到底会不会？这我可得弄清楚。我立即做起试验来；找了个空罐头，倒满水，在纸片上分别用钢笔和圆珠笔写下自己的名字，把纸片泡在水里。我不记得我的名字究竟是用钢笔还是用圆珠笔写的 了。名字不是我写的，是我爸爸写的。我的字写得太难看；我总是要爸爸帮我在心爱的书上写我的名字。坏了！他们要是抓住我，会不会把爸爸扯进去？他是基督徒，已经因为信仰而遭到批判了。爸爸引用中华人民共和国宪法里关于宗教信仰自由一条为自己做了辩护，还算成功。要是他儿子的现行反革命行为被发现了，人家说是受他影响的结果，他还能为自己辩护什么？我仿佛看见爸爸被批斗的痛苦的场面；他灰白的头发散乱了；妈妈在台下流泪。我是不是应该告诉他们今晚发生的事情？我想 啊，犹豫啊，但决定还是等到第二天早晨看了试验结果再说。
星期四，我妈叫醒我时，已经快七点半了！这紧要关头，闹钟怎么会没响？我查了一下那该死的钟，弦钮是松的，明明响过了嘛！我怎么会没听见？我赶忙跑到厕所；正如我担心的那样，粪池已经掏得干干净净。在池底只有一个石头和两块半斗砖，构成我已学过的几何符号∵ “因为” ，我转到另一边，它们变成了“所以”\。红宝书却不见了。
The Little Red Book
“We revolutionaries are like seeds,” I recited.
“We communists,” Pox Pang corrected me.
“Oh, yes, we communists are like seeds, and people are like soil,” I continued.
“Yes, like land,” I mechanically repeated, beginning to sweat, “When we reach a land…”
“When we come to a place… You do have a good memory, don’t you?” Pox Pang was displeased. “Last time, you recited fluently, didn’t you? Obviously, you did not do the homework. Pride goes before a fall. Since this is the first time, I won’t say anything. Tomorrow, you alone shall recite ten pages. If you can do that, all is well. If you can’t, the day after tomorrow, you shall recite twenty pages. A rule is a rule. Nobody breaks it.”
Pox Pang was our middle school teacher, a stout and stumpy woman with a family name Pang. She could recite the entire Little Red Book by Chairman Mao and tell the page number of any quotation or what quotations were on a certain page. Moreover, she could silence anybody in an argument about anything by quoting something from the Little Red Book, but somehow, on hearing her arguments, we were not quite convinced and felt something wrong in there but could not tell exactly what. Her face had some barely discernible pox marks, and so, we boys called her "Pox Pang" behind her back.
The first thing Pox Pang asked us to do after we had entered the middle school was this "sacred task," as she put it. We were to memorize the entire Little Red Book of 270 pages within a month, so that on October 1, the National Day, we would show the whole school our achievement as the best present for our great socialist motherland. Our plan was to memorize ten pages every day except Sundays when we would review the week's work. Every morning she would check on us. In those years, Chairman Mao was our “Great Savior.” He was also our “Great Teacher, Great Leader, Great Commander-in-Chief, and Great Helmsman.” Everybody could recite some of Chainman Mao’s quotations, which were regarded as the supreme instructions and were compiled in a little red book. Everyday in the morning before class began, we would chant after a leader:
We sincerely wish the reddest sun in our hearts, our most beloved great leader Chairman Mao a long long life! A long long life! A long long life!
While repeating the refrain, everybody waved the Little Red Book with the right hand diagonally from the heart to the head. Then in the same manner, everybody wished Vice-Chairman Lin Piao:
Good health! Good health! Good health!
In those years, we saw Chairman Mao’s quotations everywhere. It was a common practice to do everything by first reciting a quotation from the Little Red Book. A communist leader would begin a meeting by letting people recite Chairman Mao's supreme instruction:
The force at the core leading our cause forward is the Chinese Communist Party. The theoretical basis guiding our thinking is Marxism-Leninism.
A hotel receptionist would greet a guest with Mao's teaching:
We should be modest and prudent, guard against arrogance and rashness, and serve the Chinese people heart and soul.
In a hospital, one would see Mao's slogan on the wall:
Curing the sick, healing the wounded, we practice revolutionary humanitarianism.
At a funeral home, one might find Mao's encouragement:
Wherever there is struggle there is sacrifice, and death is a common occurrence. But we have the interests of the people and the sufferings of the great majority at heart, and when we die for the people, it is a worthy death.
Not only did we wave and read the Little Red Book everyday but we also try to follow Chairman Mao’s words as the guidance for our behaviors and even our thoughts. Soon, a booklet was published under the title Keys in Chairman Mao's Works to Problems in Your Life. We sincerely believed that if we could remember all the quotations in the Little Red Book, we would be able to solve all the problems in our lives.
At first, I did not think it would be difficult to recite all the quotations in the Little Red Book. My memory was very good. Besides, I could already recite nearly half of the book. All of a sudden, however, the task became so hard that I had to work on it every minute, even when I went to the outhouse that Monday evening. During those years, few people had bathrooms at home. Most people used public outhouses, many of which, like the one that I was going to, were so primitive that there was no plumbing. On a certain day every week, some commune members would come to clean the cement ditches of the outhouses and take away the treasure for the fields. I squatted over the ditch and tried to memorize some supreme instructions while contributing to the big development of our socialist agriculture. About ten quotations later, my contribution emptied. I put my Little Red Book on my trousers between my knees, took out a piece of wrapping paper, crumpled it so that it was softer, opened it, and began to clean the contributor with it. Somehow, when I was doing this routine, my Little Red Book fell into the ditch.
"Shit!" for the first time in my life I uttered this word. After a numbness of a few seconds, I realized the horrible consequence: if somebody saw the Little Red Book in there, I would be put in prison as an active counter-revolutionary. The Little Red Book was half floating in the contribution. Anybody could come in at any moment. I rushed out in frenzy. I looked around. I found a stone. I ran back and dropped it onto the red. Splash! Some of my contribution and others' got onto my trousers, but I did not care. The red disappeared. For safety's sake, I went out again and found two half bricks. Fortunately, nobody was around. Like a thief, I sneaked into the outhouse again and carefully dropped the bricks into where I supposed the Little Red Book was. Then, I took a deep breath despite the freshly stirred smell.
Back at home, I took out my mother's Little Red Book. I tried to work on it, but I could not focus my attention on the quotations. The horrible scenes kept coming into my mind: a commune member would come to clean the ditch early Thursday morning; when he was removing the treasure from the ditch, dipper by dipper, he would surely see the Little Red Book. Then, he would pick it up, and as we were told that the commune members, the factory workers, and the People's Liberation Army soldiers loved Chairman Mao best of all, he would certainly not tolerate such a blasphemy. He would hand it to the district authorities, who would discover my name in it, and then, I would be doomed. As usual, there would be a criticism meeting before my arrest. Pox Pang, my classmates, and perhaps even my best friends would come onto the stage to expose and denounce my counter-revolutionary words and deeds. Some indignant students might slap my face as such occasion always invited them to do. I had seen such meetings many times. As for prison, I could not imagine what a hell it would be. I was more concerned with the meeting. Was I going to be the critical target of such a meeting? Oh, how I regretted that I sank the Little Red Book with a stone! I should have picked it up. But in that kind of rush, I had no other thought than to make it disappear before somebody would see it. And, without a proper tool, it would not be easy to get it anyway. I should not have taken it into the outhouse in the first place. But regret would not help. Yet, would anything help at all? I struggled with thought, but nothing came to mind. The only hope seemed to lie in the possibility that my name in the Little Red Book would be blurred by the treasure in the ditch.
Would it? I had to be sure about it. I started an experiment immediately. I got an empty can and filled it with water. Then, I wrote my name first with a fountain pen and then with a ballpoint pen on a piece of paper and put it into the can, for I could not remember with what kind of pen my name was written in the Little Red Book. I did not write it. My Chinese handwriting was poor, and I always asked my father to write my name in my beloved books. Oh, would it involve my father if they caught me? I was further horrified by the thought. My father is a Christian, and he had already been criticized for his belief. He successfully defended himself by citing China's constitution, which protected all Chinese citizens’ right to religious beliefs. But how could he defend himself if his son proved to be a counter-revolutionary because of his bad influence? I already envisioned the painful scene of my father being criticized, his gray hair being disheveled, and my mother crying. Should I tell them what had happened? I hesitated for hours but decided to wait for the result of my experiment first.
That Monday night was the first time that I suffered from insomnia. Those scenes and thoughts tortured me so much that I could not go into sleep. I even turned to the book Keys in Chairman Mao's Works to Problems in Your Life, but it did not list my special case. Then, I carefully read every quotation in my mother's Little Red Book, but I could not find any answer.
As soon as the day broke, I got up and examined my experiment. My name written with a fountain pen was blurred but still easily recognizable. My name written with the ballpoint, however, was as clear as if it had been just written. Damn the ballpoint pen! I cursed. Who the hell invented this damned thing? I knew it was introduced into China from the West. Down with capitalism! For the first time in my life I shouted this slogan with real hatred. My chances were fifty-fifty, I figured. If my name in the Little Red Book was written with a fountain pen, it would surely become unrecognizable two days later. Otherwise ... Oh, I would rather die! To die at the age of thirteen? That was unthinkable! Then I began to believe that my name was written with a fountain pen. Yes, my father was old-fashioned, and he never liked modern devices, such as a ballpoint pen. He always preferred a fountain pen and even a traditional Chinese brush pen if available. But did I hand him my ballpoint when I asked him to write my name for me? I was just not sure!
I was startled when Pox Pang asked me to recite the assigned ten pages in front of the class. I managed to stammer out the first five pages, and then, I simply could not go on. She encouragingly prompted the first one, two, three words, but I just repeated them, and them only.
Her voice changed, "Obviously, you didn't even try to memorize the rest, did you?"
"I, it's, er..."
"You're not a student with a weak memory. You simply haven't done the work I assigned to you yesterday, have you?"
"I, it's, er..."
"Have you, or have you not? Answer me directly. Please!" Her "please" sounded harsher than a command.
"I ha, haven't. It's because, because..." I could not find any word.
"Don't you give yourself any excuse! I'm not going to believe it. No, not me!" Pox Pang's intonation was really nasty now. "What can be more important than studying Chairman Mao's works? Our beloved Vice-Chairman Lin teaches us, 'We can do without meals, without sleeps, but we cannot do without studying Chairman Mao's works for a single day.' Did you have dinner yesterday?"
"Yes, I did." So, it was true that she was already working on Vice-Chairman Lin Piao's quotations now, I thought.
"Did you have sleep last night?"
"No, er, I mean, yes, I did."
"Did you try to memorize the ten pages after school?"
"I...I did, but I...I couldn't, because I was, I was..."
"You were having a good time with your friends, weren't you? You were playing chess, weren't you? I heard you are pretty good at it. You have a good memory. You can play two games simultaneously without even looking at them, isn't it true? You should use your memory on Chairman Mao's works!" She pelted me with reproaches on and on for Mao knew how long. At last, they emptied, and she ordered me to get ready to recite twenty pages the next day.
Soon after that, the class was over. My friends gathered around to comfort me and asked what was wrong. How could I explain to them? I simply said nothing. And they muttered a good deal of curses against Pox Pang.
Right after school that afternoon, I ran back home and broke the small jar in which I had been saving money to buy a new set of chess. I went to a bookstore with the coins and bought a Little Red Book, on which I worked the rest of the day, and memorized not just twenty but thirty pages. However, that Tuesday night I suffered from insomnia again. My experiment had proved that twenty-four hours' soaking could blur the ink words to the degree of total illegibility, but the words written with a ballpoint remained intact. So, everything depended on something I could not recall, no matter how hard I tried. Should I tell my parents? What could they do? Nothing except perhaps scolding me! Should I go to confess to the district authorities? They might forgive me, but would they not bother my father? They were trying to find faults with him. This would certainly be a big one. But if they should find it out themselves, it would be even worse for us ... Thus, I had another sleepless night.
When I got up Wednesday morning, I felt a kind of headache, but it seemed to be gone as I began to review those thirty pages. I learned the quotations by heart all right.
After we had ceremoniously wished Mao a long life and Lin good health, Pox Pang asked me to stand in front of the class and recite the twenty pages. I did mechanically but miraculously well without making a single mistake. Before I knew it, I had recited thirty pages. Then Pox Pang let me go back to my seat.
"Excellent!" she began to praise me, "You see, you can do much more and much better than I ex-"
Bang! I fell onto the desk of my classmate sitting beside me and fainted.
When I came to, I found myself in the school clinic, lying in bed, by which Pox Pang was sitting. She touched my head, and her hand was so warm and soft. She said to me, "You're too tired, child. That's all. Nothing wrong. Rest well, child." Her voice was so gentle, the tone of "child" was so touching that tears filled my eyes, and I was on the edge of telling her everything. As if to avoid embarrassment, she stood up and said, "All right, I must go, to attend a meeting. Take it easy. You don't have to come to school tomorrow, if you don't feel well enough." I nodded. She left.
That evening, I noticed that the treasure in the ditch of the outhouse was remarkably higher. Nothing seemed unusual there, but I felt so scared. It was as if the ditch would explode at any moment. I ran out of the outhouse as soon as I emptied my contribution in fear that the treasure would splash onto my face.
But how could I avoid the splash of humiliation and sling of criticism, if my name was written with a ballpoint in the Little Red Book? "I must get up early tomorrow," I thought, "and watch the commune member from somewhere he can't see me. When he picks up the Little Red Book to examine it, I'll go up and see if my name is blurred, and then react accordingly." So decided, I set the alarm clock at half past five, and immediately fell into sleep.
When I was waked up by my mother Thursday morning, it was already seven o’clock! How could the alarm clock fail me on such an important day? I checked the clock, the alarm had gone off. How could I not hear it? I rushed to the outhouse. As surely as the sun was rising up in the sky, the ditch had been cleaned. On the bottom of the ditch, the stone and two half bricks lay forming the mathematical sign meaning "because." I turned to the other side, and they became \ "therefore," but the Little Red Book was nowhere to be seen.
I went to school as usual but was afraid to go home. Not until after it had been dark, did I get near my home to steal a few glances into it from behind a tree. Everything seemed to be normal. I went in. Mother scolded me for starting to come back late as soon as I became a middle school student, but her scold was the sweetest music that I had ever heard.
Friday I came home late again, and again I enjoyed her music.
Saturday afternoon we had no classes. I came back in broad daylight and felt uneasy. Two of my close friends came to play chess with me, and I lost all the games. I was looking out from time to time. When I heard heavy footsteps approaching, my heart beat faster, and I felt as if somebody was coming upon me. Those nights I always lay awake in bed for a long time, thinking about all the possibilities. Maybe the commune member did not see the Little Red Book? Maybe my name was blurred? Maybe the commune member did not bother to examine the filthy thing? Maybe the district authorities did not? Or maybe they are still waiting for me to confess?
The National Day arrived. Our class surprised the whole school with the triumphant recitation of the Little Red Book. First, we recited twenty pages together. Then, the principal and teachers of other classes asked fifty of us at random to recite a page each. Finally, we recited the last twenty pages together. In the end of the semester, our class was selected the model class, and Pox Pang was selected the model teacher.
My crime has never been discovered, and why it has never been discovered remains a mystery to me to this day. Since then, however, I have never used a ballpoint pen.
The Deep Well
“Where’re your eyebrows?” I asked Shangde. When I first saw him after he had been away from Beijing working on a state farm in the northeast of China for two years, I felt something was missing from his face. It looked somewhat bare. After the excitement of seeing him again, I saw that his eyebrows were almost all gone.
He did not seem to care at all but casually explained, “Well, the water on the farm was bad. Most people lost their hair, but somehow, my eyebrows abandoned me first, probably because I knitted them more often than I rubbed my hair on the pillow." I knew he was a knowledge seeker. No matter how exhausted he was after a day's work, he would still read deep into the night by a small lamp in a corner of the camp which was shared with twenty-three other young men, who did nothing after work but played cards, chatted, and slept.
We were childhood friends. Two years earlier, we graduated from the middle school. He was assigned to work on the farm, and I was lucky to be assigned to work in a factory affiliated to Beijing University. During this period of time, I put on some weight and became much stronger. The hunger I had suffered in the May 7th Cadre School seemed to be a remote experience. Shangde was taller but much thinner and darker than before. He was permitted to come back to Beijing because his mother had passed away, and his father was sick and needed a nurse at home. This was a common reason for the child to have a break from the tiring and tedious physical labor---that is, if the parent could obtain a medical excuse. Many doctors even made a fortune out of such a social phenomenon. However, Shangde's father was really sick and was really needed at his job at the time when the frenzy of the Cultural Revolution had gone with the air-crash death of Lin Piao, the Chinese Macbeth, and even Mao felt the loss and waste of the intellectuals. So the party's policy toward intellectuals became more moderate. Shangde’s father was one of the best scientists in the institute, which was trying to transfer Shangde to where his father worked so that he could take care of his father, who would, in turn, "make more and better contributions to the revolutionary cause."
Whatever the cause was, Shangde was just happy to be back. Besides taking good care of his old father, he spent every minute on his studies. Whenever I visited him, he discussed problems in his studies of mathematics, geometry, physics, history, philosophy, and English with me. Actually, he knew more than I did, and I learned much from him in those discussions. In those years, most young people did not bother to learn any book-knowledge because it seemed useless. Shangde and I read books and did exercises with no purpose whatsoever; just for fun. It was also due to our family influence that we both felt that it would be a waste of our lives if we did not learn something new everyday.
Working in Beijing University, I had access to the library there. Although I was allowed to borrow only five books at a time, it was a great privilege because people outside universities simply had no way to get books. Bookstores everywhere were selling very few books other than the works by Mao, Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. As for personal collections of books, most of them had been burned in the early years of the Cultural Revolution. Therefore, Shangde and I made full use of the library of Beijing University. One day, he asked me to borrow some books on hydrography for him. I wondered why he would want to specialize so early, and then he told me his practical purpose.
Water shortage was a big problem on the farm where he had worked. People, not to mention the crops, could hardly get enough water from the rain. There were 240 young graduates living in the crowded camps and working with rather primitive tools on the vast wasteland. No wonder the output was always low; many youngsters had to walk two hours everyday just to get to where they worked. Their cisterns were more often than not completely dry. Their tractors were used more often to transport water from a river over two hundred miles away than to work the land. They had tried to dig a well dozens of times before they finally hit a wellhead twenty-five yards below the surface. In order for the well to hold a lot of water, they continued to dig fifteen yards deeper before Shangde persuaded them to stop. They had convenient drinking water now, but before long, it began to taste a little stale because the well was so deep that they could not use up the water in the well by the evening and get fresh water from the well in the morning. "Well, it's indeed a little stale," the party commissar said, "but stale water can strengthen our revolutionary willpower still more!" Thus, thanks to their hard work, they had to drink the "elixir of revolution" every day. Now, only one small tractor went to fetch fresh water from the river every other day for the constant turnover of sick farm workers and the party cadres including, of course, the commissar, whose revolutionary willpower was already so strong that it did not need to be strengthened any more.
Shangde suggested that they should make a wellhead protector and put stones into the well so that the water level might be raised and purified. But the ignorant commissar thought that he was either crazy or that he intended to destroy the hard-dug well.
Now, more than a thousand miles away from the farm, Shangde was still concerned about the Pyrrhic victory of the deep well. He wanted to acquire enough knowledge of hydrography in order to help his friends locate the position for another well. "It's a great pleasure to seek knowledge for its own sake," he said, "but it's a greater pleasure to seek knowledge so as to be able to put it into practice."
Shangde was by no means a bookworm, and our meetings were not merely discussions of book-knowledge. We were both fond of singing songs, telling stories, and doing outdoor activities. One weekend in late spring, he, his girl-friend, my girl-friend, and I pedalled our bikes all the way to the Great Wall. It took us six hours to get there, but we did not feel tired at all. We were singing the old songs that we had learned before the Cultural Revolution and all the foreign songs that we knew. Singing those songs, we experienced the joy of forbidden fruit because they were still regarded as politically incorrect. If we had been caught, we would surely have been criticized or even persecuted. However, since we set off at dawn, as soon as we rode out of the city, we saw almost nobody along the road. So we sang to our hearts' content, one song after another, as if we were flying on the wings of songs. They sounded so much more melodious and beautiful than the songs of Chairman Mao's quotations and those so-called revolutionary songs. We felt that our souls were freed, liberated, emancipated! Before we knew it, we had arrived at the foot of the mountain on which the Great Wall was built.
Back then, the wall had not yet become a tourist attraction. We saw no more than ten other visitors that day, and yet, we did not sing on the wall, not that we were afraid, but that we were intoxicated by the magnificent scenes below and around us. We were all quiet and filled with admiration ...
Suddenly, I said, "I don't know if I should be glad or sad for the Great Wall. On the one hand, it's the only human construction that people can see with the naked eye from the moon. It's our pride, our strength, our wisdom. On the other hand, it was so stupid of the emperors to order such a huge project constructed. So much labor! So little use! The Chinese Maginot line. We would be much better off if we had a strong army rather than the wall. We should be aggressive rather than defensive. It's our shame, our weakness, our stupidity."
I noticed that my girl friend was watching me with admiration and I felt quite pleased with myself.
"I'm afraid I can't agree with you," Shangde said gently, "because we don't really know if the wall was as useless against the attacks of the nomads for two millennia as it was against the guns of the imperialist armies for the last century. I should think the wall was very effective in the past. Although it did not stop Kublai Khan and the Manchus, it did prevent most invaders, such as the Huns and the Tartars. How else could we defend our long borders more effectively? Besides, I don't like the idea of military aggression. It's a shame to be invaded, but it's a bigger shame to invade others."
My girl friend was now watching him with admiration. Deep inside, I felt that he was right, but I would not admit it before my girl.
"Well, as you said we don't really know how effective the wall was," I argued, "We need to check all the history books if we want any convincing conclusions. What we don't need to check is your last point. It's rather like Ah Q's philosophy, isn't it?" (A fictional figure by Lu Hsun, Ah Q is the typical Chinese who always consoles himself by thinking that he has been spiritually superior to the man who has physically humiliated him.)
"Indeed, I shall conduct a study of the Great Wall and write a treatise one day." Shangde answered, "As for Ah Q, he's only trying to balance himself psychologically. Whenever he has a chance, he'd physically humiliate others, too. But I do believe in non-violence. I don't think there's any teaching greater than 'Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.'"
"So you've turned into a Christian?" I asked, "Do you really believe in God? An old man with a white beard sitting above the ninth sky?"
"Well, that's just some people's imagination or personification of God." He said, "For me, God is good, truth, beauty, or the Way, the logos, the natural as well as the social law that we human beings have been trying to recognize. Whatever you call it, it is there. We all have the desire and capacity to know it. Otherwise, we wouldn't be different from other animals."
The girls had lost interest, and they went ahead to take pictures of each other and of us. I, however, found the topic fascinating. My father was a Christian, but he had never talked about Christianity to me. When I learned the theory of evolution in the primary school, I was rather ashamed of him for his being so "superstitious." Once I even tried in my innocent way to persuade him that there was no God. I asked him, "Dad, would you please take me to where God is and let me play with Him?" He smiled and said, "God is not a being to play with, child." But he never explained why. When I grew up, I understood that he did not want to cause any trouble. Although the constitution of China allowed the citizens the freedom of religious beliefs, to spread any religion outside a church or a temple was illegal, and its punishment was severe, especially during the Cultural Revolution. However, I had secretly read my father's bible and was longing to discuss it with somebody. This was actually the first time that we had touched on the topic, and naturally, we went deep into it until the girls urged us to take pictures with them.
Then, we walked down the wall into the forest nearby and started our picnic. While we were taking out the food, Shangde was suddenly gone. We waited, shouted, and looked for him, but he was nowhere to be seen. Just when we were getting really anxious, he appeared before us as mysteriously as he disappeared. He was carrying a pot of water and some dry pine branches and needles. We did not know that he had a pot with him, and we wondered where he got the water. He smiled and winked mysteriously and said, "From the book on hydrography you lent me." I understood that he had put his newly learned knowledge into practice. The girls did not know what he meant and did not bother to ask. They just put the pot on three stones and made a fire. Soon, the water was bubbling. The sausages he brought and the mushrooms he had just gathered smelt so inviting! It was the most delicious picnic that I ever had.
After the meal, each of us told a story. I made mine up, and they unanimously hailed it as the best. It opened with the mysterious death of a young man whom we all knew and closed with Lin Piao's air-crash after his conspiracy against Mao had been exposed. Finally, Shangde made a casual comment: "All of our stories depend on the plot, without which they wouldn't be attractive at all. But a real man of letters can simply describe this forest and hold your attention." Little did I understand at the time the truth in his words, of which a college professor tried a whole semester to convince my classmates nine years later.
Shangde put out the fire and holding something in his right hand, he approached his girl-friend in a manner as if something mysterious and mischievous was imminent. His facial expression was serious. He commanded in a scary voice, "Give me your hand."
"Why?" She hesitated.
"Don't ask. Just give me your hand!"
She reluctantly stretched out her right hand to him. His left hand grasped her wrist firmly, and suddenly, Shangde put his right palm onto hers. She screamed as if she was in great pain, and she shook off her hand and shouted, "Ouch, it's burning hot! You hurt me!"
"No, I didn't." Shangde said calmly, "You hurt yourself with your mind. You see, it's only some embers. A little warm, that's all. I've been holding them all the time. Why don't I feel them burning hot as you did?"
"I don't know," she whined.
"You should," he said, "It's psychology."
"You're being mysterious today," she countered.
"It's nothing to be mysterious for only a day," he said, "but it would be wonderful if one could be mysterious all his life."
Shangde did not play mysterious after that, nor did he conduct a study of the Great Wall. He was more concerned about the well and borrowed more books on hydrography through me.
Between the dates with my girl and the discussions with Shangde, time flew. A year passed. It was a momentous one in which President Nixon came to China and started, as he put it, a "new era." The remaining confederates of Lin Piao were purged, China began to do business with the West. Soviet Union became the trump card that China and the United States played in dealing with each other. Nevertheless, Shangde and I paid little attention to these changes until the day when the British industrial exhibition came to Beijing.
For us, this was the real thing. Ever since the Communist Party attained power, not a single exhibition from any capitalist country was held in China. We longed to learn everything about the West, and Shangde also wanted to learn more about digging a well. But the tickets for the exhibition were extremely difficult to obtain. They were not sold to the public, but rather, given to "persons of concern and consequence" in factories, universities, hospitals, research institutes, and the government organizations. Those who had the luck to see the exhibition were talking about it everyday as if they had just come back from Mars. The listeners had endless questions about those wonderful machines and equipment that the "oppressed and exploited" British workers were enjoying. Everyone had an inexhaustible interest in the advanced science and technology that the "old and declining imperialist country" was developing. People were also surprised to get those beautiful brochures, descriptions, and introductions, all given to them free of charge, and all printed on paper of a quality seldom found in the country that invented paper almost two thousand years ago.
Shangde's father, as a "concerned scientist," was invited to the opening ceremony of the exhibition, and a few days later, was given two extra tickets. We were overjoyed, but Shangde's girl friend also wanted to go very much. Of course, I understood that she had the priority, and yet, I could not manage to hide my disappointment.
"Don't despair!" he said to me, "I'll draw a ticket for you."
My sadness turned into hope again, for Shangde was fond of painting and had been learning to draw. Once he showed me a collection of the masterpieces of Western painting, which was a rare survival of the xenophobia of the Cultural Revolution. He pointed out that Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa has no eyebrows and speculated whether that was the fashion in Renaissance Italy. I then called him jokingly Shangde Lisa for months until his brows sprouted out again. He was not a great painter yet, but he could already paint quite realistically. In fact, he had drawn sketches of both my girl friend and me, and they are our best sketches. After he promised me that, I rested assured.
The next day, I went to his home. His girl friend and he were waiting for me, and so was the ticket. What a similarity! Even though I knew it was drawn, I could not tell the difference without comparing it with the printed ticket. So happily the three of us went to the exhibition with the mixed excitement of both adventure and curiosity. The exhibition hall was designed by Soviet experts in the mid-50s when China was a member of the socialist bloc. Now the British national flag was fluttering below the red star. The story went that at first the flag was hung upside down, and the British Embassy even presented a note of protest. Looking at the flag, I was unable to see how it could possibly be hung upside down. It seemed to be the same either way.
"Ticket, ticket." The guard's voice was solemn and demanding as if the embarrassment of the communist diplomats had turned into a mixture of serious precaution and nameless indignation that was being vented upon the visitors. I was rather nervous, and for a minute, I even wanted to withdraw. After all, this was the first time I had done anything illegal. But I was pushed on by curiosity as well as adventurousness. Shangde and his girl friend went in. I deliberately lagged behind several other visitors. When I gave my fake ticket to the guard, my hand was slightly trembling. He seemed to hesitate for a second and take another glance at the ticket, but he dropped it into the box. My heart that had been up in my throat dropped down. I went in and looked around. I saw Shangde and his girl. I walked toward them hurriedly.
A big mistake! The visitor should go to get the packet of brochures and introductions first. My irregular action and flurried manners immediately caught the attention of the guards who were patrolling around inside the hall.
"What're you doing?" Two of them stopped me and questioned, "Why are you in such a hurry? Did you have a ticket?"
I was stunned and stuttered, "I...I'm just vi...visiting. I ga...gave my ti...ticket to that co...comrade."
"Let's see." They took me back to the gate. ... The ticket-box was opened, the fake ticket was recognized, and I was taken to the police station.
"What's your intention?" The officer asked me after the routine questions, "To destroy the exhibition?"
"No, I just wanted to see it."
"Who drew the ticket?"
"After whose ticket did you draw it?"
"You liar!" He roared. Two policemen came up and slapped me in the face.
"I really don't know whose ticket it was. It's a used one I picked up outside the exhibition hall."
"You liar! We burn all the used tickets everyday." The two men hit me in the stomach. I doubled up and felt a terrible pain and nausea.
"Tell the truth!" The officer shouted. I would have, had I known it was impossible to fool them, but humiliation choked me. I remained silent.
"Well, you liar," he jeered, "You want to play tough? I'd like to see just how tough you can be. What're you waiting for?" He ordered the two policemen rhetorically.
They grabbed my arms, twisted them behind my back, and forced me to kneel on the floor. One of the men held my head steady by the hair. The other pressed his knee hard against my spine and slowly lifted my left arm. The torture was unbearable. The pain was indescribable. I felt as if my arm and spine were going to break. I remember hearing them crack. ... I confessed.
That evening, Shangde was arrested. Beijing was purging idlers and criminals. He was treated as an idler and sent back to the farm when the commissar there had just sent out his work transfer. All went in vain: a year's efforts to go through the red-tape, a father's hope, and a young man's expectations. When his father received the transfer, he almost went mad, now crying over it, then cursing his unworthy son. His crying and cursing stabbed my conscience constantly, but I did not know what to say to soothe him. I just went to his home everyday after work to do whatever I could for him.
Soon, I began to receive letters from Shangde, who showed me complete understanding and even comforted me saying that nobody could fool the police in such a case, just as nobody could puzzle us with a simple math question, and nobody could stand the notorious tortures in the police station, about which he had heard so much from so many people. He also said that he was actually happy to be back on the farm because he could really work on the project, namely, to locate the spot for another well. He asked me to check this and that in the books on hydrography. In retrospect, I wonder whether or not he really needed the information, but at the time, his requirement did ease my guilt considerably.
So we kept in touch. He was telling me every progress that he had made. His last letter told me that he had finally located the spot which he and two friends of his there firmly believed to have a wellhead. Then, the horrible news came. Shangde was dead.
It was the hot summer of 1974. The farm killed a big pig, which was a rare treat for the poorly fed youths. They did not want to eat up the pork all at once. To refrigerate it, they tied half of it on a rope and put it down in the deep well just above the water. Then they ate a quarter. Then an eighth. Then, the last eighth accidentally fell into the well. They tried every means but simply could not get it out. The well was too deep.
Finally, the commissar said, "Whoever can get the pork can have it." Several people tried again but had no success. When Shangde's two friends asked him if he had any idea, he did not even know about the whole business, for he was too much buried in making the concrete steps to carry out his project. They told him, "It's about twenty-five pounds of pork, Shangde! Our camp would have a banquet if you could get it out." He thought a while and said, "The pork will spoil the water. Tomorrow, I'll get it out somehow."
The next morning, he got up at 4:30 as usual and studied his English. An hour later, the two friends awoke and went with him to the well. His plan was to let him down the well by the wooden winch. He would carry a huge stone, with which he would dive to the bottom of the well to get the pork. Somehow, the winch collapsed and probably hit him. He was knocked out and drowned. This was what the two friends reported, officially.
People on the farm tried to fish him out, but they failed. Nobody dared to take any risk. Three days later, Shangde floated up and was finally pulled out. The corpse was examined, and his neck was found broken. Since nobody would ever drink the water from the well, they buried him within its dark confines. Because he died in "getting the pork for himself," and the commissar never mentioned it was he who had encouraged the farm workers to retrieve, Shangde was not considered or treated as a "revolutionary martyr" like the girl who had died of malaria on the farm a month before, but almost everybody attended his funeral. His camp-mates, who used to mock him as a bookworm, cried like mad.
So did I, but then my subconscious simply could not accept the tragic fact. For years I often dreamed of him, alive as before, with no eyebrows, but a mysterious smile, on his face smile. I would say to him, "So you didn't die after all. You're playing mysterious with all of us. What a joke, Shangde!" I would then slap him on the shoulder, only to wake up and find it was my own stomach that I had slapped. Lying awake in the darkness, I felt as if I were in a deep well, shuddering with cold, drowning with shame and guilt. I would then come to the cruel realization that Shangde was already dead, that he could never come back to life again. It was such an aching void! His father, I would like to believe, never felt the same. He had gone mad and took me for Shangde. I faithfully played the role until his death eight years ago.
After the downfall of the "Gang of Four" in 1976, the Cultural Revolution was officially declared to have come to an end. The state farms in the northeast of China were gradually abandoned, and the young farm workers were coming back to the cities. Two years later, I discovered that the two friends of Shangde's on the farm had also come back. I invited them to have dinner with me at Quanjude, the best restaurant for the famous roast Beijing duck. I reserved a private room for just the three of us. After a plate of duck and a few bottles of beer, I put down the chopsticks. Sincerely I told them about my guilt, of which they had known absolutely nothing. Then, I beseeched them to tell me what really happened to cause Shangde's death. They looked at each other in silence. I left the room to give them time for consideration. Two cigarettes later, I came back and found them in tears.
They told me that Shangde straddled the bucket that was connected to the wooden winch, and they let him down into the well all right. Then, he dived with the stone only once and got the rope that tied the pork. Everything went well just as he had planned. He straddled the bucket again, and they were winding the winch to pull him up. They were overjoyed to see him coming up with the pork. Then, they both tried to grab him. It was only a split second, but it was a momentous mistake. He was falling down with the bucket, the winch was spinning rapidly. One of them tried to grab the handle but was knocked away. The other tried to grasp the rope. Another fatal mistake! Not only did he fail to hold the rope, but he also caused Shangde to sway and probably to knock his head on the wall of the well. They both had heard a noise before Shangde splashed into the water. It was the final pull that destroyed the winch, which was then dragged into the well. They admitted that they were too cowardly to tell the whole truth, but they suffered from their guilt all these years. I understood them perfectly, for they had gray hairs on their young heads just as I did.
"Don't blame yourselves." I said, "It's the deep well..." Then, we all burst into tears, and wept, and sobbed ... Nobody touched the beer or the roast duck again. Before they said good-by to me, however, they told me that they did dig another well on the spot that Shangde had located. It was a complete success.
I could hardly wait to see the well. By now I had become a college student. As soon as the summer vacation began, I took the train and the bus and then walked about two hours to get to where the farm used to be. Although it was deserted, the local people were forming a tiny village around the new well, which was not too deep but had plenty of fresh water. None of the villagers knew any stories about the well except that it was dug by the students from Beijing. They took me for a hydrographic surveyor and told me that there had been another well, which was buried because the water was bad. They showed me where it was. I knew that it was Shangde's grave. What an unusual grave it was! Instead of sticking out, it was somewhat sunken. The stone mouth of the well could be clearly seen.
I stood by Shangde's grave for a long time, recollecting his short life. He died when he was only nineteen! What had such a brilliant young man accomplished? Nothing especially noteworthy but that well over there. What would he have been able to accomplish, had he survived the Cultural Revolution? Nobody could ever know. His boundless prospects were all sucked into the black hole of this deep well. The well is now buried, but can the deep well of the Cultural Revolution be buried like this? Should it?
大家围过去，幸好鲁叔叔没有受伤，他脸色煞白，好一阵才缓过气来。突然，他冲我吼道：“你怎么闪开了？你倒好，躲一边儿没事儿了，让我失去平衡，晃来晃去，压不住车把。要不是我躲得 快，就撞死了！”我心里很清楚，事故是因他鲁莽造成的，而且他应该扬车把，让排子车后面蹭地，才能减速，而不是压车把，后面翘得越高，排子车走得越快。但我当时只为自己未能扛住车把而羞 愧，只会喃喃地分辨：“有人拉了我，把我拉开了。”
The Bright Eyes
His eyes are still so bright that the crowd sighs and murmurs as Lee Ming is escorted onto the stage with ten other men, dragging his heavy fetters step by step. Although I cannot hear what the crowd is saying, I know. It has always been like that. Ever since he was thirteen and began to perform on stage, he has never failed to arouse such profound admiration for his beauty and especially for his bright eyes. How often I heard the audience exclaim: "What a handsome lad! Look at his eyes. Aren't they like a deer's? Such bright pupils! ..."
"Down with Lee Ming the counter-revolutionary!" The crowd shouts after a slogan leader and draws me back to the execution meeting. Lee Ming is trying to hold his head up while the escort behind him pushes it down time and time again. I am shocked that the crowd's admiration can turn into anger so quickly.
"Let me announce this political criminal's counter-revolutionary activities." Holding a piece of paper so close to his dim-sighted eyes that his nose almost touches it, the director of the revolutionary committee is speaking, "Lee Ming, age twenty-five, born in Shanghai, has committed the following crimes: He secretly listened to the broadcast of our class enemy many times and praised the decadent music of feudalistic Europe and imperialistic America such as Beidorfen (Beethoven) and Bornstan (Bernstein)."
A spark of contempt escapes Lee Ming's eyes. It's quite swift, but I see it and know what it's for. I am familiar with the sparks in his eyes. They can be merry, naughty, contemptuous, or angry. His eyes are so expressive that any fool can understand what they mean. Feelings simply run out of his eyes and sometimes annoy some people who cannot put up with his contempt for their stupidity. Those of us who are close to Lee Ming know that he doesn't mean to hurt anyone. He just cannot help his eyes, which seem to have an independent life and often speak when his lips are not moving. This is his vocation. I believe he probably would make a better actor than a violinist. Not that he does not play well, but his acting is better. Once his e-string broke right before the final harmonic when he was playing a melancholy duet with a cellist. He did not stop. His hand and fingers continued to move. At the same time, he threw such a glance of pity and sorrow at the cellist. The regret the harmonic is supposed to convey was so perfectly expressed that honestly, I did not realize no sound was produced although I was sitting in the front row.
"Lee Ming openly sang a different tune from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. He played the feudalistic and petit-bourgeois music privately when it was banned and criticized." The director goes on.
"Openly" and "privately!" What logic! "Feudalistic and petit-bourgeois," you'd better make up your mind first! But the crowd does not seem to mind. It shouts slogans again: "The opponents to the Cultural Revolution will come to no good end! ..."
This is true. Political criminals nowadays are more than common criminals in the prison where I work. A slip of tongue or an accidental gesture indecent to Chairman Mao's picture can put a decent person behind bars. Lee Ming's crime was not even so serious to begin with.
It happened at my home six years ago when I was assigned to be a prison guard in Shanghai. All my close friends came to my home to celebrate my good luck. I felt rather uneasy because they were all assigned to be farm workers, and they were going to leave Shanghai soon for the cold and remote state farm in Manchuria. After we had finished the rationed beer and cigarettes, we started to sing the forbidden songs, "The Little White Boat," "The Vast Green Grassland," and the like, which were composed before the Cultural Revolution. By then the Cultural Revolution had been going on for three years. We were bored by the revolutionary songs and slogans, if nothing else, and the old songs that we had learned before the revolution were much more appealing.
After we had hummed those songs, someone asked Lee Ming to play the cadenza of the violin concerto "Butterfly Lovers." We all urged him, for that was the piece he played in his debut, which won him instant fame. I took out my violin. What a shame! I began to learn violin together with Lee Ming from the same teacher. My violin is covered with dark brown streaks like a tiger's hide and sounds much better than Lee Ming's, but I was able to use it publicly only a few times in the school orchestra. I handed it to him. He gave me a smiling glimpse and said, "Actually I always wanted to play it." I understood that "it" meant my violin more than the cadenza. He put a mute on the bridge of the violin and started to play. "Play" is not the right word. He put his heart and soul into the music and made it come alive. I closed my eyes and saw the lovers Liang and Zhu transfigure into butterflies after their tragic death and fly out of their grave to dance among the nodding flowers and to flutter in the gentle breeze of the beautiful imaginary world... A long silence followed the coda of the cadenza. Tears filled my eyes, and all my friends seemed to be in tears, too, although I could not see clearly. We were not particularly sentimental, but like the Butterfly Lovers, we also could not realize our dreams in this world.
"I'd rather die if this were death." Lee Ming said with a sigh, "but you never know if death would be really better. That's the rub." We talked about the concerto, and everybody agreed that it was the best piece we Chinese had ever composed.
"It's even politically correct," one of us said, "for it's anti-feudalism."
"And it's based on the folklore," another said, "so it's people's art. There should be no reason whatsoever to ban it..."
"Why do you think the folklore makes the lovers change into butterflies, not anything else?" Lee Ming asked. Some said that nothing was more beautiful than butterflies. Some mentioned the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros. We discussed and debated and gave all sorts of reasons.
"What you've suggested is all reasonable except the Greek myth, which we couldn't possibly know in East Han dynasty (25-220 AD) when the folklore first appeared." Lee Ming finally said, "I think the transfiguration has to do with the dream of the philosopher Chuangcius. Don't you remember he once dreamed he was a butterfly flying in the air? When he woke up, he was not sure if he was a man who had dreamed of the butterfly or he was a man who lived only in the dream of the butterfly. He was not sure which was the real world, the one he lived in or the one beyond his life." Lee Ming stood up in excitement and waved his right hand up and down, "The folklore, I believe, takes the transfiguration from the well-known dream to imply that the other world is more real and eternal, to condemn and contemn the evil and falsehood of this world." His pupils shone with vigor and enthusiasm, and gave off a contagious strength of belief. How could I have known that these words of his would be used to sign his death warrant?
"Not only did he play the old reactionary music, but he also used the music to attack our socialist country, to defile the Cultural Revolution launched by our great leader Chairman Mao, and to oppose the great and glorious communist party." The director continues to enumerate Lee Ming's crimes.
"Bullshit! Your son managed to stay in Shanghai. That's the crime!" I roar soundlessly. Yes, his son Wang Peng was among us that evening. He also praised the music. Mao knows what he told his father! Anyway, he did not go to the state farm but stayed to testify against Lee Ming's "crime." They both remained in Shanghai, one behind bars, another behind a desk to "make revolution." Moreover, I suspect, there's some more vicious foul play in Lee Ming's case.
"Lee Ming is an incorrigibly obstinate counter-revolutionary." His turbid eyes narrowing behind his thick glasses, the director goes on to read the committee’s verdict. "He has refused to be remolded. He has written seven letters of complaint and appeal, but not a single piece of self-criticism."
Lee Ming is stubborn indeed. Otherwise, he would have been free. The more he complained and appealed, the longer he was kept in prison. I explained everything to him and tried to persuade him to write a self-criticism, but he simply would not listen. Alas, if only he had yielded before the news came! News that is a blessing to everyone except him. The radio announcer so proudly reported the great revolutionary achievement: "Under the wise leadership of our great teacher Chairman Mao and the correct guidance of our glorious communist party, Shanghai medical workers have successfully transplanted human corneas, making China the only country that is capable of such an advanced medical operation besides the United States of America."
"What a boast!" I said to Lee Ming, "the cornea graft is not that advanced a medical operation. It's been done in many countries. Even if it could be done only in China and America, I wondered under whose wise leadership and correct guidance America made the same achievement, Nixon's?"
"Come on, don't be so cynical." Lee Ming said, "It is good news, after all. We don't have so many things to be proud of nowadays." We chatted about it, and I even joked that he should donate the corneas of his bright eyes if he would die young in a traffic accident or something like that.
Soon after, I was ordered to move Lee Ming to a single cell and to give him special food, which was much better than before: Pork, beef, fish, vegetables, plus rice and soup. Never before was a prisoner ever treated so well. And the dishes were cooked so well that I could not resist tasting a little every time I delivered the meal to him. Moreover, carrot juice was constantly provided for him to drink. Needless to say, I helped myself as well. We wondered about the special treatment but did not connect it with the medical achievement. We never suspected until a week ago when the committee director came to stare at Lee Ming with the turbid, dim-sighted eyes. He grinned and left.
I was ordered to cuff Lee Ming's hands behind his back and to feed him well, if necessary, by force. "Why?" he asked me, "Tell me everything you know!"
"All I know," I told him, "is to take good care of your health." As expected, Lee Ming started a hunger strike. I pleaded, "Don't force me. I am your friend. I don't want to hurt you. You know it's useless. They'll send another prison guard, and we two shall manage to force the food down your throat. You know that. Don't force me, please. I would hate to do that."
Fire burned in his pupils, but oddly enough, he resumed eating and drinking. But he ate mechanically, without any relish. I knew that he ate only for me. That was the most painful week for both of us. He just sat there on the floor gazing at the ceiling. His eyes were bright as usual but motionless. For the first time I did not understand his eyes. Was he in despair? Was he meditating? His eyes were not telling anymore. I had to feed him spoon by spoon three times a day like feeding a Peking duck to be killed and roasted. I tried to talk with him as we had done every day of these six years, but he would not say a word, not a single word, until last night when I told him about the execution. His numbness did not change at all, but slowly and clearly he dictated his will to me and made sure that I memorized it.
It is the most unusual will I have ever known. He did not mention any of his personal property, nor did he mention any friends and relations. He said:
I heard that a musk deer, when fatally wounded by a hunter, always tries to bite its own musk off the navel and swallows it before the hunter finds the deer. Some say the deer swallows its musk in hope of healing the wound. Some say the deer simply does not want the hunter to get its musk. I prefer to believe the latter. Somehow, the deer must know what the hunter is after. Instinctively, the deer bites off and swallows its musk, which, of course, will not save the deer's life but will defeat the hunter's ambition, so that other musk deer will have a better chance to survive in the future. It is the desire for life, not necessarily for the deer's own life, but for the survival of the deer species.
He mentions nobody, I believe, because he knows that he's a "counter-revolutionary," and he does not want to involve anybody in trouble, but what exactly does he mean by such a will? What is he going to do?
"On behalf of the revolutionary committee," the director raises his voice, "I pronounce hereby the sentence on Lee Ming the counter-revolutionary. He is deprived of all political rights and sentenced to death, which is to be executed immediately."
The crowd is shocked by such a severe sentence. When the slogan leader shouts, "Death to Lee Ming the counter-revolutionary!" the masses do not follow as vehemently as before. Lee Ming again lifts his head, and two streaks of indignant lightning flash from his eyes before the escort pushes his head down.
Now the director is announcing the crimes of the second man, who is a rapist of five women and two young girls. When his sentence of death is pronounced, he collapses. The escorts have to lift him up and support him during the rest of the meeting. The same thing happens to the third criminal, who is a grafter of over ten thousand dollars. All the time, Lee Ming lifts his head again and again. The lightning flashes across the crowd on and on.
The other eight men have received different years of imprisonment for their "political crimes," and the meeting ends with slogan-shouting as the criminals are escorted off the stage. The grafter and the rapist are carried down since they are paralyzed with fear. Lee Ming drags the heavy fetters step by step, making a harsh noise that cuts me right to the heart. Is this the way my friend, a talented violinist, will end his life? Do I have to witness it all? And to take back the cuffs and fetters!
The more unbearable thing is the thought that part of his eyes will continue to live, to shine, in those evil sockets. How I wish the medical operation will not succeed! Then again, it may as well succeed. The bright eyes will burn the ugly head! I curse. Each time the director looks at himself in the mirror, the pupils will throw darts and daggers at him. Each time his son looks at him in the eye, he will see a piercing accusation. That is, if they have any conscience at all. But are they human beings? Do they have souls? They are beasts! No, don't wrong animals. Animals are better. Only human beings can be so evil! But then again, only human beings can be so noble! Look at Lee Ming. He is walking with his head high, with his pupils shining like a deer's.
A deer will bite off its musk, but what can he do? He is so fettered that he can't run away. He is so cuffed that he can't even eat without another's help. He can't do anything at all. He is more helpless than a deer. We get him in a police van. He is being transported to the execution ground to be shot to death. And then, they can do anything with his body, with his eyes. Cruel humanity! I hate you! I hate myself, too. I haven't done anything for him, either. Can I do anything? Can I save him? I don't see any possibilities. The escort has a gun. I only have the keys to the cuffs and fetters. Even if I had the gun, would I dare to use it to save my friend? No, I am just another coward. I am even worse than the crowd. They don't know the whole truth. I know everything, and yet I would not do anything. Oh, I hate myself! For the first time in my life I really hate myself. Why wouldn't I do what I know is right? Why wouldn't my body work along with my soul? Surely, the director too must know what is right in the bottom of his heart. It's just that his body doesn't work along with his soul. What is the difference between us? No. The difference is by degree not by nature. We are both evil. Evil is ego. It's as simple as that!
The police van stops. We get out of its back door. The sun shines so brilliantly that it takes a while before I can see properly. The blue sky, the fleecy clouds, the yellow water of the Yangtze river, the green trees along the bank... a white van with a red cross near the execution ground!
So it is true! They will take Lee Ming's eyes immediately after the execution.
Lee Ming walks at the head. The escort holds him by the collar and follows closely. I walk beside the escort feeling an emptiness in my head and a lump in my throat. The rapist and the grafter are carried by four escorts, who are out of breath dragging the criminals behind us. Lee Ming's steps are slow and steady. We get near the ground. The director of the revolutionary committee is talking with a doctor by the ambulance.
Lee Ming dashes forward, as if he were trying to run away. The escort instinctively pulls him hard backward. He falls on his back so violently that his feet are raised swinging the heavy fetters over his head. The escort dodges, but the fetters hit him on the shoulder. He leans on me, more scared than hurt. Meanwhile, Lee Ming is trying to get his hands across his bottom. I hold the escort, pretending to look after him. This is the least I can do, Lee Ming. Do whatever you have to do, quickly! He jerks as a fish jumps. Now his hands have moved over his calves. He has completely doubled himself on the ground, but his cuffs get stuck on his heels. Angry desperation gushes from his eyes, which shout to me, "Help!" Spontaneously my right hand reaches out and gives his hand a pull. His hands scrape across his feet and fall straight upon his eyes! Next moment, he puts his eyeballs into his mouth.
I pull him to his feet. He bursts into a mixture of a painful shout and a victorious laugh. Blood streaks his face. But he presses forward as if he could see as usual. He holds his head high to the sky and keeps shouting and laughing. I don't know if it is the bright sun or my bitter tear that blinds me. I half follow and half direct him to the execution ground. I don't know if it is the wind or the ringing in my ears that makes the sound of applause. I see almost nothing, and I hear nothing else until the gun cracks.
第二天早晨，小贾照旧是酣然大睡。华杨一家又是“悄悄地进村，打枪的不要。”下午回来，柳燕做了家常饭，跟儿子先吃了。不到七点，小贾也回来了。华杨带他到本校的餐厅“乐群食堂”去吃饭。也不知从什么时候起，北京的标牌都喜欢加上拼音，可能是为了帮助老外。在启功那么漂亮的四个大字底下，lequnshitang 熠熠生辉。让老外一念，麻烦了，成了latrine shit on (茅房，拉吧，您哪)。华杨给小贾讲了这笑话，可他好像没听懂，一笑没笑。
“你不能这样想啊！” 华杨愤然道：“西方人认为龙是邪恶的，我们也非得认同不可吗？在咱们的文化中，龙和其它动物一样，有邪恶的，也有善良的。凭什么以他们的观念为标准呀？再说了，西方的 dragon 和东方的龙也不一样啊，咱们的龙没有翅膀，只不过在翻译中把它们等同起来了。就像这餐厅一样，叫‘乐群’，它也不是 latrine（茅房）嘛。”
“瞧你这书页，都绿了。以后我可就叫你绿叶Greenleaves了，叶通页嘛(Leaf also means page)！”
哎，我的爱人，你对不住我， Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
如此无情地把我抛闪在一旁。 To cast me off discourteously.
我爱你爱得那么深那么久， For I have loved you well and long,
和你在一起我就欢乐无疆。 Delighting in your company.
绿袖啊，你是我的喜悦。 Greensleeves was all my joy.
绿袖啊，你是我的宝藏。 Greensleeves was my delight.
绿袖啊，你是我欢娱的源泉， Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
绿袖啊，你是我心中唯一的女郎。 And who but my Lady Greensleeves.
“以前我只听说过小死，”绿叶娇憨道：“还是法文la petite mort，可从未经历过。”
“生命诚可贵，爱情价更高；若为自由故，二者皆可抛。Life is precious/Love more valuable/But for freedom/Both are dispensable.”
哎，我的爱人，别误解我， Alas, my love, don’t get me wrong,
也不要长久地把我放在心上。 To love me so devotedly.
我爱你爱不了那么深那么久， For I can’t love you well and long,
尽管和你在一起我欢乐无疆。 Though I take delight in your company.
绿叶虽然是一段真情， Greenleaves is a love affair.
绿叶却要离你去往远方。 Greenleaves must take a leave.
绿叶你到处都可以找到， Greenleaves is everywhere,
绿叶不配做你的嫁娘。 And you deserve better than Greenleaves.