center, they resumed supplying me with a ration of anti-inflammatory tablets and gave me a bowl of thick, thin rice with a steamed bun at mealtime.

When I was taken to the interrogation room again, the interrogator asked me to read Mao’s latest instructions three times. When I finished reading and sat down, he asked me, “Do you fully understand what the great leader Chairman Mao said?”

“I think so.” I replied.


“I think Chairman Mao wants everyone to know that the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is essentially a political revolution, not just confined to the cultural sphere.” I replied.

“That’s right. And what are those two ‘continue’?”

“The cultural revolution is a continuation of the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, which is not only a new struggle, but also a continuation of the ongoing struggle.” I explained.

“What about the paragraph about the Kuomintang?”

“The Cultural Revolution was also a continuation of the class struggle of the Communist Party against the Kuomintang since 1927.”

“Right, since you know a lot about this, you have to recognize the seriousness of your own problems. The Kuomintang was our enemy, and after being defeated by our troops, they fled to Taiwan under the patronage of the United States. Until we liberate Taiwan and plant the red flag of our great leader there, our struggle against the Kuomintang will continue. To complete this revolution, the Kuomintang must first be completely destroyed. The Great Leader is determined to liberate Taiwan, and our Vice President Lin is confident of winning the final victory, but the powers-that-be, led by Liu Shaoqi, who are following the capitalist road, oppose them. They said that the question of Taiwan would have to wait for the next generation to solve it. That was the attitude of the surrenderists. Our great leader believes that the going and coming of Taiwan in question is our contemporary duty. We are determined to solve it at this stage because we have defeated the Kuomintang’s army. We have experienced military men like Vice President Lin leading us, and we will surely achieve final victory. Our class struggle with Liu Shaoqi’s group of capitalists is closely related to the class struggle against the Kuomintang. Now that we have completely defeated Liu Shaoqi’s gang, we have once again wrested the leadership back into the hands of the great leader, Chairman Mao. We still have to fight the Kuomintang to the end. That is why our ranks must be cleaned up to prevent them from organizing a fifth column for the enemy. The remnants of the Kuomintang must be concentrated and isolated and closely guarded to prevent them from endangering the people.” That interrogator said.