Shanghai Life and Death(82)

“Your husband is a senior KMT official.” The older Beijinger followed up.

“Not senior, just mid-level. But in any case, he chose to stay here when the KMT retreated to Taiwan.” I prompted them.

“Just heh! Many KMT officials did that, and many of them were intentionally arranged by the KMT to infiltrate for sabotage and disruption. Each of them had to be scrutinized in detail.”

“My husband’s appointment as general manager of Shanghai Asia was approved by the Shanghai Municipal Government, and by that time, I think the Communist Party had already conducted a thorough review of his political history.” I told them.

“That doesn’t mean anything; that approver was probably a ‘capitalist walker’. We rebels have today’s demands out of today’s needs.”

“Long before the Long March, still in the early days of the Chinese Red Army’s establishment of the Soviets, before our army had engaged the Kuomintang, the Great Leader had developed a set of effective methods for dealing with the class enemy. Then, as now with the cultural revolution, we put the main enemies in prison, while the other enemies were supervised by the revolutionary masses. That’s what we do now.” The young Beijinger, apparently still a student, was trying hard to show off some of the theories he had learned in Mao’s Selected Works. He was quoting from Mao’s discussion in 1936 of some of the tactics used by the Chinese Communist Party before the five counter-encirclement campaigns of the Kuomintang.

“You must be clear about your own position in the encounter between the Communist Party and the Kuomintang. Because of your family origins and your husband’s relationship with them, you can only ever be on the side of the Kuomintang.” The older Peking man said.

“I think you are completely wrong. I have not been drawn into the battle between the Kuomintang and the Communists. I regret that the Communist Party and the Kuomintang have to fight each other in this way, sacrificing many innocent Chinese people and damaging the wealth of the country in the process. As a Chinese, I hope the two political parties can unify peacefully and contribute to the country’s bright future.” I stated.

“Unity is only possible after the complete destruction of the KMT forces.” The student said.

“If you do not support the Kuomintang and, as you said, are not involved in the struggle between the Communist Party and the Kuomintang, then why did you take a picture in front of the Kuomintang flag?” The interrogator asked.

“I don’t understand at all what you are talking about. I tried my best to guess what exactly you two were referring to, but I just couldn’t figure it out. Why don’t you just say it plainly? There must be a misunderstanding.” I said very sincerely.

“Think about 1962. What happened in 1962?” The interrogator asked.

“I don’t know what happened in 1962, except that my mother died in 1962.”

“That’s right!” Both Pekingese stated at the same time, “You’d better give an honest account and tell us everything.”

“Do you want to know the circumstances of my mother’s death?” I asked, puzzled.

“Yes. Tell me the whole story, including every detail.” The interrogator said.

I was so confused, I couldn’t understand what they were trying to force me to say. Since they wanted to know, I gave them a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding my mother’s death.

“It was my mother’s neighbor who called to inform me to go to Nanjing. When I arrived in Nanjing, I found my mother in a coma due to heatstroke. It was the height of the July heat, and the temperature was consistently around 35 degrees Celsius. We called an ambulance and took her to the hospital, where her condition improved at first, but then turned into pneumonia and she died of heart failure.”

“Did your brothers also go to Nanjing?”

“Yes, and came with their wives.”

“And what did you do after your mother’s death?”

“I was the eldest daughter, and I presided over her funeral.”

“You engaged in a superstitious activity, which proves once again that you are a complete reactionary.” The youth said.

Some Communist cadres are accustomed to describing any religious ritual as superstition.

“My mother was a devout Buddhist, so I used Buddhist rituals for her funeral.” I said.

“And you did something illegal and disorderly. Since the Great Leap Forward, Buddhist temples have been outlawed and monks have been demobilized, yet you recruited several monks specifically for your mother’s funeral.” The interrogator said.

“I commissioned the head of the Nanjing Buddhist Institute to bring in a few monks for me.”

“They were permitted to perform religious ceremonies only for foreign guests from various countries in Southeast Asia, not including nationals.”

“But the one I met agreed to do me a favor, and it was only after I repeatedly pleaded with him that he agreed.” I said. I remember very clearly that the head of that Nanjing Buddhist Institute only promised after I repeatedly asked. I dedicated a large sum of money for incense to invite those monks. But I didn’t know that it was against the official rules. Finally, he promised to invite six monks to chant for my mother’s funeral on my behalf.

“You are guilty of engaging in feudal superstition in your mother’s funeral. Your brother and sisters-in-law are equally guilty because they did not stop you. The fact that you also carved the names of your American sisters, all on the tombstone, shows that you yourself have not drawn the line at all with the treasonous defectors living overseas, and all these facts confirm beyond doubt that you are a reactionary.” The young man said.

“My sister in America is also my mother’s daughter, and according to Chinese custom, the names of the children are carved on the tombstones.”

“We’ll talk about that later. Now tell me, after your mother’s funeral, what did you do? Where did you go after you left the cemetery?” The interrogator asked me, and now all three of them looked nervous as the two Pekingese stared gloatingly at me.

“We went back to her housing to sort out her belongings.”

“And where did you go before you went back to her housing?”

“Nowhere, we went straight back to my mother’s house.”

“After your mother was buried, did you go to Zhongshan Memorial Hall?” The older Beijinger said.

“No. We were all very sad and tired.”

“Account!” The young man suddenly banged on the table.

“What do you want me to explain? My mother’s funeral was not political.”

“Your mother’s funeral was apolitical. But you and your brother, however, went to Zhongshan Memorial Hall together and took pictures in front of the national flag of the Kuomintang government, which is a very important political issue. You were pledging your loyalty to the Kuomintang. In 1962, it was the time when the Kuomintang was planning to counter-attack the mainland.” The youth said.

This reasoning was not only absurd, it was downright hilarious. But I also understood that the situation was indeed unfavorable. It takes a lot of energy to debate with these ignorant people who know nothing at all. My health was so bad and I was so undernourished that I had no energy left to argue with them. During the whole trial, my mouth was in severe pain. I was already exhausted and almost fainted. But I still struggled to try to make sense of the problem. I couldn’t figure out why this absurd suspicion was being cast on me, though.