Shanghai Life and Death(95)

The whole prison was quiet. When I returned, I heard neither the yelling of the guards nor the sound of the inmates going out upstairs, as if they had stopped their outdoor activities. This was not the case in the past. I think maybe this so-called outdoor activity was arranged deliberately to show the three PLAs how I was doing. It was not a regular outdoor activity.

Hot boiling water came again, I rinsed the wound and wrapped the bandage, blood and pus, soon seeped out of the cloth. Naturally it was impossible to change another bandage immediately. In this cell, which was both cold and damp, it was difficult to dry wet clothes. I had to think of a way to make the washed wet bandages dry quickly. I think of a way, each time the hot boiling water, I can use the cup filled with hot water as an iron, the cloth bandage wrapped in the cup outside, such as, I can change the bandage at least twice a day. I can also before going to bed, first wash the bandages, then roll them in a dry towel and wring them out, and then dry them out, so that by the next morning, it is likely to have dried. With this method, I can change the bandages three times in twenty-four hours.

When the hot boiling water came again, I wrapped the bandages one by one around the outside of the cup and watched the steam come out of the wet cloth as the wet bandages faded a little.

In the months that followed, I paid full attention to my wounds and only skimmed the big headlines in the newspapers. But I still felt that there were apparently fewer critical articles about the military, and some articles mentioned China’s struggle for a legitimate seat in the United Nations, etc. It seemed that Lin Biao’s name was not mentioned much. It seems that Lin Biao’s name is not mentioned much anymore, and the prestige of Premier Zhou seems to be more prominent than before.

Because of my weak constitution, my wounds did not heal easily. Even the superficial wounds took weeks to scab over. Meanwhile, my old gingivitis and congestion continued. To my laughter, the young doctor treated me for both of these diseases, but refused to treat the wound on my wrist.

To enhance my irritation, several guards used to inspect my wounds while on duty. Most of them did not comment on this, except for a few ultra-leftist guards who coldly said that I “deserved it”.

I don’t look forward to the trial anymore. Every detail of my life was as clear as if it had been combed through. I expected that they would torture me in new ways, but I didn’t want to think about it.

Chapter 12: Release

In 1971, while I faced the threat of numerous diseases and awaited the next move of the ultra-leftists, the spring and summer seasons rushed past and the golden autumn season came back to earth. The greatest holiday of the year, the National Day of the People’s Republic of China, will be celebrated on October 1. This is a national holiday, and the way of celebrating it was fixed at the very beginning of the People’s Republic. On that day, each person is provided with extra rations, free theatrical performances in the park, and state stores supply some consumer goods that are usually in short supply during this period.

The main event was the parade organized by each city. Thousands of workers, peasants, students and even housewives joined the parade, chanting slogans and expressing their loyalty to the people’s government. The slogans were specially formulated by the propaganda department. The processions were carefully arranged and rehearsed by the leaders of the municipalities in advance.

In Beijing, the parade was held in Tiananmen Square, with Mao Zedong and other members of the Politburo and government leaders standing on the observation platform to review the parade. On both sides of the podium were VIP seats, seats reserved for foreign guests and envoys. At night, the lights were overflowing and fireworks were set off.

Hundreds of parade cars with impressive displays of achievements, thousands of men and women, waving red flags, chanting slogans and carrying the standard statue of Mao Zedong, marched across the Tiananmen Tower on foot to demonstrate the supremacy of Mao and his victory. It must have been the most satisfying moment for the old man when he witnessed the faces of infinite devotion and admiration flocking to him amidst the thunderous “long live”. The next day, October 2, the front page of every newspaper in the country would show a shot of Mao Zedong’s smiling face to show how happy he was on this extraordinary holiday.

Every Chinese understood that for Mao Zedong, a peasant from Shaoshan, the National Day of the People’s Republic of China was a great enough holiday to satisfy him. So it was a great surprise when people found out that October 1, 1971 was not celebrated. The morning news report made no mention of it, and I wondered about it until the afternoon, when the paper arrived, with a picture of Mao Zedong on the front page and the words “October 1” and “National Day” printed in red overlay, but without any mention of the national leaders’ celebrations. There was no report of any celebration by the national leaders. While I was puzzled by this, a guard suddenly pushed open the small window hole and said.

“Give me your quotation book.” She said.

This order came suddenly, I think maybe inadvertently did something to damage this little red book, she is to take advantage of this to find trouble? I hastily picked up the book and observed it, found it intact, and handed it to her. After she closed the window, I heard her go back upstairs to the other cells to collect this book. So I found out that she was ordered to collect the quotation book cell by cell.

She did not return the quotation book to me until she was informed to go to bed. I examined it carefully, trying to find out her reason for collecting the quotations. Suddenly I was astonished to find that the preface had been torn out of the front. This book of quotations was the first one prepared and published by Lin Biao after he became the Minister of National Defense for the low educated soldiers in the army to learn Mao Zedong Thought.

The preface of this book was written by Lin Biao himself. In it, he praised Mao Zedong as “the greatest Marxist of our time. He developed Marxism-Leninism and combined the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism with the specific conditions of China. He encouraged the PLA soldiers to study the quotations in this book and apply them to their daily lives. In this way, they could “melt Mao Zedong Thought into their blood” and become a type of PLA that “reads Chairman Mao’s books, listens to Chairman Mao’s words, and becomes a good soldier of Chairman Mao”.

There is not a word in the preamble that sings against Mao Zedong, in fact, it is just a kind of shameless compliment that makes people feel numb when they recite or read aloud. But during the Cultural Revolution, everyone was forced to speak in this way. I think the only reason for the tearing of the preface is that its author has a problem. This is the usual practice. When something happens to a cadre, his name and writings will be erased from the records as if he never existed at all. Apparently, the guard was ordered to collect the prisoners’ transcripts and thus centralize them. I had a hunch that something might have happened to Lin Biao. This was a big thing that simply made me freeze with that little red book.

“Why are you still awake?” The caretaker said from the door.

I didn’t want her to feel that way, as if I was paying attention to the matter, so I quickly spread the bedding and went to bed, but I didn’t sleep well that night.