Works of Daniel Chenglish
|Title: Father Son & Violin (My Life Story)
|Name: Daniel Chen
||Date: 2007-03-12 12:30:15
Chenglish：“Father Son & Violin” （1）
“Father Son & Violin” is my life story, as well as a story of our two generations of the New China. I have a strong sense of mission and passion to tell the story to the peoples all over the world.
My trouble is my poor English. I learnt only a little English such as “long life Chairman Mao” during my middle school year. Later though studied English at universities among them La Trobe University, USC, I had no solid experience living in an English speaking country for a long term. Therefore I could only use my poor and simple Chenglish to narrate an extremely complicated personal and profound historical story.
I beg you, if you are an English native, a story lover, a university teacher or professor, a publisher, a sociologist, or a friend of any, please contact me. I need your help to bring the story to the world in a decent form.
A novel first, and then a TV drama serious, and a movie…hopefully.
My life story in memory of my father
Dedicates to all teachers who taught me to be a more educated person, and girls who made me a better human being
This is a life story of a Chinese boy
A story of an emotion and ideology struggle between he and his communist father
A story of how he conquers all obstacles trying to fulfill his life dream to be a world-leading violinist
And how a Chinese man becomes a Norwegian citizen and the cultural conflicts between the east and west
This is also a window of vivid, dramatic, extraordinary social change of New China from 1949 up to 1990s.
Father Son & Violin
Chapter one: My Earliest Memories of My Family
Everyone has ones own memory of childhood. My memory of childhood starts from a cobble stone paved road called “Blue Stone Road” (Qing Shi Jie in Chinese) which 50 years ago was and today still is the main road of Xinhua County in Hunan province Southern China. I lived in a house close to the road with my family.
When I say “my family”, was not a normal nuclear family of parents and their children like most others, but grandparents and aunt plus two uncles and I.
As the only child of the family; it shouldn’t be hard to imagine my status as the center of the family.
There are still things I can clearly remember during my childhood. One of the most deeply impressed events occurred when I was about four years old. One day I found a small white rub tube from a rubbish-place. I picked it up and blew it to be a balloon. I found it amusing, quickly ran back home asking my aunt to tile the balloon up with some rope. Being a high school girl, as soon as my aunt saw the balloon in my hand her face turned red. She looked as if the sky was falling off, immediately called my younger uncle Xi. Uncle Xi came with some used new papers in his hand. He took my treasure away from me by force and quickly ran away towards a toilet. At the same time my aunt avoided my hands but pushed my back towards a water place. Twice uncle and then three times by aunt my hands were washed. To be the “center” of the family, how could that be tolerated? Immediately I played my usual game by gluing my bottom to the ground, now matter how my aunt coaxing, I refused to get up but kept yelling,“ I want my white balloon, I want my white balloon” until uncle Xi running to me with two big colored balloons in his hands.
It must be more than ten years after that event I had always been wondering why my aunt was so terrified by that small white balloon? Until one day I suddenly realized that that white balloon was in no way a child’s toy. It is of great importance when two adults exchange their love, and today an absolute necessity more to prevent disease rather than contraception. So…rry, my poor aunt!
By the year 1960 I became six-Year old. One day after usual nap I went Zijiang River again with my two uncles. I played sand and stones at the riverbank while my uncles were swimming. When the sunglow dyed everything to be red, again I heard my elder uncle Din’s self-good-feeling but out-of-tune singing “the twilight is declining to the western hill…” Then as always with much lower voice volume he changed the lyrics to, “The eastern sun is declining down the western hill.”
When I was about to plug my ears with my fingers I heard my aunt shouting, “Danjiu(my Chinese name)your father is here. Quickly let’s go home.”
That was the first time I heard the title “father” since I was born. But no time allow me to think too much I was taken home and being placed in front of a stranger. He was very thin. Forgive me to overstate a little his hollow cheeks looked like a skeleton covered by a sheet of skin. His side-glanced at me through his glasses made me shivery; quickly I hid my self behind aunt. However, my aunt pulled me out gently and pushed me in front of that man again, in addition she asked me to call him “Baba”(father).
Everyone of the family sat round the dining table expect grandpa. Being the symbol of the family authority grandpa’s absence was rather unusual. (I wonder why suddenly grandpa said he felt a little uneasy) My father took grandpa’s place. Deadly silence made the sound of peeling candy paper cover and chewing extraordinary noisy. Uncle Xi put another into his mouth before he had finished his first. Unclearly he whimpered, “Better than noting.”
“What?” Father responded?
Uncle Xi quickly swallowed what left in his throat and moaned, “No more than a small bag of candy! I thought after so many years my big brother coming home would bring us some rice and meat.”
“What do you think we are? kids?” Uncle Din was the only one who stood the lure of sweet tasty candy. He got out of control at this stage, “The whole family has had no rice for a long time. Everyday we eat vegetables sometimes even grass, tree leaves and barks.”
Aunt caught the last two candies and handed them to uncle Din, “take them before nothing is left.”
Uncle Din did not accept the lose-of-dignity. The two candies on the table in front of uncle Din captured all the eyes in the room especially the two of Uncle Xi’s.
In order to keep a family-like atmosphere, aunt made her complain in a very soft tone to my father, “Though they are noisy, what they said is true. Our family has been suffering from hunger for more than a year now. Regardless you are the eldest son of the family; you are the only one who works for the government in the capital city of the province. Whichever you ought to do something to help the family.”
Aunt’s words were like oil pouring on uncle Din’s fire, he shouted, “That’s right, that’s right. Not only doing nothing to help the family, but also add your burden (me) for us to carry.”
“My burden?” My father disagreed in a low voice: “Yes, the boy is my son, but he also belongs to the country.” Father voice was getting higher a little by little, “It is our great leader Chairman Mao who called on our nation to have as many children as possible for the use of war. We followed his great teach to have four children. That’s why I say they are not only our children but also children of the country. In this sense, everyone in this country has obligation to raise them up.”
“Nonsense, you make children for the use of war? Animal!” Uncle din was turned into fury.
Grandma saw things were getting worse, she stood up trying to make a balance,“ Stop! Stop. That’s enough. It’s not easy for us all to sit together around the same table. Can’t we be more like a family? ” As soon as she finished her saying, grandma naturally took the two-last-left candies, exchanged her eyesight with uncle Din making sure he would in no way eat them. “I’ll put them into a jug so that we all can share some sweet water.”
After everybody kept quiet for a while, my father slowly cut a letter heading paper into eight sized small pieces, and then he opened an old small iron box, took out a bit of loose tobacco, put it in the middle of a small paper and rolled him a horn shaped cigarette. He lighted the cigarette and deeply absorbed it for three times. As he couldn’t find good excuse for not helping the family he had to make his voice half official jargon like, “Now our nation is temporarily in difficulty due to the three years continuum nature disaster, plus the Soviet revisionism and other imperial countries neck clothing us. Not only our family, the whole country, includes capital city of the province, even the central government, everybody is short in food. Haven’t you heard, our great leader Chairman Mao also has stopped eating meat after he heard many of our class brothers and sisters lost their lives from the starvation!”
(It is said from 1958 to 1961, 30000000 Chinese lives were disappeared in resulting of starvation or related reasons. Though some intellectual doubt the accuracy of the number.)
“What should we do? Waiting to die?” Uncle Xi’s voice worsened the mood.
Silence again, this time even without the noise of peeling candy paper cover or chewing.
My father took one last deep inhale of his cigarette until his lips felt burnt. He changed his tone to a more domestic, “Exactly because we know you are also in difficulties, Xiwan (my mother’s name) and I decided to release your burden by taking Danjiu home. I’m afraid this is the only thing we could do to help at this moment.” After a little pose, my father was obviously trying to cheer everybody up by saying: “We must trust our great leader chairman Mao and always-correct communist party. Our country will be better and better from now on.”
As no one seemed to be cheered up, my father’s effort was in van. Uncle Xi moaned again, “If eldest brother had finished his university degree instead of taking part in the communist party’s revolutionary activity before liberation, at least he could now earn some money by giving private lessens, by doing that he should be able to take his share supporting our old parents.”
Captured the gap before my father’s response, uncle Din poured out with grouse, “If revolution can’t bring our family better life but results hunger for the whole nation, what’s the meaning of it? Gas! ”
“Be careful, be careful!” Father raised his voice with authority, “what I have just heard was anti-revolution. It’s dangerous, especially from a non-working-class family.”
Uncle Din was outraged by his brother’s words, he jumped up and shouted: “Remember? Just like most of your party members, you cut all ties with your family a long time ago when you joined the party. Whatever happens to us you got nothing to worry about.”
Aunt looked also quite anxious, she clarified: “Our father’s class is self-employed & small-land-renting. It is ‘self-employed’ before ‘small-land-renting’. In addition, after the victory of the revelation, our father was once being elected to be the people’s representative of the county. Therefore our family is in no way anti-revolutionary class. If not, how could enemy represent people? Right!”
Above dialogue must be nonsense to most nations on the earth, but was absolutely of great, the greatest importance to every single Chinese family at that time. It was so vital that could be an edge between “to be or not to be.”
Such important debate was of course not suitable to a child of 6. Grandma saw things got out of control she took my hands and dragged me into the kitchen. She made me promise to stay there until being called. Then again, she went back to the battlefield trying to extinguish the fire.
My sensitive nose led me to a small aluminum lunch-box. Guess what I had discovered? Two boiled eggs and two baked Chinese sweet potatoes. As my mouth was still busy with some candy, I decided to let them be for a little while longer.
The voice fighting of the adults was getting higher and higher. Curiosity forced me put me face against the kitchen door. Through the door gap I saw my father stood up, saying to grandma: “Where is Danjiu? We got to go at once. Otherwise we will be late for the train.”
“Don’t you have something to eat before...” grandma hinted father to go to the kitchen.
“Eat? Eat what?” Uncle Din cut in: “He brought nothing home, what have we got for him to eat?”
The kitchen door again was opened. My father quickly walked towards me. He grasped my hand dragging me out. My instinct was to bit him. Fortunately he avoided my teeth in time. I got away from him and quickly hid myself behind aunt. To my big surprise, a 1000, 1000 million surprises, she pushed me away. My aunt, the woman who had always kept her arms open to me, in any case at any time had always been my protector, but this time, first time in my memory, pushed me away from her. The unbelievable action of hers turned my surprising into anger. I decided to make her pay for what she had done to me by going away with this stranger. “Without me, she must be sad to death.” I imagined with a bit of satisfaction.
The next thing I remember was on a train. I leant against the window, anxiously expecting aunt to take me back. But when I saw her with the lunch-box in her hand running along the train back and forth searching for me window-by-window, again I felt like a game-play. Therefore every time when aunt passed by my window, I lowed my head down so that I couldn’t be seen. Until the train started to move, I stretched my head and waved my hand to aunt. When aunt saw me she quickly handed up the lunch-box and yelled “Danjiu, Danjiu, take it, take it.” But that was too late. The train ran more and more quickly. The form of aunt’s body became smaller and smaller, and faded away. When I realized it was no longer a game but for real my aunt and I were apart, I “Wa…” burst out into tears, “I want sweet potato, I want sweet potato.” I clamored. My father showed no response to my crying, only changed the seats with me. Now he replaced me sitting by the window.
After I gave up the hope that my aunt would appear again, I turned my eyes to my father. But he avoided my eyesight by turning his face to the window and dazed. My crying was getting lower and lower and gradually becoming like a little monk chanting Buddhist scriptures.
When I felt a little tired and sleepy, noodle salesman passed by with a trailer. My father searched all his pockets looking for every single coin he could find, put all the coins together in the middle of his left hand and counted twice by the first finger of his right hand. Totally he had thirty-six fen RMB(about 5 us cents. I could be wrong. I was after all no more than six years old) His face suddenly turned to be a little pleasantly excited, called the noodle salesman with a rather positive voice. Father counted the coins again in front of the salesman and carefully handed them to him. As soon he took a bowl of noodle from the salesman he had some soup soundly. I guess he did so partly because of being afraid that I would pour the soup out if it were too full. And then he pasted the bowl to me very carefully.
I nipped the noodle one by one by means of chopsticks and fed them into my mouth. My father again turned his face against the window. I looked at him and felt the blue veins on his neck somewhat like blasted tree roots. I tried to observe his facial expression by looking at the window reflection. My father seemed to have noticed my intention; purposely he blew some hot air on the window glass. Instantly my father’s face became illegible. I squeezed the noodle and chewed them very slowly making as much noise as I could in order to draw his attention. In fact I was more chewing my father’s thoughts rather than the taste of noodle. Nevertheless, from the beginning to the end my father responded nothing. Finally I felt rather dull. Though I was full I quickly ate what my chopsticks could catch in the bowl and handed it over to my father. This time he responded right away. He took the bowl and poured what’s left in it into his mouth at once.
When we arrived Changsha (the capital of Hunan province) and got home, (When I say “home” was actually one of father’s office rooms) the first person and also the only person I met was a boy looked only a little bigger than me. Father said something to the boy I could not understand. Then he turned to me telling me that that boy was my elder brother. Our father left us alone soon after that brief introduction and went to work. The next time I saw father again was quite some months later.
My elder brother Danjin is only a year and half older than me. However, at that time his status seemed to be a generation higher to me, especially every time I saw the room key hanging around his neck. You see, being a 7 years old boy, he was literally the key-man of our home.
What about other members of the family, my mother, my other brothers?
Only a few minutes after I had been home, my elder brother Danjin told me that it was the time to go see our mother and younger brother at a hospital.
We went out. He had an aluminum lunch-box in his left hand and me in his right hand. Being a country boy first time in a big city, I grasped his hand tightly enough to cause pain. Endlessly we walked and walked. I couldn’t remember I had ever walked so long distance. Danjin was constantly changing hands to take the lunch-box and me. I wasn’t aware it was I made his hands painful, but thought it was the lunch-box too heavy. I suggested that I could help him with the lunch-box from time to time. Be honestly, I offered my help was not because I felt sorry for him, but felt the lunch-bow somehow symbolizing a sort of privilege, and also partly I thought to take the lunch-bow might be a kind of fun.
After he refused me, I tightened my hand even harder to force him change hand. I caught a chance trying to seize the lunch-box by force. Undoubtedly he tried to avoid me. Back and forth couple of times resulted the lunch-box dropping off from his hand. Noodles were pouring out from the lunch-box to the ground. No time for him to show his anger to me, he quickly crouched down over to the ground trying to get the noodles back to the lunch-box.
At exactly that moment, a beggar dashed to the spot, and soon a group of beggars were down to the ground like dogs. Soon that spot of the earth was licked up once, twice and more times.
That scene chocked my vexatious brother and made him burst into crying. It was that crying shortened the distance between my brother and I, and made me realize that my brother was just like me, also no more than a boy.
He picked up the empty lunch-box and ran away with despair. I did not believe he would really leave me along in the middle of nowhere; at least I did not want to believe. Therefore instead of following him I stood still. Until the view of his back disappeared in distance I started to get worried. I hastily chased up. When I saw him in a corner waiting for me, I felt relaxed. I pretended I did not see him and walked my unnatural slow steps like a Beijing Opera actor as if nothing had happened.
When we finally arrived at the hospital, my brother’s face was jammed again with mew snivels and tears. My mother, a pretty woman with a golden color flamed glasses on her nose looked quite elegant. When my brother narrated the lunch-bow adventure I hid myself behind him. My mother appeared not paying much attention to my existence (but I knew she anxiously wanted to see how I look), but put all her attention to a pile of bones, bones that wrapped by a sheet of human skin in her arms. That thing was my youngest brother.
The only reason I could think that mother showed little affection to me was I destroyed her lunch-box. There might be some other reasons, being caught with chaff of the party’s call to have four children for instance? Anyway, if there WERE other reasons, must be reasons beyond comprehension of a 6 years old boy.
I remember I could understand my mother’s language. She did not ask me to call her “mam” instead did push me to call Danjin “Gege” (elder brother). Being shy perhaps, I refused. Danjin took out a small toy frog from his pocket, saying he would only let me play with it if I call him “Gege”. But my position was playing with the lovely toy frog without calling him “Gege”. Just like all other international affairs, when negotiation gets nowhere, the war begins. That was the first of many fights between Danjin and me. After we pushed each other back and forth couple of times I felt I was likely going to loose, I turned my eyes to mother hoping to get some kind of support. But mother was busy with my little brother’s diaper and acted as if we boys did not exist. Finally I lost the battle (So did all other battles later). I shamed into anger, “F u c k your mother!” I called Chinese national names.
I wondered why it was so funny that I said “F u c k your mother” to my brother, every one, regardless doctors nurses or patients, all burst into laughter. That hit my mother at last. She immediately showed her attention to me by hitting my face, both sides. That action of hers did not correspond with her urbanely golden color flamed glasses at all. And yet to me, I finally caught her attention, which was a kind of victory.
My face revealed a little smile with tears. But that facial expression lasted only a very short moment, because I instantly decided to use my usual game, I “wa,,,” hit my bottom to the ground, and as loudly as I could shouted “aunt, aunt”. Until my bottom felt ice cold, my hundreds miles away aunt, certainly did not show up. Going through that experience I began to be aware that unlike my other family with my grandparents, in this family, I was by no mean the center of this family.
Fortunately Danjin was after all good hearted. He threw the toy frog in front of me, which gave me a perfect excuse to get my bottom away from that ice-cold ground. Compare with that, to play with the toy frog became less important.
To hit both sides of my face was the present my mother gave to me for the first time we met after being apart for 4 years. But to think twice, what else could she give me, a bar of milk chocolate, after I jeopardized her lunch, called dirty names that embarrassed her in front of many?
Now, allow me to give a very brief introduction of my parents. My mother was born in 1922, the same year as the establishment of the Chinese communist party. She was from a poor family and lost both parents at very young age. Nevertheless, she had her very strong well to be an educated woman and somehow managed to reach high school (That was rather rare at that time in China). Influenced by communist ideology during the high school years she took part in some underground revolutionary activities.
My father on the other hand was totally another story. His father (my grandpa) was a medical doctor. After had his education in Japan grandpa came back to his hometown and established his own private hospital. In addition he inherited some land from the family he should be well off enough. Being the first son, my father was heavily treated. He had considerably good education from private school up to University studying English literature. It was during the second year of his university life when his head was filled of Shakespeare, by chance he met my mother at a school party. That changed his life. I have always been wondering if it was really my mother’s revolutionary enthusiasm, or her ardors as a pretty girl aroused him. Whatever! Unbelievably he gave up his university education, cut all the ties with his family and followed his girl friend (later became my mother) to join the communist revolution.
After the liberation, my parents, as intelligentsia class, became a small portion of the new government. They both worked for the Hunan provincial government. Since the day they walked into their office they have always been classified to those “could be used but never be trusted by the party”. My father soon became a communist party member. While my mother had never managed to get herself into the party, I think mainly due to her too-straight-forward personality and bad temper.
To respond the party’s call on “to have as many children as possible for the use of war”, they got married and produced four sons: my elder brother Danijin, me Danjiu (later adapted to Daniel by my English teacher) my younger brother Danpin and the youngest brother Danfen. (Danfen was the one treated in the hospital as I wrote above) I was sent to my father’s hometown before I reached 2, and my younger brother Danpin was sent to my mother’s hometown not long after he was born. (For some difficult-to-exclaim reasons, this book avoids to talk about my younger brother Danpin)
1960 was the worst year of China’s so-called “three year nature disaster”. People gone from hunger or hunger related reasons became part of everyday life. We were the lucky ones as our parents working for the government; regularly we received carrots white potatoes and sweet potatoes etc. Therefore the biggest problem of our family was not life and death like many other families, But my youngest brother’s health issues. He suffered from bad dysentery a few months after he was born. Several times mother was informed by the hospital that the little boy had very little chance. All other kids in the same sickroom suffering from the same killer didn’t make it. But my mother did not give up. Every day she held the pile of bones constantly hoping for miracle. Miracle did happen! One day, my brother Danfen smiled. That deserved the hospital a big celebration. Combing with a letter of congratulation, my mother received a very expensive bill of 300 Renminbi (May be 100 USD at that time), as monthly salary in China was around 30 Renminbi, to pay back the 300 Renminbi debt had been a heavy burden pressed on our family quite some years to come.
My first days in Changsha were among the loneliest days in my life.
As I mentioned before, after father took me back from his hometown, he disappeared from us for several months. My father, as one of the “could be used but never be trusted” party members, was constantly sent to countryside from one place to another to carry out party’s endless political campaigns.
Neither mother was ever at home since she had to be in the hospital 24hours full time nursing my sick brother. That results my 7 years old brother Danjin to be totally in charge at home.
But even Danjin was not able to look after me as he got his own school to go.
At the very first days, Danijn locked me up alone at home during his school hours. Perhaps I stole too much food to eat; he had to lock me out. When I got out free, all what I did was using my fingers to dig the ground where used to grow sweet potato together with other hungry kids. The best sweet potato roots we could possibly gain ware those as thick as small fingers.
One day I had to quit digging as I felt an extreme pain in my stomach. What I really needed was to lie down on a bed, yet I had to sit outside of our home for hours waiting for Danjin to open the door.
When Danjin came back from school and saw my mouth was full of mud, again he changed his policy on me by taking me to the school during his school hours. I played on the school sports ground while Danjin had his classes. I must have made quite hell of noise, some troubled teachers suggested to enroll me to be a pupil though I was under age. The awkward thing was when Danjin took me to the enrollment office, neither of us knew how to write our father’s name. After all Danjin managed to get me into the school.
Being six and half I became an elementary pupil.
Above are my earliest memories of my family.
To end this opening chapter, I would like to mention my feeling towards Danjin. Though his existence to me was almost the paterfamilias, and also in spite of we were getting closer and closer, I was still not totally willing to admit he was older than me, at least not on the surface. Until later “cigarette ends incident” happened, things started to get changing.
To be continued
Me. one year old
|Reply: A few Unforgettable Experiences That I Always Wish to Disremember
|Name: CHAPTER TWO
||Date: 2007-03-12 15:59:20
A few Unforgettable Experiences That I Always Wish to Disremember
Every single family is a miniature of a sociality. And almost each family has at least one reactionary. I was born a reactionary to our family. The following are examples.
Part 1, Cigarette Ends Conflict
The “cigarette ends incident” happened during the end of my first elementary school year.
The distance between where I lived and the school was about 3 kilometers. It took a 7-year-old kid more than 30 minutes to walk. When I say “30 minutes” only meant in the morning on my way to the school. But in the afternoon from school back home could take me hours. The reason was I wanted to pick up cigarette ends to meet the need of my father. (Father was for a period of time back home from countryside errands)
When I say “pick up cigarette ends” was not in all cases actually pick them up from the ground, but to follow smokers, sometimes for quite a distance, wait until they finishing their smoking, and then pick up what was left, if there was any left.
Back home from school, the first thing for Danjin and me to do was to put our booty on the table. I always wanted to compare his with mine, to see who the winner was. The pity was he seemed to be not so enthusiastic in this kind of competition. “OK, you are the winner again” was what he said most of the time. That made my feeling of satisfaction much less. After that what we did was to separate tobacco from papers and mix the tobacco together before we hand over to our father.
Father put the “second mouth” tobacco in a frying pan insufflating a little alcohol on it and then heats it up for a few seconds, for disinfections purpose I guess. Then the loose tobacco was ready for my father to roll his own speaking trumpet shape cigarette.
One day, I invited a classmate to do the pick-up together with me. Although he was older than me but looked younger as he was smaller. Our deal was to put our pick-ups together and 50/50 by the end. That day business was unusually bad. I put the blame on him, broke the deal by saying I could only give him 30%. He disagreed. I started to run way. He chased me tightly all the way to where I lived. My brother Danjin appeared By chance. After listening to his complain of my wrongdoing with tears and snivels, Danjin gave all his cigarette ends that he collected for the whole day to my classmate. In addition Danjin walked him back for about 10 meters comforting him by promising, “I will report about my brother’s wrongdoing to our parents.”
When I was thinking what my brother did was extremely stupid, especially towards such a small fellow, something unexpected happened. My classmate turned his head staring at me. As soon as our eyesight met he threw a cigarette end on the ground. I pounced on it like a tiger. He walked some distance and threw another. Again I dashed up. Again and again repeating like that, half an hour had past and we were not far away from where he lived. Then he laughed with victorious satisfaction and poured every thing he had left in his hands on the ground.
Though I was exhausted when I got home I showed up my achievement to Danjin with excitement. I thought I deserve praise, yet Danjin made no comments. Later he told me coldly, “Your classmate’s father dose not smoke at all.” I was woodened with no words, only compunction that I should not take advantage of a smaller classmate in the first place.
In the evening, Danjin kept his promise to report my wrongdoing to our parents. In result they doubled my housework as punishment. I was very ill affected, and decided to quit the pick-up business forever. I imagined father running at the nose caused by lack of smoking I could not help laughing. Somehow I had my moment.
In fact, what I really should be proud of were those speeches written by my father for some important provincial leaders, speeches such as “the situation of our country is not only good, but also getting better and better” for sure decocted out from my picked-up cigarette ends, at least a part of them.
Part 2, My Red Rain Shoes
It was some days before the Chinese New Year. 1961 was probably before the glob worming; everywhere in Changsha was covered by snow and ice. The temperature was below zero even inside. Therefore the outside temperature I dare not to remember. In spite of that bloody coldness, everyday my brother Danjin still took me walking all the way to the school.
Walking was bad. But the worst was the only pair of old rubber rain shoes that I had. Because the shoes were without insoles, my mother put a little haulm in instead. Also because I possessed no socks, my father found two rags to wrap my feet. Again because the shoes were too old and a little too small for me, I had to fill my feet in by force. That caused one of my dear old shoes open its mouth like a dead fish…
Counting the days the Chinese New Year finally drew near. I bowed to my mother with my big toe. Immediately Mother replied without taking a good look at my polite toe, “I know I know, I’ll do something before the Chinese New Year.”
At last the day before New Year came. Mother handed me a pair of red rubber rain shoes when I got up in the morning. I threw myself on them with great joy and happiness. But when I held the shoes on my hands, I felt they were not new. After second observing, to my great disappointment they were the same broken shoes I had worn for years. Why they looked new at first glance? Because a layer of bicycle inner tube being glued on them. A romantic description could be, “my black shoes were wrapped around by a red coat.”
Nevertheless, still I could not help the excitement, put the shoes on at once and ran out from home. Outside the ground was iced. When I found a place with comparatively thin ice, I hit my heel on the ice to break it. And then very bravely I trampled my right foot totally into the water with satisfactory thoughts, “water, water, I’m no longer afraid of you from now on.” And yet to my enormous despair, the water immersed into my shoe as always. Pathetic, isn’t it?
I lamed back home. Mother tweaked my painless frozen ear， “Among the four brothers, only your shoes I could afford to repair this time of the year. How could you step into dirty water with such good pair of rain shoes? You deserve no valuable things，from now on you go out with your bare feet.” At the same time mother removed my red shoes. She did it very gently with my shoes but not my feet, and tried to dry the wet one carefully by putting it at a not-too-far not-too-near place of the coal stove, and adjusted the distance back and forth for a couple of times, and left my foot wet.
The whole day my brothers were out to see friends and back home with friends frequently, but poor me had to be in bed to keep my feet warm, although sometimes I did get up and jump with one shoe inside home.
The New Year Eve’s family dinner (just like Christmas dinner to westerners) used to be and still is the most important event among the Chinese. It is our tradition to get every one of family sitting together around the dinner table by that specific day at that particular moment. In Chinese it is called “Tuan yuan Fan” meaning “reunion meal”. No matter how terrible we were in poverty, our stomachs deserve to be fed fully, once a year.
But that evening father received a party invitation held by the Communist Party. The party took place at Xianjian Hotel, which was the highest building (as high as 9 floors) with elevator being built after the liberation in Hunan province. Father read the invitation proudly in front of the whole family, and at the same time he announced there would be no family dinner in that evening because of the much more important party. Everybody was cheered up. They all went out for the party with father except me.
When they were at the party eating drinking singing laughing, I was hopelessly dazing at my half-dry half-wet shoe by the stove with desolation. All I could do to comfort myself was by fantasizing, “I’m not particularly fancy about parties. But about the elevator, hen, when I grow up, I’m going to live in a higher building with better elevator. Everyday I shell take the elevator up and down up and down all the time. You folks will not be welcome to visit me.”
By mid-night after I got over my hunger my people came back with full stomachs. Immediately I decided not to give them chance to show their penitence to me. I covered my head with quilt pretending in deep sleep. May be my performing grunt was better than real, everybody seemed to be amused. Father deterred their laughing; spoke with a loud-enough-low voice “don’t wake him up.” Soon after that I heard some sound of opening a package. Father’s voice again, “Look at this, the Party leader gave it to our family.”
“Rice-cake! My goodness! We haven’t had it for a long time. Thanks the great Party!” my mother’s voice with excitement and gratitude.
“We only have a little for taste now, and leave the rest for tomorrow.” Father ordered.
Followed I heard some chewing sounds of my brothers.
“How about Danjiu (me)?” Mother reminded.
“He should wake up if he would like to join us.” Father teased.
A piece of cake to a 7 year-old boy, what a cruel temptation! Suddenly I felt my mouth full of hands extending to take the cake. From the bottom of my stomach, I would like very much to join they people. In one word “eat, eat” I really want to eat, but what about my face, my pride, my self-respect? Yes, I stood the lure like a piece of cake by swallowing my constantly flowing sour slobbers.
Until everybody went to bed and the room was dark, my elder brother Danjin filled a bit of rice-cake into my mouth. The wonderful tastes kept me awake the whole night.
Next morning though my shoe was dry I volunteered to be home alone again. When the whole family was out to do New Year’s greeting to our neighbors door by door, I called one of my diehard pals to come to my home. Together we broke the lock of the only food box our family had, and shared all the rice-cake left in it.
Part 3, Tenghao, That Changed The Destiny of Our Family
Tenghao is a kind of eatable wild plants (similar to grass).
Apart from picking up cigarette ends for our father, Danjin and I spent much time every day looking for Tenghao. The tool that we used to cut Tenghao was our father’s old shave blade.
One day, Danjin and I went to the usual place searching for Tenghao out from all other wild grasses. When I was busy working, our neighbor Wang-Pang a fat boy 3 years elder than Danjin came over to me. (His father was provincial minister Wang, my father’s superior. Be precisely my father was his father’s secretary.) He said to me, “Jiu boy, work harder. But when you finish you must give me half what you get from this area.” I ask him why? He explained to me yesterday he declared the ownership of the Tenghao in this area by putting a wooden sign here. Therefore anyone who picks up Tenghao from this area ought to hand half to him.
What he said was totally against communist ideology that his father fought for. But I was too young to reason about that. All what I could do was to walk away. Of course he wouldn’t let me go. The fighting occurred. Wang-Pang was not only 4 or 5 years elder than me, but also much larger. Therefore in no way I could be his rival. Soon he was riding on me.
I called for help by shouting, “Danjin, Gege .”(In that period of time I would call Danjin as “Gege (elder brother)” only when I was cornered.)
Danjin rushed over to us, tried his best to drag me out from Wang-Pang’s body. Beyond my expectation Wang-Pang gave me up; instead he replaced Danjin to be his horse, and punched my brother’s face again and again. At the same time he yielded at me “How dare you to call your brother! Call your brother for what, for being beaten?” The situation made me mad. I decided to fight with him no matter death or alive. I dashed up and bit his arm like a wild dog. Wang-Pang overcame the pain, punched me down. Now Danjin and I both were under him.
It must someone who told our father what was happening down there. Father ran to us hastily. He pulled both of his sons out from the fat boy.（meanwhile Danjin started to cry）Unthinkably Wang-Pang was not afraid of adult, not a bit at all, on the contrary he became more overbearing, he chased us all over to continue his punching at us. Our father could only use his body as a shelter to prevent his sons from being beaten.
Meanwhile our mother also arrived. When she saw such a little fat boy dare to attack all the three men of hers, she tweaked the boy by his back collar and lifted him up to the air, “How overbearing you are! Let’s go see your mother.” Not until then, Wang-Pang, “Wa… ”Burst out into crying.
I felt I was in a safe hand; felt the power of mother’s backing. To take the advantage I ran away from father towards Wang-Pang, “f u c k your mother. You are a son of bitch.”
Immediately mother reworded me with a big blow on my head.
At exact that moment, Wang-Pang’s mother also entered. She must also have heard my words “son of bitch”. She dragged her son back home with snivels and tiers.
The same day at dinner hour, mother was working overtime. When I washed the Tenghao I got that day in a public water place.(by that time the most Chinese homes were without water supplying) After cleaned up the Tenghao I went back home. I saw minister Wang (Wang-Pang’s father) was sitting on the only chair with a back in our home. His right leg crossed on his left with toes pointing to the ceiling. Watched me walking in Wang did not stop playing with a box of cigarettes in his hand.
My father was sitting on a small wooden bench looking up to his boss like a, a…(if he were not my father, I would have described him looked like a Pekinese dog)
Minister Wang must be quite disappointed when he saw me was not so frightened. He looked at me again, very slowly he said, “Jiu boy, how dare you to call your fat brother (his son) names. If your fat brother is a ‘son of bitch’, what am I? Bitch?”
I looked at him asquint and did not say he was not a bitch nor explained to him that “bitch” is a she-dog therefore he was not qualified.
Wang continues, “Suppose I’m a bitch, what would be your daddy? Bitch secretary! Your mam would be bitch secretary’s wife. And you all would be sons of bitch secretary.”
Not knowing what to say my father’s smiling face appeared uglier than crying.
Then，Wang turned his face to father, talked with a rather official tone like he always did at office, “this, this, You, not only the children, you should also criticize your wife, you, should not be afraid of wife, and, and, this, this, kids quarrel, adult get involved, what is that? This, this…”
Father clapped his hand with adulation, “Today I discover that you, respectable minister Wang can give considerably good speeches without my manuscripts.”
“Well, well…” Wang was obviously very pleased. He took out two cigarettes from the cigar-boxes, clipped one between his lips, and flipped one towards my father.
Father failed to catch the cigarette from his boss. And the cigarette rolled under a table.
Father hurried down under the table picking up the cigarette, blew dust once, twice, and handed it back to Wang, “This is not strong enough. It would be waste for me to have it.”
Wang took the cigarette without hesitation and put it back into the box again, “That’s right, that’s right, to save every single coin, for the sake of the war and revolution.”
I was glad that father did not take his cigarette, a sugar coated bomb.
Then, Wang turned his tone to be much more personally, slowly he said to my father, “this, this, I mean the one, your sister-in-law (Wang’s wife) who is in charge at home, still be angry at me. She is from North, not being well educated, ill tempered, nothing I could do. Perhaps, may be, we could invite comrade Xiwan (my mother) coming to my home, give a self-criticism, that could calm her anger, the affair would be over. Otherwise, she is very stubborn, would be endless with me. Hai, after all kids quarrel, no big deal.”
My father echoed, “Right, absolutely right, kids quarrel, no big deal.” At the same time father must be thinking that “your wife stubborn one inch, my wife stubborn one meter. If my wife could make a self-criticism to your wife, she wouldn’t lift your son up at first place.”
While in my mind I was laughing, laughing at those pair of old fellows afraid of wives one worse than the other.
Hence, father must come up with an idea, an idea of losing minor to save major. He stood up from the little bench, turned to me and ordered, “Bring the bunch of Tenghao to uncle Wang’s home and give it to aunt. Don’t forget to apologize.”
By then I was still in great grievance. Father’s unbelievable order was like pouring oil to my burning heart. It is human nature (anima nature too) to protect one’s own children, while my father not only spoke no justice; on the contrary he stood by the enemy! I jumped up to the bench to make myself taller, “Why should I apologize? Why should I give my Tenghao to them? What are they? Landlord? Collecting rent?”
Wang must be quite chocked. He “pa” stood up, stared at my father, “you see, you see, such a son you have, scolded me, an old revolutionary as ‘landlord’, This, this, lack of domestic education. Let’s forget it old Chen, I did not come here. We see each other in the office tomorrow.” Wang said with despair walking toward the door.
Father quickly followed him. On the way he slapped my face loudly and shouted at me, “How dare you to talk back. Go, hurry up.”
I knew though father looked terrible, but if it were not because of saving his face as minister secretary, he would probably rather kneel down to me.
I was not born as a patient man in nature. My father’s unusual action pushed me to the limit. To step higher I jumped up to the table, like flood breaking a reservoir I roared with fury, “You are working for what? Bread winner, ha? Can’t give us enough to eat, in addition force me to give the wild grass picked up by my hands to others.”
I got off the table and place myself before father, “Beating your child to please your landlord, what a father are you? Beat me, beat me again, and better beat me to death. I’m not afraid of death. Having a father like you, I would be starving to death anyway… You, no more than a running dog slave.”
Wang was outraged. He trembled walking to the door. Repeatedly, “fie-fie, fie-fie” he opened the door.
Father caught the last chance, picked up a piece of bamboo lashed my bottom. I moved my bottom quickly enough to avoid being beaten. The piece of bamboo hit my heel; a small piece of flesh was sliced off, not totally but connected to my foot with a piece of skin.
That stopped Wang from going out. He had a look at me half stunned.
Father kept his eyes on his boss, raised up the piece of bamboo towards me again. He stopped there as if waiting for the order from his boss. Wang quickly responded by holding father’s hand, “Stop, old Chen…”
At that very moment, Danjin got up from bed with all the pain and injuries all over his body, took the bunch of Tenghao and went resolutely straight to Wang’s home…
From that on, our brothers had no tough with Wang-Pang for a long time.
Later, the area where we used to pick up Tenghao was divided piece by piece equally to all families. As our little bit of land had no Tenghao left, father grew some vegetables. Even that, was later forced to be shared with some other Party members.
About a year after that, my mother was removed from her working position and transferred to a much lower working unit far away from where we lived. Though there was no hard evidence that mother’s transfer was my credit, but everyone in the family knew it in the bottom of our hearts. In my memory, all that period, father’s only facial expression was to scowl tightly.
After “Tenghao” conflict, the position of me as family’s “apple of discord” was in unprecedented consolidation.
Now when I think the whole thing back, I have no complain but sincere appreciation for my father’s chopping a slice of flesh off my foot, for if it were not that “piece of meat” saved father’s job, we all could have ended dead from starvation ages ago.
Part 4, My Competition with Brothers
As I mentioned before my younger brother (the third son of our patents) was sent to mother’s hometown since he was born, therefore in everyday life we had only three brothers at home.
Both Danjin and Danfeng had a little privilege. So did me.
Besides the home key on the neck and taking care of Danfeng and me, Danjin’s privilege was to receive a reword of 2 fen money from mother every evening. He established himself a small private treasury by means of a section of thick bamboo. Everyday after he put a coin through the cut into the bamboo container, he always shook it for a little while. The sour sound caused my constant toothache.
My youngest brother Danfeng’s privilege was to have a bottle of milk every morning. Every time when he drank the milk he made a kind of “xu,xu” sound. That “xu,xu” too, was as sour as Danjin’s bamboo container shaking. Every time after Danfeng finishing his drink, I always wish to use my own tongue to clean up his white mustache.
My privilege was simple. It was to boil Danfeng’s milk. The reason that I shot for doing that was of course not for Danfeng’s sake, but my own interest of monopolizing the surplus alimentation out from the pot washing. Perhaps because of the concept of milk formed then, no matter what brand milk that I drink today, they are all too dense to me.
I always wanted to be the number 1 at home. The sadness was every time after me exchanging blows with Danjin, I had to hope for my victory next time. Though the great Chinese teaching says, “For real man to revenge after 10 years is not too late.” But when the time really came that I was confident enough, I also became an adult too embarrassing to perform such kid’s games.
Although I was not strong enough to beat Danjin for that time being, I always had a weaker one to fight with, my youngest brother Danfeng. Besides six years younger than me Danfeng was very weak during his childhood because of his illness, therefore to conquer him I need only a little finger. However, the pity was there was a mountain as powerful backing behind that small monkey. The mountain was our mother. Every time if I laid my finger on him, he would fall apart on the ground crying like a packman huckstering his bones until our mother came back from work, then inescapably I would be pressed by the mountain for quite some time. That resulted to lay a finger on Danfeng was worse than fight-and-lose with Danjin.
Where is oppression, where must be resistance. I did not want to believe that I could only be clamped between sandwiches. Thus I decided to win the battle with my brothers and to be the number one at home by some other means instead of physical fighting.
First of all, I wanted to be taller than Dabjin. For that purpose I often hanged myself on a horizontal bar as long as I could. I sometimes also tied my feet on one bedside and use my hands to pull the other, in order to stretch myself longer like a twisted dough-strip before being put into an oil pan.
I remember it was during my second grade Danjin brought back a horizontal bamboo flute from school, immediately I borrowed a vertical bamboo flute from a friend that was longer than his.
Sometime later Danjin brought an Erhu (a two stringed Chinese musical instrument) home; I look up everywhere and found myself a Sanxian (a three stringed Chinese musical instrument) to compete with him. The extra string made my victorious feeling last quite sometime.
Followed, I saw Danjin was leaning how to ride a bicycle on a field, soon I appeared on the same spot with a tri-cycle that I borrowed from a little kid with a bit of his reluctance. I waved at my brother with pride, “What do you think, even by riding, mine is one wheel more than yours!”
Finally, one day Danjin had a terrible fever. Even fever I wanted to be higher than his. I took the thermometer and put it into a glass of boiled water. When mother came over I quickly put the thermometer into my mouth and lay down on a bed. After examining the thermometer mother said I must be sent to a hospital at once, not exactly inside the hospital but somewhere behind the hospital, the corpse building behind the hospital precisely.
All those day I had been thinking of doing something big, world-shaking if I could, for that would make me very special among the family members, make Danjin to call me “elder brother”, make my father look at me in a respectable eye. That’s right, “RESPECT” was what I longing for.
To be continued
|Reply: Re:Father Son and Violin
||Date: 2007-03-16 16:23:05
CHAPTER THREE: The Cultural Revolution
1, Home Moving
From 6 up to 10 years old I lived with our family at father’s working unit, though most of the time father was not home as I mentioned in chapter one that “my father, as one of the ‘could be used but never be trusted’ Party members, was constantly sent to countryside from place to place to carry out party’s endless political campaigns. ” My little head was filled with all the communist’s jargons, jargons such as, “Four Liquidating", the “Stay at One Spot”, the “Socialist Education Movement”, the “Three Antis Five Antis", the “Anti Right Wing” the “ 5 .7 Cadre’s School” etc, etc. Anyway, if list all Chinese Communist Part’s political movements, I can’t say that my father had contributed every single one of them, but most of them for sure.
As I also wrote in chapter two that not long after “Tenghao” occurrence, my mother was removed from her working position and transferred to a much lower working unit located at the edge of Changsha city far away from where we lived.
For saving money, everyday mother woke up with the chickens and off to her work place at the crack of dawn by foot. The distance even today takes me a middle aged strong man over one hour by foot. Back from work she was also always in darkness. I can still clearly recall the scene that every evening our three hungry brothers sitting together in darkness anxiously waiting for the sound of our mother’s footsteps.
Father was away from home; mother had to work; Danjin and I went to school; the only person left home was our youngest brother Danfeng. Actually the youngest and weakest was not exactly “left” home, but being locked up at home, the same Danjin did to me during my first days in Changsha.
One day I had a fight with a classmate at school. Danjin had to accompany me staying at school over time. He apologized to my classmate in our parents’ place. Meanwhile our four-year old little brother must be in extreme hunger, he poured a whole battle of oil and a bag of green lentils into a pan and put the pan on the stove. Fortunately there was no fire in the stove, otherwise that could result a bloody tearing story.
Through these entire years Danfeng’s “Frying Oil Bean” as a butt has been one of our family standing jokes. It was also from then Danfeng decided to become a cook when he grows up so that he wouldn’t suffer from starvation again. 40 years later, he has become a cook of a Chinese restaurant, in London.
That “Frying Oil Bean” incident forced mother to make up her mind of moving the entire family out from the provincial government fence to her countryside-work place, a place called Panjiaping.
1964, we moved to a temporary one-storied house at mother’s work place. The house consisted of 8 units. That means 8 households shared the house. Each unit of the house had front and back room; the third room was a kitchen. Two households shared the same back door, that is to say there were 8 doors in front of the house, but only 4 doors at the back. Because the house meant temporary, nothing had been done to the ground, no cement, no wooden flooring, no nothing. That natural fertile soil ground consequently resulted grass growing inside our homes, under the bed for instance. We lived in that temporary one-storied house, temporarily for 8 years, until I became an adult and out to make my own living. For this reason, quite a portion of my following stories was taking place at this scene spot.
2, An Ugly Phoenix Dropped into a Chicken Nest
I said goodbye to my first elementary school “Da Tong Wan Xiao”, supposed to be the best elementary school in the city, and transferred to fourth grade of The “New River School” absolutely among the worst in the city.
During my years in “Da Tong Wan Xiao” I had always been one of the troublesome pupils in the class. When I left the class, there were only four in the class who were not Advanced Youth Team Members, and I occupied 25%. By that time, I was lack of self-questioning ability, therefore could only put the blame on father of being without any official titles but a secretary. For the atmosphere at that school was if someone’s father possessed no color-faded old army uniform, it equals a shame.
However, things changed so dramatically after I moved to Panjiaping. Among all those countryside boys, I was just like an ugly phoenix dropped into a chicken nest, suddenly becoming a favorite pupil of the whole school. I was accepted to be an Advanced Youth Team member in my first school week. Followed I was chosen to be the leader of the class. And soon after that again I was pointed to play a major role in a school drama. Later I was picked up to be a member of various sport teams, such as dash, ping-pong, and swimming. As one of the representatives of the school swim team I was even sent to the Provincial Sport School to be trained. I took part also a few competitions. Yet the results were all of despondences. For I had always been number one, counting from the back.
All these efforts and failures meant little to me, for what I really wanted, was not special at school among the classmates, but special at home among my brothers.
3, The Cultural Revolution Begins
(Bodhisattvas on Fire)
The year 1966, as soon as I reached the grade six, our great leader Chairman Mao launched the Historically Unprecedented Cultural Revolution.
Everyone who experienced the Cultural Revolution knows the movement began with “Breaking Four Olds”(old thoughts; old cultural; old tradition; old habits).
By the side of our school there was a nunnery with historical magnificence. One day, when the whole class was animadverting on our teacher, we over heard a voice shouting, “Everybody put on action. Let’s burn all the bodhisattvas in the temple”. Hence, people moved out many bodhisattvas, big ones small ones, heaped them in front of the temple, and then poured some asphalt on the bodhisattvas, one match, immediately a thick smoke roll with fire twisted into the sky. The one who lightened the fire was a man we called Uncle Hunag.
At the time I was 11 years old, did not know what to be afraid of, went to see the crowd for fun with a neighbor called brother Money 100. He showed off his knowledge by telling me that, “This is just like before liberation when the foreign devils burned our Circle Brilliant Garden in Beijing.” Now I know, just one match, and one match only, with madness, hundreds year of history was burned.
Meanwhile, a few women’s voice vociferated, “My bodhisattva, my bodhisattva…”rushed into the fire. Followed was chaos. I was too small to see anything behind all the adults, only heard people commenting, “Good miserable God! Being burned like that…”
On our way home, we happened to walk close to Uncle Hunag and a couple of his colleagues.
One man said, “All these kinds of people are blocks of the great revolution, therefore should not save them, let them burn to dead. As our great leader Chairman Mao taught us, ‘there is revolution, there must be sacrifices’.”
Immediately after the man a woman commented, “That’s right, that’s right. Look at them, being burned like ghosts, how they can go on living. May be it’s better to let them die without pain rather than let them live with endless suffering. Ai, Bloody miserable!”
While the opinion of uncle Huang was however wiser, “let them die? That would be too easy for them. Can’t die and can’t live, not human not ghost, let them be worse than not to be, would be the best retribution that they should get.”
4, The Death of The Secular Bird Wang
Since then, like everybody in China, me too personally encountered lots of difficult-to-comprehend happenings, such as those used to be looked down upon suddenly became mount the high horse, while those highly respectable people like Party leaders school teachers were unexpectedly down to the bottom, some of them even forced to swim the streets with a plate sign of bad names hanging on their necks.
For a period of time father was at home, I meant staying AT HOME, not to work in the office. The whole country was paralyzed, the Party, the government, the police except the army. There were red guards everywhere. They were in total power of doing whatever they wanted. They searched some of my neighbors and classmates’ homes.
One day, father found a piece of five-layered plywood. He cut it and made a board, drilled two holes, and tried different ropes, picked up the best rope and hanged the board on his neck.
“Too heavy.” Father said to himself.
And then father changed a piece of three-layered plywood and started all over again from the beginning.
“Are you too going to swim the streets with that?” I worried.
“I’m not qualified.” Father smiled bitterly, “This is for my superior, minister Wang.” Followed father wrote on the board “down to the capitalist-road-going Wang”.
I thought father must have also joined the rebels taking the timing advantage to revenge Wang for what he did to my mother (transferring her to a much lower working unit). Recalling the hatred with his son from the occurrence of Tenghao, I was actually quite excited about father’s doing.
But later I learnt that father was entrusted by Wang to make that board, as he couldn’t make his own because of being handicapped. Wang was one of Mao’s followers. He got shot several times in various battles. Until the day Mao announced the establishment of the New China, Wang also announced that he was a secular bird and would never die. It must be far beyond Wang’s expectation that during his live time in the country he fought for, one day he would suddenly loss everything. Under the circumstance that even all of his family members declared to cut all ties with him, my father, being his faithful old secretary was the last person and only person left in the world he could turn for help.
Wang was an optimistic person. Even under such pressure he comforted my father by saying, “don’t worry old Chen. I’m not afraid. I’ve gone through everything in my life. I’m a secular bird. Remember?”
But, the secular bird’s day finally came. That day, father’s working-unit held a criticizing meeting against minister Wang. Wang was tied up and being forced to kneel on the stage. People jumped on the stage one after another to make their accusations. That was an age of “Class Above Family”. Wang’s son Wang-Pang as a Red Guard member also shouted slogans together with the others to knock down his own father.
More unexpectedly, Wang’s wife too jumped on the stage accusing Wang cheated and forced her to be his wife when she was young and innocent working at an army’s propaganda team. That accusation certainly brought the meeting to a high climax.
Wang was put a paper made high hat and hung up the board my father made and escorted to swim the street. Though the board was not really heavy, but as Wang was originally handicapped plus all the agonizing, it was in no way he could walk with that broad all the way by himself. Therefore from time to time father had to take turn to replace him with the board.
After some distance Wang was rather dragged than walking. When the procession passed by a small garden pond, Wang broke loose and dashed to the pond. He had his final words, “Anti. All anti.” In front of everybody’s eyes, he threw himself into the garden pond. And the revolutionary went down to the bottom.
Wang’s wife fainted on the ground immediately like a dead tree trunk, and dirtied her trousers with natural relieve.
Wang’s son Wang-Pang was out of sight for the time being.
Only Wang-Pang’s younger sister was crying like a hell for her Daddy and Mom.
My father was shocked of course. He instinct rushed to the pond for a few steps, and then stopped, turned around, made every effort to conceal his emotion behind his eyeglasses. Reluctantly he followed the ebullitions shouting the slogan, “Knock down the capitalist-road-going Wang. Wang is guilty, guilty for ten thousand deaths.”
The political conclusion to Wang was “betray the motherland, betray the Party, and betray the people.”
It is said from 1966 to 1976 those ten years, around 2,000,000 people died unnaturally due to political reasons. Besides a huge member of suicides, they were not killed directly by the Communist Party, not by the government, not by any authorities, but by ordinary people themselves, such as students killing teachers, civilians killing Party leaders, workers killing their working heads, farmers killing survival landlords and their posterities, the rebels and the royalists killing each other…
5, Old Revolutionaries Encountering New Problems
“Old revolutionaries encountering new problems” was a popular expression during the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. It is virtually a vivid description to the situation. My parents were of course among those who encountered the new problems. The biggest problem among all was how to adopt oneself to the incomprehensible happenings.
After Wang’s death, back home my parents had a vehemence debate. My mother was one of the most royalists. She was very angry with his husband shouting slogans with others to knock down Wang, especially after Wang’s death.
“Not to mention he used to be your superior, how could you betray such a good comrade, an old revolutionary?” Mother asked.
I was a bit surprised by mother’s words, wondered if I should remind her who sent her to Panjiaping that caused the life change of our whole family.
But father reasoned, “Being a revolutionary, we can’t let our emotion control our reason. The purpose of Chairman Mao launching the Cultural Revolution is to knock down those capitalist-road-going leaders in the Party. Wang used to be a revolutionary, he was our comrade, but today the political situation changed, he has become a capitalist-road-going leader, therefore he is no longer our comrade but enemy. I did betray my small landlord father and follow you to the revolutionary road before, why can’t I betray my capitalist-road-going superior today? This is called ‘continuous revolution under proletariat autarchy’.”
Father was getting more and more excited. He recited Mao’s quotation. The words were more like crying out rather than speak out, “What is revolution？Revolution is not inviting someone for a meal. Revolution is riot, is a violent activity for one class to overthrow another.”
“This, too ruthlessness.” Mother cried out.
“Revolution has always been ruthlessness.” After father finish saying this, he swallowed phlegm in his mouth.
After a little pause, mother emphasized again, “Everything is mad, white becomes black, and black becomes white.”
“Exactly, this is what today we call ‘box-up’, or ‘snafu’. Everything we see is opposite, which means whatever was good is bad, whatever was bad is good.” Although father’s tone sounded positive but clearly could not cover his perplexity.
“Whatever you say still I feel that all wrong.” Mother’s voice became weak and despair.
Father changed his tone to be more negotiable, “Right or wrong, let the history make its conclusion. The only thing we can do right now, is to listen to our great leader Chairman Mao.”
The family political debate ended that way. Father put the board he made for Wang on the loft, in front a Chairman Mao’s quotation book and a lighter, the lighter that father received from Wang as a private gift many years ago, the lighter that father carried with him everywhere everyday and showed off before people from time to time.
Quite a few days after that debate, mother not only refused to talk to father, but also refused to have meal with father at the same table.
Despite of similar to the most youth, I was too in an extreme perplexity. But also similar to many others, the biggest desire for me at that time was take part in the Red Guard. So that I could also wear a self made army uniform, a red chevron on my arm, and leather belt on my waist. Unfortunately my age was too young. There was nothing I could do. Couldn’t I rebel my parents for that, could I?
The worst thing was my brother Danjin, only one and half year elder than me, being accepted by the Red Guard. What made me even more jealous was he together with a few other elderly neighbors visited the Revolution Holy site jinggangshan.
While the poor little me, no school to go no nothing to do, except every day nested home cooking. If it were not we shared the kitchen with next-door neighbor, if the neighbor’s daughter Hu MeiMei were not cute and sweet, if I could not kill my time by flirting her, I would probably have bored to death already.
Fortunately that situation did not last long. For at last I found something very special that I love, and more importantly I believed that could reach my goal of gaining respect of my whole family, especially of my father’s.
What that thing would be? Please find out in the next chapter.
To be continued.
|Reply: Re:Father Son and Violin
||Date: 2007-07-06 02:32:14
Hey, Dear Jiuge，英文版的自传继续加油啊！期待中。好像很久没更新了。
|Reply: Violin That Changed My Destiny
|Name: CHAPTER FOUR
||Date: 2009-04-09 09:14:59
CHAPTER FOUR: Violin That Changed My Destiny
1， Falling in Love With Violin at First Sight
No school to go, and too young to participate any revolutionary activities, to me those days were the most boring time in my life. But one day, a miracle happened.
A neighbor lived at the second floor next building to us had a teenage visitor called Li. That handsome young man soon had chemical reaction with my neighbor sister Lan. Every morning when sister Lan visited him he always kept the window open and playing a violin by the window. How romantic it was! I was rather dragged by that violin sound than inebriated. Every morning I kept my eyes wide open anxiously waiting for the window to be opened.
One day, Li’s window opened only for a very short while and then closed without playing the violin. I could not help rushing up, peeked inside through the keyhole. Oh my God, guess what I saw? I saw both brother Li and sister Lan were naked, holding and rolling each other on the bed. Back to my kitchen I described vividly what I saw to Hu MeiMei. And added my wise comment, “If they were cold they should not be naked, if they were hot should not hold so tightly to each other, they should open the window.”
Hu MeiMei’ s face turned red and ran away into her room before I finished my blowing.
Later I met Hu GeGe, (Hu MeiMe’s elder brother, a Red Guard) again I repeated the story, also did not forget to add my comment. Hu GeGe too, did not wait until my finishing and walked away.
Next morning, a small group of the Red Guards broke into Li’s home. A moment later brother Li and sister Lan were brought out from the room naked. Li suppressed his bird tightly with his violin, as if the bird would fly away if suppressing not tightly enough. Lan too, though two big breasts reveled totally, both front and back of her lower parts were covered by Chairman Mao’s portraits. I felt those were two of the most attractive portraits of Mao’s. But if I could choose, I would rather take the violin.
From then on, I never saw brother Li again. Sister Lan couldn’t find a man to marry until the Cultural Revolution ended ten years later.
By that time in China, sex was considered to be ugly, and for people to sleep together naked before marriage was a shameful crime.
Although brother Li was no longer there, still everyday I kept looking at that window hoping the violin would sound again.
Hu MeiMei saw I was obsessed with the violin, told me Li’s violin was placed together with all other Four Olds trashes in a huge storehouse. Again and again I begged MeiMei to ask her brother for help. MeiMei must be annoyed to death in the end she lied to her brother that she herself would like to see the violin. Hu GeGe took the violin secretly and ordered his sister “only touch it at home and never make any sound out form it.”
Everyday when everyone of our both family were out, MeiMei took to violin to the kitchen and let me play with it. I carefully took it as a frangible treasure. Although that violin had no bow, I still clipped on my neck, playing with sound from my mouth, mostly Li’s favorite tune “Jian Gege, Mo luotuo”.
One day，when MeiMei out to wash vegetables (there was no water supply in most Chinese households. We all had to do our any wash all washes in public places) I was on my high spirit that for a moment I forgot the promise of staying inside without sound, I took the violin to the back yard and played violin with empty right hand but sound from my mouth under brother Li’s window. That boldness action resulted to violin to be taken away immediately, plus Hu GeGe’s name being deleted from the Red Guard name list.
Though in reality I had no violin at all, yet my head was filled with nothing but violin.
2, A violin in a shop glass cabinet
One day I happened to see a violin in a glass cabinet of Changsha May-First Cultural Goods Store. Beside the violin there was a little notice wrote “A propaganda weapon of Mao’s thoughts”. I flattened my nose against the glass cabinet for a long, long time until the heat of my nose melted the glass and I got the violin. Of course that was only what I wished. The reality was I was scorned out of the shop.
Since then I grew a habit of running marathon everyday form home to the shop (about 5 Kilometer one way) just for taking a look of the violin again, in a safe distance.
One day, the two shopkeepers were debating. The short fat man with a red chevron on his arm written “Xiangjiang Wind & Thunder” was one the rebels. While the slim tall lady with a red chevron on her arm written “The Protector of Mao’s thoughts” was one of the loyalists. The debate went so severely that they did not notice at all of my approaching the violin. Again I flattened my nose. This time I even checked up the price, 28 Renminbi, about 7 USD at that time, and half a monthly salary of my daddy or my Mom. I stood there for a long time, in fact as long as I could, fantasizing how wonderful it could have been if I had had 28 Renminbi. After some time I started to believe that I really had 28 Renminbi. To avoid their eyesight, I faced their direction and requested with all my courage, “Please, that violin, pass to me, let me take a close look.”
The lady stood up from her chair and opened the glass cabinet without looking at me. But the man recognized me right away, he roared at me, “Valuable goods, no show to kids.”
My feelings were hurt, but like a civilian facing a Chinese police man, there was nothing I could do, except saying something to comfort myself, “Big deal! Waite till my father comes back…”
That rebel did not let me finish my self-comfort-saying, chased up to me with a flyswatter in his hand. I saw no good; put my dash training into good use. Running out from the violin store, I turned around to check if he was still running after me.
When I felt in a safe distance, I shouted toward the violin store again, “Big deal! Big deal! Waite until I grow up, I will run a violin shop a hundred times bigger than yours.”
That dwarf once more chased me up, this time not a flyswatter but a big broom in his hand.
Even after such an unpleasant experience, the habit of running marathon everyday form home to the shop continued. For the temptation of the violin was too strong to stand. The difference between before and after was, I no longer be able to flatten my nose against the glass cabinet, but imagine the shape of the violin outside of the store. And constantly comfort myself by thinking, “wait until my father comes back…”
3, One more crack between father and me
Father came back at last. He not only came back, but also bumped into my 12-year’s birthday. It was our family‘s tradition that the birthday man would be specially treated with a bowl of noodle covered with a poached egg.
When a bowl of warn noodle with steam going up to the air placed in front of me, especially when we saw the yellow coming out from white poached egg, no need to mention how terribly the temptation was. My elder brother Danjin kept swallowing his slobbers and younger brother Danfeng kept his eyes shut. To me that was a great moment, the only short moment looking forward for a year in that particular day and time I could feel above all my brothers and be special among the family. On the contrary that must also be always the moment that turns my folks’ stomachs the most. Usually I would make the moment last as long as possible, one second longer if I could. But on that day, I behaved opposite. Unexpectedly I clipped the poached egg with my chopsticks, placed it in front of Danfeng’s eyes and quickly put it into his bowl before parents stopping me from practical joke making. Followed I clipped a few noodles raising up to the air and then pushed the hole bowl of noodle in front of Danjin.
“That’s wonderful! You have become so much more reasonable. Grow up one year older after all.” Mom praised.
“Is the noodle poisoned or are you sick, which?” Danjin asked me without moving his eyes away from the noodle.
“Neither.” Father answered. “I think this has to be a new trend of class struggle. If you don’t tell us what kind of drags you want to sell in your bottle in time, the egg will be gone.”
After all father was more experienced. What a deceitful fox!
“If you force me.” I borrowed the birthday courage requested, “What I want is an instrument, a musical instrument, but not an ordinary musical instrument, it is the queen of musical instrument. It is the most elegant and the most…” I wanted to go on.
“Blow your gas out quickly. What do you want?” Mom was out of patient.
“OK, to cut it short. The most elegant and the most beautiful thing that I want…”
Meanwhile Danfeng clipped the poached egg with chopsticks and placed it in front of his mouth.
“OK, OK.” I got nervous, “Violin. That’s right, Father and Mother, I want a violin.” I made a violin-playing gesture in the most elegant way I thought it would be.
I brought out my wish in a way not exactly from what I had rehearsed many time.
“What …lin? What was that? For what use?” Mother kept asking questions without giving me a chance to answer.
“How much?” Mother asked the last but not the least question, in fact the most important question of all.
“28 Renminbi. I have decided to buy that a long time ago.” Hence I started to imagine father taking me to the store. We would wait until that dwarf being present, and father would throw 28 Renminbi on his face. Then the man would know how strong my father was in my back. With that imagination I broke into laughter with satisfaction.
“What, you must be out of your mind! 28 Renminbi buy you a hand…lin, later I’ll have to pay 280 Renminbi buy you a piano when you grow even older!” Mother must be very irritated as she raised the pitch of her voice high enough to be a Beijing Opera singer.
“What king of musical instrument?" Father intentionally pronounced “what" as “ Hwat" to show his despise.
Mother did not let me go on what I wanted to say. She shouted again as if she was being robbed, “No matter what you say, I have no money to buy you a hand…lin.”
“Violin!” I also raised my voice up, “It is such an elegant violin, came out from your mouth becomes ‘hand…lin’, country folk!”
Mother opened her mouth again, but before her words came out father took the topic over, “Whether it is called violin or hand…lin doesn’t matter. What matters is that our family does not raise (educate) that. This is what we call, ‘prefer proletarian’s grass rather than capitalist seedling’”. By finishing his statement father added, “Hwat (what) violin, GAS!”
“G A S”, those were three letters father gave to me as my 12 years old birthday present.
I was wordless, seeing Danfeng devoured the egg voraciously, I responded quickly to clip his throat in order to force him opening his mouth. At the same time Danjin took the chance quickly filled his mouth with noodle and soap, and pushed to bowl back to me before I did anything to him.
That was my birthday, my poor 12- year old birthday, full of melancholy and sadness.
My birthday party (if I may call it a party) was quickly over, more quickly than ever. I couldn’t sleep until very late at night, kept thinking of the violin, the disaster that happened to brother Li and brother Hu, the dwarf salesman, the loss of my poached egg…quietly I over heard my patents’ conversation next room.
Mother’s voice, “28 Renminbi, almost half of my monthly salary, it is really too, too expansive, if it were 8 Renminbi…”.
Father’s response, “Even if it were 5 Renminbi we shouldn’t buy for him. The question is not ‘how much?’ The question is why he is thinking of playing the violin? Who influenced him? We all know in the present situation, anything to do with west is politically sensitive. That includes violin of course.”
Just like millions of Chinese people at that time, father was such a complete revolutionary, even when in the bed with his wife.
Mom laughed. And she asked, “The reason you dislike Danjiu is because he looks like me more than you?”
“Hey Hey Hey,” father asked a rhetorical question, “Like you what?”
“For example resembles my nasty temper, stubborn, straight forward…” Mother pointed out all her shortcomings.
Meanwhile I heard father turned over. I imagined then he was facing or backing mother. And then father’s voice turned to be low and heavy, sounded somewhat like self-criticism. Though the whole content I could not remember but the last sentence I can’t forget and wouldn’t forget forever.
The sentence of my father’s was, “I dislike that child by nature.”
That statement aroused storms and waves in my mind and heart. Being afraid of waking the other two brothers up, I did not put out my crying in sound. Perhaps because of that lack of sound crying, in all these years every time when I remind those words I feel like to cry out soundly, and no matter how many times I have done so could not heal the wound in completion.
That night, I had a dream. The dream brought me to a fairy tale world. I walked into a small wooden house, house with violins hanging everywhere. And I myself also turned to be a violin; to pull a bow on me caused beautiful music coming out.
Suddenly, the door fiercely pushed open, father appeared in front of me, yelped at me loudly with heavy breath, “I dislike you by nature.”
I cried out with my broken heart, “Why by nature?"
My motion turned to be a strong wind blowing all the violins up to the sky. I myself became a kite, a huge kite gone with the wind farer and farer away from father. But I was not able to get away from him completely as the line of the kite was held in his hand. After I made my every effort to get loose from him, I as a kite without rope control headed myself straight to the ground.
I woke up from the dream, kept asking myself the same question over and over, “why my old man dislikes me by nature?”
To be continued
|Reply: I Want to Play Violin
|Name: CHAPTER Five
||Date: 2009-04-09 09:17:18
CHAPTER Five: I Want to Play Violin
1, For being able to touch violin join the Mao propaganda team
1968, after the astounding Chinese Cultural Revolution had been going on for two years, the schools re-opened. It was called “restart school to do revolution”.
Danjin entered Changsha No 3 Middle School (used to be “The Clear Virtue Boy’s School). I however, entered Changsha No 4 Middle School (used to be “The Zhou Nan Girs’s School)
There were over 30 students in our class; among them boys were only 6. Therefore it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine my popularity among the girls in the class. However, not long after being elected as the class leader I lost my interest to the class affairs, but fixed my eyes on the School Mao Propaganda Team. (Mao Propaganda Team is a selected group of people who praise Mao and his thoughts by means of singing and dancing) The reason was simple; besides that admirable gray uniform I discovered a violin, a-n-d that charming little girl with a small nose named Ma playing on the violin.
My mind was made. I want to join the School Mao Propaganda Team.
I talked to teacher Lao who was in charge of the team. (Later Lao played a very influential roll to my music career) Teacher Lao asked me, “What can you do?"
“Anything, as far as I can publicize Mao and his thoughts.” That’s what I said. But what I thought was, “Anything, as far as I can touch the violin.”
Lao smiled, “If anything can publicize Mao and his thoughts, you do not need to join the Team.” Before I pleading further he walked away from me for some “urgent matter” as he said.
The first semester of my middle school, I was often being together with those who were good at singing and dancing outside of the school during the school time. I also started to practice bamboo flute that was the only music instrument I possessed. That resulted me from the class head to the class tail by the end of the school semester.
The second semester started at last. At the new team member’s audition, I said to teacher Lao this time, “please don’t ask me ‘what you can do?’ but ask me ‘What have you learnt?’”
“That’s better.” Lao smiled again, better smiled. “OK, show us.”
After singing and dancing, I play the bamboo flute.
Lao’s comment was that my singing and dancing were good but not enough, only the flute sounded somehow interesting, but the pity was I held my flute towards left which is opposite direction to the western flute, that means it would be difficult if I wanted to learn western flute later. In addition there was already a good bamboo flute pla<x>yer named Chan in the Team. That all appeared to be hopeless to me, again, for one more semester.
A few days later, the names of the new Mao Propaganda Team (from now on let me call it Mao Team) member were posted on the wall at the school entrance. To avoid being hurt again I dared not to check it up. Beyond my expectation when I quietly entered my classroom from the back door the whole class congratulated me. The new class leader Xiao Ping even said, “This is not Chen Danjiu’s honor only, but the honor of the whole class.”
The fact was that teacher Lao worked on Chan Flute (his nick name) saying it would be good to have one more flute so that he could concentrate on Sola (a very noisy Chinese traditional music instrument) in addition he could help doing more administration works as a prospective leader of the Team. It must be the final words “prospective leader of the Team” worked, as Chan Flute had been a competitive rival of the present leader Captain Lee.
And one more fact I also found was I was accepted to be the Team member not because of my flute playing skill but my passion to join the Team. Teacher Lao was absolutely right about my passion, but not my purpose of joining the Team.
The first thing I tried to do after I got into the Mao Team was to get close to Ma, the little violin girl. The main reason was not the girl but the violin in her hands obviously, obviously in my mind but not others minds, for instance every time when we go out to give a performance, I always offered my help to carry her violin by excuse “my flute is very light.” But Chan Flute had always reserved such luxury task in advance. Ma apparently did not get my real purpose of “helping” her. One day when Chan Flute was close to us she made her announcement, “I have no interesting in bamboo flutes, no matter what kinds, they all country bumpkins.” She made it loud enough so Chan Flute could share with me. Chan Flute and me were both hurt, in different aspects.
“No big deal, someday I will learn to play the violin, as good as you, may be even better than you.” I thought, not said.
In spite of her unfriendly attitude I still worked hard to keep our amity. When she realized my interesting was more her violin than her, she got relaxed in one-way and disappointed in another. She was like all women, don’t have to like all men, but must be liked by all men. For that, we became closer and closer. Sometimes I could even feel her intension of capturing me as the prison of her loveliness as a girl. By that accident I learnt if a man wants to get a particular woman, never make her fully contented, unless one dose not really want to get her at first place. Anyway that great discovery was too early to me. For me the only desire at that time was to touch a violin, not a woman.
Everything seamed working OK until one day I got myself into a big trouble. That day, we gave a performance in a factory. After arrival Chan Flute put Ma’s violin on a table and walked away to help doing organizing works. And meanwhile Ma was busy in a dressing room. Seeing nobody around, I lost my power of resisting the temptation of touching the violin. I meticulously opened the violin case and took the violin out. My heart was biting more quickly than each time I finished a sports competition. Yet not until I put the bow on the string, I saw worker’s Representative Chuan (by that time, it was the workers from factories were in charge of all schools, not the professors, teachers nor administrators of the school.) walking towards me. I hid the violin on my back immediately. That action certainly did not escape from the clear eyes of the working class. The Representative Chuan kept walking approaching me as he asked, “ What is in your hands?” I countermarched myself once, twice and again three times I felt my body was against the wall, of course with the violin in between. I heard “Pa” jangle sound. “Oh my God!” But it was all too late. I took the violin out from hiding, realized the sound was coming out from the bridge broken.
With the bad news “the violin is broken” spread Ma rushed out from the dressing room, “Who allowed you to touch my violin. You think you deserve that? Never! You, country bumpkin!” And then she looked at the half broken bridge in my hand and the loose strings on her violin, wept, “Now what? Now what?”
Through I found Ma’s contempt language towards me in public very offensive, but I felt much balanced, as I knew my wrongdoing was huge.
Meantime almost all Team members were there around us, blamed me one after another, among them the most aggressive Chan Flute. He pointed at my nose as he accused, “You did it on purpose.”
After heard that Representative Chuan’s spirit raised up, “That’s right, to break the tool of publicize mao’s thoughts intentionally, is anti-revolution behavior. We should convoke the criticize meeting right away.”
“Let’s do it.”
Team members echoed.
Teacher Lao who kept quiet all the time opened his mouth at this point, “For sure Chen Danjiu should be criticized. But, we are here to give a performance. We should publicize Mao’s thoughts first. Representative Chuan, the working classes are all waiting for us. How about move the criticize meeting after the performance.”
“But without violin how can I play the violin solo part of the ballet ‘The White Hair Woman’.” Ma started to cry out.
“Use bamboo flute to replace it. No violin solo I can dance as well.” a sweet voice of a girl.
Everybody turned eyes toward that voice. The owner of the voice is called Lu Ying; the prettiest girl in the Team, also the girl who plays the main roll of the ballet “The White Hair Woman.” She usually liked to chat with me in free time during rehearsals, particularly liked to cut in when I was with Ma along. She smiled towards everybody, and again toward me, repeated, “I can dance as well with bamboo flute. The White Hair Woman was a country bumpkin too. Everybody, please get ready.”
“That’s impossible!” Captain Lee shouted with the voice out of tune. Captain Lee chasing after Lu Ying was already an open secret. He looked as if he wanted to say more but was shut up by Lu Ying’s one eyesight. That scene made Ma cry even worse than the broken violin.
What a disaster!
It was many years later I realized there was a little circle going on there, Chan after Ma, Ma after Lee, Lee after Lu, Lu after me, me after Ma’s violin.
At that night, the performance went as usual. When it came to violin solo part, I replaced it with my bamboo flute. Lu threw her smiles at me a couple of times while she was dancing. I of course politely smiled back to express my gratitude to her. All those small actions were closely watched by Captain Lee and Ma.
After the performance and before the night meal the criticizing meeting was held. Chan Flute followed Representative Chuan’s order to take me to a separate room. He said to me ruthlessly, “This is your last day. Waite to be dismissed.”
I waited there for a short while, thinking, “If I have no more chance to touch the violin, it wouldn’t be a big deal to be fired. Actually, what is the point to wait to be fired, better walk away right now?” I guess I stayed there instead of walking away was because of the expectation of that free bowl of noodle.
Unexpectedly the one who came to take me back to the meeting room was Ma. She suddenly turned to be friendly to me as she asked me a peculiar question, “You also like Lu Ying?”
“What do you mean by ‘ALSO’?” I did not get her meaning behind the sentence. Did she mean, “Lu Ying likes you. You also like Lu Ying?” or “Somebody likes Lu Ying, You also like Lu Ying?” or perhaps both? Ma did not answer my counter-question, just smiled and smiled, saying, “For the violin, it is alright this time, but be careful next time.”
Do I have a next time? That’s wonderful!
When we walked to the doorway of the meeting room, Chan Flute was waiting for us there. Ma said she needed to have a few words with Chan and asked me to get into the meeting room first.
The “court” was ready to start. Be frankly the atmosphere was somewhat scaring for everyone one was so serious. Chan Flute jumped up as the first speaker. I was waiting to be scolded. Surprisingly he started to self-criticize by saying “it was my fault too. I should have put the violin personally in classmate Ma’s hand. I failed to do so. That is an irresponsible attitude towards the weapon of publicizing Mao’s thoughts. Therefore I apologize.”
Followed the Captain Lee’s attitude was even higher than Chan Flute, “I, as the captain of the Team…” so on and so forth.
Followed was Ma’s turn to apologize. And then all Team members apologized one after another, even Teacher Lao.
Lu Ying was the only one did not apologize. What the pretty princess said was, “Let’s forget the whole thing as far as Chen Danjiu promise never touch the violin again.” She paused, and added, “I suggest from now on using the bamboo flute replace the violin solo just like we did today.”
“That’s impossible!” Captain Lee remarked, meant, “How can bamboo flute replace the violin solo?“
“That’s impossible!” I also shouted, meant, “How can I promise never touch the violin again?”
I looked at Lu Ying in a mixed feeling, about to make my speech. In my speech I wanted to declare that if I was not allowed to touch the violin any more I might as well quit the Team. But at exact that key point an exciting voice was heard, “the noodles are ready."
Representative Chuan stood up first like a released spring. Teacher Lao asked him as I was the last speaker, “should we let Chen finish his saying before eating…”
Representative Chuan did not wait Lao finishing his saying, “Give him a little more time to think the whole thing over. We should not let one person’s mistake influence the whole Team. The good health is the capital of revolution. Comrades, towards dining hall, rush!”
I immediately jumped up after Representative Chuan. Sadly Chuan turned his head to me and said, “ not you. You stay here go on self-questioning.”
However, afterwards I had not only noodle to eat, but also more meat in it than anybody’s, because that bowl was specially made for the main actress Lu Ying.
As I pointed out above, there was a dramatic relation circle going on in the Team. The bumpkin Chan Flute was in love with the noblest Ma; the noblest Ma admired the tall and handsome Captain Lee; Captain Lee was crazy about the beautiful Lu Ying; Lu Ying liked to make fun of me, “a man full of passion and energy” as she remarked; But I was only obsessed by Ma’s violin. To reverse the circle, Chan Flute hated Captain Lee for Ma; Ma was jealous about Lu for Captain Lee; Captain Lee was sick of me for Lu; Lu disliked Ma’s violin.
After that incidence, Ma changed her attitude towards me completely. During rehearsal, she often prepared something like a small towel or cup of drink, asking me to pass it to Lu Ying in front of captain Lee. In return she would allow me to play her violin. Sometimes when my violin playing appearance was too awful to look at she even took the trouble to teach me a little bit.
One day after the rehearsal, only Ma and me left in the room. She again let me play her violin. After I finished a tune. Applause with “bravo” waked me from infatuating. That was teacher Lao. Before I could hide the violin, Lao praised, “Your progress is really quick. You will be a good violin pla<x>yer for sure in the near future.” At the same time Lao showed me a huge book, the western violin method ”Hohmann”. “You may borrow it later when you need it. But you must promise to take very good care of it.” Then Lao put his finger against his lips meaning, “This is a secret only within the three of us.”
Lao added, “Practice more and harder. We are applying some money from the school to buy new instruments. When you are good enough, we plan to buy a new violin for Ma. By that time, this violin will be for you to use.”
Lao’s words encouraged me tremendously. I was wordless, but felt an enormous hope in ahead of me.
By then I understood that Ma let me play on her violin was not only repaying me for the things she asked me to do to Lu Ying so that Captain Lee might give up Lu for her, but also for the new violin Lao promised her.
2, A Palace of Art
The bad news was the school decided to delay the money to Mao Team for one semester. Thus Ma’s fever of helping me to play the violin dropped abruptly.
One day as soon as the rehearsal ended Ma hurried out with her violin. I intercepted her at the doorway and asked, “Why in such a hurry?”
“Don’t bother me, I’ll be late.” Ma pushed me away and ran out.
“Where to go?” I asked again to her back.
“That’s a secrets.” Ma answered without turning her head back.
It was that “secret” aroused my curiosity. I could not help tailing after her. I hid myself every three or five steps. In fact that was unnecessary, because Ma was too busy running to look back. After following her for a while I saw her went into a side door beside a Christian church. I stopped in front of the church, hesitated if I should follow her in, as in China by that time churches ware similar to temples, both belonging to the Four Olds. Seeing nobody around, I kept my heart biting under control and took the courage to walk closer to the church.
The main gate of the church was sealed with red paper seals. As the seals were old and ragged therefore difficult to confirm it was which revolutionary organization’s revolutionary activity. I stood there, raised my head looking up to the church top, wondered the existence of God. It was at that moment, I heard some sound from the God! The sound, so soft so harmonious so beautiful so elegant so touching and moving, that I had never heard in my entire little life. My ears led my feet to the side door beside the Church. I walked into the door, following the sound I found behind the Church there was an old one-stored house, the sound, sound of two violins came out from the house.
I squatted down by the window devouringly enjoyed the music. After a while I felt the timing stopped, my soul separated from my body drifting freely in the endless universe. Without knowing how long that music stopped. Hence I heard a conversation between Ma and a man. That gentle conversation and the sincere mirth were also a novelty to me.
When I heard Ma said “Goode bye” in English immediately I ran away.
Afterwards, I tailed after Ma to the Church quite a few times. Later, I discovered besides Ma there were others too with violins went into the side door beside the church. I was like being addicted, often waited somewhere close to the church for people to get into the side door. And then I would enjoy myself quite a while under the window outside. One day I must caught a cold that I could not help sneezing. The window opened. A kind smile of a middle-aged man stopped me from running away.
“If you like to listen you may come in, though the room is a bit small. It’s terribly cold out there.” The man said to me.
His name is Li Zeng Tao, used to be a priest before the Cultural Revolution. He was the teacher of almost all the young violin players in my city at that period of time. He certainly became the first of my violin teachers.
The teenage man having a lesson was called Wang Shi Yi, a son of a professor in Hunan Medical College, used to be and now Yell University. By that time, just like all other professors his father was also not teaching at classrooms but working in the hospital, sweeping floors and cleaning toilets. Wang Shi Yi later became one of my best violin pals.
That day, after Wang’s lesson Li Zeng Tao opened his treasure, a manual gramophone. Li put a record on the gramophone wonderful violin music came out. That was the first time in my life I heard Chrysler‘s magic performance “The Rosemary”. After that Li told me a word that was also first time in my life “Christmas”. Yes, that was a Christmas Eve. Li played the “Silent Night” with his violin, and followed a piano tune “A Maiden’s Prayer”(Modlitwa dziewicy). The whole scene was far away from the reality. To me Li’s violin sound came from another world, a world totally different from the violent brutal Cultural Revolution. That violin sound made me drunk, made me crazy. To use a not appropriate but very accurate figure of speech, I was drugged.
On the way home, I walked shoulder to shoulder with Wang Shi Yi. (It was not exactly shoulder-to-shoulder as Wang was one head taller than me.) Wang told me that because teacher Li was very kind and never offended anyone, no body gave him a hard time. Though the church was sealed, it needed someone to take care of. That’s why no body fussy about teacher Li went in from the back door to do some cleaning work from time to time.
After Wang got aware about my desire of learning the violin but possessed no instrument, he told me he knew someone named Zhou had the knowledge of making violins. “Once I watched your school’s performance.” Wang suddenly changed subject, “The girl who dances the roll as the ‘White Hair Woman’ looks, looks, hen, not really that pretty.”
“I think she is pretty…enough. Her name is Lu Ying, a very good friend of mine.” I said proudly.
“Good on you.” Wang laughed, dry and jealously, “You know what, master Zhou is also a very good friend of mine.”
“OK, you introduce me to master zhou, I introduce you to Lu. How is that?" I raised my head looking at him jokily. He immediately stretched out his little finger. When two little fingers bundled a dirty business deal was made.
3, The first violin of mine
According to the deal, I invited Wang to watch our rehearsal at school.
“How dare you chase me up here?” Ma was very surprised to see Wang there.
“No misunderstanding Xiao Mao, I’m not here for you today. It is your Teammate Chen dragged me here to see his rehearsal.” Wang quickly explained.
Wang and Ma both took violin lessons from teacher Li naturally they knew each other well. But by the way Wang calling Ma’s nickname “Xiao Mao” could mean their relationship be closer than normal, or at least Wang wanted to be closer than normal, whatever was not important to me. But I got to know Ma’s nickname “Xiao Mao” that was important to me. Since then whenever something unpleasant happening between us, I would threaten her by calling her “Xiao Mao” in the public. That often results a favorable compromise.
On that day, Wang’s pair of eyes was busy circling as much as Lu’s pair of legs. When the rehearsal finally ended, as usual Lu came to me to ask me looking after her schoolbag while she was changing her clothes. I caught the chance to introduce Wang to her. Suddenly, not knowing why I felt uneasy and somehow ashamed. Having sold something that I had not really possessed, (I had no intention to possess her at first place), or I traded something that I did not possess with someone for something that I wish to possess? I guess when people are young and naive, they all would do anything stupid to get what they desperately want.
“My mane is Wang. I have been a faithful fan of yours for a long time.” Wang bowed to Lu as he introduced himself. At the same time he quickly swallowed his slobbers caused by lose of control.
Lu raised her head to take a look at Wang. Then she dragged me to a corner and bit my ear, “So tall, will the rationed fabric ticket enough for him?” After the comment of her first impression Lu nodded her head greeting Wang and went to change her clothes with laughter.
“What did she say to you, anything about me? “ Wang asked me anxiously.
“Nothing important.” I tried to get away.
“Tell me quickly, otherwise …”
I knew what his “otherwise” was. Otherwise he would not introduce me to master Zhou.
It was not that I was not good at making stories. In fact I have always been quite good at it. It was just that I was not used to replace truth with stories, or perhaps not willing to do so. Therefore I told Wang the truth, the absolute truth whole truth nothing else, “She said you were so tall, how could the rationed fabric ticket be enough for you?”
(At that time in China, almost everything was rationed. That is to say everything had ticket, rice ticket, oil ticket, tobacco ticket, doufu ticket (bean curd), match ticket etc)
Wang heard that, turned from excitement to sentimental. He expressed his feeling with tears circling in his eyes, “How kind of her to put thoughts on me, so concretely and so faraway!”
Ma kept watching closely to the going on drama all the time. She rewarded me with bright eyesight probably meaning thank me for doing such a good job of “killing two birds with one stone” for her. And then as always she went to glue Captain Lee with some smart excuses.
On the way to master Zhou’ s home Wang sang a song loudly. The lyrics ware like, “I remember that wonderful moment. You appeared at my present, just like an illusion written in water…” That scene if it were today or in a movie, must be, “I am in love!”
I was not at all in a mood for poetry, on the contrary felt somewhat lost, the only way to recover my feeling was to get to master zhou’s home as quickly as possible, and watch him making a violin for me at once.
In front of master zhou’s home, Wang suddenly held me up. He indicated to me, “You don’t have to say anything. I will tell master zhou that teacher Li introduced you to see him. Though they have been friends for many years, they dare not to see each other since the Cultural Revolution, therefore master Zhou wouldn’t find out the truth.” Seeing me looking reluctant, he persuaded, “Don’t you worry, this is not the first time I…”
Master Zhou’s door opened from inside. The first word came out from master Zhou was, “You must be little Chen. Priest Li told me about you. Come on in please.”
Both Wang and me were embarrassed with Zhou’s unexpected words.
The result of our negotiation was Zhou under the pressure from the society dared not to make violins anymore. The only possibility left was I bring my own wood and borrow his tools and workshop to make one by myself, at least namely by myself.
Back home, I took apart the family’s only wooden chair with back, with an excuse that there was a crack on the chair already. Followed I took a piece of pinewood from my own bed (actually the bed I shared with my brother Danjin).
Since then everyday I ran to Zhou’s home after school. Three week passed, under the guidance of master Zhou, or should I say partly under the “hand” of master Zhou as I cut my forefinger at by the very end of the violin making, a violin shaped wooden box formed.
At the day of the violin completion, I used my lunch money 20 fen Renminbi to buy a bag of cookie and rushed to Zhou’s home.
“It’s not varnished yet.” Zhou said to me as he pushed the bag of cookie back to me.
“Later, Later, I can’t wait for one more minute longer.” I wrapped the violin shaped wooden box with a few used newspapers, and rushed home in a high spirit.
Nobody was home except next-door neighbor Hu MeiMei cooking at kitchen. I waved my treasured at her excitedly. But Hu MeiMei seamed to be not so interested as she even did not stop cutting her firewood. A short moment later she went into her home and walked out again with a very old violin case, saying, “Remember my elder brother took the violin from Four Olds trash place? Afterwards the Red Guards smashed the violin, left only the ragged box.”
I was so pleased to see the case, “ Recycle the waste. Recycle the waste.”
I repaired the case with violin glue and plastic tapes.
Then I took apart Danjin’s old broken Er Hu (two stringed Chinese music instrument); put the rusted strings on the violin shaped wooden box, and some rosin on the Er Hu bow. Soon after that my newborn baby made her first crying!
No doubt it was an ugly sound from an ugly violin made by a 14 year-old ugly boy. But, “THAT WAS MY VIOLIN!”
Like that, I moved my first step forward to my life career.
To be continued.
|Reply: The Prelude of Learning Violin
|Name: CHAPTER SIX
||Date: 2009-04-09 09:19:32
CHAPTER SIX: The Prelude of My Learning Violin
1， My hand-copied violin method book Hohmann
After possessed my own violin, I could not stand the excitement, ran straight to Wang Shi Yi’s home. Wang took a glance at my dear ugly baby, burst out into laughter with a sneeze. He made some very unpleasant comment saying my unvarnished treasure “look like a naked woman”, as to my poor Er Hu bow, “No language could be found in the dictionary being strong enough to taunt.” Anyone in that situation could tolerate that? I put my baby back to the old case and walked away. Up to the doorway I felt it would be too easy for him if I escaped like that. I turned back to him, “You, not a good man.”
Wang laughed even worse, first he faced to the sky, and then bended to his navel. I would have jumped down from his window, if I had a parachute. I opened his door indignantly, “I’m going to tell Lu Ying.”
I said that only to express my madness, unexpectedly it worked. Wang chased me up and dragged me back to his home again. Then he took out a broken violin bow and explained to me with sincerity, “Once my younger brother sat on it. If you can, or find someone who can fix it, I can let you use it for some time. It is a broken violin bow, but would be much better than your Er Hu bow for sure.”
Followed he turned the violin method book “Hohmann” on the music stand back to the first page, taught me a little how to read the scores, in addition showed on the violin for a couple of times. That made me very excited, forgot all the humiliation he gave to me only a few minutes ago. When I packed up my violin together with his broken bow and walked to the door again, Wang again blocked my way. He took out a crinkled letter from his pocket (looked like the letter had been in his pocket for a long time) and handed over to me mysteriously, “Let’s help each other. Hand it over to her, secretly.”
“Make sure no body sees it.” He shouted to me again from his window.
Next morning I went to see teacher Lao as I remembered he had the violin method Hohmann he once said he could let me borrow it when the time came. What I found out was the method Hohmann was not his property but the property of Ma. “I will talk to Ma again next semester when we are going to buy a new violin.” Lao comforted me.
Nothing more I could do I was about to leave Lao asked me if I would give him a hand to sort out some recording tapes (big tapes) as we still had two hours to go before the rehearsal. The way of doing it was put the tape on a recorder, when the music started Lao would tell me the title of the music as well as the name of the composer. I remember there were symphonies by Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, etc，among them Rimsky-Korsakov’ Capriccio Espagnol drove me crazy, and later became the most favorite orchestra work of mine.
The music went on and on. Time made no sense to me any more. My spirit went to a complete different sphere until teacher Lao turned off the tape recorder and told me, “All these are called ‘no title music’, when we have time later we can do more criticizing together.”
Since then, “to help teacher Lao sort out the tapes” became the best excuse for me to see him often.
Before rehearsal, Lu Ying asked me to look after her schoolbag as usual. I caught an opportunity to pass Wang’s letter to her, secretly. Lu looked excited. Her face turned red when she took over the letter. She even rubbed my hand a little. To avoid a misunderstanding I quickly told her it was not I but my friend Wang Shi Yi wrote the letter to her. Immediately her face turned blue and returned the letter back to me without opening, disappointedly, “From when you have become a postman?”
When Lu was about to walk away from me, she bumped into Captain Lee. (I believe Lee was somewhere observing us all the time.) Lee seized the letter from my hand and quickly opened it, then read very loudly, “If you were the sun, I wish to be the earth, turning around you forever. If you were the Earth, I wish to be the moon, turning around you forever …”
Meanwhile, more and more people came closer to Lee forming a little circle, among them also Ma. Lee looked at everybody, and again more importantly looked at Lu, found Lu looked not really offended, to Lee that was Lu’s tacit consent, therefore he courageously went on his reading, “I think the best would be I become your ballet shoes, let you trample my body whenever you wish…”
Inevitably a huge burst of sneer poured on me after Lee’s performance. Lee waved the letter in the air with great satisfaction and asked, “Who wants to see more? Who wants to see more?”
When I hesitated if I should take the letter back Lu stretched her little finger towards Lee, the letter was soon in the hand of Lu. Lu looked at me remarked, “A man with courage should be respected.” Lu moved her eyesight to Lee and again remarked, “Unlike some one else.” Then to me again, “Go to thank him, but also don’t forget to tell him, unfortunately his shoes may be too big for me.”
After that Lu carefully folded the letter, instead of giving back to me she put it into her schoolbag. My subconscious ordered my hand to take her schoolbag as always. But this time, she wouldn’t let me.
As soon as Lu went away, Lee suddenly became unusually friendly to me. He tried to find out from me who that “man with courage” was. His hot attitude looked as if he wanted to form an “ally of anti love rival” with me.
Seeing Lee left me looking for Lu, Ma said to me in a disdained tone, “The same letter I also received before, only the last sentence was ‘I think the best would be I become your violin case, let you lie inside my body whenever you wish…”
After that Ma added her comment to Wang, “That tall guy is really not a bad person. Not bad at all, only doing silly things sometimes like a big boy.”
Ma’s mouth was talking to me, but eyes were busy looking at somebody something else. Suddenly she intentionally provoked me by grabbing my bamboo flute and ran away.
“Give it back to me at once; otherwise I will call you…” I threatened her with my usual weapon, to call her nick name.
“Call me whatever you like, better let everybody hear it.” Ma said as she quickly ran to Lee and Lu’s direction.
I chased her up and caught her before everybody’s eyes, “What are you doing? Are you crazy?” I shouted.
I thought she might be embarrassed or even angry, but on the contrary when she saw Lee, Lu, Chan and all others were watching us, she leaned her body onwards me exaggeratedly, and bit my ear saying, “Mission completed. Good job!”
With Lu’s wide-open eyes, Lee’s wide-open mouth, Chan’s wildly standing hairs Ma returned my flute back to me and slowly walked away with a smile of some kind of satisfaction.
During that day’s rehearsal, I was pushing the rhythm from beginning to end. After the rehearsal, no need for me to look for Ma as she was waiting for me outside of the rehearsal room. The place she stood was so obvious as if she wanted others to see us.
“What do you mean by ‘mission’? What mission? What’s the matter with you today? ” I had a million questions to ask but did not know where to start.
“The feeling in my heart, that dancer should have half.” Ma said sourly.
“What do you mean? You mean? You and me?” I felt totally lost.
“From now on you might as well call me Xiao Mao. I mean I only allow you to call me Xiao Mao, temporarily.” She ordered.
“But, but you said you dislike bamboo flute, any kinds of them.” I reminded her.
“You can reform yourself to be a violin player. Can’t you?” She stressed.
Later after I reviewed the whole thing I realized that that was the time Ma decided to give up the hope for Lee, therefore she wanted Lu to share part of her broken heart by means of pretending to be my girl friend, at the same time to pass a “stop trying any more” message to Chan Flute, in addition probably having a little taste change by taking me as her new boy friend, temporarily, or as a kind of anesthesia to her lovelorn for the time being.
But my brain was filled of violin and violin only therefore there was no space, no space at all for anything else. That means I could reject Ma easily, but I can’t reject Hohmann, the violin method book she possessed. No, I could not resist her fascination, fascination of possessing the violin method book Hohmann.
I traded my little dignity with the violin method book Hohmann, temporarily. I took the notes home and hand copied it, note by note, line by line, page by page, day by day and month by month. During the athletics lessons at school I pretended I had a stomach-ache and hided myself in the classroom to copy the notes. Back home during cooking time I asked Hu MeiMei for help to copy the notes. After supper I occupied the only table at home along for the excuse of copying notes for publicizing Mao’s thoughts. (Father was again away from home being reformed at the 5.7 Cadre School. The rest of the family no body understood what I was copying, especially as I changed all the titles to revolutionary names, such as. Praise for Mao’s thought) Even at late night after my brothers went sleep, sometimes I got up again using a flashlight to copy the notes. Hohmann is a duet written for two violins. In practice I only need to copy the notes for one violin, but I did both. That passion and effort, only in the year 1960 I tried to prevent myself from death of starvation by digging Chinese potato roots to eat could compare with. I worked so hard that my hand was water blistered finally I finished my copy of the violin method Hohmann, totally from book one to book five.
2, Bow issuer
About the broken bow Wang lent to me, I luckily found an acquaintance worked as a car repairman to fixed it for me with a hollow copper tube. Although the bow was very heavy, just as Wang said, “Much better than the Er Hu bow I had.” For the sake of clipping the violin steadily between neck and shoulder, to adopt the same theory of Chinese Gongfu I made myself a sandbag hanging over the scroll of the violin head. To compare with that the over weighted bow became insignificant.
But the prosperity did not last long. One day, when I was tired after a long time hard practice, I put the bow on a bench. Only a few minutes later back from the public toilet, I found my brother Danjin was rubbing his bottom for pain. Before I felt amused I saw my bow stick was divided again into more than two pieces.
“Oh My God!”
Now what? To fight with him I couldn’t win, to scold at him my bow wouldn’t come back together again. Though Danjin hinted he wouldn’t hit back I stood there still, miserably. Seeing me begrudged saying good-bye to the remains of my dear bow, he asked, “How much would it cost to buy a thing like that?” Danjin had no alternative but painfully broke two of his bamboo made dummy cashboxes, in which he saved every day for many years.
When we were busy counting the money coin by coin the younger brother of our mother came to see us from Zunyi, the holy revolutionary site where used to be Mao’s ba<x>se during the civil war, but then and now still among the poorest places in China. That explains why for him “coming to see us” was less important than “coming to buy some fat pork for frying oil.” By that time, each Chinese head was rationed only 500 grams plant oil per month, if my memory is not mistaken.
For the sake of buying fat pork for uncle, I had to get up at 4 o’clock in dark next morning to line up in the coldness. After 5 hours uncle was very pleased with the fat pork in his hand, but at the same time he regretted that the pork was not as oily as he would like. Likewise he repeated, “I don’t know how to reward you?”
“But I know how you can reward me.” I captured that “once in a lifetime” opportunity and requested, “In fact you don’t have to reward me, just lend me 15 Renminbi.” (At that time 15 Renminbi was one third of his monthly wage) looking at uncle’s frozen facial ex<x>pression quickly I pleaded how important the money was to me, to put the importance concretely “to buy a violin bow for me now will change my life,” and repeatedly I promised that he would get his money back with a tremendous profit when I grew up. Immediately followed that I handed over a letter, a beg-to-borrow-money letter to him. In the letter I also begged him to keep secrete from my Mom.
Ladies and gentlemen, think of that, a 14 year-old boy could do such a thing, how strong his desire of playing the violin would be!
I did not know whether my uncle was moved by my passion, that’s not important, what important was he gave me the money, although not directly over to my hand, but to the hand of my mother. Mom did not only put the sum to my hand, but also a severe scold. Frankly speaking, not to mention the scolding, even a severe beating would worth the value.
Luckily I bought a nice used violin bow at a second-hand shop with the money. But to my extraordinary bitterness only a few days later when Wang saw my new bow he said to me, “Since you already have your own bow, how about return my broken bow back to me.” When he was told that his broken bow was even worse broken, his face turned to be very serious, again and again emphasized the importance of that broken bow of his. To me the meaning was obvious; he wanted my nice new bow to compensate with his old broken bow.
I felt like being cheated and trapped, ran straight to Lu Ying’s home for expressing my fury. But when I got Lu’s home, I happened to see her father being ill severely.
“Why not taken to the hospital?” I asked.
“We just got back from the hospital. The doctor says he is not sure what disease my father is suffering?” Lu Ying said to me with tears.
At that time in China, it was the same case in the whole country, doctors who could really cure diseases were sent out to be labor reformed, the rest remained in the hospitals were those who could not cure diseases.
“Don’t worry, don’t worry, let me think.” I comforted Lu, and then took a 3 kilometers marathon again back to Wang’s home, as I knew Wang’s father was a medical professor.
Wang heard that bad news, revealed his unimaginable excitement, excitement obviously for the chance of a profitable achievement, profitable not for money but for beauty. Together we raced to Lu’s home again. At Lu’s home the way Wang called Lu’s parents as “Lu Mom Lu daddy” made my toothache so badly that as if they would soon fall off. That vinegar flavor proved that I was in fact liked Lu Ying quite a bit. But that was a very critic moment, a moment in no way to fight for a girl.
Wang took an old notebook out from his pocket and wrote down all the details about Lu’s father’s symptom. Then, neglected Wang’s “no thank you” I took marathon again for the fourth time back to Wang’s home with him.
Wang’s father was waiting for us. Heard his son’s report the professor anxiously said Lu’s father might be suffering from a kind of acute inflammation, if not treated in time, the life could be in danger. The professor quickly covered his face with a big hat and carried a most common soldier bag in his shoulder. Together three of us hurried up to Lu’s home, for me the number fifth marathon in one day.
As soon as we arrived at Lu’s home, the professor took some medical instruments out from his solder bag and examined Lu’s father over. Quickly the professor wrote a letter and asked Lu’s family to take the father to a recommended hospital and talk to a specific doctor, at once.
After that the professor reminded me, “Don’t blather to anyone else about today.” Wang explained to me that as his father was supposed to be a knocked-down anti revolutionary scholar the professor did not wish to bring trouble to others for his underground medical activities. That’s why only in darkness the professor saw the patients who shouted to knock him down during the daytime. That also explained why my friend Wang Shi Yi needed a notebook with him all the time.
Just like that, the life of Lu’s father was saved.
A few days later when Lu’s father recovered the working class mother said to her daughter Lu Ying, “Who said your tall friend comes from a bad family? I think his family is very good.”
The mother’s words made Lu Ying blushed with shame. She explained, “His name is Wang, not my friend, but a friend of my school mate Chen. In fact I don’t even know that tall Wang much.”
Lu’s father’s incident moderated the crisis of the bow problem, yet the problem remained unsolved. I checked up almost all musical instrument shops in Changsha hoping to find a bargain. One day I passed the Changsha May-First Cultural Goods Store. The memory of being chased out by that fat man made me nervous. But I encouraged myself to walk in again by the end. To my surprise that 28 Rinminbi violin stayed there still, only the price was reduced to 20 Rinminbi.
With the excitement I decided to use my dear aunt who used to be my closest in the world. I wrote a letter to her, the same letter I wrote to my uncle (Mom’s brother), with the content such as “to buy a violin bow for me now could change my life…you will get your money back with a tremendous profit when I grow up” etc etc etc. Finally I also added the request “to keep it secretly from my parents.”
Two weeks later my aunt came to see me from her hometown Xinhua, “to exploit the working convenience” as she explained.
I took my aunt to the Changsha May-First Cultural Goods Store right away, partly as I was looking forward to meeting that short fat man again. After arrived there, aunt gave me 20 Rinminbi, twice explained that 5 out from the 20 were given by my Uncle Din. I threw the sum on the counter as I dreamed to do so in a long time. The big pity was the short fat man did not show up, only the thin lady present. When I opened the violin case I found the neck of the violin was off from the body. The sells lady argued, “Because of that we reduced the price. Find some one to glue them together, it will be as good as new.”
“No need to find someone, that, I can do myself.” I replied proudly.
I noticed the sells lady tired to avoid my eyesight all the time. Purposely I asked, “You do remember me, don’t you?”
“No, I don’t.” She denied coldly. Seeing me disappointed she changed her tone, “Nowadays what’s good to remember so many things?” She paused, “You are much taller now. You used to come here very often, how I could forget you.”
“That’s very good of you to remember me.” I was half satisfied, “But do me a favor, please send my regard to that fat man and tell him that the ‘child’ have bought the violin.” I spelled that with great pleasure.
“Xiao Gao, You mean my Xiao Gao.” Her voice trembled, “Alright, I’ll forward your greeting to him by the time when I also go there.”
“Go where?” I puzzled.
“He is gone.” She answered in an undertone.
“Gone where?” I asked again loudly.
“Dead, D E A D, dead.” She shouted.
“How?” I was shocked, but did not give up questioning. To put it in a Chinese saying “breaking an earthenware pot to inquire the bottom.”
“Do you have an end? How? Gun fight of course.” She lost control and cried out, “My poor husband did not even take a look at our child…” she lowed her head down and never lifted it up again.
I felt a total emptiness in my brain, quietly left the store with the violin. On my way home, I decided not to hate that short fat man (actually he was shapeless, no longer short or fat) any more. Being frankly I even felt a little sorry for him.
Who said that? “Death concludes everything.”
Back home, I compared the new bow with the second hand bow back and forth; finally decided the second hand bow was a better one. Hence I endured my pain to give the new bow to Wang as compensation. After that heavy burdened being removed I felt much relaxed. From then on, I could play my violin, in peace.
Like That, my Prelude of learning the violin started.
To be continued
|Reply: Re:Father Son and Violin
||Date: 2009-04-10 08:07:40
CHAPTER SEVEN: Teacher Li Taught Me to Learn To Be a Man as I Learn to Play the Violin
By then I had a self-made violin a nice used bow and the hand-copy Hohmann, what else did I need apart from time and practice?
In fact I did have enough time and much practice as at that time the school was not so busy, and to me practice itself gave me the greatest pleasure and happiness. Every early morning I practiced my violin at the side of a garden pond nearby to avoid wake my neighbors up. In the summer every afternoon when my brothers went swimming with other kids that was my chance to monopolize our home to practice. Under the temperature around 40 degrees in a not-well-isolated bungalow house, I was always showered by my own sweat. Though the temperature became much friendly in the evening I had to go out to practice, then the mosquito cluster turned to be my major enemy, particularly when I played the A string, the mosquitoes would attack me like the Japanese suicide air force during the World War II. Later I found a favorite practice spot near a railway for where were fewer mosquitos polluted.
In those days, although I ate together with my brothers at the same table and slept in the same room, my spirit however lived in a totally different world. I had almost no friends but many unfriendly neighbors. We quarreled from time to time for the only reason and the reason only “the strident noise out from that wooden box endlessly from morning to night.” Because of that few neighbor kids talk to me, accept one girl, the next-door neighbor Hu MeiMei.
At that time my greatest grievance was that everybody did not recognize my genius. Now I think back I feel really sorry and shameful, as I have caused so much headache to my neighbors by that dreadful violin sound.
“Forgive me I poor neighbors. Now I apologize to you in front of the whole world.”
At that time, I took lessons with teacher Li once a week in the beginning. Later I went to see him more and more often. After the lessons we always played some duets from the method Hohmann. Gradually violin lesson became art enjoyment for both of us. Like this, within one year, my violin playing had a “great leap forward”. That gave me the confidence to compete myself with Ma or even with Wang. The pity was Ma was not interested in competing with me as she was a girl, and more importantly she was supposed to be my girl friend, temporarily, therefore my rival left only one, Wang Shi-Yi.
Talking about Wang, for the purpose of chasing Lu Ying, he even transferred to our school. That resulted naturally to add one more violin to our Mao Team. That is to say the Mao Team then had three violins, Ma, Wang and me.
As I mentioned previously in the ballet “the White Haired Woman” there was a violin solo paragraph that used to be played by Ma. But one day just before the performance Ma’s face looked longer than usual. After questioning I found it was Wang requested to substitute her to play that solo paragraph. That fact made my feeling very mixed up.
“What a guy, not only take Lu Ying away from me, but also want to take the solo from Ma, or should I say my ‘Xiao Mao’.” I thought that, decided to contend him with the solo paragraph.
The performance started. When the dance got close to the violin solo paragraph, I saw Wang stopped playing, constantly wiped his sweaty hand on his trousers to get himself ready to play the solo paragraph. But while the time came, I could not help myself rushing to play the solo paragraph a half bit earlier than the rhythm. That caused trouble on the stage. The coming-too-soon violin solo confused Lu’s steps that made her inclined body almost fell down. Fortunately the people sitting in front of the stage were all The Liberation Army solders; most likely they had a discipline not to laugh at any and all occurrences.
After the performance was over, Lu was circled by teammates at a corner backstage receiving handkerchiefs one after another passed to her. I felt extremely upset; the only way to ease myself was by thinking of something else, such as “how can a women’s eye store so much water.
Wang looked at me in a great disappointment, rebuked me in an undertone, “You are no good friend, so selfish and full of arbitrariness…”
I gave tit for tat, “What? You say me selfish! That solo paragraph used to be Xioa Mao’s; I mean teammate Ma’s. Why you want to take it over?”
“Why are you so vigorously about the violin solo thing? Whoever plays will not be your turn.” Unexpectedly Chan Flute interposed a remark full of vinegar flavor, obviously for I called Ma as Xiao Mao.
Wang Shiyi nodded his head echoed, “So so so.”
I ignored Chan Flute but challenged Wang Shiyi directly, “Let’s compete, to play the solo paragraph or to play Hohmann, You name it. The winner will be playing the solo paragraph from now on.”
Ma Xiao Mao heard that quickly pulled me aside, whispered to me, “To play what Hohmann, he finished that a long time ago, now he practices Kayser.” (Kayser is a violin teaching method a step higher than Hohmann) Seeing me wordless Ma Xiaomao comforted me, “Why compete with him? I’m positive that you will be the No 1 violin pla<x>yer among the Changsha amateur violin players.”
Ma’s action irritated Chan Flute, he rushed forward up and pushed Ma away from me, “Look at you two pull and drag. There should be a distinction between boys and girls.”
How could that be tolerated? My acted like a little rascal pushed Chan Flute against a wall.
Wang Shiyi was shocked, he kept his mouth half opened rumbled repeatedly, “How can it be like this?”
Ma Xioamao was aside could not help laughing.
Lu Ying however walked towards us, “Stop it, both of you. It was my fault. I did not follow the music closely enough. I’ll be more careful from now on.”
At that moment teacher Lao and the workers representative Chuan came to inform us the noodles were ready. Seeing us got entangled together, inevitably to be questioned and judged. When they found our the key problem was the violin solo, Lao expressed his opinion, “From now on you three take turns to play the solo. Is it worth to quarrel on such a bagatelle?”
Representative Chuan on the other hand had a totally different idea about the issue. He suggested, “Why solo has to be played by one person? Bad individualism! From now on you three comrades play the solo together. More people bigger strength. Good, this matter is settled. Go go go, let’s go to eat.”
“A solo a solo, how can three play a solo together? Art has its own rule and form.” Teacher Lao opposing representative Chuan publicly, that was the first time for us to see.
“What rule? Art obeys publicizing Mao’s thoughts, you obey me, and we working class lead everything that is a rule above all.” After Chuan showed his absolute authority as a working class, he again urged us, “Let’s go eat quickly everybody, as Mao said ‘the good health is the capital of revolution’.”
During the whole night meal, teacher Lao was constantly explaining that the solo must not be played by three. He even told Chuan that the solo paragraph in the ballet “White Haired Woman” was an imitation of Tchaikovsky’s magnum opus the ballet “Swan Lake”. It was a classical literature that could not be and should not be changed.
Representative Chuan nodded his head showing he was listening while he was busy working on his noodle. After he finished the noodle he drank all the soup left in the bowl, then he put the chopsticks on the empty bowl looking at teacher Lao sighed with regret profoundly, “The noodle today is a little lack of oil.”
The very next day I want to see teacher Lao at his home. First I showed my regret of taking over the solo paragraph, soon after that I asked, “About the ‘Swan Lake’ you mentioned yesterday, could you also let me criticize it?”
“That’s what you come here for, isn’t it?” Lao smiled, and continued, “I don’t think I have the ‘Swan Lake’ tape here, but you can find that solo paragraph in the movie ‘Lenin in 1918’.”
Seeing me looked greatly disappointed Lao added, “I happened to have a few classical music records, in them there are a few fascinating violin solo paragraphs. But the problem is the school phonograph is at the moment in the hands of the worker’s propaganda team at the broadcasting room.
“My violin teacher Li has a gramophone. Please lend the records to me at once” I begged anxiously.
“That’s too risky. How can a teacher lend the ‘Four Olds’ to a student? That’s simply too risky!” Lao looked truly worried.
After entangled him over and over again, and more importantly made him believe the complete safety of teacher Li’s place, and also my promise of the secret being kept absolutely, Lao responded, “As I said those things can not be lent. However, it would be a different story if you pick them up from trash.”
Lao carefully wrapped the records with a few used newspapers, and then wrote “cultural trash” on it. Together the records were placed with all other music tapes. Staring at that pile of “cultural trash” Lao groaned, “What a pity.”
When I was so pleased to pick up the records and about to walk away, Lao warned me again, “Just in case someone sees it, say you pick them up from MY trash, don’t bring trouble to others, understand?”
I opened the package as soon as I got out of Lao’s home. The records were not something else, but my most favorite “Spanish fantasy” by Rimsky Korsakov I hared myself straight to teacher Li’s home right away with the records and excitement.
When I got to Li’s home, he was in bed. He slowly got up and said, “Just a little headache, not bad enough to remain in bed.”
We immediately enjoined the music “Spanish fantasy”. Li woke me up from that inebriate music dreamland, and gave me some introduction about the composer Rimsky-Korsakov who used to serve in a navy. He was an amateur musician without studying the composition systematically. Because of his outstanding gift, he was invited to be the director of the Petersburg Music Conservatory. Being a director, he however went to study harmony and other music theory together with some first grade students.”
I was amazed by Li’s story as I always did. Also as always I thought Li was randomly telling a story, a story only. But this time Li went on with his “story”. He said to me in a very sincere tone, “Therefore we should always be modest and prudent, always think of learning from others, even when we become a real master of violin playing.”
I started to realize that Wang Shiyi had talked about the solo case to Li. To avoid more criticism I admitted, “Alright, alright, I was wrong. I promise that will not happen again.”
Li smiled gently went on his sermon, “The music is a gift given by the lord. It meant to purify our soul and enrich our spirit, therefore should never be used as a means of show off.”
“I have already said I wouldn’t do that again. What else do you want from me?” I was a little inflamed.
“Look at you, the way you talk is just like the way you play the violin, too much emotion but lack of reason, whenever got excited the rhythm getting quicker and the intonation inclining higher.” Li paused. He washed a cup again and again, indicating he was afraid to pass his bad cold over to me. Then he passed a cup of tea to me.
Seeing I cooled down he added, “As a young man like you with character and talent, I’m sure you will be a violin soloist, a good one in the future. You do have some technique problems through, but that can be solved gradually by age. What I’m saying is, you can learn to be a good violinist, at the time learn to be a good human being.”
“You mean I’m not a good human being? I do not steal do not rob, I love the Party and Chairman Mao.” This time I was more exasperated than inflamed.
Teacher Li shook his head a little and stood up, “Come, let me show you something.”
We got out from his room, passed through a small path, and then from the back entrance we entered the church.
It was rather dark inside the church. The sunlight cut through the colorful glasses brilliantly covered upon the portrait of Jesus. That was the first time for me to be in a church, an experience I had no precedent. I felt like my soul got away from my body and to be placed in front of the God.
Li looked at Jesus, said to me devoutly, “We should not only love the Party and Chairman Mao, but also love the people, not only the people around you, but also the people all over the world.”
“Love people all over the world?” I questioned, “Include our enemies?”
“That’s right. Include our enemies.” Li looked at my puzzled face he explained softly, “May be it is not appropriate to talk about the love of Christ nowadays, but at least you should be able to be generous enough to love those who quarreled with you, for example to love Wang Shiyi, not only because he is your friend your schoolmate and the one who has helped you before, but also as a human being. You should learn to be grateful. We all should learn to understand the meaning of thanksgiving. For we all were born with sin. You know why the Christ was put on the cross? …”
Just like that, apart from the violin lesson Li was also often evangelizing, preaching the gospel, talking bout the God and Jesus, love and kindness, forgiveness and thanksgiving, the way he did as if the astounding Cultural Revolution outside did not at all exist.
Being educated by Li, quite a few times I wanted to say “hello” to Wang Shiyi, but after all could not put down my face. I guess Wang felt the same. During the Mao Team’s performance, every time when it got close to the solo paragraph, Wang Shiyi put the violin down as well as Ma Xiaomao did, That left me no choice but playing the solo section. On the surface I was the winner of the solo conflict, however since then, Lu Ying stopped asking me to look after her schoolbag, the successor was not any one else but Wang Shiyi.
One day I caught a chance to show my warm temperature to Lu Ying, but in return I received a few cold words, “I’d rather you brow your bamboo flute” was exactly what she said to me.
I finally made up my mind to reconcile with Wang Shiyi. I waited outside of the rehearsal hall, when I saw he came out I intentionally pumped straight into him and collided my head with his chest. Immediately I apologized. He however repeatedly said, “Never mind.”
“Painful?” I ask.
“Very painful.” Wang covered his chest with a hand, quickly explained, “Painful not caused by you, but from a heart broken?” Wang Shiyi suddenly looked awful.
“Hey, don’t you scare me!” I was truly a little scared.
At the right moment Lu Ying walked out from the rehearsal hall, Wang fell toward me and whispered, “Say I’m dying.”
I embraced Wang and loudly shouted to Lu Ying, “I’m Dying. No, I mean he is dying. Please help m–him.”
Can you imagine? The most sympathetic and kind-hearted Lu Ying laughed at us, and said coldly to me, “Ask him if he wish to be buried or burnt.”
“You, how can you so heartless, he is not head yet.” I yelled at Lu.
Waite until Lu disappeared; Wang stretched his arms twice and soliloquized, “Again a fruitless effort.” Then he shook hand with me very friendly to express our reconciliation, and walked away with whistling a ditty.
“Hey, are you still mad at me?” I confirmed.
“How could I? On the contrary much grateful.” Wang said cordially.
I believe what he said was true. Because if it were not me took over him violin solo, how could he get the chance to look after Lu Ying’s schoolbag!
To be continued
|Reply: Re:Father Son and Violin
||Date: 2009-04-10 08:12:12
How My Not-So-Sweet Home Turning Sour and Pitter
1，To See My Status in My Parents Heart Through Fighting with Schoolmates
In preceding chapter I mentioned during the first year of my learning the violin, my father, just like most of the time “the family man rarely with the family” was still at the 5.7 Cadre School to be reformed, for better or worse. Therefore at home were only the “family woman” and we three kids.
As I also wrote I always wanted to be the number 1 at home. Unfortunately Danjin seldom took my provocation bait, even if he did, it mostly resulted rather quickly “to win or to lose is common occurrences to the fighters” (a Chinese proverb for losers to excuse themselves) although I do have a younger brother, but that little monkey had a powerful backer supporting him. Whenever I laid my finger on him, Mom always punished me by beating my flesh and scolding my feeling. That continues abuses made me feel not being treated fairly at home. Therefore the home to me had never been so sweet.
My not so sweet home turned to be sour and bitter from my physical fight with my schoolmates.
In chapter 5 I introduced my middle school as a former girls’ school, we were historically the first boys to be in that school, and we were only 6 boys out from 30 in our class, and half of the 6 were girlish. On the other hand the class next to us not only had more boys, but also each of them like tiger like lion, and they all lived at the same street. They soon became the overlord gang of the school.
One day without knowing why my male classmate Jiang had a quarrel with the next class boys. That group of tigers and lions incredibly chased Jiang up to our classroom. Watching Jiang was fisted and kicked severely the male classmates backed away with fear and left only girls trying to moderate the violence by words.
At this point one of my girl classmates named Ou Yangmin shouted at her boy classmates, “Come on, how can you guys watching our classmate to be beaten, where are your balls?” (I know where their balls were, all pressed tightly between their legs, mine too were between my legs but not pressed as I squatted at a toilet.) Ou Yangmin had a nickname “tomboy”, she showed the braveness at the key point. Her shouting encouraged the boys. They tried to stop the fight but stopped before doing so as no body took the lead. Seeing the boys pressed their balls even more tightly Ou Yangmin shook her head and rushed forward the crowd herself but blocked by another girl classmate Yu Xiaobing.
Yu Xiaobing was our class flower, the prettiest girl in the class. She looked delicate, weak and unobtrusive. But beyond everybody’s expectation her bell ringing voice sounded, “Stop!”
Do you believe that? The gang stopped, watched the flower poked her way into the crowd to help classmate Jiang standing up from the ground. She instantly won a burst of acclaim. The aggressors looked at each other in blank dismay. The head of the gang felt a huge lose of face therefore became more aggressive from the embarrassment. He ordered loudly, “Why stop? Come on.” Followed the fists were like rain falling on Jiang’s body. The flower Yu Xiaobing tried to protect Jiang with her stretched arms, but was pushed down by the gang. Seeing the flower down the tomboy Ou Yangmin rushed up with fury, “Dose it make you heroes by beating girls? I fight you guys to death.”
Almost at the same time I heard the news and dashed back to my classroom from WC. Seeing the invaders trampled my flower on I lifted a chair overhead and rushed into the crowd. A couple of my other boy classmates saw my fight-to-death attitude also raised chairs. The head of the gang realized the situation changed to be disadvantage to them he ordered, “Withdraw, wise fellows don’t care a short-term loss.”
I put the chair down, hurried to embrace Yu Xiaobing, however did not notice at all to have stepped on the buttock of classmate Jiang, only felt the ground was not quite flat. Hence, the all class burst into applause, again for the second time. Like that, I became the class hero admired by more girls than ever. To me more importantly it was from that moment Yu Xiobing and I became the best friends, and we kept in touch (never physically) even today.
Nevertheless the conflict was not over. On that day after the school, the gang was waiting for me outside of the school entrance. That cruel strikes and severe kicks I still feel pain when I recall it. I remember the only words I said to them repeatedly were, “I have an elder brother, and he wouldn’t let you off.”
About my “elder brother” was evidently my consolation, since how could it possible for my gentle and kind-hearted brother Danjin to fight with others, for my problems?
Back home Mom was very upset to see my broken pants rather than my deformed face and colorful body, “You are the only trouble maker in the family. You see you see, you made two holes on your new pants that I made only two years ago. Today your father will come home. You talk to him yourself.”
Almost a year since I saw my father last. He picked up this moment to come home, must be God’s will. I purposely did not clean up my wound in order to make him feel pain for me. Yet I miscalculated. Father came back very late at night. He was eating as he heard my grievance. To express my pain I “hun,hun” while narrating, expecting he might feel sorry for me. But all the efforts seemed to be in vain, as he responded nothing throughout my entire story only one sentence by the end, “You are troublesome”.
“Your fresh and blood has been abused. You do nothing to help me but criticize. Are you really my father?” I queried.
“What can I do to help you? Go to your school to fight with your schoolmates? Children fight with each other is a common matter happens all the time. Ask your mother to write a letter to your school tomorrow. Only the school authority can deal with such matters.” Father put his chopsticks on the bowl meaning the issue was concluded.
“You don’t help me now, wait until you are old, to whom can you rely upon?” I rumbled to threaten him.
Father “Ha” sneered. He took off his glasses and wiped them clean and put them back again on his nose, and stated very seriously, “When I’m old, I no need to rely upon you. I no need to rely upon anyone. I’m a communist party member. I can only rely upon my Party, the great correct and glorious Party. Since I joined the Party, I totally committed myself to it. I do nothing else, nothing else at all except what the Party asks me to do.”
“Did your Party ask you to manufacture so many children? Also did your party ask you to produce children but not to take care of them personally?” I assailed him.
“That’s right.” Mom chopped in, “It was the Party called on to have as many children as possible for the sake of war. At that time every woman wanted to be a heroic mother. ‘More people greater strength’ as it says. If it were not for those words …”
Though mother did not finish her notion, but from her tone I understood that she somehow regretted having got into the Party’s trap to give birth of four products.
Father immediately caught mother’s words as if he wanted to cover up the Party’s cabal, “Good kids many are not enough, bad kid one is too many, in our family, just one too many.” As soon as he finished saying that, he gave a sign of “meeting over”, and arranged his body in bed.
My heart was smashed and tore into pieces by his disdaining words. To compare with that, the pain from my wounded body became nothing. I loudly roared at him, “I swear I will overthrow you dog-shit Party. I want you and your nonsense Party to realize what a great mistake you people has made to have manufactured me as the one too many.”
At that time I found nothing else to pour out my emotion but to fiercely curse his Party, that so-called “great correct glorious and everlasting Party”.
Seeing me being sorely enraged the old man revealed his satisfaction as the winner by a quiet sneering “ha”, followed he made a yawn and turned his back to me. But when I was about to leave him he soliloquized, “Overthrow my Party? Hen! The Chinese communist Party can never be overthrown, unless, it falls down itself.” Soon after that he fell down himself, horizontally in bed.
The next day, mother gave me a letter and asked me to hand it over to the school authority. I really wouldn’t like to go to the school; to be more precisely, I really dared not to go to the school. I wondered a few circles outside the school, found there was nowhere else to go except the school. Meticulously I walked to the school entrance but still dare not to get in. Meantime I saw my classmate Ou Yangmin with her father walking towards me, I mean towards the school entrance. She looked just like me, with a swollen face and colorful arms most probably legs too.
“Are you too being beaten?” Ou Yangmin looked at me in surprise, “Alright, let’s go to tell the Worker’s Propaganda Team together. (Worker’s Propaganda Team was the authority in all Chinese schools at that time)”
By then I learnt I was not the only one beaten by the gang. Ou Yangmin’s father was a worker, the highest-class rank of the Chinese society at the era. Immediately I felt to have caught a powerful backer. I took my mother’s letter from the schoolbag and held in hand, vigorously followed them to the school administration office.
On the way I made a chance to boast to Ou Yangmin, “My father also wanted to come with me. It was me stopped him, because I knew he had an important meeting to attend.”
Before I even finished my hot air my face turned hot, hotter than being beaten the day before, hot enough to burn an egg.
After a few words between the workers (Ou Yangmin’s father with the leader of the school Worker’s Propaganda Team), the four representatives of the gang were kneeling on the ground of the school administration office. The leader of the Worker’s Team enquired the four boys what social class their families were. Three out of the four were from worker’s families, only one from a right-wing family. (Right Wings were anti-revolutionaries) Right away the leader of the Worker’s Team slapped twice on the face of the right- wing-family boy. An old worker simply removed one of his shoes to whip the boy’s back repeatedly, “How dare you to beat the working class junior.” The other three boys were scared to death.
“To use violence to stop violence.” That was the sort of education the workers taught us. Unfortunately I don’t think that was the worker’s patent, as my Mom also did it to me to stop me abusing my baby brother. Doesn’t it also apply to the world politics?
Though I was gloated in the beginning, but soon could not stand the fact that adults beating teenage, especially when I remembered teacher Li’s voice “love and forgiveness”, I subconsciously raised my right hand (the hand with my Mom’s letter) to show my opposition.
Ou Yangmin noticed the letter and asked, “What’s in your hand?”
I quickly grasped the letter into a paper ball, prevaricated, “you mean this? Nothing, toilet paper.”
While I saying those words, I was very jealous about my classmate Ou Yangmin, envy her to have a father willing to protect her.
The gang of four was brought to our classroom to admit their guilt and being forced to apologize. When Ou Yangmin and I went into the classroom, we received a huge welcome applause like heroes. But there was one classmate who did not applaud. That one was Yu Xiaobing. She not only did not applaud, but also did not show her face to us by bending her head to the table all the time.
When the lesson was over, I went to talk to Yu Xiaoibng I found she also had a panda eye. Ou Yangmin rushed to ask her, “Why don’t you ask your dad…?” Yu turned her face away from us to avoid the question. Her blood brother, or should I say “blood sister” Wang Xiaoan stopped us from further questioning, later she told us Yu Xiaobing was from a capitalist class family, and her parents were perished by the proletariat class a long time ago. Yu Xiaobing was brought up by her maternal aunt. She had always been a good sensible girl, no matter what happens she would keep it for herself and never wanted her aunt to be worried about her.
Though I really felt sorry for Yu Xiaobing, still I thought I was worse. Because there was nothing Yu could do with the fact that she had no father, yet I did have a father but no difference from being without, if not worse. That makes a big difference between Yu and me!
2, Why Play the Song “Home, Sweet Home” Away From Home in a Rain?
(A direct conflict between father and me because of the violin)
My father stayed home for a few days. In that period I could not practice my violin because my hand was enlaced with bandage.
Although I felt wronged and acted rashly to my father I was afraid of losing the opportunity to show off my violin playing ability in front of him, because I did not forget that that was a part of my very original purpose of playing the violin, to impress him, make him acknowledge my talent, and respect me.
It was only two days left before father return to his 5.7 Cadre School. I played truant and returned back home in the afternoon. I took off the gauze from my hand, and endured the pain trying to practice an old European folk song “home, sweet home”.
I stood by the window, peeped outside all the time expecting father to show up while I practiced the violin. A surge of satisfaction gushed from my heart when I imagined the surprised face of my father’s. At last I saw my parents walking towards home. I quickly moved to the back room lest father found out my intention of showing off. I forgot the pain, concentrated all my technique and musical feeling to play the song “home, sweet home”. Perhaps I was too excited I could not control my bow from trembling. I regretted so much by the thought of being laughed by him.
The door “peng” pushed open. Hastily I asked for excuse, “I did not do well. I’ll do it again.”
My father was certainly surprised, though not the way I hoped. He did not praise me, nor criticized me, but uttered very seriously with his eyebrows wrinkled, “What nonsense are you doing?”
“Not nonsense.” I was still in my intoxicated mood, “It is a European song called ‘home…’”
“What ‘sweet home’?” Father did not wait for me to finish my explanation; obviously he wanted me to know that he knew the title “home, sweet home”. Then he fixed his eyes on my hand-copy violin method Hohmann in my bed. Until then I started to realize the thing could go wrong. I used my buttocks to caver the Hohmann by sitting on it. But that was too late. Father not only caught the Hohmann, but also found the music records I picked up from teacher Lao’s “trash bump”.
Father had a quick glance of all the things, jawed, “Where did you get all these? Mozart Beethoven Liszt Tchaikovsky, all the bourgeoisie nonsense.”
Originally it was I wanted to impress my father, but now being impressed by my father. Since he could recite so many great names so smoothly, he should be bourgeoisie enough himself. Wrong?
Father took my hand-written copy Hohmann and the records to the front room and slammed them down on the dinning table like booty. Oddly was not towards me, but towards my mother he enquired, “Look what he is doing at home! Why don’t you do anything?”
Mom looked as if she did not care so much. She replied, “He never listen to me, what else could I do? I know it’s noisy. The neighbors complain a lot. But he is a member of the School Mao Propaganda Team. His playing the hand-lin (violin) has not cost the family so much. Why not let him be.”
“Comrade…” Father paused, perhaps did not find an appropriate vocabulary to criticize Mom, if there were any. He swallowed his mouthful phlegm, changed a gesture and continued his bureaucratic jargon, “Money money money, all you know is money. Where is your class consciousness gone.”
Father started to turn the pages of my hand-written copy Hohmann, “Look, look, what Ayida, Carmen, serenade. How could he learn all these if no one taught him? This is a new tendency of the class struggle happening in our family, and it is the concrete phenomenon of the capitalism fighting for the next generation with us.”
“Alright alright alright, I’m no good at educating him, I entrust you to do the job, totally, entirely and completely.” Mom poured out her chagrin, “You are never home. I have to work and at the same time taking care of the four kids, each of their eating drinking shitting sleeping and going to schools etc, when have I got the time to look at his… his bean sprout (music notes). Now you are home. You do whatever you want.”
Mom’s speech shut father up. Therefore he diverted his spear directly to me. Very sternly he interrogated me, “Give me a black or white answer. Where are those things from?”
“What things?” I pretended.
Father raised my Hohmann over his head, “First, say where is this from?”
“Hand-copied.” I confessed.
“I know it is hand-copied. I’m asking from where it is hand-copied?” Father questioned closely
“Copied from a school mate…” I was toothpaste-squeezed.
The old ginger is always more spicy than the young ones. By the end father found the Hohmann was from Ma Xiaomao and the records were from teacher Lao. He wrapped the Hohmann and records up together with a few used newspapers and about to walk out.”
“Where are you going? It’s supper time.” Mom tried to stop him.
“This is far more important than eating.” Father said to Mom, and then to me, “you, go to the school together with me.”
“I’m not going at supper time. There is nothing more important than eating. ‘The good health is the capital of revolution’ our representative Chuan always reminded us.” I rejected my father.
Ladies and gentlemen, think of that, when I wan beaten, he, as the strongest man in the family refused to go the school for me, but then he wanted to go to my school to accuse me because I played the violin. What an earth was that? Of course this is what I’m thinking today, while at that moment, I thought nothing but to protect my Hohmann and records. I stepped forward father and scrabbled for my treasures from his hands. Father was not in the mood to contend with me like someone in my age, he released my treasures and went out.
“Go with your father. To take the chance also sorting out the fight with your schoolmates to your school authority.” Mother ordered me.
“No no no, I’m not going.” I am obstinately back talked.
“You, trouble making son, you, stubborn little devil…” Mother’s pinching and beating at my wounded body turned those spots from blue to red again. And what was far worse she started to grip my treasures away from my hands.
To me, to be beaten by mother was like everyday meal that I was so much used to. But to take my music away from me was something absolutely not tolerable. Mother tried her endeavor to pull my Hohmann, and I desperately did not let go. During the refuse to budge mother lost her balance and fell down with her hands still grapping my music book.
Danjin quickly went up helping Mom to stand up.
My eight-Year old baby brother rushed out shouted loudly towards father, “Baba, come back, the number two is beating mother.”
Seeing father was turning, the baby swooped into me like a little lion and opened his mouth biting on my arm. Both of my hands were tightly holding my music book therefore had no extra hand to fight with the lion, all I could do was trying to get off his teeth by swing my arm, yet the result was just opposite, the more I swing the worse painful I was. So I had no alternative but to use my last resort. However, regardless how hard I kicked; the baby lion did not let his teeth off me.
Meanwhile father strode in. He asked mother to give up her grip and helped her sitting by the table, and then he ordered the little lion to release his weapon and embraced him standing by the mother. And then he took my music treasures from my hands by force and smashed them on the ground.
“You, get out, our family don’t have such a son.” Father shouted heavily as he pushed me towards the doorway. Mother took the advantage to pick up my hand-copied music notes and tore them page by page, that sound, simply worse than a knife cutting my heart. Just as I was pushed out of the home I heard a smashing sound of my music records. That sound too just like a bomb blowing up inside my body.
I was outside of my home away from my family, peeping through the window I saw my baby brother brought the bed-wetting basin. Mom put all the tore pieces into the basin. Father lighted up a cigarette with a match, and quickly he passed the left over burning match to Mom. Mom did not catch it but pushed father’s hand, the match dropped into the basin, instantly a red terror growing.
That was how I saw my hand-written copy Hohmann, my months’ painstaking efforts, those hard work days and nights, those stroke by stroke and page by page emotions, my joy and love burning to ashes in front of my eyes.
I yelled with all my strength, “Stop! Don’t!…” But nobody heard the sound except myself as I bit my lips so tightly that it started to bleed.
My brother Danjin witnessed the whole process. He was in a state of chock that he stood there with his mouth half open.
I waved my hand to him, the only person in my family I might turn for sympathy. Danjin got my hint and quietly moved to the back room. I quickly ran to the back door. Before I asking Danjin had already opened the back door with my violin in his hand, “You get in now you will be dead. Take your stupid thing and run.”
Before I even showing my appreciation to Danjin he shit the door with an angry sentence, “They burned my foreign folk-song book too. All your fault.”
I held my violin, ran straight to the Xiang Jiang River.
The flowing river water brought me back to my childhood. My uncle Din’s out-of–tune singing with the wrong lyric, “The eastern sun is declining down the western hill…” sounded. I could also hear my aunt’s calling, “Danjiu, the supper is ready.”
Talking about supper, a band started to play in my stomach and sour water gushed in my mouth.
It started to rain. I’m not making a movie. The rain really poured out, and getting heavier and heavier. Though I was very cold I had to take off my over coat to wrap up my violin. I hid my self under an extended eave of a storehouse. “To suffer from coldness and hunger under a roof cover my head” was a literal and vivid depiction of my situation.
It turned to complete dark. The rain was getting gradually weaker. I left the riverbank and walked subconsciously towards home.
“If you can go back, why ran out at the first place?” A voice asked me.
“If not home, where else could I go?” I answered that voice, rascally.
But when I reached the railway where I used to practice my violin nearby home, I stopped, not because I was too tired, but too afraid, and did not want to lose face as well. Looking at the faint light from that home window I was trembling from incomparable chilliness.
The rain finally stopped. I sat on a railway and my rain-wetted body began to feel the pain from schoolmate’s punch marks as well as Mom’s nail marks and little brothers teeth mark. I needed to do something to anaesthetize my body from the pain. I opened my violin case. With my shivering hands I played the unfinished song “home, sweet home”. I hoped someone in my family would listen, hoping one of them, or even a neighbor coming to call me back, a call with tiny little volume in a distance would be enough. I even extravagantly imaged when I return home a bowl of steaming hot noodle would be waiting for me. If so I would certainly put more peppers and an extra spoon of lard in it. Please don’t laugh at me. I was just turned to 14, a boy at his awkward age.
When I write this section today my heart starts to bleed again from the old wounds. But, please save your tears for the later.
On that night, I waited and waited; the dream of “someone calls me back” finally did not happen. I held my violin and lay my head on a pillow, sorry, on a rail; slowly I brought myself into a dreamland.
To be continued
|Reply: Re:Father Son and Violin
||Date: 2009-04-10 08:14:04
CHAPTER NINE: Encounter A Bosom Friend Jiang Langsha
I dreamed I fell into an ice hole. I was shivering from coldness until I couldn’t shiver any more as I turned to be a corpse. Meanwhile someone walked towards me. He looked familiar, resembling my uncle Din, or my aunt, but when I took a close look, unexpectedly that person was my father! He bundled me with a big quilt, took me home, and put me on my bed.
Though I was in total consciousness yet my body could not move. By then, my younger brother Danfeng came towards me with a lighter in his hand. He made a fire with the lighter and started to burn my quilt. I yelled desperately, “ Don’ t burn my violin, don’ t …”
“ I’ m not burning your violin, I’ m just burning some rotten rail-wood to dry your clothes.” My baby brother’s voice changed to a young man.
I woke up from my dream, found myself in bed, not alone but together with a unknown young man. I jumped down from the bed with surprising, then realized I was naked, totally not even with a under pants. I was soon trembling again.
“They should be dried up now. Quickly put them on, or you will catch a cold.” The young man pointed my cloths by the fireplace.
I put on my cloths as quickly as I could, took a look around, recognized that was the wooden hut by the rail cross where a senior rail-and-fence-switchman used to stay. I remembered when I was at primary school I used to pass here twice a day from home to school and back. How come an old man became a young man?
“My name is Jiang Langsha. My master told me that from time to time he asked you to buy Toufu and vegetables for him. Do you remember?” That young man introduced himself to me.
“liangsha?" I thought, “In English it should be ‘river sand wave’. How can a rail-switchman have such a romantic, capitalist ‘four olds’ name?” I felt a little funny.
Seeing me more relaxed, he went on, “Recently I grow a habit that after supper I always wait for you to play the violin. I could tell you are progressing very fast. When you did not show up for a week I wondered why, thought you might have moved away. Luckily I heard you again yesterday. But your unusual playing of the song ‘home, sweet home’ (He also knew ‘home, sweet home!) made me a little worried. But not until I went to switch the rails I found you were falling sleep on the railway. Very dangerous you see.”
I felt very grateful to him, not only for his saving my life, but also equally if not more importantly, for his appreciating my violin, which was vital to me, particularly at that moment under such circumstance.
To be with a confidant I surely could “make myself at home.”
“Can I have some hot water? A-n-d do you have something to eat?” I asked casually.
“I baked a sweet potato for you. It should be ready by now.” Jiang got off from the bed, took out the sweet potato from the fireplace, peeled off part of the skin, and passed it to me.
The baked sweet potato was truly sweet and hot, so was Jiang and his hospitality.
Watching me devoured voraciously like a hungry tyke he looked commiserative and irresolute, but still asked, “You got wounds all over your body. Did your parents do it to you?”
“No!” I immediately denied, “How could my parents …” I couldn’t talk further. In China there is a proverb “the ugly domestic affairs can’t be revealed to outsiders”, or “the disgraceful family affairs should never be spread.” In English might be “don’ t wash dirty linen in public.” Therefore I could say nothing but to chew my sweet potato mixed with snivels.
After my emotion cooled down a little bit I began to think that I could actually survive by staying here for a couple of days, but my mother couldn’t. She must be anxious to death my where about. Imagining my mother quarrel with father I started to be happy again.
Jiang looked tired. He wrapped himself around with an army coat, sat on the unique wooden armchair. After being recharged with the hot water and sweet potato I became energetic again. I felt I should do something to entertain him in return of his kindness. But as soon I started to talk, like a vehicle with a break out of order I couldn’t help making stories far away from or even opposite to the facts, stories such as “my parents love me more than any brothers in the family. They forced me to learn the violin, and put all their hope on me to become a dragon (to be rich and famous),” Bula bula.
The alarm clock rang. Jiang suddenly stood up, cut my hot air and said to me, “I have to go to switch the rail. I think you are tired too. If you can’t go home tonight, you may stay here. ‘Tomorrow, we will have milk, we will have bread’.” He imitated the tone of Lenin in the movie “Lenin in 1918”, smiled with a sense of humor.
Like that, I made Jiang Langsha an acquaintance. And later he became one of the most important figures who had their influence on my thoughts and impact on my life.
I became a devil harming everybody around me
Let me continue my story about staying overnight with Jiang Langsha.
When I woke up next morning, I found meself again in Jiang’s little plank bed. Although the quilt swelled badly, I wrapped myself as tightly as possible with it.
Jiang, no longer a stranger but rather a fried, was still sitting on the wooden armchair wrapped with his army overcoat. (Army items were the most popular and most common among the civilians during the Cultural Revolution.)
Seeing me came back to the real world, he mixed some herbs with alcohol and daubed on my wounded spots, “I learnt this when I was at so called ‘vast world’ (countryside). I don’t believe the drug will perform some kind of miracle or wonder, but surely better than doing nothing.”
“You, also have been one of the educated youths?” Thus the scene that we sent-off the elder brothers and sisters to countryside appeared to me again.
(In the late 60’s and early 70’s, almost all middle school and high school graduates, the formal red guards were sent to countryside as so-called “educated youth” to be re-educated by the peasantry.)
“As a man in my age, who could escape that glory? However I was unlucky, stayed only a short period before I managed to come here.” Jiang narrated, with a jocose smile from his small narrowing eyes.
“Our great leader Chairman Mao teaches us ‘great achievements can be made in the vast world’, while you hide yourself in such a little hut, not bored?" I teased him.
“Bored? No, not at all, just the opposite.” Jiang looked rather serious, more serious than needed, “There was nothing I could do in that vast world, but in here, this little hut I can read, numerous books. The world in the books is far vaster than the ‘vast world’. It is infinite vast, endless and no limitation.”
Jiang pulled out a book beneath his bed, “Look, see what this is, ‘David Copofield’ by Degence.” He passed the book to me with an excitement.
I, as a boy grown up under the red flag had never read a foreign book by then. I turned the pages randomly to show my politeness and disapprovingly passed back to him.
He did not take the book form my hand, but added, “This was my favorite book when I was your age. I have gone through it quite a few times. Every time when I read it, I felt I was the little David. Thanks to it I overcame all my loneness and sadness…” Seeing me still hesitating he insisted, “Take it home and read it. But promise me not to damage it or dirt it and make sure you return to me when you finish reading.”
To respond to his fervency I had to turn the pages again, this time, I took a look at some illustrations. I did that for I had to give him some face, especially when the sweet potato from him I got in last night was not out yet.
Jiang looked at the wounds on my face and my hands sympathetically, hesitated for a moment but still suggested, “How about I take you home. I will try to talk to your parents. We got 36 minutes until next rail switching, 35 minutes I mean.” He paused, and then complained with anger, “Who gave them rights to beat a kid like that, only because they are parents?”
Immediately I had to explain it again that my parents were not responsible for my wounds, at least not mainly. I also made up another story that I was just betting with my brother Danjin that I could stay outside all by myself without going home for two days.
“Right, I see, and understood.” He imitated a tone of someone from some movie, as he did before when showing he says one and means another.
I went on my staying with Jiang as it happened to be Sunday that I had no school to go. At lunchtime, he let me share some food from his lunch-box.
After lunch he joked seriously, “have had my food, you should work for me too, as the book says, ‘there is no free lunch in the world’.”
After announced that he went out to pull the rail fence down at the road crossing. After the train passed, I gave him a hand to pulled the fence up. To my surprise the fence was much lighter than I thought to be.
Close to 3:00 PM I stood by the road crossing, stretched my neck like a duck expecting my family to pass by as I remembered the whole family planed to go see a movie at 4PM, a movie of the only “film star” in Chinese cinema at that time, the 西哈努克. Half an hour later my family showed up. The little lion was the vanguard, followed my parents, then the tail my brother Danjin. I waved a little yellow rail-flag to draw their attention but failed. The little lion inattentively looked at me like an unknown distant star in the universe. Followed the parents, also showed little concern as if I were somebody else’s dog or cat. That made me believe that they had agreed the same attitude towards me before he went out. I was so anxious that I yelled out, almost yelled out I mean. Meanwhile my wisdom instigated me to pull down the rail fence to block my brother Danjin. He stopped; kept looking at his toes. Seeing that the little lion retreated. He bended his waist to get trough the fence, and dragged his oldest brother, “Come on, let’s go, or we will be late for the movie.”
Seeing two sons were on the other side of the fence mother also stopped. Father walked forward for a few more steps realized he had lost his function as the family locomotive, also turned his face around. Instantly a kind of joy, a joy of victory and hope emerged to me. Hence I made a decision, make sure they do not see the movie.
Until then Jiang did not notice that I had put the fence down by myself, he rushed out with an ugly face to scold me for taking work as play and quickly he pulled the fence up, then he noticed that he was surrounded by my family. His ugly face suddenly turned to be much better looking. My mother stared at him enquiringly and questioned, “Who are you? What are you? What’s the relation between you and my son?”
Jiang Langsha immediately introduced himself, including “although not old enough yet to be a leading class, (working class was regarded to be the leading class at that era) surely not an anti-revolutionary.”
Seeing father approaching him Jiang added, “I’m an old friend of your son. It was me who invited him to stay overnight therefore not his fault. I’m sorry to have caused your worry, I sincerely apologize.”
Father intentionally avoided his eyesight from Jiang, very impatiently urged mother to go to the cinema. Mother looked troubled and her eyes turned red, however unwillingly she followed father to walk away.
My father’s attitude toward me must have enraged Jiang, he suddenly raised his voice shouting, “Only because you are parents you could abuse your child like that?”
Those words were like electric that shocked my Mom. She turned back and rushed in front of Jiang, “Who abuse him? Let’s make it clear.”
Again father pressed on mother, “It’s not worth to waste our time here. Watching movie is the main issue today. Let’s go.”
“Sorry, you do not abuse your son, only consider him less important than a movie.” Though Jiang used sarcastic language to keep his sense of humor but the serious facial expression from his congested face revealed his excitement and anger.
Obviously Jiang’s sarcasm incited mother a great deal, she neglected father’s pullback, stepped further toward Jiang and argued, “How do you know I take my son less important than a movie? Who is feeding him and raising him every day up to now? How much do you know my family affairs? Today I might as well forget the movie. Let’s talk until it become absolutely clear.”
Heard mother “forget the movie” a joy of victory gushed from my mind. Now it’s the time to please Mom by turning my spear to Jiang. I roared at him, “How dare you talk to my Mon like that? Who invited you to get into my family business? You, stop stick your nose on other people’s affairs like dog bites rat.”
My “turning my weapon around” ingratiated Mom a little but not father, not a bit. He made his last effort to hasten Mom going with him to the cinema but failed, he walked away all by himself. My baby brother followed father in a distance and frequently turned his head back to us.
I dared not to check Jiang’s reaction towards my abnormal attitude of “bite the hand that feeds one”. Thanks God at that moment a train drawing near. Jiang pulled down the road-crossing fence with mother and Danjin on the other side. Through the successive clearance between moving carriages I saw the silhouettes of mother and Danjin getting smaller and smaller toward home. Combined with the rhythm of the train wheel rumble my heart palpitated acutely, “Bang bang, bang bang, bang bang…”
After the train was gone, I affably offered my help to pull the fence up. Soon after that I apologized for the crude and reckless words just spitted out from my mouth, and expressed that for atonement I was willing to work there for two days for nothing except rice and bed.
Jiagn paid little attention to what I was saying as he was in a state of profound thinking, “Your parents too, are intellectuals. How can they also…” He bewilderedly suspired.
Like that I stayed with Jiang for two days. A little by little he told me about himself.
Jiang Langsha was from an intellectual family. In the year 1957 his father was put on one of the right wing headgears. As same as all the other a million right wings his father was also sent to be transformed far away form home. Immediately the mother had to draw a distinct boundary between her and the right wing husband by divorcing him and throwing herself into a working class’s embrace. After the family’s reorganization, Jiang Langsha suffered much maltreating from the new family man, to put it into clear words, frequently suffering from beating. When family contradiction rose to a non-reconciliatory level, Jiang as an elementary pupil had to give up the family, or more correctly to leave his mother. Through the introduction of his schoolteacher he was adopted by a working class family, a family with a daughter only wanted a son very badly. Jiang had never seen his parents again since then.
When he was a high school freshman the Cultural Revolution started. He stayed in and absorbed himself all in his book world ardently without taking part of any revolutionary activities until he was sent to countryside as an educated youth. After had been a short while there he found it was pure waste of time and life that he made some excuses to return back to the city. Somehow he got himself acquainted with the former master of the little hut, the one I used to know, and replaced him for the job. (Afterwards I discovered Jiang concealed a portion of the facts, which I will explain in later chapters.)
His story made me understand why he ejaculated so furiously to my parents for their ill-treating me, as he too used to be a severely abused child. In a way we were two bitter gourds on the same cane.
Jiang also told me his father was a writer, and his dream was to follow his father’s footsteps to be a writer. Very confidently he said, “The most important book I want to write in my life is ‘My Father’, because I’m very proud of him.” Jiang’s small narrowing eyes shined when he said that.
Jiang’s words shook my heart, and also aroused my kind of jealousy. Yes, how wonderful if one has a father that can be proud of, even that father may not a communist party member but a right wind.
Two days later, father went back to his 5.7 Cadre School. I, as a little bird with un-flyable wings returned to the nest. Another a few days had past. Gradually my wounds were getting recovered. However, when everything seemed to go back to normal, something mishap started to happen in the school.
First happened to teacher Lao. One day after school, Lao called me to go to his home. He closed the window, put a muter on my violin, and then asked me to play the melody a 隆 shell 斯 the 库 the repeatedly. I stopped playing while I noticed Lao’s eyes were turning red. After a moment dead silence Lao started to tell me a story about Tchaikovsky. Followed he said, “If someone has no forethoughts, must have immediate worries. You are a young man full of talent, passion and ambition. Therefore I hope you would always thinking of the future and not to entangle your time and energy on those everyday trifles.”
“Teacher Lao, if you have no other more important things to talk I’ll have to go home. Today is my turn to cook, one of the everyday trifles. If I’m late to cook, I would be surely again scolded.”
Just when I got out form teacher Lao’s door I bumped into Lao’s wife. I greeted her as usual, but she greeted back not as usual, worse than usual.
I would never have thought that that was the good-bye moment to my dear teacher Lao and his wife.
The truth was after my father went to talk to the school authority; Lao’s home was immediately searched. Thanks to my father’s learning and instruction the working class team found all the cultural trash, the western classical music tapes and records. Teacher Lao was sent to a countryside school as a punishment for his wrongdoing.
Even today when I recall that matter I still feel grief in my heart.
Teacher Lao was not the only one got involved with the trouble caused be my father, Ma Xiaomao’s home was also searched. As Ma’s father was a reactionary authoritative intellectual her home had been searched several times before, therefore noting significant was found, except the violin method “Hohmann”. But, something much worse than Hohmann was one of the workers dropped Ma’s violin on the ground when he did his searching, “not intentionally” as he excused himself. The violin had a few cracks on the top, and the neck fell off from the body.
Ma Xiaomao narrated her calamity with tears. I immediately took her to see master zhou, the one who taught me to make my first violin. Surprisingly the good and warm-hearted master zhou rejected my knocking at his door. On our way back Zhou’s daughter chased up and handed me a piece of pigskin hide glue (an special glue for making and repairing the violin), then she told us that his father was also strongly warned by the school worker’s team, though as a worker himself his home was spared from being searched.
Zhou’s daughter’s story scared us. We rushed to the church to see whether teacher Li was OK. Thanks God Li remained untouched. What a relief! I was really glad that I did not expose anything about teacher Li to my father.
I used all my knowledge and craftsmanship I learnt from master Zhou to glue Ma’s violin head and my violin body (the one my aunt bought for me at the May-First Cultural store) together, so that Ma would have a violin to play for the time being.
Without teacher Lao, the school Mao Team became a group of vapidity. We both quitted it and concentrated ourselves at home practicing.
Thanks to my father, calamity happened to my teachers, schoolmates and friends. That turned my love for him to hatred, gradually growing a desire of revenge.
For that period, I quite often had nightmares, if not the sky falling off, was someone chasing to kill me, every time when it came to the key point I could heard others calling “Mama”, yet I had no one to call for help.
At the point I became clearly aware that I, as one of the communist products who wanted to be a human individual, to be different from the Party molded pattern, stood there all by my own, as I had no Communist Party to rely upon, neither the Party member parents who manufactured me. No matter what happens to me, obstacles to encounter, adversity to face, difficulties to overcome, the person and only person in the whole world I could rely upon was I, me and myself. The fact left me no choice but to fight my own way out, studying and working hard to make myself strong, strong enough to change my living environment. My better and happier life as an individual rather than a product in the future would be the best prove of my correctness of the life style I chose to live.
|Reply: Re:Father Son and Violin
|Name: CHAPTER TEN
||Date: 2009-04-16 08:47:35
CHAPTER TEN: THE SECOND STAGE OF MY VIOLIN LEARNING
Decided to be a professional violinist by stimulation
If say, my original intention of learning the violin was partly hoping to empress my father and gain his respect, from that incident (burning of my Hohmann and harming people around me) to learn the violin became completely my love for the violin, though a portion of the fondness of show-off still left. Now when I think back, the words “love for the violin” is not strong enough. To be more closely, by that time violin was the only thing and everything to me, my life interest and purpose, living content, spirit consign, and more importantly, a road or bridge leads me to the prospect of a better life.
Burned my hand-copied music notes, I could hand-copy again. Not allowed to practice violin at home, I could go out to hide myself at my secret place close to the riverbank indulging self-inebriation. But one major problem was I had no money to buy the violin strings, particularly the A string that broke very easily. I remember an A string cost 20 fen RMB, the some amount of my two lunches as I receive 10 fen lunch money from Mom everyday. (Note: I here by no mean to blame my mother. In fact it was not easy to give me 10 fen per day from her income.)
In that period if I broke a string, I would go out from the classroom to play basketball during the lunch hour. The fact of sparing lunch to buy strings was soon discovered by my classmates (girls). One day, Ouyang ming called me back to the classroom from the sports ground, and said that there was something in my drawer waiting for me. I opened my drawer; a bowl of steaming hot wonton appeared in front of my eyes. I felt awkward and shameful but looked at Ouyang Ming with thankfulness. She laughed, and explained, “You think I would be so kind? If it were not classmate Peng Manzhen put the money, I would never run you an errand.”
I searched classmate Peng hiding among the classmates and saw half of the face, blushed face. In fact I seldom talked to her. What she did for me touched me so much that until today I don’t want to forget.
I pretended to be troubled, remarked loudly, “How can I finish such a big bowl of wonton? I ate too much in the morning, and is still not digested yet, that’s why I had to go out playing basketball.”
I took the bowl, ran quickly enough at the speed not to pour the wonton out, found a place with nobody, and took a look around making sure nobody watching me, then poured the wonton into my mouth and swallowed into my stomach like a hungry prisoner, and cleaned the empty bowl up a couple of times by means of my tongue afterwards.
The problem was, since then I could not spare lunch to buy violin strings any more. I had to not only eat my lunch, but also ate in front of the whole class, soundly, in order to prevent “wonton occurrence” happening again.
This matter soon spread to the ear of Ma Xiaomao. Hence, she gave me some violin strings from time to time. What she gave to me was not cheap strings for students, but expensive “red star” strings for professionals. (The “red star” silver strings was the best China made violin strings at that time) The Oddness was the look-new-strings were all broken that need to be knotted before use. Ma could not stand my entwining, and finally told me the secret that her little friend named Duguo entered the Changsha City Opera. With her request Duguo kept all broken strings for her. Besides God only Duguo knew if those strings were broken naturally or by manpower.
Since then, I went to see Duguo very often. Although he was much younger he was half a head taller than me. The excuses of visiting him changed from beg for strings gradually to indirectly learning his violin performing technique. Although I pursued my violin studies with teacher Li, but after I got to know Duguo, somehow I started to feel that teacher Li’s method was good for beginners but might not be the best for people who wish to be a professional. Duguo was already a member of the professionals. He was taught and closely watched by his professional violin teacher therefore he progressed very fast. My trick of learning from him indirectly was, every time when I went to see him, I would ask for a piece of blank score paper, then I would hand-copy the violin excise notes he was doing, during my hand-copying I was always paying special attention to his teacher’s pencil marks, the bowing, fingering, musical expression or technique hint etc. After the copy was done I would always request Duguo to play a couple of times for me by the excuse of checking mistakes of my hand-copied notes. The rest was easy. I went back practice, twice or many more times harder than Duguo as I believed. Evidently my violin playing progress was also very obvious during the period.
Though I appeared to be very friendly to Duguo but I was truly envy him, envy his working and studying environment, especially his “Gold Bell” brand violin that worth 400 RMB when average monthly wages was 40 RMB. Each time when I saw the tiger figured maple back of his violin, I couldn’t stop my slobber dropping out from my mouth.
Another day, I was at Duguo’s room hand-copying Mozart’s No 3 violin concerto. When I just got started the leader of the orchestra called Duguo out. “I’ll lock you up from the outside. Making no noise, no body knows you are here. Take your time.”
I copied, rested, and copied. When I finished the first movement of the concerto it was time for me to go home. But I couldn’t as Duguo was still not back. I was tired and started to doze off. Though I was only 15 I was aware it was rude to falling sleep in other people’s bed. In order to keep me awake I had to walk back and forth in his little room. It was then my envy got into my eyes. The twilight through the curtain gap shined that 4th grade “Gold Bell” made it looks like a pile of gold, or to me the violin was more like a beautiful girl with tenderness and affection winkling at me. I could no longer resist my desire, step by step I got closer to her temptation. I touched her neck caused the gold bell ringing. That made me insane. I took the bow out from the case. When the bow touched the violin, the sound brought me to a wonderland.
Hence, from Duguo’s room a cripple Mozart violin concerto No 3 sounded.
At exact the high climax of my self-satisfaction a knock on the door “bang bang” woke me up. Then I heard a man’s voice, “Duguo, your rhythm today is terrible. You need more attention.”
I immediately stopped playing, kept quiet as Duguo asked me to. But the voice did not give up, “How did you locked yourself in. Is there someone pulling your legs?”
I still kept quiet as I promised Duguo. Another woman’s voice from a distance answered for me, “Duguo is not in. he is out with all other students. He wouldn’t be back until 5 pm.”
The man’s voice replied to the woman’s voice, “If Duguo is not in, who is? I heard the violin.”
“That’s impossible.” Women’s voice.
“Don’t tell me your conductor has a hearing problem.” Man’s voice.
“Who could be that? Who? If give no answer we would call the security section.” Both voices.
I had no choice but tell them I was a friend of Duguo, the one come very often.
“Alright, please open the window.” The woman indicated.
The window opened, a young lady and a man in his 30’s appeared to me.
“This is teacher Xiao, the conductor of our opera. And my name is Haung. I’m Duguo’s violin teacher.”
Teacher Huang’s friendly face made me much relaxed. I politely greeted, “Nin Hao (You good), teacher Huang, and teacher Xiao.”
Huang nodded her head and asked me with an affable smile, “Conductor Xiao said you were playing the violin. Could you play it again, for us?”
Heard that request, plus Xiao’s extraordinary serious face, my relaxed nerve became tensed again. I faltered, “Could I play something else instead of the Mozart I just tried?”
So I played the “Rosemary” by Chrysler that I felt adept as I learnt it from teacher Li. However Xiao walked away before I finished my performance. Thanks God Huang didn’t leave, instead she started to show me the more correct way of holding the violin. Meanwhile Duguo returned back. Huang left her last words to me, “You are a young man full of potential. But do watch your rhythm when you play.”
Duguo heard what happened when he was away, he said, “I was about to talk to my teacher Huang about you. For the rumor says our opera will recruit new violin students sometime soon.”
Immediately my mood was helicopter lifted, and repeatedly I begged him to go and ask teacher Huang and Xiao, ask what they thought about me and my violin playing, to see if I had any chances.”
After about ten minutes Duguo came back again.
“How was it? What did they say about me?” I was too impatient to wait.
Duguo smiled but made no comment.
“Don’t hold suspense please. I really can’t wait any longer.” I urged him.
“It’s not that I hold suspense. It is that I’m afraid you would be hurt by knowing it.”
“Nothing can hurt me. Say it now.” I pressed on him physically.
“Alright alright, it is you force me to say it. You take the consequence.” Duguo paused, and said, “Our conductor Xiao meant you got some bad amateur habit, for example bad rhythm, therefore to train you to be a professional violinist would not be easy.”
“What?” Duguo’s words not only hurt me, but also shocked me like throwing an atomic bomb into my mouth, “He said that that I got some amateur habit and not good at rhythm?” I roared.
Duguo’s face became longer, “I told you that you would be hurt, but you didn’t want to believe me...”
“Hurt? Hahaha, No no no, I’m not hurt. Go to tell that man, say to be free in rhythm is my style, and I am an amateur and happy to stay an amateur.” I make myself an exit to escape from the awkwardness, and got out from Duguo’s room. I was in such an upset state that I forgot the Mozart concerto No 3 I spent the whole afternoon hand copying.
Isn’t it true that in everyday life, it is alright for us to grow too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, or too big nose too small eye as far as no body point out. But if someone dose point out, even nicer than the facts, our feelings would be hurt for certain.
Back home, mother’s scolding of me being too late to be home was a fruitless labor, as my mind was stuffed with conductor Xiao’s words. I was tossing and tuning all night and finally got up wrote a very emotional letter.
Next afternoon, as soon as my school was off I went to Chansha Opera again. This time I did not get into Duguo’s room but knocked at his window.
Duguo opened his window, “You forgot your music notes.” He passed it to me.
I took the notes with one hand and handed the letter to him with the other, “Do me a favor. Hand it to that Xiao, that man who beats time in your orchestra.”
Duguo looked curious and worried, “May I take a look?”
“Sure, go ahead.” I encouraged him.
Duguo opened the letter and read, “I swear to you that someday I will become the No 1 violinist in the whole Changsha City. By then you will say I am a professional. When I play the solo in my style you will have to lead your orchestra crawling and rolling to follow my rhythm.”
Duguo stopped reading, as he could not help laughing, “Jiuge (my nickname, means brother ninth), you are amazing. Even though one day you might become the No 1, how can you say that, especially now. Aren’t you afraid to be thought being too conceited and arrogant?”
“That’s what I am, conceited and arrogant, extremely. I not only want to be the No 1 in Changsha, but also No 1 in the whole Hunan province.” I bragged aggressively and confidently.
Duguo’s window was shut off.
Since then, I stopped going to Changsha Opera begging for broken strings and hand copying music notes. Nevertheless, conductor Xiao’s words had always been stimulating me that functioned as an everlasting power and energy pushing me on my road to be a professional violinist.
|Reply: Re:Father Son & Violin
||Date: 2010-05-05 18:03:36
CHAPTER ELEVEN: The First High Climax of the Story
My maiden ejaculation
Any Chinese man, or woman has gone through the 60s would experienced the headache of onerous household chores. For example to cook rice. There was no electric rice cooker or gas by that time, therefore we all had to make coal fire. To make coal fire we had to go to the coal station to buy loose coal. For buying coal we needed to borrow a flatbed cart (a Chinese man-power trailer). After we got the loose coal back home we had make briquettes, later evolved making honeycomb briquettes (it was called “oumei” meaning “lotus-root-coal”). Only to deal with the coal would form a chain business. Also since we even didn’t know the existence of the word “refrigerator”, very often we needed to go to the food market. And as neither had we washing machine, every item of clothes were depended on our hand-brush. Talking about washing clothes I still remember that kind of feeling, the feeling of the acute pain from my carrot like little hands getting into the ice cold water felt like being pricked by millions of needles. In addition, mending clothes, and as well as all types of other supposed to be woman’s specialties our brothers got to do them by ourselves, as the only woman in our family, our mother had to go out to win the bread, I mean to win the rice for us. There is something needs to be clarified that, our family was not an exception, almost all kids in my age had to do slave labor to help the family.
I am here loquacious today meant not to blame my mother nor the age, if there is something I could blame, anything at all, it would be my mother made me in a wrong place or at a wrong time. Here what I just trying to tell you was, I, as a 14-Year old juvenile, after school, housework, and playing the violin, there was little time left for playing. However, up to then with my effort I somehow managed to keep the balance. But since I got to know Jiang Langsha, things started to change radically, as from him, I could endlessly borrow books,
Below are names of western classical literature works, need time to find out the original tittles:
（Parisian the Holy Mother 院》 of red and black 》 , 《 of war and peaceful 》 , 《 of 》 , 《 of 》 , 《 Anna card 涅尼娜 of 》 , 《斯巴 answer gram 斯 of pathetic world of 》 , 《 of 》 , 《哈玛 thunder 特 of 欧 and 朱 benefit 耶 of 《罗密 etc.. That among them and most lets me do not want to put it awayses, and suffer the influence most, and perhaps say the “ the poisoned" the most deep nothing is better than in the 罗曼罗 the 兰 ' s 《 John, gram benefit 斯 man 》 . Read to read, and I imitate the 佛 to feel by oneself is a book of that John, gram benefit 斯 man.
Quite a few times I burnt the rice while I was in my ivory tower with those books, sometimes I would keep reciting some of the most fascinating quotations when my Mom slapped me in my face.
In return to Jiang’s generosity of lending the books to me, I played violin every evening outside his hut near the railway.
“That’s my mental food and emotion nourishment.” He said.
In addition to reading the books, there was another good thing worth consuming time, eavesdropping music from a radio station the Voice of America. As I had no short-wave radio set I had to go to a classmate named He kejin’s home to do that. He kejin was from a comparatively well off family, and he got a Red Light short-wave radio as birthday present. For the sake of listen to the radio we were once quite close. Since the Voice of America was regarded as an enemy station and to eavesdrop it was a serious crime, we usually had to wait until very late at night, and then hide in his room covered with quilt to eavesdrop it with a minimum volume.
One night we caught an unknown station broadcasting a violin concerto. That caused me being too late for the last bus therefore I had to go home by “No 11 bus” (two feet). On my 3 kilometers’ journey home the rain started to pour off. Recalling the wonderful violin music from the radio I was literally “singing in the rain.” When I finally reached home my whole body was soaked. But I was gratified as I could change my clothes and hit to my pillow at last. However, no matter how hard I knocked, mother refused to open the door. I went to knock the back door hoping my brother Danjin would show his mercy but heard mother shouting at him, “Dare you to open it, you go out together with him.”
It left me no choice but trembled to the railway hut. More strangely on that night my buddy Jiang Langsha too ignored my knocking on his door. I was so sure he was inside, as I knew he had to switch the railway several times during the night. His rejection gave me no alternative but to sit outside of his hut dozing.
Not knowing how long it past, Jiang’s door opened. Jiang walked out with a raincoat. Unexpected to see me he surprised, “You are still here!”
I yelled at him, “What kind of friend are you?” I Stood up and headed straight into his hut.
Jiang tried to stop me, “Don’t…” But it was too late as I had already separated myself away from my wet clothes.
There was no electricity inside. A faint kerosene lamplight danced with breeze. Then I hear the train “Hong hong, honghong.” I was so cold that I couldn’t wait until the train gone I had drilled myself into his quilt on his little wooden bed.
“Ai, my Mom!” A sharp outcry, a woman’s outcry was heard, followed a woman’s nude buttocks were out from the other side of the quilt. With enormous surprise I quickly held a corner of the quilt tightly to cover my boy’s thing. The opposing party too held the other corner of the quilt tightly to cover her girl’s part. However her other two upper parts were revealed flickering with the rocking lamplight.
Meanwhile Jiang finished his rail switching and returned back to the hut. Seeing the scene, he couldn’t help laughing out. Quickly he controlled himself and introduced us to each other.
To me he said, “My sister Chu Xiaoling. In fact I wanted you to meet a long time ago.”
And to her, “This is my friend Chen Danjiu. He is the one people call Nine Brother, a violin genius that you say you want to meet.”
To us he said, “Now you two have met each other, totally, completely, and with no reservation.” Soon after the introduction he burst into laughter again. Probably felt inappropriate he controlled his laugh to the minimum lever and added, “I don’t what to do? You two figure it out yourselves what’s the best for both of you.”
He took off his raincoat and wrapped him around with his army overcoat and lie on his wooden armchair sleeping.
We refused to budge for a little while I told her that all my clothes were wet.
“Mine too not dry yet.” She replied.
“I see.” I puzzled, with no choice I said, “Ok, I go. Please turn your face around.”
“Actually I don’t think I need much space.” She said, in a tone of commiseration. She rolled her body up with a small part of the quilt and turned her back to me.
I was really cold and tired, and not yet in the age needed to pretend to be a gentleman, so also wrapped my body up with a corner of the quilt, went sleep, together with her feet.
When I woke up next morning, I saw no Jiang Langsha but found myself naked in bed holding a nude girl in my arms. That was my first time in touch with an opposite sex in a whole, physically. I subconsciously released her with astonishment. However the curiosity and vague longing for woman made me, a boy at his adolescence to embrace her again, carefully and softly. Her skin was very elastic though not particularly smooth. Meanwhile, I felt a baby bamboo growing rapidly between my legs. That getting longer, thicker and harder mysterious little bamboo shoot pushed against Chu Xiaolin’s thigh. Suddenly my whole body was soused like inhaling opium. Chu Xiaolin turned her body; accidentally or not she touched the extension between my legs, and amused. When I realized that she was not really in sleep I scared off the bed looking everywhere for my life-saving pants.
I returned back home with my half dry half wet clothes. But no body was home, that meant I still could not get into my room. Seeing me running circles to fight with the coldness, our back door opened. The next-door neighbor Hu Meimei said to me, “Hurry to change your clothes, otherwise you would be just like me to catch a cold and unable to go to the school.”
I entered the shared kitchen but still not be able to get into my room. I had to ask her staying at the kitchen, stripped myself nude in her quilt, and then asking her to take my clothes away to dry in the kitchen.
I waited in Hu Meimei’s bed, chewing the cud of the taste of holding Xiaolin naked, in addition Hu Meimei’s quilt gushed a smell of woman; all made me in a state of sexual impulse. I was somewhat befuddled, felt as if Hu Meimei walked to me, uncovered my quilt, her quilt I mean, and held my life-maker-to-be. My whole body suddenly cramped, “Wa!!!” I woke up with a throb of excitement, felt the moist in my leg junction area. With my twitched body I immediately uncovered the quilt and found the moist was not caused by urine, neither blood. It was sticky jelly like or bean curd like something that I had never seen before. I “wa” burst into crying. Hu Mermei heard me quickly got in from the kitchen and asked me what was wrong.
I hurriedly covered my boy’s little thing (by then a middle sized thing) with quilt, and answered, “There is no use to
ask. My vitality of life is gone, and I will die soon.”
Hu Meimei didn’t get what nonsense I was talking about. After she pushed me repeatedly I again explained, “My marrow, my bone pith has come out, and I wouldn’t be able to live for very long.”
I showed the part of wetted quilt to her. Hu Meimei saw it, blushed and ran out. Soon she came in again with a few pages of yellow toilet paper (By that time Chinese toilet paper was called 黄草纸 “yellow straw paper”) and wiped her quilt as hard as she could, seeing me was shocked and ashamed, she covered my boy’s part with the last yellow paper and urged me, “wipe yourself quickly and get out of here. By the noon when my elder sister comes back and sees it, would mistaken that we are…”
That was my maiden ejaculation.
My first sexual experience
Since then, from time to time I met Chu Xiaolin at Jiang’s little hut (perhaps I wanted to meet her). Occasionally I caught they were doing things together. No need to mention how lure and stimulating it was to overhear their caterwaul outside of the door.
But one day, I overheard not their caterwaul but argument. The voices were getting higher and louder, and Chu Xiaolin rushed out from the hut. I stood there without knowing what to do. Jiang waved at me, and I walked into his little castle.
Jiang sat there soured his cheeks. He covered his eyes with his hands and kept silence for quite a while. Just when I started to wonder whether I should go away he suddenly stood up, crazily held me up and put me down on his bed. I was shocked by his unexpected action and lost my faculty of reaction. Before I tried to get away He pressed me on the bed with my face down and crazily pulled down my pants. Then I started to struggle desperately like a fish out of water. Yet no matter how hard I floundered, as a teenage I was not at all an opponent of his. I felt something hard penetrating into my back hole. The indescribable pain caused me crying out miserably. I took a Shakespeare on his bed and pounded over my head. Jiang immediately let me loose, covered his right eye with his hands and screamed madly. I seized the opportunity to lift my pants up, and enduring the back pain I escaped as quickly as I could.
Back home, I ran to the kitchen looking for Hu Meimei. As we were the only two left in our homes I dragged her to my bed, and recklessly took her pants off. Hu Meimei too, was puzzled at first. But when she realized what I was trying to do she did not resist, merely said with a flushed face, “The rice is going to be burnt.”
I was too excited to care for the rice. However when I fixed my eyes on her little pitch like private part I was more aghast than she was. Hu Meimei took the chance to get away from my bed. The left alone me rubbed my boy’s toy with my hands and soon I felt a loose of control of my body, I shouted toward the kitchen, “Meimei be quick, bring me a few pages of yellow papers!”
The story of Jiang Langsha and Chu Xiaolin
Henceforth, I dared not to see Jiang Langsha again, even when I needed to go somewhere, I made a detour to pass his hut.
It was OK for me not to see Jiang, yet it was not OK not to read books. That made me in a constant state of anxiety acting like a fly without head.
One day, I bumped into Chu Xiaolin by chance. May be I shouldn’t say “by chance”, as she was apparently standing there waiting for me. Although she was only two years older than me, but acted like a little aunt taking me the Xiang riverbank, and told me the story about she and Jiang Langsha.
Chu Xiaolin’s father was a man in favor of boys (a Chinese thinking of “men are superior to women”), yet, the mother’s hemorrhage during giving birth to Xiaolin coursed her body half-paralyzed and had to live on a wheelchair. That brought the father’s boy dream to dead-end. Hence they decided to recruit a “home stay” son-in-law when Xiaolin was a little toddler. This explains why the parents joyfully accepted Jiang as their adopted son when he was a primary school kid.
Langsha and Xiaolin got along quite well with each other as brother and sister, and had not slightest idea what their parents plan to do with them, until the day Jiang Langsha had to go to countryside, the so called “vast world” the father started to worry about that Jiang would be gone, forever. Thus the father laid all his cards on the table.
The father handed Jiang a white towel and locked the two up in their room, ordered, “You two will not let out until the assignment is accomplished. No red on the towel no chow.”
They waited, went sleep when they were too tired, when woke up they felt starve to death. Until the girl couldn’t hold any longer she begged the brother, “Let do it.”
That was the two youngsters’ maiden intercourse.
Immediately, the father tore the up-low two level beds apart and said to them, “From now on you two sleep together. Heard the word ‘child bride’? You are in fact a ‘child bridegroom’. If it were the old society, (Chinese refer the time before 1949 as ‘the old society’) you would already be husband and wife. Pity in the new society we have to wait until Xiaolin reach the legal age.”
Jiang felt suffocated to be in such a deformed family relationship, and gradually he became abnormal himself. Every time when he touched the body of Xiaolin he strongly felt detesting and guilty, while Xiaolin, a girl in her bloom on the other hand, was gradually getting familiar and accustomed with Jiang’s body. That aroused her sexual desire greatly. The situation developed to the stage that Xiaolin initiatively ask Langsha for lovemaking. That made the day and night longer and longer for him. If it were not for the loving and caring of the family for his childhood, he would probably had fled away in the very beginning.
Fortunately the time to be apart from the family finally came when he had to go countryside as one of the millions educated youth. At countryside, Jiang avoided to get into touch with any woman, therefore no need to mention he had no girl friend. However, he somehow got quite close with a barefoot doctor (self trained local doctor with no or very a little academic education) called “small white face”, and the two intimate male friends later became sex partners.
Jiang’s foster father, and also supposed to be his father –in–law heard that his adopted son and son-in-law was mashing with someone else, a man, he stamped with fury, immediately he ran to the countryside to get Jiang back. That was exactly the time when Jiang started to realize the countryside was not exactly as Chairman Mao said ‘great achievements can be made’, on the contrary, to him it seemed no achievements can be made out there. Therefore he pushed his boat along with the father’s current to return back to the city. The father used all his brains, means, and did everything he could to lock Jiang in his pocket, at last through all kinds relationships he managed to get Jiang a temporary job as a railway switch man, an ideal job that Jiang couldn’t go anywhere except walking between the rail switcher and his little wooden hut.
Unexpectedly Jiang fell in love with my violin playing, and gradually he moved his affection from violin to the boy who plays the violin. When Xiaolin got aware about that, although partly for her natural needs, fundamentally she wanted to rescue her brother, or her husband to be, whoever and get him out of the anomalism and homosexuality. Hence she started to visit Jiang Langsha more and more often. I just don’t want to image how dreadful it was for Jiang to do things he didn’t like with his “sister” each time when she visited him.
Heard the story I had no words to say. Being a 14-year-old those matters surpassed my comprehension.
Seeing me was effected by her story she brought out the real business, “My Jiang brother is getting more and more crazy by not be able to listen to your violin as well as by not be able to see you. If things are going on like this, something awful is likely to happen. I’ve been talking to him, and he pledged he gave you his words that he would never ever touch you again. Please go see him from time to time, as a friend, a good friend, just like to you did before. About his abnormal sexuality, I’ll do whatever needed, trust me.”
By Finishing her saying, she exhorted, “As it says ‘don't wash dirty linen in public.’(In Chinese ‘the disgrace of a family should never be spread’) So promise me you keep it all for yourself and never tell anyone else.
“I swear to Chairman Mao I wouldn’t…” I didn’t finish the sentence, therefore I don’t remember I meant “I wouldn’t tell anyone else” or “I wouldn’t keep it all for myself”?
But for all that, I still dared not to go see Jiang Langsha, as the memory of the back pain was really stubborn. Nevertheless, I, a boy at my age of puberty, felt panic about my growing sexual desire. More and more frequently I hid myself in my quilt playing, when the result spurted out I would loudly shout toward the kitchen when Hu Meimei was not in, “Meimei, hurry up with a few pages of yellow straw paper for me.”
Although I no longer seeing Jiang Langsha, I quite often wet Chu Xiaolin, for only one reason, to borrow books. Through Xiaolin I got to know that there was a wooded box filled with books under Jiang’s bed, the all and only inheritance from his real father. That’s why Jiang regarded the books as precious as his own life.
“Jiang brother had always been very nice and kind to me, but he never let me touch his books. Yet he is willing to lend books to you, that’s a obvious inference of your importance in his heart.” Xiaolin said with a little flavor of jealousy.
Xiolin’s words made me feel very heavy. Hence, I decided to give up the method of borrowing books from Jiang through Xiaolin, I even thought of making an effort quit my addiction of reading. But my effort did not solve the problem, on the contrary that put Xiaolin in an awkward position. Almost once every two days she was at rail crossing waiting for me passing by, and again and again asked me what was the amiss with me. When I was forced to tell the truth, she laughed.
“If you what you reject is Jiang brother not books, I may be able to help you both, I mean both my Jiang brother’s feeling and your reading. You see, my aunt is working at the provincial library. She had nothing to do for all these years since the Cultural Revolution sealed the library. But, recently the library is thinking of sorting stuffs out and putting them in order before re-opening it. I’m just considering getting a temporary job as my aunt’s helper.
“Really?” Immediately I got excited, “In fact, besides novels, I’m also in urgent need for violin music scores.”
I soon made a list: “kaisa”, open the 塞 the 》 , 《 gram the 莱 from the 《 the 尔》 arrive the virtuous 》 , 《帕格尼尼 of 《罗 the 》 , and still have the many violin concerto, such as the 《 Bach 》 , 《 the 莫 tie the 特 the 》 , 《 Beethoven's 》 , 《 the door virtuous 尔 pine the 》 , 《 firewood can man 斯基》 etc..
Since then, every time I met Xiaolin, she always had a novel and a couple of music scores for me. And each time when handed them over to me she would always emphasize the same thing, “No need to thank me, thank my Jiang brother. If it were not for the sake to make him happy, I would never and dare never to do things like that, although it says that ‘to steal books is not considered as a thief.’ On the other hand, who cares about books nowadays, who has counted how many of them were burned. If you had the chance to see the tons of books piled up there with no one takes care of them, what’s the difference from trashes?”
Xiaolin’s words, and more impotently her action made me more and more touched by Jiang’s sincerity, which sometimes faded my memory of back-hole pain. One day, I bought 20 fen RMB Mahua (Chinese snack) planning to place it outside Jiang’s little hut entrance, not to show my forgiveness but to express my appreciation. But not even close to his door I heard their quarrel.
“What is wrong with you today?” Xiaoin’s voice.
“Not today, it was wrong from the very beginning.” Jiang’s voice.
Xiaolin, “What? You say you don’t like me from the very beginning?”
Langsha, “it is not that I don’t like you, it is that I don’t like to do that kind of things with you.”
Xiaolin, “Don’t like to do with me, equals don’t like me?”
Langsha, “I don’t like you, I love you. Let me say it again, I love you, very much, because you are my baby sister, my only sister in the whole world. So listen to me carefully, to like you and dislike to do with you are two separate issues, totally.”
Xiolin, “You mean you are not going to do with me anymore?”
Langsha, “If it is possible.”
Xiaolin, “Not even after we get married?”
Langsha, “Oh, you still don’t get it. Do I have to make it so clear to you my silly, that I would never get married, not to you, not to anybody.”
“Because sexually I don’t like woman in whole, not at all.”
Xialin, “I know your heart is occupied with that little nine brother. But he is a man, in fact not really a man yet but just a boy. He scares you to death. I beg you never harm him again.”
Langsha, “I know I know, what I did was disgraceful as you said he is just a boy. But what you don’t know is he is also a man, a man of great future. That’s why I wish to push him a bit with my meager strength, not to redeem my name from wrong done but for his gift. Now you understand why I ask you to get close to him. I hope you could substitute me to do things for him, if possible to satisfy all his demands, with all what you’ve got. You know what I mean? If you really love me, you should do as I wish.”
Heard that, I ran away like crazy, and forgot to leave the bag of Mahua I purposely bought for him outside the entrance.
A few days later, Chu Xialin blocked me on my way when I was going to see Teacher Li. She said she would show me something to make me very happy. Followed her we arrived at a building ruins burnt during the gun fighting in the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. I was led to a room, a room with some loose building materials scattered here and there. Xiaolin pulled out a sack and opened it. Thus some books and music scores flopped down on the ground. Oh, my God! Besides a small portion of novels, it’s a whole sack of music scores, not only violin music scores, but also other scores, such as piano pieces, operas, symphonies and works for vocals etc.
“Loaded a whole bag for you. Should be enough for a while.” She said.
“What’s wrong? I mean right? why?” I didn’t know where to start.
“Why? Because I’m afraid I might not be able to help you with books any more.”
I was too excited to see the books than to listen to what she was really saying. Meanwhile footsteps broke the joy atmosphere.
She comforted me, “Don’t worry, it’s uncle Feng, my acquaintance.”
The man called “uncle Feng” appeared in front of me. He was a tall and strong man in his 50’s with longer eyebrows than normal. Chu Xiaolin introduced us to each other. I politely bowed to him, but he returned little reaction.
Xiaolin finally said to me, “Take whatever you need now and leave the rest here. Whenever you need more you can always come here to take. It’s absolutely safe here as no one else know the place except me.”
Walked out from the building ruins Xiaolin told me that she got to know uncle Feng many years ago when she was a little girl. Every time when her father beat her Feng’s place was her shelter to hide. Feng was a foreman working for Changsha Construction Company. He lost his wife a long time ago and had no children. Since then he had no fixed home, but to live wherever his work place was. Xiaolin repeatedly stressed that though Feng looked crassness and uneducated in appearance, inside a very good hearted and kind person.
“I have already told uncle Feng that you are my best friend. From now on if you are cornered, you don’t have to see my Jiang brother but turn to him for help.” She added.
When we reached a road crossing, a place we opposed to say goodbye to each other she suddenly asked me whether I would like to eat a bowl of noodle with her. Seeing me subconsciously searched my pocket she comforted me, “Don’t worry, today it’s on me.”
I was relieved, “Next time…”
“OK, if there is a next time.” She smiled, bitterly.
I ordered a bowl of shredded pork noodle, while she said she felt tasteless in her mouth she asked for a bowl of sour and spicy noodle. But when the two bowls of noodle being placed on the table she said she had little appetite, therefore only took a couple of spoons of soup, and pushed the bowl in front of me. I kept my nose straight to the noodles.
Watching me engorged she turned her face away from me, and silently wept. Waited until I finished my last string of noodle she stood up and handed over one big Yuan RMB (two bowls cost 50 fen only) and said, “Keep the change.” Before the noodle man thanked her she uttered, “It’s truly tiresome to be on the hoof.”
“What?” I didn’t get it.
She explained to me, and to her too, “I wish to leave this place to go somewhere else for good, to find another way of existence in another world.”
“I see!…?” I still had not a slightest idea what she was talking about.
“No matter what happens, promise me not to see my Jiang brother again.” She suddenly looked at me, very seriously.
We said farewell to each other, just like that. And that was our farewell.
When Chu Xiaolin returned home, before she even entered the door her father was waiting for her with a chicken feather rod in his hand. (Chicken feather rod is a Chinese dust cleaner, but commonly exploited as a mean of beating children, in order to prevent hands of the parents from hurt) This time she did not evade but walked straight to the chicken feather rod. The father lashed her with the pitiless rod as he bawled out, “You stool things from the library, you thief. I kill you good for nothing dead devil.”
The mother saw the father doing too excessively, although rolled her wheelchair in between the two to fend Xiaolin.
The father said to the mother, “Get out of my way. You know the old saying ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’.”
The mother made no move, instead she questioned her daughter very indignantly, “How could you do such a thing to disgrace the good name of our working class family, and for whom worth you to take books out from the library? Today a group of people from the peace keeper command center came here…”
Did not wait the mother to finish her saying Xiaolin admitted, “For the sake of my Jiang brother, I would do anything. For the sake of someone my Jiang brother like, I also can do anything.”
The father, “You are no my daughter, our family doesn’t have such a gene, you, go to die.
Xiaolin replied, “Alright, I know why you hate me. You wanted a boy. That’s why you asked Mom to take an abortion to kill me when the doctor said I was to be a girl. Now you made it so clear you still don’t want me to be your daughter after so many years, and my Jiang brother doesn’t want me to be his wife. Who wants me in this world? My Sky, (“My sky” is a Chinese calling for God, next to Chairman Mao) what’s the point to keep living?” Xiaolin poured out her tears together with all what she wanted to spit out for a long time.
The mother had a hunch that something wrong was going on, she queried, “What do you mean that your Jiang brother doesn’t want you to be his wife? Speak more clearly will you?”
“Jiang brother said he would never marry me!” Xiaolin sobbed her heart out.
That certainly shocked the parents. The mother tried to comfort her daughter as well as her and the husband, “I’m sure he was just kidding you. Jiang son is not that kind of ungrateful boy.”
The father shouted with fury, “I knew I knew, I knew it a long time ago Jiang son is not a good thing, you too, bad stuff. Look, who made your mother on a wheelchair? Ha! You, it was you, little devil. I wish you all dead. Oh my sky! What a mistake I’ve made?”
Xiaolin suddenly stopped crying. She bitted her lips to control her sob, looking at her father fearlessly, and very calmly she said, “You so much regret your mistake, I’m glad to help you correcting it today.”
“Hey, how dare you to scare me! You die you die.” The father again raised his chicken feather rod, “If you don’t die today, I will have to kill you.”
Xiaolin walked to the basin stand, facing the mirror she combed her hair, put a flower on the hair, and took a moment to have a good look at herself, then walked into her room fetched out her photo album and walked by the window. She started to tear photograph piece by piece, threw the small pieces of her photos down from the window. After she watched the last piece waved down from her 4th floor down to the ground,
she climbed herself up to the window.”
The mother couldn’t take any more, she yelled to her daughter, “No, no…”
“Don’t buy her bluffing, I’m sure she dare not…”
Xiaolin had heard enough therefore did not wait for his father to finish his words she opened the raised dove cage. The doves “Pu pu” rushed out for freedom. Xiaolin took a look at the sky, then shut her eyes, took her last breath, deeply, and launched her wings, with the doves she flew freely into an infinite time and space.
The father fell flop down onto a chair, while the mother stood up from her wheelchair and struggled towards the window.
To be continued.
|Reply: Re:Father Son & Violin
||Date: 2010-05-05 18:06:12
CHAPTER 12：A BROKEM HOME & SCATTERED FAMILY
My family situation by the time
Although things happening to me one after another, to other members of my family that was a prosperous period, or a better period that could almost be said “in the prime of my family’s life”, as mother was given a more responsible position at her work unit temporarily due to a considerable portion of her colleges were sent to the cadre’s concentration camps to be transformed. In fact, my Mom, as one of the royalists (During the Cultural Revolution, people were divided into two distinct groups, royalists and rebels, one had to be one or the other, there was nothing in between) was in the most wanted list to be transformed, only because the company needed her outstanding working skill to keep things going, as the popular slogan said, “grasp the revolution and promote the production, she was waived from the list. Though she was no more than a group leader of about 10 people, temporarily, she felt very honored, satisfied, and great self-importance, worked her day and night willingly like a horse.
My brother Danjin was very fond of schooling. He had always been, as the Americans say, a straight A student and the teacher’s pet, also got along well with classmates. He was given a chance to pursuit his study at high school by the school authority. (Only a small portion could go high school in that time)
My baby brother Danfeng was at his third elementary school year. Accidentally Hunan Acrobatics picked him up; repeatedly they visited our home to persuade my mother let go her son. Though indeed Mom was much in doubt, “If it were my second son you want” as she said, couldn’t stand the bitter, sweet and great words she agreed to let Danfeng having a try.
Regarding me myself, my effort and sweat reworded me a quantum leap in violin playing ability that I reached a comparatively high level according to the local standard. And I was taken a consideration to be a member of a sing and dance unit belonging to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. All I waited for was the result of political records checkup to be an army violinist.
I was very jealous and curious about Danfeng’s taken to the Hunan Acrobatics. Without asking Mom I went to see him training. Not even got close to the practice hall I heard children’s miserable screaming. It sounded like a slaughterhouse. I took courage to push the door open, thus various inhumane postures appeared before my eyes, such as standing on hands, on heads, or on another’s shoulder and another’s shoulder and another, ridding a bicycle backwards, rolling in the air…
When I felt novelty about the prospects a horrible screeching of my brother drew my attention. Then I saw Danfeng in a corner leaning against the wall, legs spread to one line. The coach put his knee against Danfeng’s chest and deadly pushed him against the wall, at the same time he called two little ones to sit on my brother’s thighs, then used his own hands to press the trainee’s shoulders down. Danfeng was so ached that he held his breath that made him unable to cry out. Bean size sweat was rolling off from his forehead next to waterfall. Even until my brother looked faint the rocky-hearted coach showed no sign to end the torture.
Witness that a sudden impulse of grief hit my heart. That was the first time so evidently and strongly I felt that that boy in agony was my flesh and blood. I couldn’t stand any longer that I intentionally went to greet the coach. Indeed as I wanted the coach let go my brother. Danfeng shrank rolling on the floor with pain. A short while later, he crawled to me and embraced my leg begging me to take him home. It was really rare that he let me feel like a big brother. Immediately I made a story that our Mom was sick and needed him back.
Returned home with a few still functional-loosing bones Danfeng begged mother with tears that he’d rather be dead than to go back to the acrobatic business. He also promised to be an even better boy at home from then on, would listen to Mom and do whatever asked to do, even doing the dishes after meal.
In actuality, Mom was reluctant to sent Danfeng to Hunan Acrobatics at first place, was not only because of the bitterness and hardship of training, as in that era, nothing was easy. It was that Mom felt sorry for a 9-year-old to start working, sounds like a child labor. Besides if Danfeng started to work, he would have the remotest possibility to go back to school again. But on the positive side, Mom thought Danfeng should go to learn acrobatics, was at that time Jiangqing’s (great leader Chairman Mao’s wife, the one re-built Chinese show business after the total devastation of Chinese art and literature at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution) show-soldiers with their gray uniforms were among the top range of the social hierarchy.
As to Danjin, Mom also consented that he was born a piece of studying material, therefore prepared to use all family recourses to support him, up to university if Danjin could. Very deep in her heart Mom probably regretted at a certain degree that she instigated father to give up his university studies in order to be a full time revolutionary when they first met.
About me, Mom thought it would be the best solution that I joining the army, as A, spiritually she no long need to worry that I let astray; B, politically to have a soldier son was regarded honorable and prestigious. What a short cut to turn a bad apple to be a pride! C, economically there would a horse less at the dinning table. (I was born in the year of horse.)
One evening, Mom was sitting outside to enjoy one of her rare leisure hours with summer gentle breeze. Perhaps she felt lonely or more possibly intentionally she started to chat with me. She expressed her believe that my elder brother Danjin and I would do OK, and my baby brother Danfeng remained her unique worry.
She sighed emotionally, “You brothers will soon be adults. After your independence, in case your father doesn’t come back, I think I can manage myself.”
I did not trying to figure out the inner meaning of her words, but busy re-calling when was the last time she mentioned my father.
After Xiaolin’s jumping to freedom
Now let me bring our story back to what happened after Chu Xiaolin jumping to freedom.
The moment when Xiaolin jumped out from the window her soul spited apart from her body floating in the vast air and observed the body falling on a truck top canvas.
The truck driver who waited for the traffic light heard a huge bang he scolded, “Who the fuck throw things down like that?”
It wouldn’t be hard to imagine what a shock the driver got when he saw Xiaolin’s body full of blood on his truck.
Soon Xiaolin’s father wheezed rolling from the fourth floor down with his pajama and slippers. He embraced the body of his daughter and shouted at the driver, “Hospital, hospital…”
After hour’s long waiting with anxiety the father rushed toward a doctor who just got out form the operating room, “How is my daughter, do--ctor?”
The doctor responded routinely, “We did everything we could yet still too early to draw conclusion. Even if she makes it, the condition would most likely be critical.”
The father “Pa” kneeled by the doctor’s feet, “Please, please, you save her, you also save my wife. I beg you. I pray for you and the happiness of your whole family.”
What happened to Jiang Langsha
About Chu Xiaolin taking books out of the library, her maternal uncle named Zhou (the husband of her aunt who worked at the library) reacted the most extraordinarily and panic. When the news of Xiaolin’s suicide reached the uncle’s ear it was like pouring oil on a burning fire. The outraged uncle decided to punish the one behind Xiaolin’s stealing of books that caused the dreadful tragedy.
The uncle was a small head of the rebels. The whole China was rebels’ world by the time. They took the actual power of government of the country. Therefore rebels’ so-called “Public Order keeping Command Headquarter” was practically replaced the police force and law court.
Uncle Zhou led a group of full armed “order-keepers” went to Jiang’s little hut. They tied Jiang up without pressing charges. Then implement the Cultural Revolution routine seize the entire little hut thoroughly. From beneath the bed they found the box of books.
“I knew you are the apple of discord. Take the criminal together with the booty” Uncle Zhou ordered.
Meanwhile, a full coal loaded train was approaching.
Jiang put everything aside, as he was tied up he desperately jumped to fall on the wooden box, the only love his father left to him, “These are my books, not library’s books.”
The train was getting closer and closer, but the people there paid little attention.
Order-keeper A kicked Jiang’s bottom and roared, “How dare you to defend yourself. Resist from the 严 , your honest point."
Jiang was struggling in despair that he solicited, “These are novels that I inherited from my father. What Xiaolin took from the library were mostly music scores, not novels.”
“Whatever you say, you tell us where are those books, I mean the music sco—books?” Order-keeper B questioned.
“I do not know. I really don’t.” Jiang answered.
The order-keeper A kicked Jiang again and shouted, “Tell us the truth now, or I’ll beat you to death.”
To beat people to death, so did happen everyday during that period, by order-keepers. What a tragic paradox!
I hid myself near the little hut and peeped through the whole process. Until then I knew nothing about what had happened to Xiiaolin nor could I hear clearly their conversation, but by instinct I guessed it should be something to do with the music scores and books Xiaolin took out form the library and left at uncle Feng’s place. I started to fear that Jiang might be compelled to sell his sister Xiaolin out, which I would never do. Just thinking of running away a sharp steam whistle split the air.
Based on my earlier observations and knowledge I knew it was time to switch the rail. Thus I dashed toward Jiang and blared out the warning, “Switch rail, switch rail… train coming…”
Jiang heard me, like waking up from a dream, he loudly shouted, “Set me loose, or the train will derail.”
Uncle Zhou realized what could happen, he cut the rope to set Jiang free as quickly as he could.
Jiang streaked off like an arrow off the bow toward to rail switcher. When Jiang started to switch the rail the two order-keepers carrying his bookcase and striding crossing the railway distracted him from his work. He chased up again left the rail half switched. Three of them were refuse to budge in the middle of the railway and the bookcase was slammed down on the ground and the books were scattered out all over. The two order-keeper realized the train was drawing near they fled for their lives while Jiang lay his stomach on the bookcase and stretched his arms to cover the dispersed books like a hen protecting its chicks.
“Run away!” I screamed.
“Run quickly! You bastard want dead?” Also shouted uncle Zhou.
But Jiang was as steady as statuary.
“Wo—Wo----” The train kept howling.
I knew if I stood there doing nothing the train would derail and end up Jiang a heap of minced meat, so I rushed to finish the rail switching. I exerted all my strength to pull the switcher, however, as a 14-year-old I was just not strong enough to the make the rail switching completely done.
The train driver too noticed the abnormal situation that he applied an urgent brake. The train wiped my side approach the rail junction, jangling harshly it stopped, tree miters from jiang and his books.
The whole thing made my flesh creep. But Uncle Zhou was quickly adjusting himself from the shock, he indignantly bawled out at Jiang, “Want to die? Ha! That’s too easy for you. My niece Xiaolin alive is your wife, dead is your ghost. You can’t get away.”
Meanwhile, a steam whistle reached us from a remote distance from the opposite direction. The derailed train driver abruptly jumped down from his train. With a danger light he ran heading the coming train.
A fatal occurrence 3,3 that affected the destiny of our whole family
On that very evening, I was too uneasy to do my routine violin practice by the railway side, but went close to Jiang’s hut to inquiries about, and with prospective to meet Xiaolin so that I could find out what all those about were.
From the hut came out an unknown person somewhat resembling one of the order-keepers, and then another, and uncle Zhou. Then I was sure they were the troublemaking order-keepers. Uncle Zhou said something to the other two, and the three headed my home direction with rifles and ropes. Immediately I took a short cut home.
Back home Mom was absent for working overtime. I told two bothers that someone might come to look for me. If that did happen telling them I was away from home and wouldn’t be back for a long time. When Danjin was doubt about my story a savage knock at our door being heard. Immediately Danjin asked his two younger brothers to hide back in kitchen. I did what he ordered yet Danfeng refused.
The order-keepers gave our door a mighty kick it opened. My little brother blocked the doorway with his emaciated body. Uncle Zhou lifted him up in the air like a little chicken and interrogated, “Where is that boy called Nine Brother?”
My baby brother struggled with his hands and legs in the air and shouted like the little revolutionaries in the new china movies, “I don’t know.” And by finishing he spitted a mouthful slobber on uncle Zhou’s face.
Uncle Zhou dropped my brother from the air and quickly wiped the slobber with the cuff of his sleeve before it flowed into his mouth. Danfeng slammed down on the ground and rolling with pain. Danjin helped his little brother to stand up from the ground and yelled at uncle Zhou, “You think you can bully us because we have no adults home?”
But as soon as my wordless little brother rebounded from the ground he rushed up to uncle Zhou again. By conditional reflex uncle Zhou tired to grasp him, but was firmly bitten by the little lion. Uncle Zhou was so painful that he screamed to the other two, “What a hell are you guys waiting for? Take him.” As the same time he punched my little brother’s head with his other hand.
Uncle Zhou’s that action pushed my always gentle and peaceful brother Danjin to limit. He stepped up to uncle Zhou and reworded him a merciless big blow, that soon turned uncle zhou’s face to be a half panda.
When things turned out like that I decide going out to fight them to death. But Hu Meimei grabbed me tightly and said, “You stupid, a wise man should not fight for an obvious loose. Run.” She pushed me out of the back door.
My mom heard what was going on she ran back home. Seeing her nine-year and fifteen-year old sons was trussed up and being sent under escort of armed order-keepers, immediately lost her consciousness falling down on the ground with soiling pants.
Hu Meimei hurried up to take care of my mom. I went to look for a flatbed cart. Together with Hu Meimei we transported my mom to the hospital. Hu Meimei took my mom’s dirty clothes off and asked me to wash them in a pond outside the hospital. When I done that back to the hospital the doctor ordered me, “Ask your father to come here at once.” His tone left no room for discussion.
Hu Meimei also said to me, “Go go go. Don’t worry I will be here all the time. Go to get you father to come here as quickly as possible.” Her tone also sounded as if my father was eating at a restaurant somewhere nearby.
Above was happened on the third of March 1971. So our family calls it the 3.3 occurrence, an occurrence was so fatal that affected the destiny of our whole family.
To conquer all obstacles looking for father
Facing such a huge family tragedy, even if the doctor had not ordered I would have to find my father and get him home. But where? I had no detailed address except the name of the County where father’s 5.7 Cadre School was located. If it were today, I can send him e-mail, or a fax, or simply make a cell phone call. Yet the present situation then left me no alternative but to go by person. I hitched a night truck to look for the family man who was never very much with the family.
The driver was an open easygoing young man. He chatted with me all the way except asking me whether I was hungry. When we reached a resting spot, at last he asked me if I would like to buy something to eat as he was going to do. I quickly searched my pocket and realize I had only 10 fen RMB lunch money I awkwardly told a story that I wasn’t really hungry as I ate too much for supper.
I waited in the truck with my empty stomach hoping the driver would come back with some leftovers. The truck driver came back without my hope of course. Therefore I planed to sleep all the way in order to economize my energy. However, the bad luck truck couldn’t get started. All the driver’s effort of spinning with the engine handle was in vain. The driver finally gave up and said to me, “It looks you have to sleep with me overnight, though the truck is a little too small for two.”
I was too anxious to wait that I jumped down from the truck and walked my way onwards. The driver shouted at my back “Walk along for about 10 Kilometers there is another resting spot. Wait for me there if you don’t find another lift.”
10 Kilometers distance in the darkness and coldness took a 14 years old boy hours to conquer. When I stepped my feet on the spot it was already dawn. I enquired the trucks one by one asking for their destination and finally found one that heading my father’s direction. The driver was a quiet middle-aged man. As he felt uneasy I sat together with him in the front I climbed on his truck and sat on the goods.
I discovered what I sat on was a gunny of Chinese jujubes. Hence I dug a little hole with my fingers and started to cram my gullet devouringly. I was so thirty that the jujubes stuck on its way to my stomach, if it started to rain so I could have a little drink, that would be communism to me.
The truck suddenly stopped and the driver came to me and said, “Come to the front boy. Because if you freeze to death I don’t want to take the responsibility.”
When I gratefully and happily jumped down from the back and about to get on in front, my mouth betrayed me. The driver immediately changed his attitude and bawled out, “You are a thief! Get lost, roll away.”
Besides in the middle of nowhere, he also left my face smothered with dust from the truck wheels. Again I had to make a good use of my manpower to move forwards. Hours later I passed by a farm. As it seamed nobody watching I dug out a Chinese sweet potato from the field (For doing that I had a sufficient practice when I was about 6), and hid myself behind a big tree chewing it together with mud. When I felt recharged I returned back on the road, again I met the driver who dropped me off a few hours ago.
On his truck (in front) after driving for sometime he told me that the reason he decided to pick me up again was my hungry face reminded him of the year 1960, that he was beaten by stealing flash from dead bodies, which was his unique meat nutrition.
When stopped at a resting spot, he bought a bowl of noodle and had it 50/50 with me. He took me all the way near the county center, and then handed me over to another driver, “This boy is my remote relative. Please take care of him.”
I finally arrived at the county center, but still didn’t know my father’s where about. When I was trying to get into the county administration bureau to make an enquiry I was driven out by the doorkeeper, “No beggars allowed in front of the County Bureau.”
From the County office I found out that the possible location of my father was about 30 kilometers country road away, in fact closer to the place where I was handed to the third driver. I could do nothing but go on with my feet. When my shoes opened their mouths I put some tree barks to stop the holes and continued my journey.
By the late afternoon I met a small group of educated youth on a hill. One of them said he knew nothing about my father, while another said even he knew he couldn’t tell me, and the third said he actually knew where my father was but did not want to tell me.
That made me almost crying out. After I moaned the tragedy happening in my family a tall fellow said he might be able to help me a little. That instantly turned me from sadness to happiness.
Then the tall man said, “It’s too late to go down there today. Let’s wait until tomorrow.”
Though no one obviously invited me I followed the group wherever they went.
On the top of the hill the beautiful landscape popped into my eyes. The declining twilight reminded me of my uncle Din’s out of tune singing, “The eastern sun is declining down the western hill.” Why he always sang wrongly when the correct lyric should be “the twilight is declining down the western hill”?
Whatever! My heavy mood jarred with the marvelous natural scenery.
After a while the tall man covered my eyes with a towel and with his hand I was let into a clandestine cave. There were five young men and one young woman living in the cave. Watching them cook food I couldn’t control my saliva from flowing that I had to utilize my usual method, to sleep. Drowsily I heard xiaolin’s treating. Half sleeping half awake I saw one man is doing with the woman, and another two were lining up for their turn.
Next morning, the tall fellow escorted me all the way down. On the way he expressed his envy to me for having a father, unlike he had no father to care for him since he was very little. He cried his tears out while I had to swallow mine down to my stomach.
A little by little he also told me about their group. They are 6 defecting educated youths out from my father’s farm. (By the time, the cadres like my father at the 5.7 Cadre School were in charge of educated youth) the six formed a special family with five husbands sharing the same wife.
After two nights and two days and all the obstacles, I finally reached my father. You know what he was doing? He was blowing a mouth harmonica taking part to a rehearsal of the educated youth propaganda team. He showed little surprise by seeing me suddenly appearing in front of his eyes as if I was just one of the herd. I could not ruin his good mood that I had to sat down and wait. But only a few seconds later I started sawing logs, which reinforced father’s propaganda noise, sorry, not propaganda noise but propaganda “music”.
When I woke up it was time for supper.
Father’s room was small and simple. A female educated youth was cooking with an alcohol stove. She did not look so bad except a little over sized perhaps. What astonished me worse was my father’s watch on her wrist, the watch father got from mom as a keepsake that he said, “Lost somewhere, may be in a more needed hand.” The unfamiliar gentleness and kind manner towards the girl made father a more stranger to me.
Before the meal, father very briefly introduced the girl to me, called…somewhat like “Sister Fatty”. And then they ate and chatted their concerns as if I did not exist. The whole scene made me feel that without us, the man was more comfortable and happier out there in the farm. If it were true, that Sister Fatty must be part of the reason. Or if the main reason turned to be his love for mom, that results not only me, the whole family to be his heavy burden.
Though my stomach was totally empty soon it fully filled up with anger by viewing the scene. I shouted at father, “Something bad is happening back home, hurry up go back.”
Then he asked Sister Fatty to go away, and listened to my description of the situation back home. Of course I reserved the fact that Xiaolin taking books out from the liberty might be the basic and direct reason of the whole happening, as I still wasn’t sure what exactly uncle Zhou wanted from Jiang Langsha and me. Heard my report father’s facial expression returned back to the appearance of deep frown that I was mostly familiar with.
I stayed at my father’s place only for one night, which was 1/4 the time I spent on my way to look for him. The next morning he gave me a pair of used self-made cotton shoes of his, plus a few Yuan RMB, and showed me the way to the long distance bus stop. After telling me how to make my transit he returned back to his farm and left me along waiting for the bus to come.
I did all I wanted to do, as well as the doctor and Meimei asked me to do, which was to pass the message to my father. I did not expect father to go back with me right away, as I knew as a part member he couldn’t do anything without the party’s approval. To be in a country of selfless ideology asking for a leave from work for family affairs took courage and time.
Farewell, the residency and home I belonged to
I returned, and found my home was chaotic after being searched by the order-keepers. Mother and Danjin were still not in except Danfeng the 9 year-old. To be going through the catastrophe together, seeing him again a throb of excitement and pain in my heart pushed me to hug him. However, he rejected my emotion with a nimble dodge.
Hatefully he accused me, “All your fault. You tore my family into pieces.”
He carried his small schoolbag, strode out of the home.
“Where are you going?” I chased him up out of the door and asked.
“It’s non of your dam business. I don’t know you.”
Those were the last a few words my little brother left to me. To speak to me again was many years later.
Although Danfeng is not my son but a brother, and we never got along that well, watching his back fading away from my sight I suddenly felt a gust of distress, like a piece of flash being sliced off my body.
Hu meimei told me my home was searched thoroughly soon after my mom was sent to the hospital. Although they did not find the music scores that they want but found several of my mom’s old diary. By reading them they began to be suspicious that mom could be a member of the Third Youth League once during her high school years before the liberation, which was considered to be a political stain. (The Third Youth League is attached to the Chinese Kuomintang, in parallel to the Chinese Youth League attached to the Chinese Communist Party) For that mom was sent directly to the cadre’s concentration camp for further investigation after being treated at the hospital only for two days.
My little brother Danfeng was only kept in detention for one night. As it became a home without family the 9-year-old kept taking care of it all by himself. He borrowed Hu Meimei’s fire to cook one bowl of gruel and subsisted on it a day. And everyday he went to visit uncle Zhou at a hospital. He begged for mercy by kneeling before the sickbed. The little lion also expressed he would sacrifice all of his eight incisors to trade for his brother Danjin’s freedom.
The family baby also asked Hu Meiemi to pass his words to anyone and everyone of the family that it was he himself decided to go back to the Hunan acrobatics, therefore no need to try to find him. For the sake of never being bullied and humiliated again he would train him to be a Hercules. Until then he would not show his face to the public.
Hence, I was left alone at home. As a matter of fact I had never felt so lonely and so scared. If it were before, whenever I was alone would be my chance to practice my violin. But then, I was not at all in the mood of touching my beloved instrument.
I went to see the place where Danfeng was held, which was a detention temporarily borrowed Hunan Medical College’s classrooms. I could only peep at the place in a distance as afraid of being caught.
I also visited mom at the Cadre’s Concentration Camp but the doorman excluded me from getting in for the rule “cadres under investigation are not allowed to meet family members.” Later I found besides the rule, it was also the good hearted doorman did not want a young boy’s feeling to be hurt too badly, as my mom was locked up in a cow barn, the same vast number of Chinese were treated during the Cultural Revolution.
No doubt I went to Jiang’s wooden hut but the new comer had no idea about the whole thing. To me uncle Feng’s place remained the last hope for finding Xiaolin and finding out the facts behind. Sadly the result of my visit was no result.
Now you see how pathetic I was that I, together with everybody around me, was experiencing such an awful occurrence without knowing the real reason, which turned me to be an ant in a hot pot restlessly counting my minutes day and night.
Almost a long month later father came back at last. (I found out later he was on an errand for the Party back to the city. That means he wasn’t home particularly for the sake of the family but by convenience. However that was quite understandable and common, as in that era the Party business was regarded as heavy as a mountain and family affairs as light as a feather.) I, as a boy always distanced from the father, this time felt like to throw myself into his safe hands. I had never so strongly felt the great importance to have a family man home. Nevertheless his clay-colored face and cold mood functioned like a negative pole of magnet kept me away eternally in a decided distance.
Father put his baggage down and went out right away. No need to ask he went to rescuer my mom and brother. I thought.
I started to make coal fire and prepare a supper, which I stopped doing for about a month. Seldom in my life without mom’s consent I cut off a piece of meat from a moldy pig head that hung on the wall for ages and quickly made out a dish of garlic frying with pig head meat. I dare to say that that was the most attentive and most delicious meal I had ever cooked in my entire short life.
Waited for the clock to tell the suppertime I set up the table and expected father to come back. If it were not that day but any day in preceding a 14-year-I would replace chopsticks with my fingers to peck a little by little from the dish, but on that day, though revolution was going on madly in my stomach my indomitable will stood it.
Hour after hour father did not show up. And I had to heat up my beautiful meal over again and again. Any footsteps or even a rustle of leaves in the wind made me rush to the door. “Papa, the supper is ready” was a sentence I practiced countless times. But when father really came back I fell sleep bending on the table.
Father’s slap on the table woke me up with a start. Vaguely I saw my father’s metal ashen face like a fearful devil. Though the volume was not that loud but the tone was extremely resolute and authoritative, “Bring all the books out from the library here, now.”
“I have no books from the library.” I tired to play an edge ball.
“I say it again and no more. Bring all the books out from the library here, now.” Father ordered with an increasing volume.
“Really I took no BOOKS from the library.” I quibbled again.
“I have no time for this.” Father said as he started looking for something to beat me in order to prevent his hands to be hurt.
“Music scores.” I changed my words, “You want me to bring out books of course I couldn’t. I only have music scores, scores for my violin…”
“Again! That hand-lin? I knew it. I knew it from the very beginning it would cause trouble.” Father burst into rage.
“It is not hand-lin. It is called violin.” I corrected him.
Seeing him continuously busy looking for something to beat me I started to be aware that there was no way to escape. Without more ado I headed him directly, “It wasn’t me who took the music scores out from the library. But even you beat me to death I will not tell you who did it. I’ll never sell out my friend.”
“Your friend? Ha, you don’t have a friend. You will have a cabbage or a dead body. Haven’t you heard Chu Xiaolin jumped down from the 4th floor…”
“Ai…” That was the first time I was told about Xiaolin’s destiny.
Father ordered again, “Do as I say, bring your vio…hand-lin, whatever, out on the table, now.”
By then I realized it wasn’t that father didn’t know the term “violin”, but deliberately following my mom’s term “hand-lin” to show his disdain towards the instrument, or more precisely towards me. If it were the usual time I would rather die to retreat my violin. But on that day, I was in a state of shock of Xiaolin’s tragedy, in addition thought to hand over the violin might do some good to extricate my brother out from the detention, therefore I fetched my violin underneath my bed and presented it on the table.
To father, the violin was the root of evil. It was the time then to dig the root out.
Father tried to open the violin case but did not know how. He glanced me a signal to open it, and I did it accordingly. Father took my violin out from the case raised it above his head and then smashed it on the table, that caused the dish I made falling down on the ground all over. My violin screamed out terribly.
My father broke not only my violin, but also my heart into pieces, as well as the appellation “father”.
Perhaps all these were expected I reacted considerably calmly. I crawled on the ground to pick up the broken parts of my violin that jumped off the table and put them back to my case.
Father’s face looked longer and bitterer than ever, he uttered repentantly, “Also me to blame that I was too generous and didn’t cut the evil root at its sprout state.”
Father said that as he grabbed the head of my violin from my hand and slammed on the ground again, “I regret, I regret…” He knocked on the table with his fist causing “don don” sound.
Again I crawled down on the ground to pick up my violin pieces. Each time my hand touched apiece it reminded me how I made them with each stroke of knife, chisel and file, my wounded hand during the violin making started to feel pain again.
Seeing father attempted to take my violin pieces from the case again I held the case in my arm to protect them as if they were my babies. My mind was made. This time, even if he kills me, I wouldn’t let my children to suffer from the trample again.
As father showed no sign to give up I exclaimed with grievance, “What exactly I did wrong? Who did I offend? I just want to play the violin and to be a violinist. What is wrong with that?” More I yelled more I felt the injustice that made me lost my mind. I furiously threw the whole violin case down on the ground and hysterically shouted, “Are you satisfied now?”
Father paused, only for a second, he uttered in despair, “You, roll out. Our family doesn’t have such a son.”
In actuality such announcement of my father’s was overmuch as I had already been on my way out with my broken violin and heart. I didn’t know where to go but what I did know was that that was a place I would never want to return.
“What exactly I did wrong? Who did I offend? I just want to play the violin and to be a violinist. What is wrong with that?” Those are questions bothered me for decays until recently I came to realize that the real evil root was not the violin, but me being different, or my desire of being a individual human rather than a communism manufactured robot, a tool, “a nail in the socialist machine” as literally called in China during the era. THAT SIN offended the majority of communist community.
Home, inside that nest I grew up for nearly 15 years, the place had been extraordinarily noisy with quarrel and joy, the zone used to be save and secure, then became a hollow of emptiness, left only father’s inclining shadow from the dim light and a thick smoke out from his mouth to accompany.
To be continued
|Reply: Re:Father Son & Violin
||Date: 2010-05-05 18:07:39
Chapter 13: A FOUR-YEAR EXPERIENCE AS A CONSTRACTION WORKER
A Mysterious Envelope
After left home I didn’t go anywhere but headed straight to uncle Feng’s place. Besides I had nowhere else to go, it was then I confirmed that the sack of musical scores Xiaolin took out from the library was the cause of the whole problem. Therefore I thought if I return it back to the library it could trade for my brother Danjin’s freedom. However, no matter how hard I think I couldn’t figure it out why that sack of musical scores suddenly became so important when tons of the same kind were burnt during the Cultural Revolution?
As uncle Feng had no idea at all what happened to Xiaolin I decided to talk to him about it later when things were getting clearer.
According to Xiaolin’s words uncle Feng placed the sack in front of me. I opened the sack in order to pick out a few urgent need violin scores. If there were any I planed to return after I hand-copied them. During the process a well-sealed solid brown envelope dropped out from a thick music score. For curiosity I put it into my schoolbag thought to take a look after sorting out the sack. I quickly went through all the scores and books, excluding the couple of violin exercises I took previously I found almost nothing special but a violin collection that might be useful for later use. I started to regret and doubt the value of Xiaolin’s doing such a thing for me.
I entrusted uncle Feng to return the sack back to the library. Heard the news uncle Zhou jumped out from his sick bed and rushed to the library. Delightedly he opened the sack secretly and soon found the thick music score. To his enormous disappointment he found the envelope was no long there. That turned his happiness to madness. However his tact told him to conceal his anxiety behind his calm face. He enquired uncle Feng of my where about. The simple minded uncle Feng had no clue what was these all about and led him coming to me.
At the same time I was alone at Feng’s place gazing at my heart broken violin parts. That made me forgot the envelope thing completely. Seeing uncle Feng came in with uncle Zhou, I jumped up to escape. Although the abandon place had no door the exit was the same size as a door, or as wide as uncle Zhou’s body. With him standing there I wished I could change myself into a string of wind to flee out.
Uncle Zhou’s eye looked much better though still a little blue. The first words out form his mouth were, “Did you see an envelope?”
Seeing him stood steady I backed up a little at a comparatively safe distance, and nodded my head meaning, “yes”.
He promptly strode approaching me and eagerly requested, “Give it to me, quickly.”
His action made me feel that that envelope might be very valuable, or contained some secret, whatever it was it must be something of great importance. I counter-questioned him, “Why should I give it to you? Give me a good reason.”
“Because it is mine.” Uncle Zhou moved a step towards me.
“If you move one more step I swear to you that you will never see your envelope again.”
Then uncle Zhou took a completely unexpected action. He kneed down on the ground in frond of me and begged, “Please, please give it to me. I’ll do anything you want.”
Watching it uncle Feng was at a total confusion. He felt he should do something to easy the situation that he persuaded me, “If it is his thing why don’t you give to him.”
The developing dramatic situation made me more and more confident that that mysterious envelope was a very power thing, which was in my hand, I mean in my schoolbag underneath my buttocks as I relaxed myself on it. I played suspense, “It’s at a secret place.”
“OK, take me there, if you do as I said anything can be discussed.”
“Anything?” I confirmed.
“Anything, as far as I can do, you name it.”
“OK, release my brother, immediately.” I tried it in an orderly tone.
“Alright, take me there first.” He bargained.
“No way, let me brother go first.” This time my tone was un-negotiable.
“OK OK OK, I’ll do it right away. You wait here, don’t leave.” He looked at uncle Feng for his confirmation.
“Don’t worry, he has nowhere else to go for a while.” Uncle Feng comforted him.
When uncle Zhou was away I started to narrate about xiaolin, in a version no more than what I heard from my father. Heard that he looked very down and heavy, utter a few words, “How is the baby girl now?”
That was an unknown question I would like to know it very much myself. One thing for sure, couldn’t be very good.
Uncle Feng started to spread hay to make me a sleep place. Suddenly, he stopped, and said to me, “I think that what thing, an envelope isn’t it? May be better to keep it for a while and wait to see what’s going to happen.” He stopped there, without explaining the reason.
About two hours later uncle Zhou ran back and gasped out, “Your brother is home, Now can we go to take my stuff?”
With uncle Feng’s wink of hint I improvised a story, “It’s not possible to go there today as the place is too far away.
“What?” Uncle Zhou burst out into fury.
Uncle Feng tried to calm him dawn by saying, “Don’t worry, the boy is OK. I promise you no one will see your thing.”
Uncle Zhou started becoming like an air leaking ball. After being dazed for a moment he said to uncle Feng, “If I can take your words? I mean if you, not the boy, can keep it for me and promise not to open it, may be safer than in my hands for a while. Actually I heard about you from my niece Chu Xiaolin.”
“It is a promise. It will not in anybody else’s hand, and it will not be opened. As I said.” Uncle Feng confirmed it again.
After an argy-bargy it resulted temporarily that I would hand the envelop back to him until I was sure that all my family members were safe. And he conceded on my oath that I would let uncle Feng to keep it for the time being and never open it nor let it be in anybody else’s hands. The sarcasm was his life important envelope was only two meters away from him, in my schoolbag right underneath my buns.
As soon as uncle Zhou left I was too impatient to wait to open the envelope, but was stopped by uncle Feng, “You promised you wouldn’t open it. It says ‘four horses can’t chase up a gentleman’s words,’ the trustworthy is a man’s most important quality.”
To show my trust to him and my trustworthy words to uncle Zhou I handed the envelope over to uncle Feng. He hesitated for a second, and then he said, “On the second thought, just put it in your schoolbag like that, it could be a big problem if you have it lost somewhere, besides, he insisted that I keep it for him.”
Like that, I handed the envelope, together with a period of my life over to uncle Feng.
Middle School Graduation
It was free to stay at uncle Feng’s place. But for everyday bread, be precisely “for everyday rice”, I had to start part time grunt work for Feng’s construction company. Being a new boy on the totem pole in a down to earth environment, it was very hard for me to balance myself as a spiritual noble in my artistic ivory tower.
It was OK during the daytime, but was miserable in the evening, for uncle Feng’s castle was as classic as before the age of Edison who invented the electricity. Though to follow the old tradition candles could be romantic yet it cost money. To uncle Feng it was not much of a problem as he went straight sawing logs as soon as it got dark, while I had to count my numbers for hours before I could manage myself into my dreamland. Something worse than that was that there was no water at uncle Feng’s residency. That meant I had to do all my personal hygiene and grooming at the construction site. That was still not the worst. The biggest problem above all was I had no place and time to practice my violin.
Seeing me gazing at my broken violin uncle Feng suggested that he could find me some sesame nails (very small nails) to get the pieces together. His good-hearted idea made my flesh creep though I did not forget to show my appreciations.
It was sometime later Ma Xiaomao heard my story she gave me her violin with the head from the violin my aunt bought for me, which I repaired for her earlier. Just to mention it, since then, every time I met Ma Xiaomao Flute Chen was always there with her like a full-time bodyguard. About Lu Ying and Wang Shiyi, their relationship as a pair was made public. And they too had quitted the Mao Term and were preparing for the high school entrance exam together.
I lost my interest to school completely though it was close to the graduation. My going to school was like fish men a three-day fishing alternating a two-day drying net. Gradually my life got into a new routine. I went to the school (when I did) in the morning, and sweated at the construction site in the afternoon. As soon as I was off work I practice my violin for a short while wherever place available to me, at the work place, at Feng’s place or in a park. In the evening, I finally found a place for pastime by taking part in the rehearsal of Changsha Worker’s Propaganda Term. Just as an old Chinese saying, “to kill two birds with one stone”. Soon, I became the concertmaster of the amateur orchestra, and was flattered to be the No 1 violin player among the amateurs in town; I even played solo from time to time. Though all those did put me in a good mood and a certain degree of satisfaction I did not forget my asseveration, “ not only No 1 amateur player of Changsha City but also become No 1 professional violinist of the whole Hunan province.”
I, as a 15-year-old was living a life mostly among the adults. And a life like that a few months later, I farewelled my middle school.
About the destiny of my other former Mao Team mates, captain Lee leading quite a member of them went to an army Propaganda Team, which was considered the best way out from the school at that time. Although Mao Xiaomao so much wanted to follow Lee, she couldn’t realize it owing to her bad family social class origin, as well as her withdrawing from the Team before graduation, but above all was her persistent chasing of Lee resulted to be an unrequited love. That made the “vast world” (country side) the only place available for her to go. On the other hand Flute Chen’s name was already in Lee’s list yet he gave up the glory on his free well. Heard the people in Xinjiang were good at singing and dancing, Flute Chen put some effort on back doors to skip Xiaomao from going to the “vast would’ and mobilize her going to the Xinjiang Army Development Construction, together with him. Lu Ying and Wang Shiyi both passed the exam and pursued their studies and love in a higher degree.
Since I got out from home I had little contact with the family, all what I knew was mom went back home after months non-result investigation of her political past, and continued her roll as one of the “promoting production”. Father was demoted for unknown reasons, and where, what, how he was serving the Party was also unknown. My little brother Danfeng worked very diligently and endurably with his training and had become a formal member of the provincial Acrobatics. My elder brother Danjin did not manage to get into the high school. In order not to lose his urban residence status, (In China, urban residence registration and rural residence registration are totally two up and down social classes. To change a rural residence registration to a urban residence registration may not be as difficult as a man flying up to the moon, but certainly as difficult as a Chinese immigrating to the States, if it is not more difficult) with the help of his teacher Danjing went as a three-year volunteer to build railroads. And me myself was directly recommended by uncle Feng and became a formal worker of the Changsha Construction Company.
Farewell to teacher Li and found teacher Yu
Wang Shiyi told me that teacher Li once visited my home for the wondering of my taking no more violin lesions from him. I guess I did so for the fear of spreading my trouble so widely over to him too.
Wang Shiyi described that in front of my home teacher Li met no me but my father. Father did not invite teacher Li in but tailgated him to the church. Father’s original intention must be to find out teacher Li’s location in order to demolish the nest that poisons the youth. But surprisingly teacher Li wasn’t afraid or angry by being followed, instead he led my father all the way and politely invited him into the church through the back door. Facing Jesus, by conditioned-reflex the everyday routine pray during father’s university days flashed back he heard, “Our Father who art in heaven…” That miraculous power stopped father with his attention of troubling teacher Li, instead he only expressed his hope with delicacy, hoping that teacher Li to stop doing things with good intension resulting bad outcome, to put it more clearly “leading the youth to astray”. Teacher Li did not gainsay but commented, “Time will speak for itself.”
One day Wang Shiyi came to see me during my evening rehearsal of the Workers Propaganda Team. He passed a message to me that teacher Li wanted ten of his best students to perform violin unison “Xinjiang Spring”, the only violin piece survived during the Cultural Revolution. I accepted the invitation right away for I knew there was a solo section in the middle of the piece and I, said to be the No 1 armature player in town I took it as grounded to conceit that I got to be the one to play the solo part. Nevertheless it was not until the very moment before the performance I leant that teacher Li recommended a sheepish girl called Tang who supposed to be the worst player in the group to do the show-off job in order to infuse her with courage and self-confidence. On the stage while the moment came seeing Tang shaking with hesitation I exploited the excuse stepping ahead to cut a smart figure.
After the performance when everybody was gone home teacher Li asked me to his home. Though I had all the excuses prepared he did not even mention a word about the whole thing nor did he talked about the meeting with my father. Though he acted as if nothing had happened and started to play a violin duo from “Hohmann” with me just like the old days, I couldn’t help apologizing for my father’s rudeness as to also show my regret of the thoughtless action during the concert. Teacher Li said with a smile, “Your father, just like the vast others today, is just a lamb lost its way. How could they be blamed for what they are doing when they don’t even know what they are doing? Only the great love of our lord could affect them, light up their heart. Someday they would reach their cognition of all wrong doings in their past. I will never stop leading the youth to our lord because of some kinds of accusation. Being a God servant this is what I’m made for.
Comparing teacher Li’s treatment towards my wrongdoing with my father’s, I was truly touched. But I became clearly aware that I was like some kind of poison or root of trouble in that society, and whoever in touch with me would be in touch with trouble. I made myself an awkward excuse that his teaching method no longer fit me, and expressed my wish to end the teacher and student relationship. Again he praised me for being much more thoughtful and sensible than before instead of being disappointed with me.
“But no excessive worry about me is needed. I’m safe with the Father, as I always did, and always will be.” He said.
On my way out of teacher Li’s room he took me into the Church. Facing God he prayed for me. He asked the lord to light my heart and warm my body all my life. He also begged the lord to send a brother or sister by my side to lead and assist me wherever I might go. He even prayed for the forgiveness for my father.
I was wordless, not a “thank you”, nor a “sorry”, with an empty heart I silently did my farewell with teacher Li, the enlightenment of my music, as well as to be a decent human being.
From the armature orchestra I heard a rumor that an excellent violinist named Yu Boping was demoted form total 政 to the Hunan provincial Bering Opera as the concert master of the orchestra，owing to his sexual wrongdoing. As sexual wrongdoing was thought to be one of the most shameful sins among our Chinese (though we like it very much) his unpopularity at his workplace was not hard to image. With a fluky hope I recklessly went to see teacher Yu all by myself. Unexpectedly after hearing only one piece of my violin playing he accepted me to be his student, “the only student in my life” as he said. After the high mood I finally got my feet from the air to the ground I started to think that either it was his need for being needed in his adversity, or me, the little nine brother really had some talent, or both, perhaps.
Teaching Yu gave me quite some homework at the first meeting. And he lent me a violin method “Rodow” and asked me to hand-copy a few excises for next lesson. Finally, he made a little embarrassing suggest that I should take a shower and change my clothes, particularly sacks before I go for next lesson, as “my wife is a slight delicate and fussy.” He said that with a tone full of love for his wife.
By then I noticed a photograph, a photograph of a rather pretty woman with riche and honor standing on the piano. Looking at the small wizened and pale appearing teacher Yu I just did not understand why he needed another woman when he possessed such a beautiful wife. The man’s mania of having women other than one’s wife, or as the Chinese say “occasionally, wild herbs taste more than the home meal” took me years to fully comprehend, and partially implement.
My violin stage on construction scaffold
Since I formally became a worker of the Changsha construction company I moved out from uncle Feng’s place and started a life by my own at the worker’s dormitory. The so-called dormitory was actually a shed with lots of two-leveled beds. There was no registration, no management and no charge. As far as there were beds available anyone could occupy them. That is to say that all my property had to be concentrated within a size as big as a bed. However, that wasn’t much trouble to me as I had almost no property, not even a ragged suitcase like the little David Copperfield had when he ran away from the blacking factory to seek his aunt. All what I possessed were two pairs of old shoes and a few tattered clothes. As to the violin, that’s a part of my skin and I wore it wherever I went.
To practice my violin at the dormitory was unthinkable, therefore my work place, which construction site remained the only available location. Everyday when the working hour was over and others went home I would hide myself in a half finished room to practice. Sometimes I got so inspired I would climb on the highest spot of the scaffold. Facing the beautiful twilight and infinite space, with all my feeling and emotion I would enjoy my playing as much as I liked the music pieces I loved. Recalling the scene it was somewhat quite romantic. If it appears in a movie, must be a moving and touching moment.
Gradually I discovered the number of my audiences was growing, for as soon as I started paying, more and more windows would open, and people were standing by their windows. The window closest to me stood the charming daughter of the army representative. (By that time army offices were sent to be in charge of all local working units. It was called the “military control period”.) Whenever the girl appeared it always reminded me of Chu Xiaolin, which changed my happy violin music to melancholy. Just to mention it, if I wanted I could find out the situation of Xiaolin and Langsha by just a little effort, but I choose not to, as the result could be fearful.
In parallel to the growing of my fans there were also increasing number of enemies, an outstanding one was the foreman Peng. I was given a derogatory title called the “young master nine” by my working mates. No work group wanted me in as I did not fit the place, “wearing gloves even in the hottest day in the summer” as people said and I did, in addition to that I was from time to time out of sight hiding somewhere to hand-copy my music scores, the home work teacher Yu gave me.
One day I was caught at the scene when I was doing my usual business hand-copying music scores at my secret spot. The foreman Peng seized my music score and wanted to tear off. I raised a spade over my head and shouted, “Dare you do so I split you head into two.” That really scared foreman Peng, but too shameful to show his weakness he tore off a small corner of my music score with gingerliness. I threw the spade away, stepped forward and gave him a punch on the face. My reckless action caused him to swallow two teeth; two decayed loosing teeth.
That brought the trouble big, big enough to hold a work unit accusation meeting. In the meeting, someone suggested that I should be fired from the company at once. The suggestion immediately supported by a thunder of applause. When the meeting chairman requested to vote by raising hands, Uncle Feng stood up.
He said, “There is no doubt that violence, no matter who dose it, is crude and wrong, and should be accused, criticized and even punished. But I’m the one who introduced the little Nine-Brother to work here. Therefore I should at least be held responsible for half of his wrongdoing. However, to kick him out, is equal to push him to a worse direction, that dose not correspond with Chairman Mao’s teach ‘to cure illness and save life’. The little Nine-Brother is after all a boy below 16, he deserve a second chance. If we sack every young man acts on his impulse of temperament, how many would be left working for the socialist construction? And if the result is simply to fire him, why bother all of us to come here. My fellow workers, please, to give him a second chance, is the only thing I ask.”
The meeting resulted I should compensate foreman Peng’s medicine fees and a sum equal to his ten days wage. I went to uncle Feng wanted to say a few lines of gratitude, but was mercilessly scold by him, “I don’t care to lose my face, I don’t have much face anyway. But you are young, you need to work and fight for your own face. May be someday you can eat with you violin, but you are a worker now, so look and act like one.”
Though I kept my jaw moving, in my heart I knew I owe him a big one, and felt what he said to me was right and honest. Thus I made up my mind to make a radical change from the day on.
About a year later, with all the effort I did changed a lot and be gradually accepted and liked by more and more co-workers.
After all, the construction work and violin performing are two totally incompatible fields. The fingers of a construction worker are as rough as steel files, how could they dance and flit sensitively on violin strings? If my life goes on like that, how could I reach my dream of becoming a professional violinist, the “the king of music”? No! Or yes, I must work out some ways.
It was at that moment when I tried to think some way out I fell from a 3-floor high scaffold all the way down on the ground. That became my way out from the sweaty construction site. I was sent to a hospital. Though no major damage on my bones the scratches and blood looked awful. I declared that I became suffering from height. Uncle Feng preferred to believe it and pursued the company to transfer me to a cement products working unit where more than half of the workers were women.
Since then, the work I did was much relaxed, lighter and stable, more importantly no more laugh on hands covered with gloves. I was once felt happy and a sort of satisfied. I worked harder than ever, and a year later, I was even pointed to be the leader of a group of 6 workers. Slowly, I got used to that kind of life and even started to think I was destined to be a worker, hence the power of pursuing the violin getting weaker and weaker, in the end to take violin lesions from teacher Yu became more like a habit or formality.
About my music activities at the amateur orchestra, after been the concertmaster for quite a period of time, I felt somewhat fed up, and waste of time, hence I quitted it for good with no excuse.
Now, I sit in my house by a big bright window looking outside of my garden, flashing back of the first half of my life struggling. Each time when I reached a goal, I would start to feel dull and lost. Just like climbing a hill, it is a great challenge and fun to look at the top and climbing, but as soon as stepped on the top of the hill, you will discover the place you stand is tiny and sharp, and is surrounded by bigger and higher rolling hills that block your view to other world. In fact, it almost applies to everything in the world, for example to chase girls, all the flavor is in the course of chasing, particularly during the opposite party’s attitude unknown period, looking at her exposed part fantasize her covered part, very tasteful, isn’t it? But when she becomes your own wife…you know what I mean. The same is true when you hunt a used car, all the fun is during the process of looking up the papers, internet, whatever source of information you might get, and checking the maker, year, kilometer, ABS, CD, MD, TV, Navi etc, but when you hand over your money you hand over all your fun and excitement at the same time. One more example, when we were little we all looked forward to becoming adults, but now we are adults, so what? That tells me every time when I reach a goal; I must look for a new goal. That is my understanding of “life goes on,” otherwise, I would feel my life stopped, terminated, and see death lying in head of me. Therefore I lived my life, and will go on living my life of endless climbing.
When I write here I suddenly seem to understand why the religions are so powerful. It is because they give us consistent and continuous hope but never actually let us reach the hope in our lifetime.
My Chinese teacher Liang and English teacher Din
After quitting the amateur orchestra I had more time for myself. Besides practice violin and reading books, I still had some surplus time and energy in the evenings. It was that time I made myself a friend named Liang. We soon got along with each other well. By talking to him I learnt his father was a Chinese teacher and mother was an English teacher, and both were teaching at the Changsha No 2 middle school. As teachers the only thing they wanted to do was teaching, which was not a very popular thing to do at that era. The parents organized their own private free evening classes for those who wanted to study. (All education was free at that time) I immediately became an active member of both Chinese and English classes, and studied both languages very hard. In fact, at the time I had no idea what were my studies of Chinese and English for. While today, when I write in both languages I appreciate and value the foundation of both languages they built up for me. Thank you teacher Liang and Din, wherever you might be now.
Farewell My Virginity
In the evening study group, I encountered zhuanghua, a girl two years elder than me. Every one’s eyes would meet her two full figured breasts before her not bad looking face or slender body.
Here is how she became my first sexually involved girl friend. It was an afternoon she took me to her home. She asked me to turn my face away from her. When I was asked to turn my face back to her, she was totally nude. My mind went completely blank while body was trembling. When she was trying to guide me to enter her world I was full of fear. First of all I was after all a 18 year-old virgin, although much practice had been dong by my own, but to fight in a battlefield, that was my maiden voyage. Secondly, it was the inappropriate environment. You see it was in someone’s home, just in case her parents, or either one of them finished job earlier and bumped in, I would not be able to get my pants on in time. Therefore in spite she had her door widely open to me I didn’t know how to get mine in. I resulted at her doorway in haste, for the first rehearsal.
When next opportune came, she gave up pretending innocence and clumsy of the “first time experience”, after lubricated with her saliva she hold mine tightly and sat it in. It was from that moment I farewelled my virginity.
Although I had no contact with my family since I walked away from home I knew well what was going on with my folks as Meimei came to see me at my work quite often. One day, when my working mates all went home, I told Meimei that I had mastered the skill of lovemaking. She called me a boaster that stimulated me, aroused me to take off her pants like I did to her a couple of years ago. Just like before, she made no resist, no yelling no moaning no nothing, not even an excuse “the rice would be burnt” this time, only closed her eyes as tightly as she could. When it was over, I noticed there was a map like bloodstain on the newspaper that I sheeted on the ground. I became nervous, “Is yours broken? Should I take you to a hospital?”
I felt much relieved with the smile, “I’m serious. Are you in pain, alright?”
“It should be alright in a moment. I heard all girls are like this for the first time.” She comforted herself, yet more importantly comforted me.
Since then Meimei was introduced as my sister, and Zhenghua my girl friend. While the sexual activities were going on parallel.
It was another afternoon after been working for the construction factory for four years I received an unique phone call from the company head office that I should report myself immediately to the office.
“I don’t think I can. You see, I have to work over time today in order to finish the cement fences in time for the zoo panda house. It’s important.” I replied.
“It is more important that you come here at once.” The phone said.
“If not, will you sack me?” I insisted.
“No need to sack you. You already no longer belong to our company. Details will be told when you are here. Come quickly, all the leaders are here waiting for you. Otherwise I’ll send someone to get you.”
The phone was cut off.
What an earth could be the problem? I worked hard and well lately, and the relationship with my co-workers were improved greatly, in a word everything went well and smooth. Why the company wanted to kick me out?
To be continued
|Reply: Re:Father Son & Violin
||Date: 2010-05-05 18:09:02
Chapter 14: The Third Stage of Learning the Violin
From an amateur to professional
It was a long way from my workplace to the head office of the company. I paddled my bike as hard as I could all the way down, fantasizing all the possible bad things and self-defense excuses. When I arrived at the gate of the head office out of breath, the always-arrogant doorman abnormal politely led me to a meeting room, where sat around a meeting table a group of company leaders. Seeing me appeared at the door everyone stood up facing me. That overwhelming atmosphere made me feel being mistakenly favored without rhyme or reason.
To make a long story short, the company informed me all my papers were transferred away from the company, and from then on, I was a member of the Hunan Beijing Opera. The one who made the speech stressed, “It is our company’s pride that we raised such a talent.” He said that naturally, shamelessly and with great satisfaction. Thanks God no one really paid attention to his hot air, as all were busy eating fish skinned peanuts and drinking tea. When someone proposed that the celebration deserving a few bottles and dishes, the speaker ordered me to report myself to the Opera straight away.
Is it some kind of joke? I simply could not believe my ears. Thinking back from school to then, I took countless auditions just to get into a performing group, any group that might take me. Each time after the family political record checkup, all ended up the same result “regret”. After the same thing repeated to me again and again, I had already got used to the failure and accepted the fact that I could never be able to make myself to be a member of any professional music group. Yet the acceptance of the Hunan Beijing Opera, the highest level in the province, came to me so suddenly, especially, without an audition!
Looking at the dirty oily working uniform, smelly army shoes with holes that wrapped my body and feet, and worse I couldn’t remember how many days ago I had my shower. I should be all right if it was within a week. For such an appearance how could I go see teacher Yu?
Nevertheless, an order is an order, as the Chinese says, “a military order is like a falling mountain in no way to disobey.” I ran to a washroom to clean me up a little but turned to be in vain as there was no mirror and no water out from the tap. I just wiped my face with a self brought toilet paper (there was no toilet supplying system in China at that time), and shaped my hair a little with the water from my mouth, and then on my bike again heading to the Hunan Beijing Opera wildly.
Wretched and breathless I reached the front gate of the Opera. Even before I finished my self-introduction to the gateman, he pointed a big rehearsal hall and said, “Just go. Everybody is there.” That confirmed the unbelievable news, “I was made a member of the Opera.” With extraordinary high spirit I flew to the rehearsal hall.
When I rushed into the rehearse hall with huge smile I was more terrified than astonished to see what was going on inside.
There were eight portraits hung on the wall. In front of the portraits the whole member of the Opera were sitting on the ground, crying, sobbing, weeping and sighing. The ones who made the most sound must be the family members of the dead, among them teacher Yu’s pretty elegant wife and their little boy. I looked up at the portraits again; the familiar face of teacher Yu with a little cold smile appeared. Oh, my Chairman Mao!
An administrator came to me and took me out of the sea of tears to another office building.
“Everybody calls me secretary Deng.” He introduced himself with a friendly smile. Then turned into a very serious vein, briefly told me how that unbelievable tragedy had occurred to the Opera.
It happened during the Opera went countryside to give some performances. When they took a boat across the Dongting Lake, the largest lake in Hunan province, the boat turned over in the middle of its way. “We lost eight comrades, include your teacher Yu.” Deng narrated with tears running out.
“But, but my teacher is very good at swimming, he even have a nick name called ‘duck’, how could a duck get drowned?” My question remained unanswered, as it was unanswerable. Secretary Deng then told me it was teacher Yu’s wife recommended me, for according to the policy, the families who lost their loved ones could have one from the family to take over the job position, as teacher Yu’s son was too small I became the luck one.
A teacher’s life for a student’s new life, even if it was God will, isn’t the will being a little too cruel?
It shouldn’t hard to imagine how complicated my feeling was, the sadness of my teacher’s death; the sorrow for his family; the gratefulness for the recommendation of the wife; and last but not the least, the excitement of the change of my destiny.
The same day after the gathering I went to see the wife with a great grief on my face. But the wife appeared rather calm. I expressed my compassion and gratitude, and offered my help, any help that within my ability since my teacher was gone.
“Since your teacher is gone,” she followed my words, “it is meaningless for us to go on living here. Therefore we will soon move back to Beijing.” The wife thanked me the same, and then handed a few violin music scores that were prepared on the piano to me, included Rode that the teacher once lent to me.
That was the last time I saw the pretty wife of my teacher’s.
On the second morning, after hesitation I went to my workplace as usual, for besides I should say good-bye to my work mates I needed to finish the cement fence to the panda house at the Zoo. It was urgent. To my surprise when I arrived at my work place all my fellow workers gathered waiting to give me a farewell party. And the organizer was the long-time-no-see Uncle Feng. Every body talked in turn about my kindness and good things I had done to the company as well as to them, with the most I either didn’t know or forgotten, such as I took over heavy jobs for the women and the olds; I read new papers for every one during the political study hours. One old man narrated with tears about how I walked extra distance to accompany him to a bus stop in a rainy day with my umbrella. His moving tone made quite a few others running at their noses too.
Ah, people, I mean Chinese people, why have to wait until someone is leaving, or dead, all the good part be seen and mentioned?
After the party I accomplished those cements flower baluster. Thought of my last “works” I outreached my attention and skills.
About 30 years later, I went to the zoo and saw my “works” still standing firmly between pandas and their viewers.
The year 1974, marked a millstone of my life after 4-year working at the construction company, stepped into a new world, a world of being a professional violinist that I dreamed of for years.
Pursue my violin studies towards higher lever
Moved into the dormitory of the Opera, the 20-year old me, being called as the “Nine Brother” first time in my life had a key to a room and in the room a bed that belonged to me only. More exciting, a professional violin, not the 400 RMB lever that Duguo had at the City Opera, but a 800 RMB, the eight grade, the highest grade violin made in the Shanghai violin factory.
Yet the “eight grade” soon lost it’s satisfactory to me as I remembered that my teacher Yu used to play on an old German violin, which was being repaired in Shanghai because of wet in the water together with her master. And there was something else than my teacher’s German violin that I wanted more badly, which is my teacher’s position, the seat of the concertmaster of the orchestra.
Not very long after I got into the Opera, my girl friend Zhenghua’s mother forced her to break up with me, as I had turned myself from a worker (working class was the most respectable class at that time) into an entertainer. With the heavy pressure of a “single daughter”, and with her eyes closed Zhenghua married to some worker arranged by her mother.
It was quite a period of time I had no girl friend as I had to concentrate all me energy and time to my violin studies. However, I had no girl friend did not mean that I had no sexual activities, for Meimei, known as my sister came to see me regularly. Who cares what the brother and sister was doing with the door locked from inside.
From the channel of Meimei, I learnt that my mother remained no change and living a life like a clock doing exactly the same circling everyday. On the other hand, my father had been brought back from the 5.7 Cadre School (countryside) to his original work unit (city). As to my elder brother Danjin, after had done three-year hard labor building railways as one of thousands of the “volunteers”, he also came back home. Thanks to his special interest in photography that contributed a great deal to the regional new paper during the three-year period he was assigned to the photographic department of the Hunan Medical University (Part of the old and present Yell University), and he was from then till today, working at the same building where he was jailed for about a month. What a joke of “not knowing whether to laugh or cry” the fate is playing on him! But information regarding my youngest brother Danfeng was inadequate.
I did meet Danfeng once. It was at a political gathering of all performing units of the Hunan province. The acrobat unit was beside our Beijing Opera. I kept searching head by head and finally I found my little brother who was no longer little but rather a muscled man. The very moment I caught my eye at him I discovered he was actually looking at me. When our four eyes met he revealed a little excited and uneasy. I took the roll of breaking the ice by waving at him, while he regretted, immediately turned his face away from me and never turned back.
Because of my struggling for the seat of the concertmaster of the orchestra, in addition to the piles of my shortcomings and problems, such as my maternal genetic problem of “never get along with people”, made me among the most unpleasant persons at the Opera. Meetings of “criticizing and helping” were frequently serviced for me. All the merit about me seemed to be only one, “great and extreme endeavor on practicing the violin.”
That was entirely true that I devoted almost all of myself to the violin. I was really “keeping my nose to the grindstone”, went mad practicing my violin. Every morning my violin sounded out there mixing with the young singers’ “Yiyiyi, a-a-a” before the crack of dawn.
For my further studies, the Opera arrange me a violin teacher from the provincial music school, a small lady named Guo Shumin, who was one of the very a few full-qualified professional violin teachers in the province.
If I am allowed to tell the truth, the period of studies with teacher Guo was as dull and bitter to me as to her. As to me, to play the violin was no longer “for fun”; the purpose was only to satisfy my feelings, but a serious and rational job. The violin was just a tool. The importance was not my affection but intonation, rhythm and techniques. That kind of playing the violin suppressed my musical enthusiasm and changed the flavor of my musical style. As to teacher Guo, her headache was to reshape an amateur fancier to a professional performer. That was just like to train a wild horse to be a gentle pet.
“Teacher Guo, why do you only give me all these dull and tasteless etudes? It made my feelings blocked in the middle of my throat and couldn’t get out.” I inquired dissatisfiedly.
“Hahaha,” Teacher Guo laughed, in a way worse than crying. She explained, “That is exactly where your problem is, too much feelings and too little reason. To teach you how to play the violin, is like a doctor cue a patient, only strong and bitter medicine could help you to get rid of your bad amateur habit.”
As a violinist, even playing the violin became a dull business, what else could be worse? Would you imagine, not only my violin was a tool, but also me, the performer had to become a tool, “a tool of uniting the people and fighting the enemy” as Mao ordered, every-day-work was to play those incomprehensible “revolutionary model Beijing opera”, and off work was to practice all those boring etudes. Allow me to make a rather vulgar yet vivid parable. No matter how crazy one likes sex, when lovemaking becomes one’s occupation, a job, and one couldn’t make a living without doing it for 8 hours each day, how long could it keep one going on to like sex? Therefore after a period of such life, hand copy scores, rehearses, performances, as soon as the working hour was over, I threw the violin away and never wanted to touch it. I remember once my brother one of Danjin’s best friends got married, during the wedding someone suggested that I gave a little entertainment by playing the violin. If it had been before that would have been my favorite opportunity to show off. But on that particular day I responded coldly, “My working hour is over.” When I write here it reminds me an article that says “anything you enjoy doing stay as an amateur.”
Two years with the opera had past, I felt un-explainable low and lost, not only I still did not get the position as the concertmaster that I so much wanted to at the beginning, but more importantly I lost the goal or even the meaning of life. I wrote in my dairy “When a withered person in a desert discovered an oasis, and used his last strength to reach it, then found himself stuck in a marsh covered up by the oasis, how despair he could be?” This perhaps, is a vivid description of my frame of mind at that time. Hence, I was in need to change my life and re-adjust myself mentally for a while.
It was at that moment an opportunity fell into my lap. In 1977 I did something I father had been doing for decades that was to watch the peasants at countryside as one of the Communist Party representatives, although I was no Party member, in fact, a planet far away from it. It was in that year I experienced rock-bottom life of the Chinese society that later influenced my change of the view to the society tremendously. My other novel with the title “Under the Banana Tree” had detailed description about my experience and observation of the year.
1978, with hand-made cotton shoes and a bamboo pack bag I returned to my work place, the Hunan Beijing Opera. Also with suntanned skin and rough hands I was given the old German violin that used to belong to my teacher Yu as well as his position, the concertmaster of the orchestra, the position I had fought for two years couldn’t get but came to me like a cup of tea. Therefore I felt the position was some kind of reward to my hard and outstanding work at the countryside, which gave me little pleasure and satisfaction of achievement.
Being seated on the first chair I soon realize that I was inadequate in the position. First of all, I knew very little about Beijing opera. Secondly I was far lack of orchestra experience. As the matter of fact, my personality and violin playing style were not at all suitable to be in an orchestra, which have been proved later in several western countries.
Encounter Ma Xiaomao again
One day, I was out to have something to eat, and happened to catch a sight of a very similar face by the bus stop. “Very similar” might not be very accurate as the face was much darker than what I remembered. However, I wasn’t wrong for the face greeted me.
“Ma Xiaomao, I thought you went to Xinjiang. Why are you here?” I was truly surprised.
Xiaomao gave a pale smile as an answer. During the interlude for the bus, she told me that the life at Xinjiang construction was much too hard for her and absolutely not a place she could survive. But Flute Chen insisted that “the more bitter place the more revolutionary he would become” and was unthinkable to be a deserter. In that case Xiaomao had to escape there and got back all by herself. Meanwhile, she was working at a candy factory.
“Poor Flute Chen, he gave up going to the army with all the others and chose Xingjiang because of you. But now you left him alone…”
“Don’t you worry, he said as soon as I leave him he would find a Xingjian girl and rooted there.” With a sour tone Xiaomao uttered that with resentment. To break the awkwardness she changed the subject to someone else, told me that Wang Shiyi’s father was liberated, and returned back his old job as a professor of the Hunan Medical University. And Wang Shiyi himself was given a very job after his high school graduation.
“How is Luying.” I urgently asked.
“She became a elementary school teacher.”
“No,no,no, I mean how is Luying and Wang Shiyi?” I asked again very impatiently.
“You really don’t know nothing, do you?” Xiaomao laughed. After stretched her suspense long enough she told me that they two were about to get married.
The bus was approaching.
“If there is something I can do to help, please come to me.” I shouted at her back, with a feeling of superiority.
“What can you possibly do for me? You know I give up the violin a long time ago.” She said that without turning her head, only raised her hand and waved meaning “good-bye”, if not meaning “get out”.
Ma Xiaomao, used to be a fragile and delicate flower in my memory, then much withered.
My dream of becoming No 1 violinist of the Hunan province came true
Along with the down of the “gang of four”, (Mao’s hard lines with Mao’s wife Jiangqing in it, was crushed soon after Mao’s death), the entire model Beijing operas vanished together with their maker. The Beijing opera went back to the style of its old days. The western orchestra was no longer in need. That means we were all going to be out of job.
It was at that crucial moment, the composer of the province Liu created a symphonic Beijing opera in praising the Premier Zhou, which a full western orchestra was needed. For that we had to combine the orchestra of the provincial Sing and Dance unit as well as the City Opera where I used to go visiting Duguo during my school years, and conductor Xiao was pointed to be the conductor for the show.
As the show was Beijing opera, our orchestra functioned the backbone, and I, the concertmaster of our small orchestra was naturally put to the position as the concertmaster of the whole orchestra. Seeing all the violinists were sitting behind me, especially Duguo was sitting far, far behind me, the vivid expression “walking two feet off the ground” was not enough to describe my satisfaction and exultation. When conductor Xiao appeared in front of the orchestra it reminded me of the letter I wrote to him at my school year “I swear to you that someday I will become the No 1 violinist …and you will have to lead your orchestra crawling and rolling to follow my rhythm”, which I felt like to shout out once more in his face.
Xiao was the conductor of the city opera, a rank lower than the provincial orchestra, which became the reason of being looked down and teased by a few young musicians by intentionally playing wrong notes, or delaying half a beat to come out to see whether xiao was able to find out. That made the pearls on the top of Xiao’s head bigger and brighter than ever under the spotlight.
Facing all these I was amused and happy with the sense that my resentment being revenged, and totally forgotten the seat I was sitting on in the orchestra, until my feet were trampled next to cripple by my co-player sitting next to me, I changed my attitude supporting the conductor and criticizing the naughty ones.
During the intermission I went to conductor Xiao to show my sympathy and warmth, but received cold response in return. Later someone told me that Xiao was not at all happy with me on the seat, not because I did not stop the naughty ones in time and support him in full, but my inadequacy of ability to be in that position. “Even the concertmaster is a cripple in rhythm, how could my left hand be healthy.”
I was outraged by hearing the rumor, thought such a “to return viciousness for favor” person must be punished. While I had no chance to do so as he quitted himself before that. Ironically, this time it was he who left a notice to me saying “I’ll pursue my study from now on and I promise you someday I will be the No 1 conductor of the Hunan province.
That show was huge; in fact the biggest in the Hunan stage history. It took place at the Hunan Theater. The media, TV new papers, all present. I send three tickets home hoping my father would come to see my glory on the stage. But only mother, Danjin and Memei showed up, and past me the message that the father was not interested in Beijing opera. In reality he went to buy a cheapest black and white TV set and took it home with his bicycle when I was on the stage playing. When mother and Danjin went back home after the show, father was still sweating adjusting the antenna and the channel of the TV set.
“The show is already over.” My brother said to my father.
“Get lost. I’m not tuning for the show.” My father said impatiently.
According to my observations, father is not easy to be impatient under normal circumstance.
Shasha, one of the girls who influenced to my life most
During the process of rehearsal and performances of the symphonic Beijing opera, I got acquainted with a mezzo-soprano named Shasha of the provincial singing and dance unit. Shasha was a girl much taller and larger than the average Chinese girls, and more elegant than beautiful. If it weren’t her who took the initially, me, the little nine brother would never have dreamed to walk shoulder to shoulder with her on the street.
It was a evening after the rehearsal I stayed all by myself in a small practice room doing extra excise on my violin as I did very often. The door was pushed open. Shasha walked in, into my life. After a short conversation, asking me whether I had a girl friend, she lay herself flat on the piano chair…
Two months later when we went shopping together, Shasha suddenly felt uneasy, and she used her right hand to cover her stomach and left hand gesturing me not to follow her. She vomited at the gutter by the road. That action did not corresponded with her elegancy at all. I was puzzled without knowing what to do. The next morning as soon as the rehearsal was over she came to me and said to me mysteriously, “I’ve been to the hospital.”
“What disease?” I asked anxiously.
“Not disease, instead, I have happiness.” She said coldly.
“What happiness?” At that time I really didn’t know what connotation of the Chinese expression “I have happiness.”
“All thanks to you. Congratulations.” Her tone revealed a uneasiness and regret. See me still didn’t get her meaning she whispered to my ear, “I am p-r-e-g-n-a-n-t.”
The sacrifice of my child and Xiaoxiao
Sex before marriage, in that year’s China, not only a disgraceful morally, but also a crime legally. Heard Shasha saying that she was pregnant, I had a mixed feeling of excitement as well as anxiety. I counted the notes until the rehearsal was over, and the rehearsal hall left two of us.
“What should we do?” I asked.
“What do you think what we should do?” she kicked the ball back to me.
“Get married.” I answered without much thinking.
“Get married?” Shasha doubled the size of her eyes, a blush flitted her cheeks with excitant, and quietly she turned her tone like a little mother, “Get married. What an easy way out! How about your future.”
“What future?” I didn’t understand what she was talking about.
“What future? Your future. You are a young man of 20s, in the prime of your life. What do you do if you don’t pursuer your studies for your higher goal.” She went a little indignant.
“Oh, you mean that. But I’m already goaled. You see, I’m sitting on the first seat of the whole province. This is my utmost goal. I have no more goal.” I answered honestly.
“Look, listen, how great to sit on the first chair of the province, the Hunan province, a place even birds wouldn’t shit.
Ai, forget it. I take it as if I got a wrong person.” Shasha shacked her head and stood up, looked like “hating the iron doesn’t become steel”, he added, “You, a bonehead.”
“Want do you want me to do then.” I suddenly felt an urgent need to go to the man’s.
“People going up, Water going down. Have you heard that?” Shasha stared at me with a slight of hope, “What can you achieve in such insignificant place like Changsha? You should go to Shanghai, go to bigger and greater places. I heard a teacher from Shanghai conservatory would come to Changsha for new students. You should prepare yourself for the opportunity.” For this Chain of conversation, I felt she sounded more like a grandma than a mother.
“But, your…I mean our…” I pointed at her stomach.
“You mean Xiaoxiao.” She blushed again, and me too, for she had already given a name for the little thing, without consulting me. She went on, “The Xiaoxiao issuer you leave it to me. I’ll work ways out. You do what you should, and I do mine.” Shasha walked to the doorway, and then stopped, turned round to me, “You have a brother working at the medical university, don’t you?”
By that time in China, abortion required a certificate from work unit one belonged to, except, going through a “back door”.
A week later, I accompanied Shasha to the hospital attached to the medical university where Danjin was working.
When I waited in the hall I saw my brother Danjin supported Meimei with her hand coming out from the same direction Shasha just went in.
“What are you doing here?” I asked spontaneously without thinking.
“Nothing, stomachache.” She smiled, bitterly.
It was many years later I learnt XiaoXiao wasn’t my first child as he or she had a ender brother, if not a sister.
Danjin said he had to leave and asked me to look after Meimei for a while. When Shasha came out I rushed up and help her very carefully walking to the resting chairs. Shasha looked at Meimei and asked me, “Who is she, and why she is here.”
“My relative, happened to be here with my brother, nothing to do with me.” I explained very lightly.
Watching me took Shasha’s arm and walking away, Meimei give me a smiled again, a much bitter smile.
Shasha walked her steps heavily and repeated, “Go go go, go to study in Shanghai, as soon as you can.”
Shanghai, a vast city far away, is the place for me, the little Nine Brother, a Hunan bumpkin to go?
The fail of entrance examination of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music
1978 was the first time the Chinese art and music academies openly recruiting new students after the Cultural Revolution. The Shanghai music conservatory sent a famous professor Sheng Zhonghua, (the sister of Sheng Zhongguo who was supposed to be the No 1 violinist in China) to Hunan to recruit new students. My teacher Go, as the violin teacher of the province went to see her at the station with most of her students, including me, the little Nine Brother.
As soon as the train stopped we saw professor Sheng waving her hand walked down from the carriage. The elegant appearance of VIP left me a deep impression. Off the train the pro was surround by us. Teacher Go introduced us one by one, and the professor shook hands with us one after another. Although the professor acted politely she looked a little lost. When it came to my turn she suddenly uttered, “Did I forget something on the train?”
“Violin.” Teacher Go responded, “You can’t come without your violin, can you?”
“Right right right, my violin.” The Pro rushed back to the carriage and returned with her violin. When I stretched my hand waiting for my turn of shaking hands, she thought I was offering my help to carry her violin.
“How nice and thoughtful of you.” She praised me with her violin on my hand.
On the way to the hotel the professor still looked somewhat absence minded, and all the questions to her were went in one ear and out the other. Go stopped us and asked her again, “Calm down and think once more, is there something else left on the train?
“Violin, suitcase, handbag, shoes hat, and no more.” Sheng nodded her head rather firmly, but she added, “It should be everything and no more” with a tone obviously persuading no one but herself.
After we said good-bye at the hotel front and walked out, we were all spontaneously talking bout our impression on the professor. When I made my bold remark, “The professor acted like a fly without head”, the professor rushed out and shouted, “I forgot…forgot…” she was out of breath.
“Calm down, and take a deep breath, and now tell us forgot what?” Teacher Go asked with her hand petting the pro’s shoulder.
“I forgot… Oh my God, I left my daughter on the train. She was sleeping, that’s how I forgot.”
What an artist, and, a mother! Hahaha!!!
The audition took place on next morning. When we one after another playing our violins on the stage, Professor Sheng was with her presbyopic glasses on her nose and kept her eyes down on her lap. I wondered why and had a peep. Oh my Chairman Mao! She was read a music score, the violin concert “Butterfly Lovers”, the only known Chinese violin concert in the entire Chinese violin music history.
Later I found the whole thing was a formality, as that year, and every year from then on, the Shanghai Conservatory of music took only a few violin students, and the position was taken before any audition took place. A place like Hunan, “a place even birds wouldn’t shit” as Shasha remarked, had no chance what so ever at the very beginning. That’s why the professor wanted to make the most out of the trip by giving a recital in Hunan, the place her mother was from.
Therefore a chance landed into my lap. It happened when Sheng had her rehearsal with the orchestra, her violin opened at a side, which occurs often when the instrument being brought to a different place with different whether condition and humility. The noise from the opening of the violin irritated her so much that she had to stop at the middle of the rehearsal. Then I told the professor that it was a huge problem to her but a cup of tea to me as I made a violin once from scratch.
After the concert, besides teacher Go I was the only student asked to see the professor off the station.
Waiting for the train to come the professor complaint that there were too few violinmakers and repairers in the country. The her eyes lit up, said, “Oh yes, now I remember that the director of the conservatory, professor Tang is making a new course of violinmaking. He asked me to put a eye on talented people if I meet. I could recommend you if you are interested.” Seeing me not so interested she added, “Of course the violin making students also learn to play to violin. As far as you are in Shanghai, with a small charge, you could also take private lesion from me.”
Teacher Go made no obvious response. But from her face I knew she at least did not oppose the idea. She waited for my response. Yet I made no response. How could I respond? I made a white ugly violin at the age 14 purely due to lack of money. The purpose of making that violin was to play violin. But then I had an old German violin in my hand and the seat of the concertmaster sitting, what an earth is that I go back to learn how to make violins.
There was a gap of silence until the train was coming. I carried her luggage and teacher Go took her violin, and the professor herself was holding her daughter so tightly that the 8-year girl screaming for pain.
Unexpectedly Shasha thought it was a great idea and opportunity that I go Shanghai as a violinmaking student. She even said, “In fact, it might be more suitable for you to be a violinmaker than a violin player. Believe me you might have a brighter future by changing your profession now.”
To me it sounded more an insult than an encouragement. I shouted at her with chagrin, “You go to be a violinmaker, or whatever maker you are fancy to be. I swear I want to be a violinist, a good and famous violinist.”
The end of the Hunan Beijing Opera Orchestra and the beginning of the Hunan Radio & TV Orchestra
In 1978, the huge symphonic Beijing opera in praising the Premier Zhou marked as the “momentary recovery of consciousness just before death” of our orchestra. Soon after the concert, not only us, but the western orchestras of all Beijing operas nation wide were disbanded. Where to go was a problem placed before every one of the orchestra members. Hence, as the old Chinese saying “the eight deities cross the sea each applies one’s own theurgy” we all had to find a way out for oneself. Some went to the orchestra belonging to the singing and dance unit, and a few went to the Hunan film manufacture studio, and also a part of us gave up music career and start something totally new.
As regard to me, besides escaping the challenge I also wanted to escape from the city that I had lived all my 24-year-life and started to be tired of it. I choose Guilin, a little place of natural beauty known as the Xanadu. The local Singing and Dance Orchestra accepted my application on the spot and with the offer of the concertmaster. Yet, as the same time all my personal papers were already transferred to another unit without a consultation with the man the papers belonged to.
It happened at the same period of time the new Hunan Radio & TV Orchestra was established, the majority of the musicians from our Beijing Opera were transferred to it, included me.
It was Li, the head of the Hunan Radio and TV (should be “CEO” in the west) received me when I went to enquiring why. He used his official jargon in a rather soft tone, said, “The rapid development of the radio and TV require us to establish a orchestra.” Followed he made known the solid financial resource that would provide the best quality musical instruments and best training of the musicians, possibly be all sent to Beijing for a year. He paused a little, drank some tea, and announced, “For set up the best orchestra of the province we need a talented violinist, such as you, to be the concertmaster.” He stressed the two words “talented” and “concertmaster”, or were the two words sounded specially stressed to me, anyway I went in with discontentment and out with satisfaction. That resulted my trip, the first and last time to Guilin, to be an album of black and white photographs of sight seeing.
New orchestra, new environment, new colleagues, everything was fresh and exciting. I felt happy and enjoyed myself everyday and totally forgot Shasha’s expectation of me to be out of Changsha and pursue my studies in Shanghai.
A couple of months later the orchestra was to give its debut concert, on the radio and TV, of course. We were all so excited and could not manage to sleep. It was at the midnight something odd happened.
I was called out of our military soldier guarded building, and I was Meimei with a little round figured woman. Before I recalling my memory to think who that woman could be she shouted at me with anxiety, “Something is bad, your brother Danjin is missing.”
Search for my brother Danjin
Then I remembered who that round girl was. She was the so-called Fat Sister with my father’s clock on her wrist I met at my father’s place when I visited him some years ago at the countryside.
The story goes like this. With help of my father Fat Sister managed to get away from the countryside and went back to Changsha city there she found her a job as an accountant at a department store. She got acquainted with my brother Danjin through my father and somehow the relationship went romantic. However, I vaguely knew that Danjin had always been interested in one of our neighbors named Xiaojuan. At the moment Xiaojuan was a medical student at the Hunan Medical University, the same place Danjin was working. Therefore it is natural that they pumped into each other often. It was my gut reaction to think that Danjin must be in a state of metal disorder caused by the triangle love business. If so I thought he really need to take some lessons from me. Not to mention triangle, even confronting multiple angles I could manage to take as they came, naturally, by just thinking yourself as multiple beings.
No kidding, I truly believe and throughout my life experience, it is possible for someone to genuinely love with more than one person at the same time.
“Where could my brother be going?” I asked.
“I don't know.” Fat Sister said, “Only heard he wanted to be left alone for a few days, possibly in the South Mountain.”
“South Mountain, the sacred site of Buddhism? That’s far away!” I uttered with surprise.
“Suicide?” Immediately Meimei regretted she said that, she added, “that’s what everybody is worried about, isn’t it. Otherwise we wouldn’t turn to you, at this time of the day, I mean, of the night.”
The want-to-forgot memory of Xiaolin who went nose-diving from her window stroked me hard. That kind of experience once is more than enough to a lifetime, how could I think of happening to me again, with my blood and flesh? It left me no choice but went back to the dormitory to pick up a few things and with my yellow army bag I went out again. At the door I very briefly told my roommate that something had happened to my family that I had to go to the South Mountain right away.
“But, don’t forget tomorrow’s debut performance, the first time for us to be on the TV.”
I rode my bike at a traffic violation speed all the way down to the long distance but station where I found the earliest bus for South Mountain would be at 6:00 A.M. That means there were 5 long hours I had to count each minute to.
I sat on a wooden bench, doubted those who were lying on the benches were actually waiting for buses, or just a free place to sleep overnight. Some old memories with my brother emerged…
I was pushed awake as I took too much space by lying on the bench. I was in such an ill mood that I was about to call some bad names the man who pushed me complained, “it’s nearly 6 o’clock but you are still…”
“6o’clock! Thank you, thank you my friend.”
I check up my watch it was three minutes to 6, too late to go through a normal procedure to cue for a ticket. I dashed out of the station and then saw the bus with a sign in front window “Changsha to South Mountain”. I chased up to the bus and hammered the door with my fist, but the bus refused to stop.
Yet my mind was made that I had to be on the bus, as it was a matter of life and death, of my bosom brother, and I might be the only one in the entire world could save him. Watching the bus went away “resourcefulness in an emergency” came to me. I jumped on my bike again and rolling straight up to the bus direction. Of course I had to running through red lights, as they were my best opportunities. I cannot say the speed but I dare to say the courage was far beyond doubt to be qualified to participate in the Olympiads. About half an hour later when I started to convince myself that manpower is in no way in competition to a few thousand horse power running machine I saw the bus stopped far away vaguely within my eyesight. I used my last strength paddling my bike up there I found that it was one of the tires of the bus that got stuck in a hole. When the bus started to move again with me in it, I still couldn’t breath in a normal pace.
The bus arrived at the foot of the South Mountain just before noon. I got off of the bus with my sore feet that had been standing all the way down. However, I felt more hungry than tired as I suddenly realized that I had nothing to eat for breakfast.
I had whatever I could get to eat and headed to the mountain. It was before by the end of winter before touring or pilgrimage season. In the beginning I met people from time to time, while after half way to the top, I could see no one, not even a ghost.
The higher I climbed the colder it was to be. I started to doubt whether it was the right decision to come here looking for my brother in such a blindness? However, that blindness explains that at that moment it was more important to comfort my mood and anxiety of finding my brother than actually to find him in reality, just like the year 1958 during the “great leap forward” when the whole nation was thrown into the movement of “exceeding the British and chasing up the Americans”, the true meaning of that movement was to satisfy the mood and anxiety rather than achieving the unachievable goal.
At the end of a T road I choose the right direction that I thought to be a short cut by intuition. I walked up and up, and the road became narrower and narrower. The ice frozen leafs were as sharp as thousands of knives. 5 hours had passed and it was getting darker and darker, and I started to be more and more scared, scared to get lost, and also scared to bump into some kind of wild beasts, or to be trapped at a unknown spot becoming a frozen mummy. No need to mention how extremely I was cold and hungry, yet I went on and on climbing by the strong will of surviving. It became completely dark, and I was wrapped by indescribable fear and despair.
I raised my head and looked upon the sky praying for help, and then I saw two very huge high towers extending all the way to the moon. “Is this the way that leads to heaven? Oh my God! A few days later it will my brother’s turn to look for m, or likely my remains…” The blink thought made me flesh creep and teeth chatter.
And then I saw some indistinct lights flickering, and vague electricity cable. Electricity, the symbol of human civilization gave me, a helpless man in the hands of the nature power a glimmer of hope. Immediately I forgot coldness, hunger and fear, moved towards the light as fast as my legs and hands could carry me.
Fate or not, that two huge high towers were television transmission station belong to the same TV station (the only TV station, the government TV station in Hunan at that time) that my orchestra belonged to. Heard I was from the main station the young comrade behaved very hospitable. He made me some hot water to wash my face and feet, and then something to eat.
And then with excitement he told me, “There is an important mission tonight. The new established Radio and TV Orchestra is going to give a debut concert tonight at 9 o’clock.”
“I knew, I knew, I knew it a long time ago.” I smiled with extreme bitterness and regret.
Through the TV monitor, I saw my orchestra appeared on the stage, and the girl used to sit next to me took my seat. I realize without me, the earth was still going around according to its course. When the conductor raised his hands, I too raised mine in violin playing position. However, soon my snore took part in the performance instead.
Next early morning, the very first thing was paying my visit to the South Mountain Police Station. After my story about my brother they said no dead body was found so far, but would inform me immediately if found.
I followed the main road all the way down, with my mind all occupied with the thought that “short cut could be dangerous sometimes”.
My South Mountain journey did not accomplish my aim of finding my brother but the “wish” to find him.
My shield aunt Yu
Back to the orchestra from the South Mountain the very first thing I consider was whether I should pack up my things and get ready to leave, as for such a huge misdoing it wouldn’t be unthinkable to get sacked.
As expected, a general meeting of the whole orchestra was called. I was asked to stand by the side of the dais ready to be criticized.
My colleagues came in one after another looking at me with all kinds of facial expressions, being worried or gloated. No need to describe how serious the atmosphere was.
After ordered everyone to sit down the chief manager Liu put his big cup with the words printed “dedicate to the dearest person” (a sign of honor to those who participated the Anti-US and Supporting Korea War in the early 50’s) on the table and clenched his fist. But as soon as he opened his mouth to announce the meeting was started, the secretary of CEO Li pushed the door open and called me out.
I was led to Li’s office. After asking his secretary to wait outside Li shook his head showing his meaning of “hate the iron unable to become steel”.
Seeing he looked so troubled my pride exploded. I immediately decided to give up all the excuses I was about to make. When I said to him firmly, “It is not my style to put others in difficulties. You do whatever is necessary with me. No mercy is asked” his wife Yuhua walked into the office. Li stood up giving his seat to his boss and went out for washing his hands.
Let me give a few words describe Yuhua. She was average sized. With well-maintained face although over 50 she did not look her age. She talked with a sweet and milky voice, yet the connotation of her wards was powerful and heavy. She used to be singer at the army singing and dance unit with a nickname “Red Hetaera”. If I’m allowed to make a guess, in the past decades, for sure Li was not the only revolution leader who was defeated under her skirt or inside her pants. In a word, Lee leads the whole broadcast television, and Yuhua leads Li, though her public position was no more than a secretary of our orchestra, the secretary of manager Liu.
“Hey, my little Nine Brother. Tell me what went wrong. Aunt Yu will help you out.” She sounded like a savior.
I was overwhelmed by such an unexpected favor. After heard my story about South Mountain seeking my brother she wiped tears off her face and said, “Alright, Let’s go back to the meeting room. I’ll try to explain it to the comrades.” She stood up, shaped my hair a little with her fingers, and remarked, “Why boys nowadays like to have long hair.”
Back to the meeting room, seeing Yuhua the boiling room suddenly became silent. Liu looked at his secretary, I meant his boss nervously. Everyone must be thinking that would be the end of me, the little Nine Brother, even manager Liu had to take it with him if he couldn’t eat all up there.
Liu immediately moved his ass to the audience teat. Yuhua moved to chair aside let me sit on it and she herself stood in the middle of the dais. Liu offered her another chair right away but being rejected.
Yuhua adjusted a little her throat, and then started to appraise the success of the debut concert. Followed she changed her topic to a story about her life with the army singing and dance unit during when she was younger. Half an hour had past, still not a single word about my misdoing from her mouth. When the story ended everyone gave her a big hand. Yet she went on. She narrated a story happened during the Anti-US and Supporting Korea War,
“Once we were sent to give a performance at the front. On our way we met a few wounded soldiers. We made our own decision to move those soldiers to a safer place. Because of that we were late for the performance. At that time we were all afraid of being criticized or even being punished. However, we were not criticized, instead we all received medals of hour for saving lives.” (Her original story was much, much longer than this)
When everybody started to doubt why this story was relevant to the meeting, the meeting meant to criticize and punish me Yuhua finally brought the topic back to the point. She said, “The matter of little Nine Brother, I mean comrade Cheng’s absence of the debut concert, is no doubt a very serious mistake, but he did it for rescuing his brother. It is always more important to save a life than a performance, no matter in a war or in peace. Yes, comrade Cheng should be criticized, not for the absence of concert, but for he take decision by his own. What he should have done was to report it to the leadership. It applies to all of you. From now on, no matter what happened, you should report to me, to manager Liu. The great Party is what you all can and should rely upon. Otherwise you all would get lost, just like comrade Cheng got lost in the South Mountain. Think how dangerous it was to be lost in such a big mountain. If it weren’t our comrades at the transmission station rescued comrade Cheng, perhaps we were not here for, for the congratulating meeting of the debut concert, (she even changed the title of the meeting), rather a memorial ceremony for death of comrade Cheng.” She looked at me with a pity, “Our poor little Nine Brother.”
Laughter could be heard from the audience.
“Is it funny? My dear comrades, did I say something funny? This is something serious, very serious, in no way should be laughed about. (Laughter terminated immediately) However, there is a kind of ‘not afraid bitterness and death’ inside comrade Cheng’s psyche, which is worthy for us to follow.”
Just a minute, how could a criticizing meeting turned out to be appraising meeting? This time, it was me who couldn’t help laugh out.
Be very honestly, being sheltered by a leader, that was the first time in my little Nine Brother’s life.
With a big applause, Liu too, the meeting ended like that.
Manager Liu’s smiling face looked relaxed, but not for very long, as he was wanted by Yuhua. Me too, was caught by her at he door and received a order, “Come to have supper with my family tonight.”
In the evening, the naive me went Yuhua’s home empty-handed.
Stepped into CEO Li’s home, surprises came to me one after another. First of all, I found there was a toilet inside Li’s home, unlike every comrade in the orchestra, including manager Liu had to run from the dormitory to the office building, for just a pee. A story was told that a comrade went toilet in his pants for not able to get into the building by forgot to bring his ID with him. (Armed soldiers guarded the Office building all the time) Secondly I was amazed to see not only the TV set had color but also when change channel no need to walk up to the TV and switch the channel key, instead to push a button
On a cigarette-box sized box in a distance.
“Aunt Yu, what is that?” I ask curiously.
“Hahaha.” She laughed with satisfaction, “This is called remote control, my little Nine Brother.”
This is a true story. I was genuinely first time for me to hear such a high-tech colored term “remote control”.
However, to compare with the next pleasant surprise above surprises became nothing, which was her daughter Nini (not Li’s daughter, but the daughter of Yu and her former).
She was so adorable, delicate, fresh and elegant, made me associated her with, with what? Kind of brand fresh soft cream cake, perhaps. She was said to be the princess of the Hunan Radio and TV Bureau. Someone said she was a fairy while others called her sprite. Nevertheless, I’d rather call her “beauty”. With her outstanding appearance along with her social status, I mean her stepfather’s social status, to be exactly her mother’s status in her stepfather’s heart, I heard someone made a bet, yet still no boy dared to look at her face, only turning head to her back when her bike passed in a distance.
However, it was at that moment she not only walked towards me, but also sat by the side of me in the sofa. That made me immediately felt many thorns growing from the sofa.
“Nine Brother.” She called me, with a voice even more sweet and creamy than her mother’s.
“Yes Mam.” I stood up like a solder being called by his superior.
Nini smiled, pulled my hand to sit down. I felt an electric shock and collapsed on the sofa.
“You know it’s very noisy for you to play the violin under my window everyday.” From her mouth, even complains sounded so pleasant.
“No doubt very noisy, that’s why you insist to let the window wide open, not to mention you had it recorded and place it under your pillow.” The mother laughed, and went on, “I’m sure my Nini appreciates music much got from me.”
Knowing my violin had captured the heart of a young girl, a burst wave of joy and satisfaction well up form my heart.
(Here skip 10 minutes romantic conversation nonsense)
“Nine Brother.” She called me again.
“Yes.” This time I did not stand up, but cross one leg on the other with my toe to the air.
“I heard you can speak English.” She asked.
“Of course. ‘This is a pen’.” I said that in English, very proudly.
“Xixixi.” Nini’s laughter sounded like a gold bell.
“That’s right, youngsters nowadays should study hard to catch up with the ever-lasting changeable situations.” The mother made her very wide comment. While to me, at the moment felt not only moment, even the old lady was superabundance.
Since then, Nini came to see me at our dormitory quite often for the reason of borrowing books or asking English questions. That made all the boys and girls in our orchestra, as well as all young people in the Radio and TV Bureau change to a totally different eye on me, the little Nine Brother.
Go to Shanghai
When the fever the “great success of the debut concert” dropped to normal, we all found that the new Radio and TV Orchestra was more an amateur propaganda music group rather than a professional orchestra. The CEO Li too started to realize the unpleasant fact.
With solid economic power of the government mouthpiece, the “throat and tongue of the Party” as Mao decided the roll for the radio and TV, as well as the whole press, Li decided to send the whole “troop” to Beijing for a-year training.
“For the sake of development of our orchestra, as well as you to be more talented individuals, we are not afraid of spending money. You all go to Beijing, look for the best teacher you can find, concentrate yourself to the one-year hard studies. A year later, we’ll give a concert again. It will be a concert of high quality, high lever, in a word, a concert of professional…”
Li waved his hand in the air to end his speech. That stage presence appeared much like all the heroes in Chinese movies, which gained an excitant of the whole meeting room and a warm applause. Of course, we were excited and giving him such big hands more because of the favorable content of what he said rather than how great he looked.
Hence, the whole orchestra was boiling, or as the Chinese say, like “the ants on a hot pot”. Some said they would like to go the Chinese Center Orchestra; others said it was better to go the Center Conservatory of Music, while I was busy seeking channel lead me to Sheng Zhongguo, the No 1 violin soloist, the crest of the Chinese violin world, the symbol of … For that I begged my violin teacher Gou. Gou told me she did not know Sheng Zhongguo directly, but was willing to give a try through his sister Sheng Zhonghua, the lady violin professor from Shanghai once came to Hunan to meet us.
I bragged my excellent plan to Shasha with the expectation of her being impressed, I said excitedly, “One year later after I come back from Beijing I would be the Shenag Zhongguo of Hunan, so that I will no need to sit in the orchestra but play solo only.”
Unexpectedly Shasha did not praise me, on the contrary, she sneered, “To be the Sheng Zhongguo in Hunan, What a ambition and how courageous you are!” She went on, “Why can’t you think to let the whole country forget the name Sheng Zhongguo instead to remember a name called Cheng Nine Brother. Why can’t you think to let the whole world know your name rather than his?”
“What? Are you out of your mind? How could that be possible?” I responded in chagrin.
“I know it’s impossibly. But that doesn’t mean that you are allowed to think of that. Just like the athletes compete in the Olympics, though only one will gain the gold metal, but every body aims it. If you don’t have the ambition to jump three meters high, how could you train yourself to jump over two meters?” Shasha went on and on, somewhat like the Americans say, “talk a blue streak”, until she could hardly catch her breath. She cease talking, took a deep breath, and changed to a much older tone, “If I had known your utmost ambition is to be a soloist in Hunan, I really shouldn’t have sacrificed my, I mean our Xiaoxiao,(she meant the abortion), as well as my voice (her voice went worse after the abortion).
“What do you exactly want to force me to?” I asked carefully.
“Everyone goes to Beijing, you should not get mixed. You should take the opportunity to go to Shanghai, to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, stay there and never come back.” Shasha said resolutely.
“Why you came back after graduation from Shanghai?” I took courage to talk back.
“How can you think to compare you with me. I am a women, not like you, a man, you see. You know nothing how life is like to a woman, especially a single woman away from home.” Shasha started to weep.
I wondered since when, Shasha turned her my little elder sister to be an old mother, in charge of everything of mine. Therefore to me, she had always been a strong woman, stronger than a man like me. Tears from such a strong woman, how rare it was!
After a little pause, Shasha continued, “Since the day I returned from Shanghai, I’ve been regretting every single day. Sometimes I really wish to be a man, a man who can take life in his own hand.”
Shasha petted my shoulder passionately, said to me in a tone almost like begging, “After the graduation from the conservatory I really wanted to stay in Shanghai. It is just because I did not manager to stay there, I want you to go there. If you could go there and stay there, it will also a comfort and reward to me. Now you understand, you are not only going there for yourself, I’m also a part of it. I still have a few acquaintances there might be useful when needed.”
Shasha looked at me firmly, and pushed me forward, “Go to Shanghai.”
To be set on by Shasha, I went to see CEO Li at his home. Heard I wanted to go to Shanghai all by meself, Li was very upset. He talked official jargon like, “How could that be possible? This is a collectivity activity, is to train our soldiers, how could I allow you to run wherever you like. I say you, little comrade Nine Brother, have you forgotten your absence of the debut concert last time? I let you get away because you were under a special circumstance. But this time, my mind is set, no matter what you say, I’ll never…”
“Please Head Li, you don’t understand.” I cut in, “I go to Shanghai is not only for myself, but also for…”
Not waited for my finishing, Li “pa” stood up, angrily he announced, “I said no means no. The decision is made. I say you comrade, you have no sense of leadership, no sense of collectivity, no sense of discipline, no sense of…” Li wanted to go on while his wife Yuhua pushed the door and walked in.
“What are you two talking about? It sounded very serious.” Yu said with a relaxed smile.
“Aunt Yu.” I called her, in a charming earnest voice.
The matter of I going to Shanghais was set, just like that.
To be continued
|Reply: Re:Father Son & Violin
||Date: 2010-05-05 18:10:59
15, THE FOURTH STAGE OF MY VIOLIN STUDIES
Farewell Nini for Shanghai
The evening before my departure for Shanghai, I went to Li’s home to show my gratitude to his wife Aunt Yu, but found they were both absent for a vacation. Sorry, a slip of the tongue. They were not on “vacation” but a “business errand”. (In the communist period, it was common practice for officials taking private “vacation” or “combi” by the name of “business errand” so that all the costs could be reimbursed) Therefore Nini was the only one home.
Seeing me walking away Nini asked, “Wouldn’t you sit with me for a while if I invite you to?”
“Even if you invite me to lie down with you for a while I would love to.”
By the time I was finally evolved to be able to relax and being humorous a little in front of her.
“You, ah!” Nini looked a little offended and shy, pretended to shut the door between us. When she saw I got my foot in the door she uttered, “No wonder that mom always says artists are flirtatious and never expect them to be faithful.”
“Your mother, as an fully experienced artist, is absolutely right about it. Hey, hey hey.” By saying that I was already in her room and sat by the edge on her bed. (It was normal for Chinese to receive guests in their bedrooms as we all had only one room and one room only.)
Nini’s face flushed like a peach. She sat a meter away beside me, asked me timidly, “Have you thought it all over, that you really want me?” She was moving toward a little by little as she said that.
By then I realized that she took my light words for real, I started to fear the consequence, “I, I, this is a rather serious matter that I’ll have to ask your mother before I make my final decision.”
Heard that Nini’s mood changed suddenly. She stood up and spitted out those words with disappointment, “Asking my mother first! I had my ears full of that. I thought you are different.” She paused, and sat on the bed again, and went on, “I’m not my mother’s thing, why dose everybody want to ask my mother. Sometimes I really think of lying on the street, whoever dare to take me whoever can have me.”
I found such words from Nini’s mouth extremely seducing and encouraging. I wonder what kind action you would take if you were in my place, for me it was too much to endure. I embraced her, “You no need to lie on the street, on your bed would be better than good.” With certain gentleness I took off her clothes hastily. She subconsciously resisted a little, but when the 3 woman’s parts exposed she gave up resistance immediately.
Who said that? “Woman, is like a book wrapped up with a thin plastic sheet, once you broke that layer of sheet, the pages would for you please to turn.”
Nini appeared in front of me, naked, completely. Her flesh was white, elastic, delicate and juicy. I appreciated her beauty as much as I could by turning her over and over. Even today, I could still clearly remember her body, particularly that girl’s part, pink colored, poked aside like a flower petal. Saying “looking gorgeous” would be inadequate. It was simply one word “beauty”, a beauty that made my whole body stiff but my man’s part soft.
The power of women’s glamour is so magic and varies, some makes man excited and rush forward like a mortar, while some makes man nervous and withdraw one’s part inside like a tortoise.
How could I expose my “softness” in front of a woman, especially when the woman is Nini. Hence, I even didn’ dare to pull my pants down. All I could do was to make myself an excuse, “Some people may think my pants are always loose, only myself know whenever it comes to a crucial moment, I’m actually quite serious, decent and traditional.” I picked up her clothes to cover her breasts that I had already enjoyed well enough, and said, “I think, perhaps, we should wait, until we know each other better.”
Nini was obviously very pleased with my lie. She embraced me with passion and said, “Now, I feel I trust you much better.”
The regret with Nini was left there, unfortunately forever.
The next early morning Meimei came to my dormitory and declared that she was on behalf of my whole family to see me off at the station. That again, sounded odd as how could she be on behalf of my family when she was by no mean of a member of my family. However, it would always be better than no body see me off at the station, at least she could help me with some of my luggage.
After waved good-bye to Meimei at the station, I hurried up to the compartment fighting for space for my luggage on the baggage rack. As soon I swept my sweat and sat down by the window I saw Nini running into the station in great nasty. A station personnel carried something followed her closely. I quickly got off the train. Nini looked relived when she saw me. She took the thing from the station personnel and handed up to me, “I’m not at cooking, but surely better than the meal in the train.”
Holding the handmade lunch box I suddenly felt extraordinary touched and wondered whether I should give up my luggage on the train, forget the whole thing about Shanghai, and going back with Nini immediately to live an ordinary life.
After the train whistled twice I was still staring at Nini foolishly. If it had not been that station personnel’s push being strong enough I would most probably have missed the train.
Now I recall the whole story, that station personnel’s push, is a push of historical importance, because my life experience of next a few decades taught me that, (Note: the following words are very bad)“woman, is somewhat like a local traveler’s guide, wherever I go, there would always be a local guide there show me around and be my company for a certain period of my life. Therefore, be addicted to one guide at one station and stagnate life long journey would not be wise and worthy.”
My very first days in Shanghai
It is not I purposely draw a portrait of myself as a rube, or a country pumpkin in order to make you laugh, it is that I was a country pumpkin when I was placed in a big city like Shanghai. (Now much modernized though)
I remember the first time I went to Shanghai I possessed no suitcase, therefore I had to wrap up everything in a bed sheet. That was my main piece. And my yellow army bag, violin and other small items added together resulted about the equal weight of the main piece. Hence I carried the two pieces on my shoulder with a bamboo-carrying pole. But when the train arrived in Shanghai, my treasure-carrying pole was no longer at the place used to be, which must be taken by some comrade who needed it badly. I had to wait for everybody got off the train before I could move my staff piece by piece off the train. Luckily, if not by God’s will, a rope that some countryman dropped solved my problem. I tided my main piece at one end of the rope and the others on the other end. One piece in front and the other on the back on my shoulder and with my back arched, like that look I stepped into Shanghai, one of the biggest and the most luxury cities in the world then and still now.
As soon as I got out the station I bumped into two pretty Shanghai young ladies. I did have an excuse that I needed to ask the way, but what more I wanted was to hear Shanghai girl’s creamy coy voice. The voice was heard, yet not at all creamy nor coy, rather a mock with a word “alien”. That voice of snooty caved deep in my heart that I would never forget. It was at that very spot and moment I made up my mind, “One day, I would make Shanghai girls raising their heads admiring me like a bright star in the sky.”
Good people are always the majority, even in a city like Shanghai. With help of some good-hearted people I finally found my way to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
I stayed at the guesthouse of the Conservatory. It was a one-storied house by the side of a football field. It has 8 small rooms. Each room one superposing another folded about 10 gold-plating persons just like me coming from all over the country. I could still aftertaste that part of life, the different smell and taste from each person, the body odor, sweet and feet smell etc that blended together to be the “Big Chinese national harmonious taste symphony”. No wonder Uncle Big Head, the Shanghai guy who was in charge of the guesthouse disliked us as if we were a pile of dog shit.
The very first thing I did in Shanghai was visiting teacher Sheng Zhonghua. As soon as I was notified the rate of fees for the lessons (fees would be reimbursed by my orchestra back home) the lesson started. She gave me a lot of homework at the first lesson, and then gave me someone’s phone number asking me to purchase some blueprint reproduction copy music notes from him. (By that time, the majority of violin literature was still not available, and there was no copy machine then)
I felt a rapid progress in my violin performance in that period of time, ironically not due to teacher Sheng’s teaching effort, in fact, she was expecting her second husband’s baby that she couldn’t even pull the bow straight on a violin, but due to the outstanding music environment. In Shanghai Conservatory of Music, it gathered the most talented violinists. I could practically learn from anyone I saw, in addition from time to time I received free tutoring from Sheng zhongxiang, the younger brother of my teacher Sheng Zhonghua, known as the king of technique among the fellow students.
When I felt great and thought my violin playing ability would leap to the national level, teacher Sheng cut off my lesson due to giving birth. Hence, I found teacher Yu Lina, the one who recorded the only violin Chinese concerto “butterfly Lovers”.
Tails up went into teacher Yu’s lesson room, Tails down when I got out. As she treated me like a beginner, a child, asking me to do all the very basic practices, which I did a long time ago and had already forgotten. In addition, she was extremely strict on my playing. She even would count how many times I should do my vibration on each note. I endured the hardship for half year, much harder and bitter than the time I spent with teacher Gou back home. Many years later I started to understand that to learn from either teacher Gou or teacher Yu is just against my nature, for what they wanted to educate was a violin player good for any orchestra in the country, not a soloist with characters or features that I would like to be.
Entrance exam of the Conservatory
The time flies. One year passed quickly. According to Shasha’s will, I registered for the entrance examination of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music behind the back of my Hunan Radio and TV Orchestra.
On that year, the conservatory had only 2 quotas for violin students while the applicants were over 200 from all over the country. The first stage was not live audition but by recorded tape. When the result was on the wall, I found no my name in the list. After my prompt enquiry of teacher Yu, I learnt it might be that my tape was mixed with someone else’s. However, teacher Yu comforted me by emphasizing that even if I could be luck enough to get myself into the second stage, there was absolutely no chance for me to get to the final. In this sense the second stage would only mean to give me a little face when I go back to my home province. Teacher Yu’s words really gave me a certain consolation; at least I could use it as a perfect excuse to Shasha.
I immediately sent a telegram to Shasha. And then thinking of packing up my things and get ready to return to Hunan, where I was from. But the next morning I received a very short long-distance call from Shasha, “Do not move. Stay there. I’m leaving right away, and will be in Shanghai tomorrow.”
Next several days I followed Shasha’s big bottom to almost every single one of the Conservatory who had something to do with the exam, and each dean and vise dean of the department. In the end, we visited the home of the Conservatory director He Ludin, one of the most influential composers in the New China who was also originally from Hunan. When His wife answered the door, Shasha suddenly uttered a fluent Hunan dialect. (Shasha as an opera singer always spoke mandarin and never spoke local dialect) That changed our status from students to guests of hers from hometown. When she heard that his husband’s Conservatory never had a violin student from Hunan province, the home province they were from, she looked a little surprised. “Is that so?” She said, “I’ll call the dean to ask if it is true that the tapes were got mixed up.”
Next morning Dean Yuan rushed to the guesthouse to notify me, “Prepare yourself for the second stage exam.”
I was so pleased that I took all my money out from my wallet, which was five-yuan RMB, and wanted to take Shasha for a meal as a calibration. Again I was severely scolded by Shasha, “Look at you, how could you walk your feet in the air when things hasn’t get start? Go to practice your violin at once.”
“Are you seriously thinking that I have a chance?” I took the courage to talk back, “Teacher Yu already told me that I had little chance. To get a second stage, is only to give me a face to go back to Hunan.”
“Your what? Face? You think I came so far away, and walked you door to door, have done all those only for your this sheet of thick face. You listen to me very carefully; you have no alternative but to get yourself into the Conservatory for me.”
It took three days to go through all the exams that included live performance audition, paper test of musical theory etc.
As soon the exams all over Shasha started being busy again. She went through all her relationship network and found out some good news for me. She told me excitedly, “You do not need to go back to Hunan anymore.” Immediately after that she asked me, “Where is your five-yuan RMB that you wanted to take me out for a meal?”
I rummaged all my pockets; there was only 3yuan and 84fen left.
“There is still a week before your payday, how can you make two ends meet by this small sum? I just have to regard me to be unlucky to make your acquaintance. Follow me, let’s go to the Red House.”
Shasha didn’t wait for my response and went ahead. I chased up and asked, “Why Red House, why not green house, or white house?” By then I really didn’t know that the Red House was the most well known western restaurant in Shanghai.
After dinner Shasha took me to visit her “relatives” Aunt Zeng. In fact Aunt Zeng is not blood related to her, she was an old school mate of Shasha’s mother’s. That visit later became very important. Let me put it more concrete, to meet Aunt Zeng’s daughter Dongya, a very serious and supercilious artist, was crucial to me for the days to come.
The day after I saw Shasha at the Shanghai train station. Looking at the cloud Shasha said something profound, “Look, all the people at the station starts their journey at the same point, but once get on the train they all go different directions, directions lead them to entirely different world, where they will live different lives. You know what I mean? Once you get on the train of a university, it will take you to a totally another world.”
I did not pay as much attention as I should to her loquacious words as I somehow suddenly reminded Nini. When Shasha’s train was approaching us I tried to confirm our relationship, “Will you be alright to be in Hunan alone? I Mean I will be away from you here in Shanghai, at least for four years.”
Heard that Shasha first burst into laughter, and soon then a few transparent pearls rolled out from her eyes. When I was busy thinking a few nice words to comfort her, a few line vows of eternal love for example, Shasha wiped her tears, very seriously she said, “Our affair is all over, just take it as nothing has happened between us.” She took a deep breath and very sincerely, “The road of life I could only lead you to this spot, hereafter is for yourself to go forward.”
The train started to move. We looked at each other becoming smaller and smaller, forgot saying, “see you again” to each other. Therefore, Shasha and I, have never really face to face met again since.
Freshman, Accommodation Problem; Dongya & Yanhua
On the new students enrollment list again I couldn’t find my name. This time I went to see the dean of the Enrollment Office immediately. The dean told me, “You have past all your exams, but we are not able to let you in this year due to housing problem. You’ll have to wait for a year.”
“That’s impossible. I have to start this year,” My strong tone showed my firm determination.
“Unless?” He paused.
“Unless what? Whatever.” I asked eagerly.
“Unless you can provide accommodation by yourself for one year, just like the other Shanghai local students would.” He said.
“No problem.” I say very positively.
However, the truth is not “No problem.” In fact, the problem was huge, as I had no relatives no friend, absolutely no one in Shanghai turning for help. Where in the earth can I find a place to stay?
The bed I slept for a year at the guesthouse was due. I have to tie up my things put it under the bed of a friendly former roommate. I carried my violin and my yellow army bag walked out of the campus. With no destination I walked and walked. It must be close to the middle night I found myself under Aunt Zeng’s window, the only window of someone’s home in Shanghai I had looked outside through it once. When a young man at 20s is cornered, how much a face is worth? I ascended the 5th floor, knocked on the door. When Dongya, the daughter of the family opened the door, a devil glided into her life.
Heard that I was temporarily out of place to stay, (of course they had no idea that “temporarily” meant a year) Dongya said without hesitation before her mother, “Stay in my room, I can stay with mom for few days.”
There was a ray of light in Dangya’s eyes, the ray of light when young boys and girls meet, which I was quite familiar with. Several years later, Dangya told me when the moment she opened the door, such a sentence emerged in her mind, “A handsome young man with a violin in his arms walked into my life.”
Since then, everyday I got out from Dangya’s home very early, after a long day classes I would stay at the campus late to try to cause as little trouble as possible to Dangya’s family. One week had past and everyone seemed to get used to the new family style until one day a shocking event took place.
It was a Sunday morning. As I was free from school I stayed late in bed. Meanwhile Dangya was in the bathroom, she thought I was out for school as usual that without knocking at door she entered the room naked. Her white delicate body aroused my hunger for sex. My body was out of control from my mind that I rushed toward her. Dangya held her breath. I felt her body was as stiff as a piece of metal. The image of Nini flashed in my mind vaguely and quickly faded away.
After it was over, Dangya washed the flood stain on the bed sheet right away. Later she wrote in her dairy “It was Adan made me a woman of integrity.”
Since then, Dangya’s small room became not only the place for me to sleep, but also a place to sleep with her. Every evening as soon as I finished my super at school I went to the bus stop to wait for Dangya to come back from work. In order to make the best of my time I borrowed the very dim street lamp to do my harmonic homework. However this situation did not last very long, as very serious and conservative natured, Dangya made our relationship open to the whole family without consulting me.
It was a Sunday morning again, Dangya’s elder brother Xiaoming and younger sister Xiaoli all came home. Everyone agreed that it was our freedom to love each other and no one has the right to interfere. However, to stay in the same house before marriage would lead the neighbors a wrong impression that the two actually are living together, (though it was the fact that we were LIVING together) Therefore I was given two options: A, go on staying there but cut the relationship; B, keep the relationship going on but move out immediately.”
Nevertheless, to me I had only one way to go, go out immediately from their home, for the sake of Dangya’s face, though to me to stay was ultimately important.
I wrapped up all my staff in a bed sheet, leave it temporarily there under Dangya’s bed, again carried my violin walking on the street, this time not alone but accompanied by Dangya. Isn’t it universal that when happy people like to be together yet when sad people want to be alone? At least I do.
We walked and walked without knowing where to go, until we both were extremely tired we sat on an ice-cold street stone bench, trembling. Dangya’s little romantic mood at the beginning was all consumed by then. We sat there, quietly, no conversation, no word, for a long, long time, until Dangya reminded that his art teacher Huang had a tiny small working studio. That night I slept on the working table of teacher Huang’s. Strange enough I felt that hard cold table more comfortable than 5-star hotel.
When the sun rose next morning, I was happy again as I could forget all the problems, at least for more then 12 hours. I went the conservatory with high spirit as usual.
At noon I saw a slender girl was writing on public blackboard post in the campus. Her curved body reminded me of Nini. I walked up involuntarily. I touched her all over by my burning eyesight, from neck to waist and then to her little round hip and finally ended on the blackboard. Guess what I found? Two misprint in the English she wrote.
“Excuse me, but…”I said in English.
“Do you understand English?” She turned her face over to me.
Oh my God! She did not look like Nini, she looked more than Nini, not only the face, but also the voice and the way she talked. What I’m talking about, silly isn’t it. I gassed at her with my two eyes widely open. If put the two huge eyes together must be not any smaller than my half open mouth. Seeing my that facile expression, she captivating smiled, said, “My practice room is 407 at the piano building, you, spoony.” She quickly corrected the two misprints, and walked away toward the piano building. I followed her without thinking.
Room 407 was at the fourth floor of the piano building. Each room on the fourth floor was fixed for certain piano student to use, unlike our third floor in orchestra building, first come first serve. I followed her up to the ascend floor. She turned her head to check if I was still with her. That encouraged me a great deal. I chased up to the fourth floor, and knocked on her door like a gentleman.
“The door is open.” Her voice from inside.
I pushed the door open, and closed it as quickly as I could, as I saw her lying on her long piano chair with two legs widely open. Till then, I, the little Nine Brother was supposed to be experienced, yet never met girls like that, so straight and vulgar. I stared at her, and stood there foolishly without knowing what to do.
“Come on, take what you want, you, spoony!” Her eyes revealed a kind of irresistible sensuality.
“But, I…” Dangya’s image in my mind distracted me. “I, got something urgent to do.” I wanted to pull back, yet my two legs were not listening to my head.
Meanwhile, she pulled her cloth up to the neck. Two small bullets shaped tits appeared in front of my eyes. When a man, I mean a MAN come to this point, who could resist? President Clinton, perhaps? certainly not me. I threw myself on her; two hands ten fingers busy crumpled her breasts. She fainted.
“Do you really want?” I was still a little worried.
“Yes I do, I want I want, 24 hours a day I want.” She uttered repeatedly.
“24 hours a day, in this room?” I thought. That brightened my mind. You see, if I could accompany her here 24 hours a day, which would be the solution to my biggest problem! Isn’t it wonderful?
I took off her pants, skillfully.
After it was done, I tried to shirk responsibility of pregnancy by complaining, “You embraced me a little too tight that I might have come a little inside.”
“Don’t you worry, I’ll be alright.” She paused, “right, I’m Yanhua. How should I call you?”
Just like that, I moved into Yanhua’s small piano practice room, became her “toy” 24/7. Since then I was Dongya’s boy friend only by name, because in reality we had no place to meet, therefore not to mention making love, even if we could, I probably had contributed all to Yanhua and had little left for her.
Should I write about Yanhua? I have been very hesitant. Because what happened between us was very difficult to classify, as it was a little bit of everything, practical reasons; sexual desire; falling in love; each offer one had and took one need… Anyway, it was a kind of uncommon relationship.
Later I asked Yanhua “There are so many young men out there. Why me? Especially did it to me at the first time we met.” Her answer was very simple and direct, “Because you look like my father.” Through many conversations I figured it out that her father was her first lover. They started to have relationship since she was 15. It developed a habit that she couldn’t live without it. I also found out that the doctor said she had a kind of physical problem that stops her from being pregnant. The doctor also said her abnormal sexual desire was partly due to her metal issue. For me, all these were just excuses for my irresponsible doing, such as to have sex with her was like to give her a medical treatment etc.
A year later, I moved into the school dormitory, and I happened to be without roommate. Dongya was madly in love with me and no doubt came to see me in my room very often. Therefore to give Yanhua treatments became less and less. Until one day, Yanhua informed me, “You are out of days. For I found a new daddy to replace your labor.”
Yanhua, as my unforgettable lover, was one of those I really enjoyed and loved.
Focus on studies on the second year
For various reasons, or excuses, I gained not much obvious progress in my violin studies at the first school year. It marked at two student’s concerts, in which first time I was on stage playing Beethoven’s “romance”, I cut into the piano one bar too early; and the second time was even worse, in which I played Bruch’s violin concerto that I withdrew from the stage in the middle of the third movement.
However, since moved into the student dormitory on the second year I concentrated all my energy, time and mind to practice violin, in addition, I took as many elective courses as I was allowed. In that period, I was really like a piece of dry sponge thrown into the ocean of knowledge.
My great leap forward on my studies made my teachers happy and classmates envy.
Perhaps because of my rapid progress, my violin teacher Sheng let out her idle nature fully. She came to the lesson room without bring her violin, instead, some nice left over dishes. After she had the door closed she would open a lunch-box, “I made, try, to see if you like it.” When I devoured voraciously she would use my violin playing on the piece of music I was studying, from the beginning to the end. You know how long a violin concerto last, about 30 minutes, while a lesson was about 40 minutes. It means by time she finishing the concerto, one lesson was almost over. Nevertheless, she always remembered to ask me in the end, “how was the taste?” Although not sure she meant the taste of the music she played, or the dishes she made, my answer was always, “It tasted great.”
Of course I meant she dishes, as I really felt, compare with her violin playing, her dishes certainly tasted better.
Teacher Sheng was not only idle but also somewhat slovenly, quite often forgot things, this or that. I remember one time during the lesson; she eventually noticed that her socks, socks of one black and one white amused me. Her explanation was she came in a hurry that she couldn’t find one of the either other. When the lesson began her black should rest dropped off from her violin. When I hurried pick it up and handed it up to her, she was extremely embarrassed, “here you are, my other black sock. Hahaha!” As a student I couldn’t “hahaha”, therefore I “hum hum hum.” “Ha!”
Occasionally teacher Sheng came to the lesson room with her colored swollen face or band aided. No need to ask, last night she was again with her husband “the victory or defeat was a common matter in a conflict.”
Gradually, I started to like the way teacher Sheng taught me, as her way of teaching, (if I could call it “her way of teaching”) gave me much freedom that forced to think and develop my style of playing independently, unlike some of my schoolmates who followed their teachers so closely that they became copies of their teachers, without teacher, they didn’t know how to walk.
The student concert that I participated at the second year was life-long unforgettable. In which I played French composer Frank’s violin and piano sonata in A Major. When it was excellently over, I gained a long warm applause.
Me too, like all artists, a slave of applause.
Since then, I could feel the obvious change of attitude of the classmates’ towards me.
The junior year, beauty and English
Dangya was no doubt the most important figure to me in my entire four years in Shanghai. In fact, only the story between us could be worth writing another book. However, as this book is mainly telling the story of “Father Son and Violin”, Dongya’s role is intentionally lightened.
As I mentioned before, Dangya is an artist. She worked for the Shanghai Health Publicity Bureau. In that year, her painting poster won the first price of the national health Publicity contest. Perhaps being influenced by me she also decided to pursue her art studies at the Nanjing Fine Art Institute.
Since Dongya was away from me, I started to feel a kind of emptiness and solitude. Except very occasionally I picked up some girl from the street and took her back to my dormitory for an hour communication or so, I had no fixed relationship.
Fangfang, an extremely elegant and pretty coquettish young lady filled in the gape in this period.
It was a Sunday morning at an English Corner in a park (English Corners in public parks were, may be still are very popular in Chinese big cities where people can meet and practice their English) where I discovered a full haired head. I passed through the crowd to get closer to her. Immediately my blood pressure rose up and heart bits increased, because her two full sized breasts pushed the frock open between clasps, as well as her round bottom bundled inside the very tied jeans, especially her feet from her white high heel sandals make me hard to breathe. That kind of appearance could be nothing today yet it was the beginning of the 80’s in China; Deng’s movement of Reform and Open was just got started. By that time corset trousers and high heels, particularly high-heels were rather rare. Perhaps I was from that very moment became a captive of high heels.
“He…llo.” I felt something blocked my throat.
Seeing no response, I was about to try again, “He…”.
She turned her face over to me. My God! Never in my daily life so closely had viewed such a face so heavily made-up, except in my middle school years when the Mao Propaganda Team gave a stage performance of “The Red Women Army”. A smell of perfume mixed with arrogance from her face pushed me away from her. “Absolutely no chance.” I thought. Immediately I changed my mind by thinking “she is not my type.” But when I was about to walk away, I heard.
“Hey, Are you talking to me?” The beauty looked at my school badge, the badge that captured girls from time to time.
“No… I… nothing to say.” I ran away. Although my brain was filled with that woman, that extremely sexy woman, I never dreamed to have a chance meeting her again.
Human, are fated beings.
At the noon of the same day, after having had a bowl of cheapest wonton at a cheapest food place I passed by an English movie cinema. I gave up the movie right away, as the movie offered no concession to students. When I was about to leave the box office I saw that sexy girl who I met at the English corner passing me and headed into the cinema. Immediately I changed my mind and bought a ticket at normal rate with pain and chased the girl into the cinema, yet lost her in the dark. Guess what, as soon as I found my seat and sat down, and was about to search for the girl, she walked toward my direction, nearer and nearer, and finally stopped at the seat next to me. Maybe it was too dark, or more likely she did not remember me at all, she asked me in Shanghai dialect, “Pardon me, is your seat number 9?”
“Yes, please sit down.” I said in English, to exploit the opportunity to remind her about me at the park as well as to show off my English.
Meanwhile she noticed my shining school badge. Even under dim lights I could feel her excitement.
A light fragrance of perfume floated over to me. I didn’t know what the movie was about; I don’t even remember the title of the movie, for I was intoxicated, or should I say, “infatuated”.
The movie was soon over. I remained myself in the seat like paralyzed. She also waited, and waited, until almost no body left she said to me, “Are you not going?”
That sounded like an invitation.
Hence, we walked out of the cinema and went to the Shanghai Library together. It was getting dark. There was nothing left of the bowl of wonton that I filled into my stomach at noon. Worried about that I would be too late to catch supper at the school refectory I was about to make an excuse to get away from her she said, “I know a quite good western restaurant nearby.”
“I also know a noodle house nearby, wonton in there has some character.” Her appeared to be no interested in my suggestion that I had to withdraw my remark by saying, “Of course we are going to the western place as you recommended.”
Followed her we went to the western restaurant. For the sake of my face, I stepped in front of her and led her into the restaurant. Held the menu, I believe that she said she was on a diet was true. Yet I said I was not really hungry was absolutely a lie. No matter how carefully I chose the menu I had been worrying if my wallet was able to take the challenge? However, when the meal was over she even didn’t give my wallet a chance. Immediately my heart felt lighter, and heavier at the same time.
In the evening, we walked arm in arm alone the Waitan (the most popular spot in Shanghai) just like a couple of being for years. Facing the seawater, she hummed an English song “Love Me Tender”. That was the first of thousand times that I heard that song. That overwhelming wonderful feeling, no word is enough to describe.
“I hope tonight could last for ever.” I uttered my poetic feeling.
“Why for ever? Is there no tomorrow?” She yawned; not at all corresponded with my romantic mood.
“Of course, there will be a tomorrow. Tomorrow is Monday, my classes in the morning are not that important.” I sent her an invitation.
“Great, I’ll also call the school to tell, to tell, anyway I’ll be seeing you at 10:00.”
When I was trying to kiss her cheek goodbye she turned her face to me and drilled her tongue into my mouth. I was astonished; also a little worried about this kind of unhygienic behavior might pass disease.
Back to my dormitory it was rather late. But I was too excited to fall sleep. Thinking of the taste of her tongue remaining in my mouth, her flexible sexy body, and the elegant fragrance of hers, I couldn’t help my hand to comfort my boy’s growing part. That night, I don’t know how many times I made good use of the towel beside my pillow.
Now, let me make a brief introduction of the young lady. Her name is Fangfang, a student of the Shanghai Foreign Language Institute, the only daughter of a powerful and rich family.
Next morning Fangfang stepped into my Dom at punctually 10:00. I rubbed my read and swollen eyes and asked, “What would like to do today?”
“Anything you wish.” She sat on my only chair in the room, lifted her legs openly like a pincers, and clamped my bottom pulling toward her.
“Wha, wha, what do you want?” I was not pretending to be a gentleman, I was worried whether I was able do it or not, I mean after my boy’s thing had gone all the laborious work through out the whole night.
“You asked me what do I want, didn’t you? My answer was anything you like. I mean anything you like to do with me.”
“No need to pretend. I know you have been doing self-service all over night too. She said as she zipped down my jeans.
Hey, how great! My little thing became big immediately.
In bed, I discovered another Fangfang, a totally opposite of yesterday’s Fangfang, a lady of elegancy and arrogance, but rather a girl of ribaldry and cheap. Really, from then on, she would do anything a man can imagine, or can’t imagine, licking my feet or ass hole and drinking my sperm. It seemed the cheaper and dirtier she would be more stimulated. Ah, pity what I write isn’t an adult book that I need not to go for all the details.
Frankly speaking, I really felt very proud and satisfied to be with her, particularly when we were walking on the street passing by some schoolmates I would raise my head higher and back more straight than usual.
I knew by then if I wanted to keep girls like Fangfang for longer time, the weapon was to keep she feel mysterious about me and admire me all the time. For that I secretly started to study English very hard. When I say “very hard”, I mean I put almost all my possible time and energy to it; I even took an extra English class at another university. Therefore I had to ride my bicycle back and forth everyday between two institutions. I made a very good use of my ear of a musician that could remember things easily once I heard it, which I used the tape recorder Dangya bought for me for study music to record English of the day I studied and listen to it over again and again in bed over night. By this method, I could remember almost everything I had studied during the day. Moreover, I even tried to remember the entire illustrative sentences listed on the oxford dictionary by heart. With such an attitude and effort, in Chinese we say “the spirit of grinding an iron rod to be a needle”, when Fangfang asking me English questions, how couldn’t her be surprised over again and again. I remember Fangfang said to me, “If your knowledge were your semen, I would suck you as dry as a mummy.”
To be with Fanggfang was relax and safe, as regardless going to movies, concerts or restaurants, she would never let me touch my wallet. Not only that, from time to time she even gave me some cash. To use Fangfang’s cash to help Dangya with her economic emergency happened occasionally. People are like that, anything could be shameful in the beginning, gradually it would be used to it. As we Chinese say, “When it becomes a habit it would be natural.”
About one year later, Fangfang took me to her luxury flat for the first time. Also the first time let me appreciate her face, I mean the raw face of hers without chemistry make-up, a face very different from what I had been familiar with. First she give me a western suit as a present, the very first suit in my life I had. Then she performed coquettish strip tease dance. When I was seduced to be out of control, she bit my ear, “This may be our last time. So, you do what you want, how enter or where to enter, and keep yourself inside me as long as you like or as long as you can, I’ll accompany you days and nights without eating and drinking as far as you can. In one word, I’m all yours.” She said as she started zip off my pants, which I was already very used to. With some excitement and a little melancholy she said, “I have already got my visa to USA. And how about you? I mean when do you plan to go to abroad?”
“Me, going abroad?” What a day dreaming question!
I’m grateful to Fangfang, for her taught me various ways of love making, and equally important forced me to have built a solid English foundation, which is of great magnificence in my future life.
The Senior Year, Learning to Make Money
Regarding to my violin study, I made big progress in the second year, the third year went OK, but from the fourth year it started to go down hill obviously, the reason was I made acquaintance with a man called Chai Benshan.
Chai was the art editor of the school journal. It seemed to be all by accident to get to know him, but I still feel that was a kind of predestinated, I even think that was God’s arrangement, for knowing him became very significant to my future life.
The following is how I got to know him. One day I went to the School Journal office to see teacher Qian where I happened to see Chai talking with a foreigner about a China painting. Seeing them not use their mouths but hands faces and the whole bodies to communicate, I caught the opportunity to practice my English. By translating I leant that Chai was trying to sell his own Chinese painting to the foreigner. In his rather humble and sincere tone he used some quite proud language. By result the foreigner opened his wallet with a satisfactory smile. Chai also smiled satisfactorily. Then I knew the painting was sold for a good price.
I didn’t give much thought about this matter, yet unexpectedly Chai waited for me at the doorway of the school dining hall.
“We eat out.” He said to me.
On the table in a restaurant Chai handed me some money as much as ten RMB. I was in such a puerility at that time that I refused to take the money. You know, (may be you don’t know) ten RMB wasn’t a small sum; it equals 1/5 of my monthly wage. I said to him, “It cost me nothing to help you, offer me a nice meal in such a restaurant is more than enough, how could I accept your money?”
Chai interrupted me and said, “Take it, we do not steal nor rob, we make money by our own skill. From now on, we are partners. Besides, I’m supposed to be your teacher, listen to teachers wouldn’t wrong.”
My business sense initiated from that bill of ten RMB. From then on, not only Chai would come to me every time when business opportunities with foreigners came, sometimes I even actively helped him to find sales targets. Every time as soon as a painting was sold, I would immediately calculate how much my shire should be. For selling paintings, from time to time I even played truant.
In addition to selling paintings, Chai also received a contract of two color photo calendars from the Shanghai Publishing House, one theme of “children and musical instruments; the other theme of “beautiful girls and musical instruments”. For the sake of practicing the technique of photography, Chai lent me a Shanghai made seagull brand single lens reflex camera; which was supposed to be a top quality camera in China by that time, and as well as to help me buying sufficient amount of black and white films at extra discounted price from the Shanghai Film Production Studio. I used the money from selling paintings invested a complete set of black and white dark room equipments, so that in my very small room I started an underground photography studio. My strategy was “small profit with much sales”, taking photos for schoolmates were free of charge, which is of great temptation, after the photos were processed, and I charge ten-fen RMB per photo. When my schoolmates saw their own photographs few could resist not opening their wallets. Several weeks later, I received more business than I could handle. When my skill of taking photos reached a certain level I started to get into touch with beautiful girl models, occasionally in various degrees into touch with some of the girls physically. That made some schoolmates envy badly. With the rumor spread one day my violin teacher Sheng visited my little studio without informing me in advance, probably wanted to catch me in spot doing photos, or girls.
“It’s close to the final examination, you don’t practice your violin, what a hell are you doing with your bloody camera?” Teacher scolded at me in the aisle of my dormitory. Scolding, means someone is concerned about me, for that I was moved.
But, teacher Sheng’s scolding was not strong enough to resist the temptation of money. I still use one hand to play Sibelius violin concerto for the final examination, and the other hand to take photos earning money and seeking beautiful female models.
After the calendars were published, I haggled a little with Chai about how to divide the profit. But, friendship was more important, be accurately speaking, the next business was more important. Next business was cooperating with the Shanghai Film Production Studio to make a pop song music tape. However that business consumed me much time and energy but earning little money. Perhaps for compensating my time and effort, just before I approaching my graduation examination Chai helped me to got a small role in a movie. Hence, I postponed my examination, went to the Stone Island in Shandong Province with the film crew of the Shanghai Film Production Studio.
All these irresponsible behaviors made my teacher Cheng very upset.
When I returned back to Shanghai from the film making, all my classmates were graduated and left me alone for the make-up exam.
By then, my official girl friend Dangya also came back to Shanghai from Nanjing. Under the heavy pressure from teacher Sheng and close watch of Dangya, I temporarily distanced myself from Chai, and concentrated on practicing my violin. In that period, Dangya came to see me in my dorm very often. She always requested me to play my examination, the Sibelous Violin Concerto from the beginning to the end. Looking at Dangya the way she looking at me with admiration, once again I was aware my value of being a violinist. I even had a little regret for the time that I wasted. I decided to make every effort to remedy.
Think back, I strongly feel that in the process of my growth, the people surrounding me, particularly girls close to me, had great influence to me in my life.
Just before the graduation examination, again, an accident occurred.
My girl friend Dangya was pregnant. Not to mention pregnancy even sex before marriage was considered to be a crime at that time in china. I knew I was in deep deep trouble.
The rumor spread to my working unit, the Hunan Radio and TV Orchestra, the sectary Yu, Nini’s mother, used to be my protection umbrella, this time loudly roared at chief Liu with her order, “Immediately send two comrades to Shanghai to bring the criminal back for me.”
To be continued
|Reply: Re:Father Son & Violin
||Date: 2010-05-08 19:07:40
16, How （step by step） Did I Go Abroad?
The conservatory graduation
With the order from secretary Yu (the wife of the big boss Li and mother of Nini, who used to be my shelter) the vise chief Li of my orchestra came to Shanghai to fetch me.
Comrade Li was originally from Shanghai; therefore to him being sent to Shanghai was certainly a candy errand.
Heard that I was wanted to return to Hunan without my final exam, I certainly refused to obey. To me, coming to study in Shanghai was like climbing Himalaya, after went through all the obstacles and tribulation I finally got very close to the top, how I could possibly roll down to the bottom. Li realized it was waste of time to go on persuading me, in Chinese we say “to play the tune to an ox,” he turned his effort to my girl friend Dangya. After a long conversation in Shanghai dialect Dangya changed her attitude and also suggested that I go back to Hunan for the time being.
She said, “Comrade Li is your vise chief, your leader, he came from such a long distance (over 1000 Km) to take you back, if you refuse, what could he do with his face?”
“His face?” Meanwhile I reminded Sha-Sha, and our little baby Xiao-xiao who was ended before becoming because of my study in Shanghai. At last I got angry with Dongya, “All my struggling and bitterness in the past, and all my life in the future, have to be given up for his face, his that yellow ugly face?”
In the end, Dangya made a compromise that she would accompany me go back to Hunan together. She said she would tell the leaders in my orchestra that the pregnancy thing was all her fault, and she would take all the responsibility and consequence.
After two mouths back and forth persuading me I started to boggle. It looked like I had no choice but go back to Hunan at once. Yet it was very close to my final graduation exam, which was postponed once already because of the film making, if asking for another postpone from the conservatory, probably I would never be able to graduate.
At exact this crucial moment a man appeared in front of me after being disappeared from my life for many years, that man was not anyone else but my father.
After apart from each other for all these years when my father saw me again, he wasn’t like all the other fathers in the movies being excited but with no extra facial expression as if we had met each other a day ago. He very briefly told me that he was coming to Shanghai on business, and happened to stay at a small hotel very close to the conservatory. After had supper with me at my school dining hall he went to see Dangya and comrade Li alone. He went to see them both again on the next morning. Therefore the second day he only met me at my school-dining hall during the supper. On the third day before he went back to Hunan he said to me, “No need to go back to Hunan at this point. Finish whatever you need to finish in Shanghai. Concerning your working unit, I’ll talk to your leaders as soon as I’m back to Hunan.”
My father’s that a few simple words razed the prejudice of him built in my mind for many years. I instantly felt warmth and love, if it wasn’t that our family had no hugging and touching tradition as well as his ice cold face, I would probable hurtle up to embrace him. Yet my father did not hug me, nor shook hands with me, except passed me 2.5 RMB saying that was for the two suppers I paid for him at the school dinning hall.
As soon as my father went back to Hunan, comrade Li came to see me, he said, “Although your father’s opinion has his argument, but my mission is to bring you back. Therefore how could I go back with nothing?”
“What do you want me to do?” I counter-questioned him
“Unless, unless you punch me on my face, otherwise ……”
I did not wait for him to finish his words and gave him what he asked for, a big punch on his face. In fact, I could have given him two punches if he would like to.
Comrade Li covered his loose incisors with his hand and returned back to Hunan. I’m sure he never expected such a favorable errand of coming to Shanghai had to pay such a price.
Meanwhile, almost every day Dangya’s mother persuaded her daughter to have an abortion. The mother even wrote a letter to Shasha asking her to talk to Dangya too. Hence Shasha called Dangya. The phone call made Dangya ask me, “What dose sister Shasha mean by ‘you are not the only one who gives an abortion’?” I certainly knew what Shasha meant, only I could not explain.
However, I insisted Dangya give birth of the baby, for I thought to have a baby in Shanghai might be helpful for me to stay in Shanghai. (By that time, Chinese people had no right to stay wherever they wanted to stay. They had to stay where their folk registers were.)
Talking about after my father returning to Hunan, he went to negotiate with the leaders of my unit immediately, though his tone was very polite but his words were rather heavy. After all father was a communist part member, a government cadre, knew the rules of the officialdom game. In addition, it was the period when the Chinese communist party launched “strengthening the legal system” movement for the first time after in power for more than 3 decades; therefore my working unit could not ignore my father’s opinion completely. In order to solve my issue, both parties agreed to have an imitation lawsuit. My father found him a lawyer; and the unit also got a lawyer. With the case went on, it seemed if I got married with Dangya immediately, it would favor my father’s party. As for my punch on comrade Li’s face, it was not enough to be a lawful responsibility, so I was only given a demerit punishment.
For this matter, father came to Shanghai again. This time he didn’t meet me, but went straight to see Dangya and her mother. His advice to them was, “As the matter it is now, the best solution is to get married immediately.”
Hence, Dangya and I registered marriage right away at the
Shanghai Xuhuiqu government office. Just like that, no pastor’s orison, no church bell, no wedding dress photograph, even no party or dinner for family members and friends, I got married with my very first wife Dangya.
As soon as the marriage registration procedure was done Dongya applied an abortion permit certificate from her work unit. (By that time, hospitals would not accept abortions without work unit’s certificates; and the work units would not write abortion permit certificates to unmarried couples)
“What! The purpose you got married with me is to be able to get an abortion certificate? You could as well do abortion without the certificate. Shasha…” I suddenly realized I slipped my tongue.
Dangya however, did not argue with me about the abortion matter, but said something else to me, “To tell you the truth, the reason I decided to get married with you is not completely for the sake of love, nor following some senior’s advice; it is more I feel sorry for you, for I realized that in the world besides me there isn’t anyone else truly love you and care for you. So… Alright, too many words could spoil the matter, the only thing I want you say to you is I would stay with you as long as you need me.” She ended there, and took out a handkerchief, as if I got a cancer. Regarding why she changed her mind and decided to go abortion she was not willing to explain. After my long carrot-and-stick she finally agreed to postpone the date of abortion to the time when I finish my graduation examination.
Through conversation with Dangya I could feel that Dangya’s decision of getting married with me had an influence from my father. For that I started to be grateful to him. After all, we were father and son.
Henceforth, I concentrated all myself to practice the violin, and successfully passed the final graduation examination. To every body’s surprise, to add points of the exams of all subjects together, I was No 1 in my whole class.
After all the hardship and madness for four years, Eventually I graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
What to do after graduation?
Like most people, I also thought when entered a university, is to stepped the road leading to heaven. However, all university graduates would experience the same situation, “What to do after graduation?”
All Chinese people would know, for outsiders to remain living in Shanghai, although may not be as difficult as to go to the moon, yet certainly more difficult than to immigrant to the United States. Therefore after a few attempts I gave it up. But, for the sake of our coming baby and to have a life together with my wife Dangya, I tried to look for a job at orchestras in the cities near Shanghai. Both Suzhou and Wuxi expressed their willingness to take me, particularly Wuxi promised me the position of the concertmaster of the orchestra. Once again, I deceived Hunan and packed up my staff ready to go to Wuxi.
Just one day before I planed to go to Wuxi I went to say goodbye to Chai Ben-Shan, after all he was my best friend, and more importantly my dependant in Shanghai.
“Why you want to go to Wuxi?” Chai heard the news, was like to hear “the sun rises from the west.”
“Because Wuxi is close to Shanghai, I can’t stay in Shanghai; Wuxi is the best place I could go. That’s why.” I explained with all my reasons.
“What’s good about to stay in Shanghai? Every one of your classmates are trying to go abroad, they even don’t speak much English as you do.” Followed he told me the majority of my schoolmates are planning to go to USA, UK or Australia.
“That’s because they are all rich as well as have relatives abroad.” I said without mach thinking.
Chai did not wait for me to finish he interrupted and advised me that everything could be created by efforts, included money and relatives. He was strongly opposed me to go to Wuxi, Saying that if I go there, it was like to put a period mark to my life. Then he took out a few letters, letters from the Eastman School of Music, Indiana University etc.
“Write the addresses down, and go back to write letters to them. The Americans are trustworthy, if you write to them, they sure will answer. Etc. When you receive their answers, you make the next move according to what they require. Step by step just like that, one day you will find yourself walking on a street in the United States, or some where in a free world. Till then, when you think back today that you wanted to go to Wuxi, how ridiculous it could be.” Chai went on and on.
The second day I made a long-distance call to Wuxi saying that due to my wife is about to give a birth of our baby, I was not able to go there immediately. The same day I wrote two letters, one Eastman School of Music NY, and the other to Indiana University. Doubted my letters might be like being thrown into the ocean and would never receive answers, while surprisingly both institutions wrote back to me, and both said that they would happy to accept me for my MA studies. I the letters also enclosed materials concerning English efficiency TOEFL test as well as Visa information.
That made Chai very satisfied and proud, he said, “Just as I told you that the road comes out by people’s footsteps. You next move is to go back to Hunan, take the TOEFL test, apply for a passport, find a financial sponsor, prepare money for the air-ticket…”
“But, my wife is expecting, how can I leave her alone here and go back to Hunan all by myself? It would be the same problem if someday I really could go abroad…” I did no how to finish my sentence.
“As this is your private business I shouldn’t interrupt, but being a real friend I feel this is not the right time for you to have a child. Wait until the condition is mature, you can have as many children as you like. I know there is no one-family-one-child policy in the United States.”
With Chai’s advice, I went straight to talk to my wife Dangya, “About our child, on my second thought…”
Dangya did not wait my finishing my talk she interrupted, “No need to pursued me anymore, I also have changed my mind, do as you asked to give birth of our child.” Dongya said as she touched her full belly. “This small fellow, resently likes to kick me. Look he did it again, touch, and touch here quickly.” Dangya held my hand against her belly tightly, “My little fellow, this is your father, can you call father? Understand?”
The movement of Dangya’s belly shocked me, made my aware more strongly than ever that that was already a life, life made by the DNA of Dangya and me. Therefore there was in no way I could talk more about the matter of abortion.
A few days later when Dangya found out that I had changed my mind about giving birth of the child, she burst into tears. When she got out from the hospital after abortion, she looked in a great agony she said grumblingly, “I swear I’ll never be pregnant again, ever!”
“What did you say?” I pretended.
“Nothing.” Dangya closed her eyes.
Back to Hunan
The very first thing I did after I went back to Hunan was to go see CEO Li, and more importantly his wife ante Yu. Knocking at their door I was so afraid the person who opens the door for me would be Nini. But my worry was unnecessary as Nini was no longer living with her mother and stepfather. That was the biggest scandal in the history of the Hunan Radio and TV Bureau. The rumor said that Nini was pregnant, and more to everybody’s shock the one made her pregnancy was not son of some big dignitary, or a well educated gentleman with a social status, but a temporary part time worker of a low class factory. “A delicate fresh flower that no one dares to touch yet put at a heap of smelly bullshit” was what my colleagues felt sorry and gossiped about. Of course no one was angrier than Nini’s mother aunt Yu, “How dare of the boy even did not ask me…” How could aunt Yu know that the reason that “boy” could succeed was dare to do with her daughter without asking for the mother’s permission. This nobody-understand reason only me was very clear. According to the time Nini’ pregnancy was not long after the news of my wife Dongya’s pregnancy spread back to Hunan. If the timing was not a co-instance, I was probably, at least in certain degree responsible for Nini’s happiness or sadness in her entire life.
It was 1983 when I returned back to Hunan. The Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping started a nation wide academy diploma campaign. All the government officials at certain rank must have a college diploma. That caused our chief Liu a great headache. At the age close to 60 he had to go to night school to study for a diploma. I remember one day chief Liu was criticizing a comrade for being late for work, surprisingly the comrade talked back to him, “You dare to criticize me again I will not help you with your with your studies anymore.”
In order to have more time paving my way abroad I took a journalism correspondence course of the Beijing Broadcasting Institute in Hunan. By doing so, I had very good excuse not to take part of the orchestra rehearsal often. That was naturally not good for the orchestra. One day, the orchestra leader Ma told me, “OK, concentrate your time and mind on your study now, come back to the orchestra again as soon as you finish.” That is to say, only a few months in Hunan after I had been absent for four years in Shanghai, I was full time off work again studying, of course with full salary and school fees paid by the Hunan Radio and TV Bureau.
Who benefited the most from the Red China socialist system? I, the little Nine-Brother benefited the most from the Red China socialist system.
The journalism correspondence course had class only half a day a week. What should I do with rest of the time?
When my story comes to this point, I need to again mention Hu Meimei, the next-door neighbor girl with whom I grew up with together. As I returned back to Hunan as a married man, there was in no way I could look for new girl friends. In addition I was too busy prepare going abroad to fool around with girls. But I, as a man, a man like me, the little nine-brother, how could I be survive without regular sexual activities. Hence, Meimei put back again in a very good use.
However, for that period meimei was also quite busy, busy with her university studies. The university she attended was not a well-kwon one, was not even considered to be a good one, for it was a poor founded private institution named Hunan Science and Technology University.
I care less whether it was a well-established institution or not, as long as I could learn something, it was good enough for me. Therefore through the introduction of Meimei, I got myself into the English class of institution. After got close to my English teacher, I used him as a bridge and got myself into a English class at the Shangsha Railway Institute, the one known as the best English classes in the city. For doing that, I ended up as studying at three different universities at the same time. Thinking all these back, I really should say; “I owe you a great deal” to my Phoenix brand bicycle.
Here, I particularly want to mention a few words about the private founded Hunan Science and Technology University, that what I learnt far more important than English was the theory of system engineering of the society, as well as the consciousness of the “information ages” we were approach. For those knowledge and consciousness proved to be very useful to my life now and in the future. For that, I would like very much to say to the founder of the institute, “thank you so much, professor ZHANG QI REN.”
(TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language)
I mentioned in earlier, I started to study Chinese and English with a husband and wife who taught at Changsha No2 Middle School at the ago 16. In addition I studied English very hard during my violin study at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music (thanks to Fang-Fang too) when I went to take the TOEFL test, I already had good foundation of the language. Plus I took some English lesson at two different universities that gave the result of my test score being near 600. I sent the result to two American institutions for my post education, Eastman School of Music in New York, and Indiana University. And I was immediately accepted as Mater degree student by both. Two formal letters of acceptance reached me.
(Get a passport)
I dare to say, no one in the whole country got one’s passport as smoothly as I did by that time, unless your uncle is a police boss.
I took the letter of acceptance from Eastman School of Music to the Hunan police on Monday. The police officer gave me a paper form, asked me to finish all requirements on the form and then to apply for my passport. The contents in that form included working unit certificate; folk registration certificate; university enters notification letter; I20 form; money guarantee certificate etc.
It was just the time that the country’s campaign of Reform & Open-Door. “Efficacy” was a very popular slogan.
I quickly ran back to the broadcast & television Bureau where I worked. From orchestra, library, folk register etc, I had my paper full of red stamps, until finally I went to see the number one boss general director Li. Li took a look of my papers, deeply sighed, saying “it wants to rain and daughter wants to get married, nothing I can say. You, go.” Just like that, I got my last red stamp, and the most important one. That is to say, I got all I need to do at my working unit within one day.
The second day in the early morning I went to Hunan police again. The police officer looked at my documents, obviously could not read English very much, and asked me “which is the I20 form? And which is the letter of finance guarantee certificate?” I picked up the letter of acceptance from the school, told him that was something similar to the I20 form; as I had no the economy guarantee certificate, I had to pick up a school document that concerns economic guarantee, saying “this be relevant document of economic guarantee.” The officer used a pencil marked Chinese letters “I20” and “finance guarantee certificate”.
“When can I get my passport?” I asked eagerly.
“Not very clear.” The office said.
“You are the one in charge, if you aren’t clear, who would be clear” I was quite worried.
“The comrade in charge is absent for sometime. I am only temporarily replacing his position. However, as far as I know, a passport application takes about two weeks generally, if not any longer.” The police said.
“Two weeks? Oh my God! Efficacy is the slogan today. You see, our broadcast & television Bureau took only a working day to finish all procedures. Our leader would like to see how effect the police could be.” I challenged him.
“OK, I will do it at once. But there are a lot of procedures. So it is impossible to do it in one day, say, as quick as three days, I can try. That should be ready by Friday.” The police man said with confidence.
My that a few words about “efficiency” worked, perhaps. I got my passport on Thursday, which was only two days after I handed all my papers. About the fees, it was several ten RMB that included the paper material fee of that passport. I even forgot to bring a few packages of cigarette to the police.
(Make money to go abroad)
Once I had my passport, which was very rare at that time, my comrades in orchestra started to ask testing questions about when to leave for abroad. Even my personal belongs, such as furniture, bicycle etc, were settled by persons. Although I always answered “very soon”, But in my mind I was very clear, to go to the United States was still very elusive. Because I had no economic sponsor, no money to pay for the expensive tuition. Under such circumstance, it was completely impossible to get a visa from the US Embassy.
Whatever, I had no choice except finding a way working hard to earn money. The know-how to make money from selling paintings that I learnt from Teacher Chai in Shanghai was the only money making skill I knew. Therefore I moved the whole thing to Hunan. I went to see many artists in Hunan, paying about 10 to 20 RMB a piece to buy their Chinese paintings. Then I take the paintings to an expert to have them mounted, and then I sold them for 100 to 200 RMB per piece to foreigners. My customers include foreign English teachers, foreign tourists, sometimes even foreign individual tourists I met on the streets.
There was an event by chance, or by destiny, that changed my life. That was one day I was invited by a TV reporter of Hunan
Tv as a interpreter to interview a “Chinese Cultural Study Group” from Australia. During the interview I got to know an artist named Lawrence. After a few going-out-together we became kind of friends. That changed the destiny of my life.
One day, I brought about 30 Chinese paintings to Lawrence’s room hopefully he would like some of them and pay for. As I introduced before Lawrence himself was an artist. He used his very critical eyes to appreciate some of my paintings, and then commented that my paintings were pretty good, at least were original art, not like those commercial copies selling at so called Friendship Store (used to be shops only sell things to foreigners) that tourist guide took them to. Hence He made a room call to another guest. About 10 minutes latter, there was a queue lining out side of Lawrence’s room. Lawrence let everybody in. And I gave a brief speech about Chinese paintings. In fact I was no artist myself, only told something very shallow that I learnt during the business. But everybody looked very interested and serious. The atmosphere was somewhat like a classroom.
As soon as my talk finished, one person asked me “how much?”
“How much what?” I asked him.
“How much money? For this painting?” She pointed a silk painting with very easy to understand English.
“Oh, this, this is a small painting, 80 RMB” I explained.
Someone else asked “how about that one?”
“That one, en, that one is bigger, should cost 200RMB.”I say.
The group of Australians were all amused by the fact that Chinese paintings priced by size just like table cloth.
Someone again asked me if I took only RMB or Australia dollar as well. I told them it did not matter very much, even how much they pay did not matter very much, as far as they pay.
When I was talking to Lawrence, everyone was busy looking for paintings they might like. In the end, I sold every single piece of paintings I brought there. My ragged army bag was felt with Australian dollars and Chinese Renminbi.
That was the richest day in my life up to that day. In fact I had never seen so much money at one time before that day. That was the day, I would never forget in my entire life.
It seems everyone bought paintings from me, except one man, Lawrence. After I explained to him that I make money in order to study abroad, and for that I also need a financial sponsor. Lawrence obviously did not know the real meaning of “sponsor”, he told me if I was going to Australia, I wouldn’t need a sponsor if I bring some paintings that were real art with me.
Australia? I never thought about Australia, up to then I only thought about USA and USA only.
(Go to Australia)
One year passed very quickly. That was the time I visit my wife Dongya in Shanghai. (In China by that time, people can not move freely from place to place. One has to stay in one’e birth place, even if people from two different cities married, they can only live together in the smaller city which one part lived, but not to the bigger one that the other part lived. I was from Hunan, a much smaller city than Shanghai, but Dongya is from Shanghai, so we had to live separately even we were married.)
Certainly I went to see my old friend, the one who taught me painting business, teacher Chai Ben-Shan.
When Chai heard my story about Lawrence, he said “why not Australia, why must be the United States. Now it is not where you choice to go, but where you can go, except Tanzania or Zambia.”
Then he handed me a brochure of La Trobe University in Melbourne.
“Your English is good; go there to study English literature should be the quickest way to get yourself abroad.” That, changed my life cause from USA to Australia
Following Chai’s advice, I applied for English studies at the La Trobe University in Melbourne. I wrote a letter to Lawrence about my coming to Melbourne. Lawrence was really worth a friend; he called University straight away. Less than 3 months, I received a letter of acceptance from La Trobe. University.
The next thing is applying for a visa.
Although up to then I still did not believe I could really get myself abroad, yet I started to believe Chai’s saying “there was no road, man walk on it, step by step, the road become.”
(Obtain a Visa)
Every Chinese abroad or trying to go abroad would know, no visa, no going abroad. In order to get a visa, must have money, or a financial sponsor. But I, at that time, just like many others who were trying to get out of the country, had got everything but money or sponsor. Though I was so sure my hope was elusive, still I decide to go to Beijing to have a try. Even finally I could not go out as I wished; I would have an explanation, an excuse, an answer, to Shasha, to Dangya, to Chai Ben-Shan, to every one of my friends and orchestra fellow members. Just like that holding my passport I went to Beijing.
Very early next morning after my arrival at Beijing I went to the Australia Embassy. Before I even got close to the front gate, I saw an announcement in Chinese written “Overseas student visa section pleases go this way”, then the address with a map. Luckily the place wasn’t too far away. I quickly walked towards the place. But, not yet close to the building I saw huge crowd in front of a big mansion. Strange, applying a visa in China was also like to buy a train ticket, no line up? But when I got close to the building, it was not strange any more, because I was one of the crowds who were trying very hard to get toward. Of course I was not pushing others away to get myself in for visa, but for reading another notice. As there were just too many people,
There was no way I could read what was on the notice, only over heard people asking the same questions which no one could give an answer “Why they close issuing visa temporarily?” “When will they re- start again?”
Mean time, inside a Chinese staff made an announcement “due to various reasons, we stop to issue student visa. Wait for further notice.” Sounded hundred percent Chinese bureaucrat tone.
I understand there was no meaning at all to sweat in that crowd. I pushed my way out, sat by the street, thinking.
“Should I just go back home like that? How If Sha-Sha were here, what would she ask me to do?” I also reminded Chai Ben-Shan’s saying “There was no road. People walk on it, step by step, a road become. Just keep walking; one will get one’s destination in the end.”
Hence I decided, I shouldn’t go back, but forwards. I must find some other ways leading to my destination.
At this time, a young man about my age came to chat with me. He introduced himself named Zho-Zhong.
“We haven’t met before. How many times have you been here?” He asked me.
“First time.” I answer honestly.
“This is my 11th time.” He said with a superior tone. Followed he started to show off his rich experiences how he did all up to here. In the end, he asked me “How is your financial guarantee? Is it a bank deposit certificate, or just a letter from a sponsor? If it is a bank deposit certificate would be much better, but if just letter would be difficult…” Before my answer he was about to continue talk something else. I knew he was not really interested in my situation, but find someone to talk with so that he would feel better from his loneliness and pity.
I, have neither.” I told him the truth, in order to end the meaningless conversation.
“What? You have neither money nor letter; dare to all the way from Hunan coming here for a visa? What an international joke! I swear to you if you can get a visa, I put my first name last, and last name first.” (Which is considered a kind of insult in China)
Such conversation brings no useful information nor good feelings but a pure waste lot of time, I excused myself with something I needed to go and left Zhu-Zhong.
I went back to the Australian Embassy, talked around looking for opportunities. An opportunity came right to me. I saw two Aussies, one female of one male walked out from the embassy. I went up to them pretended that I just arrived from local knowing nothing about the visa situation, asking them the direction to the visa section where I just came from. They stopped for me and seriously listen to my question, then very kindly pointed the direction to the Visa section. Seeing I was little puzzled on my face, they said” We are just about to going there too. If you like, we can go together.”
I did not mind, not at all. On the contrary, I was so delighted I could walk together with them, which meant I had more time to chat with them. In the confabulation, I got to know that they were not staffs of the embassy, but managers of some schools in Australia coming to Beijing to recruit students. For them, students were business. Through conversations I got to know the reason that visa-issue-stop temporarily was because the Australian government was adjusting overseas’ student policy. The people in charge of visa section were back to Australia for a meeting. They would come back in a week.
What an important information this is! At least, I did not have to come there everyday, and everyday did not know until which day I had to wait.
I made a good use of that week visiting Tianjin. Unexpectedly, this trip I fond my key to the door to go Australia.
The story goes like this. After Chinese reform & open-door policy, the Chinese Musician Association established an “American Music Research Association” which is located in the Tianjin Conservatory of Music. I with my thesis of “the American jazz” became the youngest member of the association. As I was already in Tianjin I certainly took the chance to visit the general secretary of the association. Heard that I would study abroad very soon, (that was rare and difficult by that time) the general secretary appeared to be very warm, invited me home for dinner. I remember nothing was on the meal, but remember he gave me a list of names and addresses of the Association members. In the list, some very famous and important leading musicians included the country’s leading soprano Zhang-Quan.
Back to Beijing, I paid my visit to the members on the list one by one. When I visited Zhang-Quan, the old professor seemed to be very happy to see me. (After a long persecution during the Cultural Revolution) She even thought me as one of her school posterity. (Professor Zhang was a graduate from the Eastman School of Music in New York) From her I gained an even more important name, the one in charge of Chinese Central Broadcasting Station’s Music Program for foreign section. (I remember was my violin teacher from shanghai’s elder brother’s ex-wife’s brother.)
I went to see the head of the Music Section of the Chinese Central Broadcasting Station straight away. I was warmly received by the head because I was introduced by Professor Zhang. When heard that I was about to go to Australia for my music studies soon, he asked me for a favor. He said “if you have a chance to meet the Australian Embassy people, please pass my message to them. That is when they provide us music program; please give us stereo instead of mono. The person in change of music program from the Australia Embassy was here a few times. But we could not talk much due to language barrier.” And then he found out a business card of the person in Charge of music program in the Australian Embassy. I took a look, that gentleman is the Culture secretary of the Australia Embassy.
That business card became my key to go to Australia.
The next day, I went to the Australian embassy in early morning, I showed my working ID as a staff from the Hunan Broadcasting & TV bureau, but being sent by the Chinese Central Broadcasting Station coming to see…, I showed the doorman the business card of the Culture secretary of the Australia Embassy. A few minutes later I met the gentleman in the business card. I was invited to his office with respect. We started to talk about music. To me, music is what? Music is my everything, my love, my job, my cup of tea… Of course I did pass the message from the Central Broadcasting Station that their stereo music programs were appreciated, and I added if the music would be closer to the Chinese people’s taste.
The cultural secretary was obviously getting exited by my talking. He picked up a telephone, said to me “If you don’t mind, I would like you to meet someone, the director of the Radio Australia Chinese section. His name is John Crone. He happened to be in Beijing.”
“I don’t mind, not at all.” I replied. How could I mind, simply can’t afford to mind. It was actually more than I expected.
A few minutes later John Crone shook hands with me at the cultural secretary's office. Three of us were talking in a very good mood.
When the topic coming to some problems about their music program as well as their communication difficulties with the Chinese, the secretary suddenly asked Mr. Crone “Why don’t you ask Mr. Chen to see if he would like to help us?”
Mr. Crone catered to his superior, said “You know what, I thought the same. In fact I have been looking for a person who is a mainland Chinese understand English and western cultural as well as music and radio broadcasting.”
I was more than delighted; my English is simply not good enough to describe how excited I was at that very moment. Yet my words came out like this “I would love to help you, but…”
“But what?” They asked the same question at the same time.
“But I’m on my way to Eastman School of Music in New York.”
I did not wait for too long to tell them that I could postpone my going to USA, instead to HELP them in Radio Australia that is located in Melbourne for a short period of time.
“Do you have a passport?” The secretary asked.
Yes I do.” Answered me.
“Have you passport with you now?” The secretary asked again.
“Yes I do.” Answered me again.
“Do you have any friends in Australia?” He kept asking.
“Yes I do.” I kept answering positively.
“How is your financial situation? I mean do you have a bank account in Australia?” He looked at my eyes with the last but may be the most important question.
“Yes I do…I mean I would have as soon as I am in Australia.”
“When Can you depart for Australia?” This question was asked by Mr. Crone.
“At once, immediately, right away.” I couldn’t help standing up from my chair.
“OK, everything sounds great. Could you leave your passport here?” That was the real final question of the secretary.
“Yes I would be very happy to leave my passport here. But for how long?” I asked.
“Until tomorrow morning 10 o’clark. OK.” The secretary raised his hand to shake hands which meant Bye-bye.
Mr. Crone walked me out of the office. We talked about a plan of making a series radio programs introducing Australia music to Chinese people. But Mr. Crone made it very clearly and repeatedly, that it would only be a part time job, wouldn’t be enough to make a living. I told him not to worry as I had other means to make a living.
Next morning at 10 o’clock sharp, I received my passport with visa to Australia. I felt my body was floating in the air, could not remember whether I walked out or flew out of the Embassy.
I went to the visa section again on purpose, looking at the crowd with satisfactory smile of the victory. In the crowd, I discovered that man again. What was his name again, Zhu-Zhong. If revise his last name to first name, it would be Zhong-Zhu, that would sound “boar” in Chinese language. I was amused, burst into laughter. I waved at him. He noticed at me, walked towards me.
I could not wait until he get closer, because that would simply too cruel. I only wave my passport, kept the voice down enough that he couldn’t hear
“See you in Australia.”
(Leave my motherland for a foreign land)
Leave my first wife Dongya
After I had my visa, the very first person I must see was certainly my wife Dongya.I went from Beijing directly to Shanghai. Dongya arranged me staying at a guest house of the Shanghai Public Health Bureau where she used to work.
After a simple meal at a cheap place, she asked me “Do you come for the procedure?”
“All procedures going abroad are set. What else?” I asked.
“No need to pretend. You are here for divorce procedure, right?” Dongya made it very clearly with calm.
“Divorce?!” Although I felt the day of divorce would come sometime. But it wasn’t true that I was there for divorce, at least not that time.
“It’s OK to tell the truth; the truth is since the day we got married, I knew today would come. Only did not expect it comes so soon.” Followed, Dongya told me a shocking story that I had not known until that day.
Dongya told me that when my father came to Shanghai from Hunan, to ask Dongya to get married with me, she felt very envy; envy that I had a father who would ask a girl to married his son so that his son wouldn’t get in trouble in my working unit because of the girl’s pregnancy.
Yet my father’s explanation shocked Dongya.
My father said “If you still don’t understand the real mean of the marriage, I will have to make it more clearly to you. I do this, not for the sake of Him (he wouldn’t call me “my son”), but completely for the sake of you, in fact, for the sake of anyone, I would do the same, because, only I understand him the most. Saying one’s own son isn’t a good person, is something very painful. As a father, I am not able to change him, but should at least work hard prevent he causing trouble to the society. In another word, to keep his damage to the minimum to the society, please believe me, this time I ask you to get married with THAT PERSON, is completely for the sake of you, for the sake of you the reputation in society. If you are married, the relationship between you and him would be legal. Marriage and divorce is a normal phenomenon, not a scandal, no one would say anything about it…”
Dongya was shocked by the words coming out from my father’s mouth, asked “Divorce? What about the little baby inside me?”
“That is why you should not give birth of the child. Because I’m sure he wouldn’t be together with you for a long time. As I told you, no one knows better about him than me.”
Heard that, Dongya had nothing further to say.
My father continued his persuasion “About this matter I have exchanged thoughts with your mother. I think, as long as you don’t give birth to the child, she wouldn’t against your marriage as much as before.”
Finally father ended him brain wash like this “This time, I came to Shanghai especially for you, therefore I have no intension to see him (me, his son). There is no need for you to tell him either. Let’s promise, to keep this as a secret between us two, until the day you two divorce.”
“Secret”, what a powerful word! , It was that word captured half the heart of Dongya’s.
“No wonder as soon as we got our marriage certificate you asked me to accompany you to the hospital for abortion. So it was that old man’s setting.” I suddenly realized the truth, and felt a bit shacking.
“Now you know what happened.” Dongya went on “remembering what I said to you when we got out from the hospital after abortion?”
“Yes I do, oh no, remember what? I mean I only remember you said something to me, but not what you had said.” I reminded of her said “I swear I would never have a baby again in my life.”
“I said…” Dongya stopped, perhaps had no strength, or not necessary to say it again.
No quarrel, no intermediation, no law court, we divorced, very peacefully and calmly.
The very last words Dongya left me were “Do you know what was the real and the most important reason I made up my mind to go for the abortion? It was because I was frightened by my child would have a father treats him just like your father treats you.”
My father's appearance came to my mind, just felt a little closer and worthy respect some while ago became ferocious!
Like that, I left my wife, the very first wife of mine, never had contact again, until today.
Leave my working unit and fellow colleagues
Returning to my working unit, the Hunan Broadcasting & TV Orchestra, I started sorted out things, cleaning, throwing garbage (each time when it comes to move to another place, always have no idea where come so many useless things) burning documents and personal letters as well as photographs, the rest properties that had value to sell I sold them, or simply gave away. My colleagues seeing all these, no longer asking testing questions such as “when would you go?” On the contrary, all became over friendly.
Leave my family
I used almost all the money I got from the Australian cultural Group by selling Chinese paintings to them for an air-ticket to Melbourne.
The last day I was leaving for Australia, my elder brother asked me to have a meal at his place. I went there, seeing a full table of dishes waiting for me. In addition to the dishes, also other members of my family , those were my parents, elder brother and his wife. Of course, Meimei was there too. But my younger brother still did not show up.
The dished on the able were made by my elder brother’s wife, the so-called fat sister.
Let me borrow this opportunity to talk a little about my sister-in-law. I had always been opposing them to be a couple. I once even wanted to threat fat-sister that I would tell my brother about she-and-our-father-thing at the farm. But, they got married, after all, when I was studying in Shanghai. Fact is fact. Dose it make any sense to mention about those past matters anymore? For the sake of my elder brother, I had to cover all the facts inside me. But cursed in my heart that my father, no more than a monster covered with human skin and appearance of always-doing-the-right-thing.
Perhaps to keep parents’ dignity, they showed neither happiness nor celebration on their faces. They even didn’t mention about my going abroad. See me saying nothing except eating, my mother couldn’t hold any longer. She said “We do not exactly support your going abroad, but if you insist to go; we do not object neither.” Said she took out an envelope, the inside full of small bills, she explained “I have counted; there are totally 200 RMB in it…”
200 Chinese RMB, which was the entire support I received from my parents from my university education up to my going overseas for my further education.
I looked at the envelope in my hand, suddenly all dishes tasted the same “bitter”.
Thinking back so many thunders and storms, winds and frosts of all the years, think forward unknown difficulties and obstacles I would going to encounter, my heart cries with no tears.
Just before I was about to leave, I wanted to say something exciting, I said “Please do not worry about me, I would…”
I was not quite finished, my father cut in “worry? No worry anymore, at least you wouldn’t make more damage to our Chinese society.” After a light laughing, father’s facial expression became very serious, as if he was worrying about I would expand the damage to more peoples all over the world.
Like always, it was Meimei as the family repetitive, just like to see me off to shanghai, she accompanied me to Guangzhou to see me on the flight to Melbourne.
Just before I boarded my aircraft, I passed that envelope, the envelope of 200 RMB, which my parents gave me as their support for my education overseas, said to her “buy some candy that you like.”
The flight of Cathy Pacific took off the runway, carrying me with my dream, left my motherland, for a completely unknown world.
To be continued
|Reply: Re:Father Son & Violin (My Life Story)
||Date: 2010-07-08 15:09:33
17, The Fifth stage of My Violin Life
1. How Australians value my violin playing
On the aircraft for Melbourne, I recalled the last twenty years of my personal history, a history of struggle: from I fell in love with violin at the first sight at primary school time, so that often after school I walked a few kilometers to the music store only for taking a look of the violin from glass cabinet with my nose flattened; with help from master Zhou I made my first white violin at the age of 12; during my middle school time competing with my big rival Ma Xiao-Mao in the Mao propaganda team; overheard western violin Pieces played by my first violin teacher Lee from church window; then I became the concertmaster of an Changsha amateur orchestra; a conflict with conductor Xiao at the Changsha Opera; fight with foreman Peng at the construction company for the right to play violin; ignorant and shamelessly struggle for the position as the concertmaster at the Hunan Beijing-Opera; the hardship and bitterness of having education at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music; followed by money making, the TOEFL test, a passport application, visa etc etc, walked such a long way until the day I finally on the plan flying!
If all there facts could not prove that “a man fight for one’s better life” to be the correct way, to prove that I won, I’m a violist, I had been doing the right thing? What else can?
I think anyone would agree in front of the hard facts. However, why am I not satisfied with myself? After much thought, I realized for my success, even recognized by the whole world still wouldn’t be enough for me, because there was no man who did not recognize me, yet for me, the one man was more important than all the people put together in the whole world, that man is, my FATHER. Yes, it was my father, his attitude towards me, dismissive attitude towards my success, could not make me feel satisfied, proud and fulfilled. Therefore, I must go on working harder to beat him, in all and any aspects. I must become a more respectable and richer person, must speak better English than he did, including getting girl friends, must be everyone prettier than his wife… In short, emotionally speaking, as long as I can convince him and make him appreciate and admire me, I would do anything possible.
On the plan, excitement with anxiety; satisfaction with disappointment; hope with frustration, was a true reflection of my frame of mind at the time.
About my life after leaving China for Australia and later for Norway, I have another autobiography titled “An angel an intellectual & a prostitute”. In that book I gave a vivid and detailed description of how a Chinese young man adopts himself into western culture and society. This book I choose to focus on the story between my father and me to go with the violin.
I believe the majority of overseas’ students like me who knows no one, no family no friends no background, would have to go through a long and bitter process before they could be gain a legal immigration status and economical success.
I must be luckier, or there must be a God who specially looks after me. I was totally financially safe only after three months being in Australia, and six months later I started to feel rich (of course not that “rich” rich, only to compare with my life in China); less than one year I bought my own car and a house; and there was an Australian citizen waiting for changing my identity from a overseas student to an Australian citizen.
Indeed I loved Australia, and still love it now. But there was one thing that made me very sad. That was how Australians valuing my violin playing. I meant my violin playing was not recognized or appreciated by Australians. Though I had a considerably good income as a manager of a private institution, but I could not give up my ID or the value as a “violinist.” Though I took part of some rehearsals and concerts in several orchestras in Melbourne; yet no one invited me or accepted me to be their full time regular member. This made me truly melancholy, until a day someone told me the reason. The reason was though my violin playing techniques was OK, yet the style was quite different from the westerners. To put it concretely, my violin sounded too harsh too noisy, part from the factory made violin as well as the extremely cheap steel strings which I used, the way of playing I learnt from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music was too energetic, in addition some “rebel” from Cultural Revolution left in my blood.
Nevertheless, I, “the little Nine-brother” at that time, of course, was not able to realize my own problems, but kept blaming the Australians as low class westerners. For we all know they were descendants of those who were exiled by the British government, weren’t they?
2. How Norwegians value my violin playing
Except violin, life was wonderful in Australia, work, friends, barbecue parties or beach walking by weekends, when everything went well and I started to doubt if I really need to make an effort to study in USA? Or why not get married with Eileen, an extremely good hearted Australia woman, and settle myself down there. At exactly this time, I met Marianne Seather, a Norwegian scholar who happened in Melbourne. We were pure friends, only met couple of times, and went a movie together once. One night I woke up in a nightmare and in the nightmare something about my father and my violin … I made a mid-night call to my new friend Marianne. In the phone I said “Somehow I feel uneasy in Australia.” She replied “come to Norway.” That became my reason to Norway.
Norway, should be a high class westerner’s world, yet unfortunately my violin playing was received as same as I was in Australia. First I was rejected by two professional orchestras in Oslo. I only had a small position at a semi-professional orchestra far away from Oslo.
“If you do not have anything else to do, why don’t you get some education at the Norwegian State Academy of Music?” My second wife Marianne suggested.
“Of course, I would love to. And this is what I’m here for. But…” I was thinking of finance, as I hade no such good income as I did in Australia. As a matter of fact, I was jobless.
“Education is free in Norway.” Marianne figured out what’s in my mind.
“Free? You mean free FREE!”
I followed my wife’s advice went to the Norwegian State Academy of Music for violin lessons.
My teacher was Professor Boyhansen. I remembered in the first lesson, he turned on a tape recorder, and said “play something for me, whatever you would like to play is fine.”
In order to show off my technique, I chose Wieniawski’s “Tarantella”, an extremely fast difficult piece of music that I had spent more than 10 years to practice it. After the playing I was quite proud of myself for not stop in the middle and no mistakes.
But Professor Boyhansen looked somewhat amused. What hurt my feeling most was his comment “music is not sports, is not to see how fast you fingers can run.”
Professor Boyhansen’s teaching method was totally different from any of my former Chinese teachers. Unlike all other teacher when gave first lesson always asking me to change way of holding the violin or the bow, Professor Boyhansen gave me some very simple easy melodies. And more he asked me to do was to listen to him giving lessons to other Norwegian students. As if my profession was listening. In addition, he lent me some tapes and CDs, also advised me to listen to more tapes and CDs at the academy library. After a period of time, Professor Boyhansen handed me a tape, said to me “this is what I recorded at your first class, take it home and listen to it carefully, to see if there is some differences to other tapes and CDs you have been listening.”
After listened to my tape at home, I felt nothing was more convincing, as I found that my recording was indeed very different from all other tapes and CDs. To put it concretely my recording sounded more like the Chinese ballet “the Red Women Army” full of gunpowder flavor, just like the great leader Chairman Mao’s teaching, was like “a weapon that uniting and educating the people to against the enemy.” While those western recordings such as the ballet “Swan Lake” sounded soft and sweet, like someone said “the art that influence on and appreciated by the human souls.”
Apart from the way of playing, the instrument (violin) itself that I played was very different from the violins Europeans were playing. They all use very fine old Italian master works, and with very expensive gut strings on them, while I though updated a handmade violin by a young master from Guangzhou instead the factory violin I used to play in Australia, but I was still playing on some very cheap China made steel strings.
3. Sheng Zhonghua come to Norway
No one knows the name Sheng zhonghua outside of China. But in China, many people still remember this name even she has been disappeared from China for more than 20 years. She is the second child the first daughter of the most well known violin family in China. Her elder brother Sheng Zhongguo is a symbol of Chinese violinist. She was my teacher when I studied at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
All my violin experience in the west made me feel very upset, that I began to doubt about the Shanghai Conservatory of Music that I graduated from was really the “world class”. Therefore I wrote a letter to my former teacher Sheng Zhonghua. Sheng wrote back to me immediately, with well written handwriting and very nicely chosen words. She said “couldn’t be that bad, could be? Next time when you take lesson from Professor Boyhansen, please also send my regards, and don’t forget to tell him if there is an opportunity I would like very much to see how he teaches.”
I honestly passed teacher Sheng’s message to Professor Boyhansen. Boyhansen heard that, thought it could be a great idea. For if he not only teaches me, but also teaches my teacher Sheng. Afterwards teacher Sheng could bring his method back to China and influence more Chinese people. In another word, Professor Boyhansen would become a teacher of another nation.
After some letters back and force, I met my teacher Sheng at Oslo airport. Just like the first time I went to Australia, she brought a violin, or should I say “a violin look wooden box” from mass production by a Chinese factory.
The first time when I took teacher Sheng to meet my professor, she asked me to give Boyhansen a tape of her solo performance. To my surprise when I opened it there was no tape in the tape case. What made me and my professor even more or extremely confused was that it was not a mistake. Teacher Sheng took the tape out and only gave him an outside case on purpose. I have no idea even to today what purpose that could possibly be?
But what made Professor Boyhansen even more upset was when they met the first time teacher Sheng did not mention how to exchange teaching method and ideas, or how to learn from him, but asking names and addresses of orchestras in Oslo. And then she expressed her willingness to work for one of the professional orchestras there.
The orchestra that teacher Sheng applied was the same one that I once applied but not accepted with the result only get into the second stage but not the final. According to Teacher Sheng violin performing ability, being accepted as a member should not be a problem at all. I was waiting for my teacher’s good news. Waite until her get into the orchestra, as a former student, I would be proud too (having more face, as Chinese saying) that would also be a prove that the Shanghai Conservatory of Music is indeed the world class. It was only me, not good enough. However, after a few days, an astonishing result occurred. Among the 7 applicants, only one could not even get into the second stage (being passed after the first stage) That applicant, was the great and famous violinist in my motherland, a professor of the best music institution in China, and the one I used to worship, my former teacher Sheng Zhonghua!
I had no idea this stroke meant what to teacher Sheng? To me, it was vital. Because, to me, Norway, as a high class western country, rejecting teacher Sheng’s way of violin playing, is a negation to my 20 years of hard working and arduous struggle, or a negation to my life!
However, teacher Sheng is a person of not easily admitting defeat. By teacher Sheng’s strong request, Professor Boyhansen had to help arranging a violin recital for her. I had the entire good wish in my heart to support her, hoping she could put all her abilities in a good use and obtain recognition from the Norwegians. I counted on her success, to gain a little face back for my country China, for the face of our education. To put all my hope into action I gave (not lent) her as a present my own violin that made by a Guangzhou master special for me. I prey for God, for Buddha, for any gods exist in the universe, for my teacher Sheng’ successful recital. I expect the concert would be sensational, outstanding, I even imagined the newspaper radio and TV people interviewing Sheng , and my giving cool interpretation.
Teacher Sheng’s violin recital took place at the small hall of the Norwegian State Academy of Music.
I went to the concert hall on the recital day very early. Waited until the time was near, almost on one got into the hall except a few who were already there. I felt rather abnormal, quickly ran to the door to tell doorman letting people in. To my astonishment there was no doorman, for there were no people to let in. I hurried back to the hall, carefully counted head by head, a total of less than ten people, if I remember correctly. And all the people inside the hall were black haired. And blond was only one, the one playing piano to accompany teacher Sheng. Nevertheless, I still hoped that among the ten someone would come from media, carrying a tape recorder or a video. If put teacher Sheng’s recital on the papers, or radio TV, it would also be some influence. However, sadly, teacher Sheng performance, how could me, a former student put into words? In nutshell, when show was over, I was glad that there were just a few people, felt lucky for there were no media people there that might leave some recording as evidence. Though teacher Sheng did have many excuses not to play as well as expected, just like many of her previous performing experiences, one out of such was when she was young, she played an unsatisfactory solo because of taking some medicine chlorpheniramine that made her sleepy.
Teacher Sheng’s three months visa as a visiting scholar passed quickly like a blink of eyes. When I was busy thinking beside the violin I had given to her, what I should give to her as back-home present.
Three months quiet and unknown in Norway teacher Sheng was suddenly on the new papers, TV and radios. But the pity was, her face on media was not because of her outstanding violin playing, but a procedure of applying as a refugee. The reason for teacher Sheng to be a refugee was, OUTSTANDING, because if she goes back to China, her husband would beat her to death.
The news of Sheng Zhonghua’s refugee thing spread to the ears of Professor Boyhansen. He was not happy of course. He told me that “I invited your former teacher as a visiting scholar coming to Norway to learn my violin teaching technique and understand more western music, so that when she goes back she can benefit students in China. Since she intends to stay, there will be meaningless to go on with our project.”
This Professor Boyhansen difficult-to-understand phenomenon, namely “Chinese intellectuals once out of the country do not want to go back”, I dare to say is a difficult-to-understand phenomenon to most people in the western developed countries in the world. For, after the establishment of the New China, Chinese intellectuals with the title as the “stinking ninth category” were among the lowest social status. Through the endless and countless political campaigns, the intellectuals would always be among the targets. As a slogan said “the more knowledge the more reactionary (to the society)” How could the westerners be possibly understand the inhuman suffering and ill-treatment the Chinese intellectuals had experienced. In addition, the extreme narrow mind, selfish, shortsighted, is a general character of the Chinese nation. Therefore, we, people from a “mind one’s own business and care for nobody” nation, once their feet on another soil, few will go back to the motherland. (This was the situation in the year 80s. Now changed a lot)
I am a Chinese too, I posses all the Chinese characteristics, I am also a person “care for nobody”. However, I must care for teacher Sheng, because, after all, she was not only my former teacher, but also I was the one caused her to be in Norway. Heard Sheng applying for refugee status, my first reaction was she had cut off her back road (a road she can escape when she is cornered. The “back road” was her motherland)
I immediately went to see Sheng, blamed her for had not discussed before she made such a big decision. I, though being her violin student, after all had been more years in foreign countries, spoke more languages, and knew a little more about local policies and laws.
Sheng smiled at me, shut-up all my complains by one sentence, “I could do anything for love. For love, I would give up everything, such as fame, social status, face…everything.”
Love? Love L O V E ! ! ! ?
No wonder she said if she goes back her husband would beat her to death! It reminded me some rumor saying that after Sheng gave birth with her second husband, she started to see someone else, a tall young photographer. The young man somehow came to Norway first, that became the real and secret reason for Sheng to wrote to me so nicely, coming to study with my professor Boyhansen…Then, evidently the rumor was true, indeed to that rumor, Sheng was giving up her family, her career, her value as a violin professor, and even her future life in China.
After heard the word “love”, I really wonder I should be happy for her or sorry for her, because I knew it so clearly that Norway, to the majority of people, may be the world’s richest, safest, and most free, most leisure paradise, but definitely not an idea place for teacher Sheng to stay for a long term, as Sheng was a kind of people who constantly needs to be appreciated. To people like her, Norway could be the most monotonous, desolate, lonely, boring hell, also because the value of teacher Sheng, or her name was known only limited in the Chinese community. Therefore I thought one day, someday, she would realize that and go back to where she belongs, the Chinese circle. Even if unable to return to the mainland, she should try to go to Hong Kong, Taiwan, or even Singapore.
Thought about all these, I grew a kind of feeling that my helping Sheng coming to Norway was “good will ended with bad result”. A sense of self-blame came to my mind spontaneously.
4. Meeting Sheng Zhongguo
I think it was in the early 90’s, I went back to China once. I took that opportunity to visit teacher Sheng’ mother in Beijing. Sheng’ mother, is a super mother who raised 11 talents music talent, among them the eldest son Sheng Zhongguo is a great violinist, the idol and symbol of the New China violin soloist. The mother was staying with the eldest son. That gave me chance to meet the greatest violinist, the one I could not possibly dream to meet when I was a young boy.
I went to see them with a heave heart as what I did for my teacher did not really gave her very good result.
Sheng’s mother originally from Shangsha, the same city where I am from. Therefore I felt very close when we met.
Sheng Zhongguo said “You are my sister’s students, but also a half hometown fellow of my family, we do not need take all the trouble to go out, just at stay home having an everyday family meal.”
After meal, inevitably Sheng zhongguo and I went to talk about violins. Sheng Zhongguo showed me his violin, a pretty good Italian old violin. The reason I say that violin being “pretty good” meant not extremely good, not a violin should be in the hands of his level…
In short, the meeting with Sheng Zhongguo, the absolute top of my country, up to that time, made me realize very clearly that violin, as a branch of art, regardless software (way of performing) or hardware (instruments, the violins themselves), China has a great distance behind the western developed countries.
I’d rather stop here and omit the details, as it might hurt the feeling of many. Moreover, some information may be considered to be privacy or confidentiality within the industry circle.
After said goodbye to Sheng’s mother her son, the great Sheng Zhongguo and the family, I walked alone in the street for a long time feeling a total loss and defeat. Just imagine, if a someone found his masters is not a invincible man as he believed, and starts to have doubt about what he has leant from his master and all the years efforts an hard train being useful, how would you feel?
5. Self-Renewal from Scratch
The harsh reality forced me to realize that, if I really want to make a living in the west, as it says “in Rome, speak Romance.” I must adopt myself to the European way of violin playing. Think that way, I was glad I was not a professor, not famous, have no face to lose. As far as I work hard, I can learn and renewal, and become a completely new person.
Back to Norway, I completely gave up my peacockery and self-respect as a violinist, honestly, seriously and solidly took violin lessons from Professor Boyhansen.
As a human, one not only is aware of his deficiencies, but also to acknowledge them, is indeed a painful experience. However, I also came to understand that to realize I am not a very good violinist, at least not as good as I think, just like to realize I am not a very good person, at least not as good as I think I am, is a life milestone that marks a higher level of life stage.
Now my mind is clear, and thinking is correct, everything is on the track quickly. After a period of learning and practice, not only the style of violin playing, (software), but also the violin itself (hardware) had a fundamental change. (I bought an old Italian master violin at the price 50,000 U.S. dollars worth in Sweden, that I love so much that I could die for it)
I still remember the last lesson Professor Boyhansen gave to me. He first let me listen to the recording of my very first lesson. That revolutionary, Red Guard-like energetic harsh flavor made me couldn’t help laughing. I must look very awkward. It’s embarrassing. He then changed to another recording. The cream flavored sound was very sweet charming elegant. In the end he told me that was my playing too, that he recorded in the previous class. I was so surprised and found hard to believe that with efforts one could make such a huge change, beyond recognition.
Then, Professor Boyhansen solemnly announced “basically you should be able to work for European professional Orchestras.” And immediately he invited me to take part in his own chamber orchestra.
The very first concert I participated was a contemporary I Italian work. Unfortunately at the time and until now, I only remember the piece is very difficult, but not anything else, not even one sentence of the melody.
Soon after that, I finally got at position at a professional orchestra in Oslo. That meant I have a stable job, or convert it in a Chinese saying, to hold an iron rice-bowl of the capitalism. Followed I and my Norwegian wife Marianne bought a big new condo (with a bank loans). And soon after that I bought a used BMW. Like that, Marianne worked for the Oslo University, I worked for the orchestra, the life of us finally settled down.
What is the dream for most Chinese fight their way abroad? To live in one’s own house, drive one own car, sleep with a western woman, should considered to be the dream, and my dream had come true.
I took some photos of what I own, house, car, wife, and had them sent to my elder brother Danjin back to Hunan, hoping he would show the photos the whole family, especially to our father. Imagine my father and my family looking at pictures of the wonder and envy, I was immersed in a complacent mood, a mood of great satisfactory.
My body shape was also unconsciously getting rounder and rounder in that mood, mood of comfort and satisfaction.
6. Violin-sound at the Karl Johansgate
Anyone who has been to Oslo must know the street named Karl Johansgate.
Norway is a small country. Oslo is very small capital in the small country, and at the very center of the small capital. Karl Johansgate is located at the very center of Oslo. It is the most popular and most crowded zone of the whole country.
It is a narrow walking street leading from the railway station to the royal palace, with the total length, say, about 2KM. By the two side of the street there are variety shops cafes…In the evening, people like to gather here for street performers, spectators, or for nothing but hang on. They go up and down, up and down alone the street. When they see something interesting they stop, of they feel not interesting any more the keep going.
At the very first days when I arrived in Norway, that was a place where I often spent my treasures youth time for nothing. Since I got a job in the orchestra my life was on track and I had less and less time to be wasted there.
I was a long time since I passed the Karl Johansgate, one night after rehearsal one of the orchestra members asked me to go through Karl Johansgate with him. THAT became another turning point of my life.
When my orchestra colleague Per and I walked on the Karl Johansgate, in a distance I saw a Chinese man hunging a camera on his chest, standing in the middle of the road. He asked pedestrians passing by whether they would like their pictures taken. That reminded me when I was at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music I did the same side business of photography service to my fellow students, I grew a sort of sympathy and understanding. With a bit of worry, I said to Per “Nowadays who has no camera? How could he have business?”
“Wrong, who every day would carry a camera around? People just take pictures for fun in a good mood, in addition he is taking black and white, that old thing become new today. You know many young people today don’t have black of white photo of themselves. Me for instance, have taken quick a few by him. In fact, some turned out not bad…” Per said.
Sure enough, there were really few people in a queue waiting for his picture taken. Influenced by the atmosphere I was about to queue by the end, partly also to show my little support to the compatriot&