Shanghai Life and Death(88)

My heart was still beating violently, although the stench in the room was unbearable, but I tried my best to take deep breaths and try to calm myself down. I sat down on the board and looked around in the darkness, fortunately there was no blood, poop or vomit dirt or anything like that. I felt very sleepy, so I leaned my head against my knees and closed my eyes. The only advantage of being locked in this concrete box-like place is that there are no windows, so the cold air and wind can not blow in, much warmer than my old cell.

This time the handcuffs were different from the ones I used to wear. I felt them with my fingertips and felt that they were heavier and thicker than in the past, and the edges were not rounded but squared. By this time, my hands felt hot and my fingers were stiff. I had to try to move my hands in uncontrollable turns as far as possible.

“Are you ready to give an account?”

Suddenly a person was speaking, startling me. Had the guard been standing outside the door, or had he just come back? How come I didn’t hear anything?

I was so exhausted that I didn’t even have the strength to speak, so I ignored him and continued to lay my head on my knees to recuperate. I tried my best to forget the reality in front of me and remember the happy times of the past. But it was too difficult, because the harsh reality was so inevitably clinging to me that I couldn’t get rid of it for even a second.

From time to time, the guards came over and repeated the same question. I listened quietly to their footsteps, some creeping, some striding, and as they slammed the door open, I could hear the roar of the northwest wind outside, and the stomp of their feet as they shook the snow flakes off. I think they came to see if I had succumbed to this new form of captivity. Some of them asked me and then left after a while; others simply did not wait for me to answer, and then turned their heads and left.

Except for the sound of the guards going in and out, the rest of the time was silent. That day, I was about the only one in the building, and if there were other prisoners, I think I would have heard sighs and groans.

I don’t know how long I sat there. In such a completely isolated room where you can’t see your fingers, time has a different meaning to me, or is simply meaningless. I just felt my legs stiffen up and my head ache. Throughout this process, the guards never ceased to peer at me. I did my best to restrain myself from walking back and forth in the room. When the guards turned off the lights in the hallway and left, I figured they were off duty and stayed for a while longer before I slowly got up. It was impossible to pace in here because there was not a single gap. I was afraid that if it was so dark, I would hit the filthy wall, so I just stretched both legs a little and moved my muscles. Both arms have been in the same position for a long time to handcuffed behind the back, so a burst of hot and swollen uncomfortable, I can not help but to alternate the shoulders shrugging up and down to relieve some of the pain.

After standing for a while, I sat down again, leaned my head on my knees and closed my eyes. In this way, I fell asleep. Or rather, nodded off in a haze as I whispered a prayer. Then I got up again and did the exercises I had invented. At first I felt no energy at all and did not want to move a bit. But I still forced myself to do this simple exercise, because this is the best way to ensure survival. In the past, I don’t think I’ve ever felt a sense of terror because of the isolation. But now I found myself very nervous, feeling a little breathless, as if the walls on all sides were collapsing towards me. To drive away these feelings of terror, I simply stood up, trying to move my body in this palm-sized space, and trying to adjust my breathing, trying to calm myself down.

The best way to get rid of the fear is to increase confidence, even just four-way movement of the body will feel better. If I just sit there and hang my head and think about it, I will only end up putting myself in a difficult situation where I can’t do anything. Naturally hunger was tormenting me, as well as thirst, but when I thought of the dusty, filthy concrete toilet, I would rather not eat anything than have to use it.

It was a long night, a long night. I had the feeling that I was buried deep in an underground concrete box. Both hands were still hot and swollen, and my fingers were unable to make a fist. The only treasure I had in front of me was these hands, and I was so anxious about it that I was afraid that these cruel and unconscious guards would cripple me in a careless manner in order to get what they needed in me. Some ultra-leftists tend to carry out their orders to the left in order to accomplish their tasks in political campaigns, regardless of the possible consequences. Because they have had long political training, they already do not hesitate, and have to thunder, to carry out the instructions of the extreme left. Cowardice, delay or hesitation are all to their disadvantage. Therefore, they tend to “overdo” things a little. So if the victim is too much or sick and disabled, it is very unlucky. I have seen this happen several times. My hands were the most important thing, and if my hands were disabled, how would I live after the Cultural Revolution was over?

I touched each of my fingers one by one and felt fine, they were still conscious, just swollen. I didn’t know how much longer I would be handcuffed, and I didn’t know how many days I could live without eating or drinking. I remember an article that said that you can go five to seven days without food. But my physique is so weak now, maybe after five days it won’t work for me. But no matter what, 24 hours have passed. During that time, I did not worry about my life at all, but only about my two hands. What should I do? What could I do to protect my hands? I think the main reason for the swelling of both hands is because the handcuffs were tightly tied around my wrists, leaving no space, such as the blood vessels are not smoothly caused by the swelling. The female soldier guard tightened my handcuffs on purpose. If she hadn’t tightened the handcuffs and made them like the original ones, my hands wouldn’t have been like this. The guard who handcuffed me didn’t tighten the cuffs, so maybe he was just ordered to put the cuffs on me and not to tighten them. So it seems that if I meet a guard who is more talkative, maybe he will be willing to loosen my handcuffs a bit. I decided to show my hands to the guards when they came in tomorrow and ask them to loosen the handcuffs a little.