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2009-11-19 15:11:11|  分类: 百味人生 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

  下载LOFTER 我的照片书  |


As a boy, I saw my country bullied and despised by industrialized powers, and hoped one day I could do my bit in helping China shake its weakness and poverty. That was why, four decades ago, I made the crucial decision to remain on the mainland to dedicate me youth and abilities to the new-born Republic. It turned out that my patriotic fervor was not rewarded. Discrimination against me began with the dark shadow of suspicion which hovered over me even before I set my foot in the revolutionary ranks. For eight years since then I was kicked about with enmity and disgust, while the discrimination gained intensity and ultimately escalated into an indefinite prison term. I was rehabilitated at the age of fifty-five after twenty-one years in the labor camp. This plus nine wasted years as a suspected spy made up three decades from age twenty-five to fifty-five, the prime of my adult life, all ruthlessly trampled to smithereens along with the unreserved enthusiasm with which I flung all of myself into the embrace of my beloved motherland. 


I received an apology for “a mistaken indictment” on the day of my rehabilitation, but was refused compensation of financial losses caused by salary cut. I was neither elated at the apology nor saddened by the refusal of a compensatory payment, because neither was of any consequence  in comparison with the humiliation I went through and the losses I sustained. At seventy-two, I am long past the age of ambitions and adventures, but I tent to think more as I become older and less mobile. I am glad that I still can write these liens. I trust that I could not write them at all if I passed my years in peace and happiness. 


There is a copy of Complete Works of Shakespeare on my bookshelf. It looks quite new, since I have had it rebound with the rotted edges trimmed off. Yet when leafed through, many of the pages show glaring marks of water stain, being yellowed along the edges at greater width towards the cover. The flyleaf, the title page and the table of contents are missing. New and better copies are available, yet I am reluctant to dispense with the old book. The plays are intact, but more important, it is a reminder of my experience and that of the nation. 


I have related in Chapter X that a large number of old books, including some of my own, were sequestered at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, and that I had a part in classifying and registering them. Before long they were hauled away, and it was very much later that I learned of the tragic fate that befell them. The books were taken to the head-office of the labor camp where they were unloaded en bloc in the basement and heaped along with those seized from other branch-farms. It happened that a leak in the drainage system caused the basement to be flooded with water. Nothing was done to repair it, since all operations were suspended to give way to mutual denunciations, poster writing, hysterical rackets and bloody torturing of victims. The basement also served as storeroom for other things. Walking across the flooded floor to carry the supplies, the men laid their hands on whatever was available to build a pathway that led up to the exit. Books were within easy reach and made excellent paving material. Western books with hard covers were found more satisfying than paper-backs, so more of these went under water to facilitate the transport. Abundant books made inexhaustible supply, so layer upon layer the pathway grew, to the convenience of the happy-go-lucky road-builders who were spontaneously helping to wipe out the denounced old and Western culture. Unknown volumes of books, like their unknown ill-fated owners, were thus made to play roles they ought not to have played. But the pathway was built and kept in good repair, which was the sole concern of those who held sway over their destiny.


Like their owners, they were crushed, molested or trampled on without mercy, the degree of their misfortune varying only from the top layer to the bottom.


One day in the spring of 1973 a fellow inmate, Zheng, came to me with a coverless, crumpled mess of a book. Upon close examination, it was a copy of Complete Works of Shakespeare, its completeness marred by the absence of the sonnets, a cover, besides some missing parts described at the beginning of this passage. He told me elatedly that he found it in a wastepaper basket in the boiler room, from which the boiler man took kindling for his fire. In this way I regained an item of my lost property, although it was not the same copy. I thanked my friend gratefully for thinking of me. 


Unillustrated and not gilt-edged, the book is inferior to the Oxford edition I had lost even when it was new. Yet somehow I cherish it more than any other book in my possession, less because I got it in a most unusual way than because of the special course of its very existence, which I found so amazingly similar to my own. Like its new owner, the book is scarred from the wounds it received, soiled and defective, having miraculously survived atrocities that normally would have meant certain destruction, Nevertheless, like its new owner, it is still of use, doing justice to its blessed survival.


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