The absurdity of “not one of us”

I settled in Yangping in early 1969, a total of three women and four men seven youth. The seven of us belonged to the same class in the same middle school before we went to the countryside, but the three of us girls and the four boys did not speak to each other because the four boys belonged to the Red Five, while the three of us girls were two black and one hemp. This class division between the same classmates began at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

After three years of hardship, just when we had enough to eat, the great leader put forward the slogan “Never forget the class struggle” at the Tenth Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee in 1962. On June 1, 1966, the People’s Daily published the editorial “Sweep away all the bullies and snakes and gods”. If the previous editorial was just to set the mood, the June 1 editorial directly sounded the trumpet of the “Cultural Revolution”.

One afternoon after the editorial was published in the People’s Daily, the group secretary of our class in Chengdu No. 2 Middle School suddenly announced that the whole class would go to the auditorium for a meeting, and that the children of the Black Five would stay behind. I didn’t know whether I should stay or go to the meeting because my late father had been a “rightist”.

The Great Leader had said that the “rightist” issue would be handled as an internal conflict within the people. I naively thought that the labor camps were where the prisoners were held, and that my father was not a prisoner because he was sentenced to reeducation through labor. Moreover, my father had been released in 1961 and returned home – he died within a few days of his return. I took it for granted that release meant removal of his hat, and that he would return to the people’s ranks once his hat was removed.

But I couldn’t be sure, so I asked the secretary of the league branch of my class with trepidation: My father was a “rightist” who had his hat removed, so did I count as a child of the Black Five? She rolled her eyes and said to me, “You count. Stay!

About half an hour or so later, the students who had gone to the auditorium for the meeting returned to the classroom. After they came in, one of the students from the Geogang told everyone to divide the desks and chairs in the classroom into three groups, with each group having desks in the middle, forming a large table surrounded by chairs. Then the Red 5 students announced that the Black 5 children were divided into groups and sat against the blackboard at one end, the Ma 5 students sat in the middle, and the Red 5 students sat at the other end – an artificial division by family origin was thus formed in the same class.

There were not many students from revolutionary cadre families, only about four or five, but if the father was a member of the Communist Party are counted, plus the children of workers’ families and poor peasant families, my class red five family, there are about ten people. The largest number of people were in the hemp category, that is, the children of families who were neither in the red category nor in the black category. My class had the fewest number of Black Five, only seven or eight.

I was familiar with the way the class line was carried out in school. I was a junior high school student and a junior high school student, and I volunteered for a major high school, but I didn’t get what I wanted. I understand, not my test scores have a problem, but my family origin has a problem. After all, there are already two precedents in the family.

The second brother was assigned to the Sichuan agriculture outside of the voluntary college entrance exam, and after graduation to graduate school, although the classmates hailed as “seed players”, or failed to be assigned to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. Later, the political cadres told him that he failed because of his origin (he took the first batch of graduate exams after the Cultural Revolution and became a graduate student of the famous soil scientist Hou Guangjiong).

When San was a junior high school student, the school wanted to sponsor him to our high school, which was well known and envied by everyone, but after finding out that he had origin problems, the sponsorship was cancelled and he was told to take the exam himself, and he had to take our high school. Sango complied, but was so upset that he didn’t go to school for two weeks after school started. With the example of my two older brothers in front of me, I was prepared to go to a normal school instead of the one I wanted.

Chengdu No. 2 Middle School, where I was accepted, was a very ordinary middle school. There were only about fifty students in my class, but the number of students with class enemy family background was more than 10%. If it was not that the “sons of bitches” were particularly good and got into high school, then the class enemies were more than 10% of the citizens of Chengdu, a percentage much higher than the 5%, or “handful”, that had always been emphasized.

If they are not of my kind, they should be punished. After we were seated in groups, two boys from the Red 5 group came to us from the Black 5 group and loudly ordered Ai Rong, the female classmate next to me, to stand up and confess her father’s counter-revolutionary banditry before the liberation. We were all born around 1949, and we were all 15 or 16 years old at the time. How could Ai Rong know anything about her father’s “crimes” before the liberation? She stood there, unable to say a word.

One of the two boys took off the belt around his waist and waved it in the air with a loud clatter. Ai Rong trembled, tears flowing down, and then simply hands over the face sobbing. I sat next to Ai Rong, the belt pumping up the wind, sweeping my ears, I felt cold heart shiver, although this time outside the window, the midsummer sun like fire. Fortunately, their “bully whip”, not to Ai Rong body.

My home is not far from Ai Rong’s, we often go to and from school on the same road. I have been to her house. Her parents both speak Shandong, who came from Shandong before the liberation. She told me a long time ago that her father had started an anti-Japanese guerrilla group during the anti-Japanese period. When the group collapsed and the Japanese took over Shandong, her parents fled from Shandong to Chengdu, where she was born. In retrospect, her father’s guerrilla group was spontaneous and was not led by Communist Party members, so it was considered a bandit. If there had been a party leader, her father might have been a revolutionary cadre, and Ai Rong would have been among the Red Five at that time.

Ai Rong did very well in her studies, and our group, the Black Five, seemed to be doing well in their studies. Among them, Shouchang students are good at painting and calligraphy, multi-talented. He later became a member of the Sichuan Artists Association and the Chinese Calligraphers Association, but that was after the “Cultural Revolution”.

The Red Guards of the third middle school raided Ai Rong’s house. The Red Five students in our class raided the homes of two other girls in our group of Black Five. They originally wanted to raid my house, but they learned that my house was poor, there was nothing to raid, and I took the initiative to hand in the only few books and two Qianlong-era dragon and phoenix porcelain plates, so they did not patronize my house.

Perhaps because they were too busy later – the leader of the Red Guards of Chengdu No. 2 Middle School, the “Red Busters”, was from my class – my class of Red Five did not pursue Ai Rong’s father’s “banditry”. The crime. However, the two men’s murderous performance that day made us, the children of the Black Five, tremble in class afterwards and “stay away” from them.

We were scared and scared, but did we have any “sarcasm” against them? About still have. There was a time when the popular “loyalty dance”, whether you like it or not, whether you can dance, everyone must learn to dance. There was a girl in my class who danced especially hard, she developed earlier than us and looked very plump at that time. When dancing the “loyalty dance”, she always stood in the front row, chest up and buttocks, twelve points to show “loyalty”. A few of us black five categories standing in the back, helplessly followed the comparison, the heart is very disdain for her.

The leader of our second middle school “red will”, nicknamed “XX” (here hidden two words), because of the “Cultural Revolution” before playing basketball, in the court unruly rampage and stormed the big name. After we went to the countryside, I heard that a senior boy had a dog and named the dog, so I used that nickname.

There are also students in the Red Five category who have a good relationship with us. Our class president Bao Bao’er, a poor peasant, was also a Red Five, but she didn’t half see us as “not my kind”. At that time, I couldn’t understand the famous couplet. I thought that the Party’s class line should be “not based on composition, but on performance”, because many revolutionary leaders, including the revolutionary teacher Engels, came from the exploiting class. One night before Baobao’s departure for Beijing, my good friend Junru and I seriously asked Baobao to go to the Central Cultural Revolution Office to find out what the real class line was when he arrived in Beijing.

When Baobao came back from Beijing, he told Junru that someone in Beijing had changed the next line from “Old man reactionary bastard” to “Old man reactionary rebel”. Although Junru thought there was a big problem with the upper couplet – she had always despised the son of the Revolutionary Army in her class, who was so proud of his academic performance – she thought that the new couplet was much better than “儿逆逆” (儿混蛋). The new couplet is much better than “son of a bitch”, so she found paper and ink and wrote “Old son of a hero, son of a good man, old son of a reactionary son of a rebel” and put it on the back door of the classroom. This is with the front door of the red five classmates stickers “child bastard” couplet, sang on the opposite stage. When a boy from the Red 5 class saw it, he said to Junru: “Rebel? It’s more like rebelling against the past. You have to pay attention to the issue of position!

At the end of 1968, when the Great Leader called on us to go to the countryside to “receive re-education from the poor peasants,” the Labor Propaganda Team let us combine freely. Junru found me and wanted to stay with me, and we both invited Ai Rong to join us, so the three of us were assigned to Yangping in Hegiang Commune, Meishan County.

What I didn’t expect was to be assigned to Yangping at the same time, there were also four red five boys. Although there were no high-flying children of the Ge Gan among these boys, they did not talk to us, following the class camp that had been drawn up at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Of course, we didn’t have any intention to talk to them either, even though we were in the same production team and lived less than 100 meters apart.

I remember we still had two “interactions” with the boys. At that time, we three girls basically work every day, food is basically enough to eat, although there are one or two months a year, as with the local farmers, green and yellow, can only eat potatoes sweet potatoes corn. The four boys worked much less days than we did, earning fewer work points and less food. Once they had no rice to feed the pot and sent one of them to our place to “borrow” rice – they did not return the rice they “borrowed”. This boy came to the door of our house, stood still, and said: Borrow some rice. I said: Come in and scoop it up yourself. He went straight to where the rice altar was and filled the basin he brought with him generously. Then, without saying a word of “thank you”, he left with a basin of rice.

When he came in to scoop up the rice, he was familiar with it, because these boys had stolen our rice before. However, in the past, they gave us a little bit left over, so that we would not be cut off immediately. On a later occasion, they stole all our rice and noodles, even the oil and salt for frying, and stole it all. That time they stole so thoroughly, probably because we three are back to Chengdu.

We return from Chengdu, we have to take a long bus three hours, in the Baizhang district government is located in the street, and then walk 20 miles of mountain road, to return to Yangping. That day we returned to the residence, tired and hungry, wanted to cook, only to find that the rice, oil and salt were all stolen. There was still grain, but the grain had to be carried to the mill to be milled, and it would take at least two hours to get the rice into the pot.

We were so hungry and angry that we decided to go to the boys’ residence to eat a meal. After all, whether they stole the rice or “borrowed” it, they never returned it – they owed us.

When we got to their place, we found that they had left the door unlocked. So we went into the kitchen, found their rice and vegetables, oil and salt, and started cooking. When the rice was done, we fried half a pot of vegetables and ate as much as we could. Just as we finished eating, the boys came back from work. When they saw us in the kitchen, they stood outside and stumbled, refusing to come in. The rice was in the steamer and the few remaining vegetables were in the iron pot. When I think about it, the best thing we did before we left was to pour half the salt from their salt shaker into the pot – I wonder how they looked when they ate the salty greens later!

That was the last time we “interacted” with each other. Not long after, the four boys were recruited to work in the city, because they were the children of the Red Five, belonging to the “reliable successors of the revolution”, although their labor performance was very poor, and also stole chickens and dogs. The main thing is to steal the farmers’ vegetables, and occasionally bring a chicken – many male intellectuals at that time, especially the Red 5 male intellectuals, all do this kind of thing. The farmers couldn’t do anything about it. When they left, everyone was happy. Of course, the peasants in Yangping wanted us to leave, so that they would not share the little rations they had left after paying the rations. However, we were in the black five categories, and the poor peasants recommended us, and the cadres who recruited us did not want us. What can we do?

In the late 1970s, we three female youths left Yangping one after another. Ai Rong and I entered Sichuan Division, belonging to the 77th and 78th classes. Junru worked as a technical cadre in a factory and did not take the post-Cultural Revolution college entrance exam.

In the mid-1980s, although the “spiritual pollution” was still being removed, there was not much mention of class struggle anymore. The three of us girls went back to Yangping once, also went to a trip to Meishan County, two early recruited into the county work of the Red Five boys as far as possible to release the former suspicion, invited us to eat a meal, the table, we talked a lot of happy. What “red five black five”, has become the past past, no one mentioned again. Of course, those years they stole rice, we poured half a jar of salt into their dishes, such boring and embarrassing things, also as if it had not happened, avoid talking about it.


Although more than forty years have passed since the Cultural Revolution, the excitement and fear I felt when I read the article “The Theory of Origin” that brought him to death is still fresh in my mind. I bought a Red Guard tabloid on the street for five cents and read the “Theory of Origin” carefully. I found that the article was well-documented, and I admired the author for his talent, but also for his courage.

To tell the truth, in those days, it required the courage to put life and death on the line. I was so timid that I quickly hid the newspaper in the bottom of a drawer and put a bunch of messy things on it – I was afraid that if the Red Guards came to raid my house, they would find the newspaper and beat me up. Later on, met Roque was shot and rehabilitated for this article.