The Cultural Revolution through my eyes
Our family was very happy during that brief time; we thought we couldn’t have trouble again. My mother worked in the small clinic, she was happy in her job. My father still did his hard work at the far away suburb but the officials left him alone. The family started to have more time; we started to have dinner together again. I enjoyed my school, except sometimes, when small unhappy things happened to me, but that was normal growing up. Sister studied in the high school. She met many friends and she enjoyed her school too. An old lady looked after my younger brother. Everything seemed to be getting better just as father said it would.
Then, one afternoon when I arrived home, I saw sister sitting on the floor and crying. Our home had been ransacked. Our few pieces of furniture and all our belongings were scatted everywhere. My heart suddenly felt very heavy; I cried and asked sister what happened? Sister told me that father couldn’t come home again. The company office’s people came to our home and searched for a long time. She didn’t know what they wanted to find. After they left she had just sat and waited for me to return. Mother was still at work, we had no idea of what to do. We just cried together and slowly picked up our belongings and straightened the furniture the best we could.
At 8pm, the lady who looked after my brother bought him home and brought some food for us. She said to us, “your mother maybe come home too late tonight, you both look after your brother. Got to bed, you don’t need to wait for your mother to come home. We couldn’t sleep; sister hugged my brother and with me sat in the door waiting for mother come home. I was very tired and I rested my head on my sister’s shoulder and slept. I can’t remember what time my mother came home. Sister woke me up and mother hugged us and told to us that we must be strong. Our family needed to face this thing together.
Mother said that father had helped a man who was from the country. The man had come to the city to do hard work in the building company. He had never been to school and he couldn’t read or write. His wife was very sick and he needed to make some money. So my father helped him write a letter to the government asking the government to give him some support money. The government said no. He asked my father what to do. My father wrote another letter and asked all the workers in this company to support the man. Many people gave a helping hand to this man.
The government said my father had deliberately told the people that the government had done the wrong thing. They said this was counter-revolutionary and criticized Mao Zhedong and the Communist Party. It was regarded very seriously. Mother told to us she didn’t know how long it would be before we can see father again. We hope they don’t hit father and give him enough food to eat.
Mother asked Lian uncle to help my father again. Lian uncle told to mother, “this matter he couldn’t help.” But he said he could see my father and give him a letter. I remember mother wrote for a long time and then she gave the letter to sister and me. We could see that she had been crying. We just wrote that we believe in you and are waiting for you come home. Uncle Lian went to see my father and gave him our letter. Father told him to tell us he is fine and he believed he can go home soon. He asked us look after ourselves. But Uncle Lian told us that my father was so thin and they had hit him often. If they keep doing this, my father would die soon. We worried, what we can do!!!!!
My great mother found the man who my father had helped write the letter and asked him go to the government to say my father did the right thing. This man was too weak, he didn’t want do anything and turned his head away. My mother went home and wrote a long letter to the government. My mother wrote: ‘I know when he used this way to help the worker it wasn’t right, but he just thought he was giving a hand for the person, he never thought any criticism of Mao Zhedong or the Communist Party. Now he knows he had used the wrong way to help the person. I hope the Communist Party will give him another chance.’ My mother then asked the company workers to sign their names in the letter. Some people signed, some people didn’t. Mother took this letter to the high government office. Everyday, for one month, my mother took this letter to the government office.
During that time, sister with me looked after my brother and we cooked for ourselves. Every night we waited for mother to come home hoping she had some good news. We were very young, but we had to grow up, we knew we must support mother. Mother didn’t have time to buy and cook food for us. We just had some vegetables and rice everyday. We gave one egg each day to my brother to eat because he was so young. Mother kept going to the office everyday and talked to them. She didn’t give up. Mother’s obvious sincerity and persistence affected them. After two months, they let my father go home.
I remember clearly the day when father came home. My mother was lying in the bed, she couldn’t get up because she was very ill. She just kept looking at my father. Father sat at the edge of the bed and held my mother’s hand. They were very quiet for a long time, and then my father just said, very softly, “sorry.” No more words.