Shanghai Life and Death(90)

When I didn’t make a sound, she got angry and shouted, “You’re looking for death yourself, I think you’re tired of living. I have never seen a prisoner as stubborn as you.”

“Be sensible. Don’t you want to protect yourself? This is really stupid. You’re just touching a rock with your eggs, and it won’t end well.” The man said again.

If it had been a year ago, I might have said something back, but now, I was too tired and sick to fight them anymore.

They exchanged glances with each other, and glanced over my shoulder into the small window behind me with questioning eyes, and then stood up.

“Take her away, take her away! Just let her go to God with her granite mind.” The male guard shouted at the top of his lungs.

It was a bit puzzling that a guard in a Communist prison would mention God. In fact, the phrase comes from the writings of Mao Zedong. Mao believed that the purpose of the Communist Party was to reform the enemy rather than to destroy them. But then he added, “If someone wants to take a granite mind to God, let them go.” Since the publication of this article, “going to God with a granite mind” has often been used to describe people who resist reform and refuse to accept the Communist Party’s views.

One of the guards opened the door, and although I felt light-headed, I tried my best to keep my feet steady and follow him out. The wind outside was so cold that it cut like a knife through my cotton jacket and penetrated my bones. The guards escorted me back to the women’s cell. As I walked past the cabin where the female guards were resting, I glanced at the clock inside and realized that I had been confined in that concrete box for nearly 24 hours.

The guards opened the door to my cell and said, “Continue to be punished here.”

The day before, when I was summoned for interrogation, boiling water had just arrived, and I had just had time to fill my green porcelain cup with water before I was called away in a hurry. Now, that cup of water was still here. I leaned down, with teeth on the lid of the cup ball pinch hand, the lid uncovered set aside, and then teeth on the rim of the cup slowly squatted down, sucking the water into the mouth, and so I drank a lot of water. I went over to the cement toilet, turned my back to it, leaned down and used my handcuffed hands to lift the lid and reluctantly opened the zipper on my suit pants so that I could sit on the toilet with a seat cushion made of two towels. But as I struggled to turn my hand sideways to close the zipper, the sharp teeth of the handcuffs cut into the flesh of my wrist, causing me a sharp pain.

I sat on the edge of the bed, the cell was getting colder and colder, but the cell I had grown accustomed to was not as dirty and stuffy as the concrete box I had been in twenty-four hours earlier. When the afternoon meal was delivered, the woman brought in the aluminum lunch box through the hole in the window, as she always did. Although I was already very hungry, I had to return it, because I had both hands tightly behind my back, I really did not know how to eat.

No one asked me if I was still willing to give an account, but I knew they were always watching me because, as often as I could hear, there were guards looking through the peephole.

It was time to sleep. The guard ordered the inmates to bed, door by door, room by room, and when it was my turn, she too, indifferently, in the same tone of voice as usual, said, “Go to bed.”

With my back to the bed, I pulled back the rolled-up bedding blankets with my hands and did my best to spread them out. It took me quite a while to perform this process, but for a person who had not eaten rice for a long time, the job could not be done without mental will. Finally, I was done, and then I lay down on the bed. At first, I slept on my side, concentrating my whole body weight on one shoulder and arm, but this position was very uncomfortable, and my arms were sore and painful. I had to put my abdomen against the bed again, lying prone, and found that this position in the hard bed is simply unbearable, because then, the whole body weight is concentrated in the chest, can not breathe, so I had to change the position again. But no position would allow me to cover the bedding, and the cell was so cold that I was forced to perform all kinds of incredible movements like an acrobat, with my hands clasped behind my back, and my body kept shivering with cold. Finally, I had decided that I could not sleep lying down, so I had to try to sleep sitting up. I sat cross-legged on the bed, leaned my back against the wall with the handkerchief, and closed my eyes, hoping that I could even take a nap.

That night was really cold, the window glass was covered with ice, the threshold was thick with ice, along with the tiny light in the room, it seemed to be cold and shrunken, through the cold air that seemed to have been frozen, the breath shone with a cold light of misery and silence. I breathed out every breath, instantly condensed into a mist in the air. I shivered fiercely, and my legs and feet were already frozen with frostbite. In order to give myself a little more sleep, I had to get off the floor from time to time to pace around the cell in a circle to speed up the circulation around me. The heavy shackles were sinking down with my hands, so I had to choke them with my fingertips to relieve a little of the pressure while I paced slowly around the cell. The handcuffs seemed to be tightening around me, and my hands felt like they were on fire. After walking around like this, I felt very tired again and had to sit down again to rest. But sitting and too cold, and then get up again to pace. Perhaps only when I sat against the wall just now, I may have fallen asleep for a while, but the rest of the night, I could not close my eyes. What a long, miserable, endless night it was!

However, no matter what, everything in the world, no matter good or bad, there is always an end. At last I saw the dawn of the east, and the guards began to shout from cell to cell, “Get up! Get up!” Soon, the young female labor prisoner who brought the water came in through the hole in the window and brought the water for the day. When she didn’t see me bring in the basin, she looked in through the hole in the window in disbelief, and I turned my body a little so she could see my handcuffs, and she left as soon as she closed the window in a panic.

Even so, the inability to wash the seal was nothing for me. I was also able to use my hands from behind to rest the cup on the small window hole, to receive drinking water, and then slowly leaned over with my teeth on the rim of the cup so that the water can fill my mouth. But my already empty stomach and intestines have been spasming pain, just drinking plain water can not solve the problem, and hands burning so badly, all this really makes me restless, do not know what to do.

By the third day, the belly pain had miraculously passed, but my body was very weak, and my vision was becoming blurred and my hearing was failing.