Shanghai Life and Death(87)

One afternoon in January 1971, I was summoned to be interrogated. I was caught off guard by the suddenness of the arraignment. As I walked through the courtyard with the guards, my heart was pounding with nervousness. I was barely aware that a heavy snowstorm was coming outside. When I arrived at the door of the interrogation room, one of the guards pushed me so hard that I stumbled and fell into the room, where several guards were waiting.

“You imperialist dog!” One guard said, “You are a shameful exploiter of the workers and peasants.” Another shouted, “You counter-revolutionary!” Such were the insults in turn.

At once, the interrogation room was filled with scolding and insults, and all faces were distorted by hatred and hostility. In fact, I was already accustomed to the way they were treating me one after another. They not only shouted at me, but also pushed me around like a ball, from one guard to another, to show their cynicism towards me. I tried to stand firm, but I felt dizzy and suffocated, and I couldn’t breathe. Before I recovered, a young guard grabbed me by the collar of my cotton jacket and pulled me toward him, and I could see clearly that his eyes were flashing with sadistic pleasure. Then he gritted his teeth and pushed me hard to show his bitter hatred for me. I staggered backwards and hit the wall, and fell down like a sack of rice; not even touching the ground, he grabbed me by the collar and carried me forward, and then pushed me towards the wall again, as it was repeated several times, with ease and familiarity. At the same time, other guards on the side of the non-stop chanting slogans. At this point, I was already confused, I only felt my ears buzzing, my head like cracking pain, and my whole body shaking with spasms. I felt my stomach churning for a while and then I couldn’t help but vomit. My vomit splashed on the hands and cuffs of one of the guards. He was furious and pushed me into the prisoner’s seat and stormed at me. My heart was pounding like it was about to jump out of my chest, and I couldn’t breathe. I had to sit in the chair with my eyes closed, hoping I could slowly calm down. Suddenly, I received a slap on the cheek. A female guard screamed at the top of her lungs, “Are you going to explain?”

Another slap scraped the other side, and several people yelled at me at the same time, “Do you want to explain?”

I sat down on the bench with my eyes tightly closed and ignored them. That was the only way I could protect myself.

At that moment, another man grabbed me by the hair from behind and pulled my head upwards so hard that I was forced to look up and saw five pairs of their anxious eyes staring at me. It seems that they really thought that they could easily make me give in by applying force to me. But I thought that those who are used to brutality, they themselves believe too much in the power of brutality. But the guards were so stupid that they had been watching me day and night for years, and still did not know me well. But in any case, they were just carrying out someone else’s orders.

The military woman guard, who had crossed me several times in the past, now said to me, “What, are you going to explain or be punished again?”

Seeing my reticence, she slapped me again, twisted both my arms backwards to the back of my chair, and the young male guard who had just slammed me into the wall continuously, that is, grabbed my wrists and snapped on the handcuffs.

“These handcuffs are to punish you for your refusal to cooperate and will be worn until you are ready to give an explanation. Only then will we take them off. If you tell us now, we’ll take them off now. If you explain tomorrow, we’ll take them off tomorrow. If you don’t give an account for a year, you will be handcuffed for a year. If you don’t give an account for the rest of your life, then you can take it with you to the grave.” The soldier woman guard said.

“Think about it, think about your situation now!” The male guard yelled.

“If you tell us now, we’ll remove the handcuffs immediately and you can go back to your cell.” The other female guard said.

“What? Are you ready to talk? Just say the word ‘yes’ and we’ll take the cuffs off.” Another guard said.

“Say it! Say it1” they all screamed at me at the same time.

I looked at them and replied in a weak voice, “I am not at fault, I have nothing to say.”

“Say it louder! Speak up!” They yelled.

Even though I spoke softly, I think they each actually heard what I said. It was just that there must have been someone else listening in the corridor outside, and they wanted that person to hear my answer, so they wanted me to speak louder. I sat with my back to the wall and couldn’t see if the small window behind me was still open, but as they were pushing me around, I noticed that they always glanced over there from time to time.

I struggled and said clearly in an amplified voice, “I am not guilty, it is you who have made a mistake. I have nothing to explain.”

The small window behind me closed with a bang. It took a while for the men to open the door and take me out, probably to give the man behind the window plenty of time to leave without being seen. As I got up, the military woman guard came up behind me and tightened the handcuffs by a few wheel teeth, as it were, just around my wrists.

At this point, the wind and snow became more violent, snow flurries, from the dark and heavy air dense layers of floating down, the north wind whistling, wild horn. I had just stepped out of the interrogation building when a gust of cold wind nearly knocked me down. The guard commanded, “Follow me.”

He did not take me back to the women’s prison, but led me to a small building on the other side of the prison. He opened the door and pulled on a dull electric light, and I found it colder and more empty than the rest of the prison. The floor and walls were thick with dust and dirt, and cobwebs hung straight down from the ceiling as we walked through the canals. The guard opened one of the small doors and said to me, “Go in.”

The room was dark and I waited for him to turn on the light, but he closed the door as soon as I entered and then stood outside and asked me, “Are you going to explain?” When I ignored him, he locked the door and turned around and left.

I stayed in the dark room where I couldn’t see my fingers and had no way of knowing where I was. The nauseating smell of mold and rot came to my nose. Later I realized that the small room where I was imprisoned had no windows at all, only a gap under the door, and a thin column of light seeped in shakily. After my eyes got used to the darkness here, I could vaguely see a dusty board on the floor, and a cement toilet in one corner of the room. This room is at most five square feet, where I stand, is the only side of the house open space. Suddenly, something soft fell on my forehead, and I was startled and terrified. Because my hands were handcuffed behind me, I couldn’t brush anything off my forehead, so I had to swing my head hard, and the thing fell back on my face and then on my cotton jacket. Here, I think even small flying insects and mosquitoes are difficult to survive, which may be the spiders in the ceiling.