I did not hurry. I wanted time to think and be ready to cope with whatever was coming. The visit of these two men was unusual. However, in China, when one had to attend a meeting to hear a lecture or political indoctrination, one was seldom told in advance. The officials assumed that everybody should drop everything whenever called upon to do so. I wondered whether these two men had come to ask me to join one of their political indoctrination lectures.
Kelly’s note: 第一句”I did not hurry.”沒有把握準態度。作者應是想表達有意為之的“磨蹭”，譯為“不慌不忙”有偏差。assumed一詞，換了各種詞都覺得無法很好地體現出那個年代個人意志被剝奪的處境，暫用“要求”。
THE PAST IS FOREVER with me and I remember it all. I now move back in time and space to a hot summer’s night in July 1966, to the study of my old home in Shanghai. My daughter was asleep in her bedroom, the servants had gone to their quarters, and I was alone in my study. I hear again the slow whirling of the ceiling fan overhead; I see the white carnations drooping in the heat in the white Qianlong vase on my desk. Book shelves line the walls in front of me, filled with English and Chinese titles. The shaded reading lamp leaves half the room in shadows, but the silk brocade of the red cushions on the white sofa gleams vividly.
An English friend, a frequent visitor to my home in Shanghai, once called it “and oasis of comfort and elegance in the midst of the city’s drabness.” Indeed, my house was not a mansion, and by Western standards, it was modest. But I had spent time and thought to make it a home and a haven for my daughter and myself so that we could continue to enjoy good taste while the rest of the city was being taken over by proletarian realism.
AFTER THE EPISODE INVOLVING my brother, the interrogator continued with his inquiry about all my relatives and friends. This series of interrogations lasted nearly seven months, until the end of 1969. Then I was no longer called to the interrogation room. I waited and waited. A month passed, and then another. When there was still no sign of the interrogation being resumed, I spoke to the guard and requested to see the interrogator.
At the same moment, the Red Guards pushed open the front door and entered the house. There were thirty or forty senior high school students, aged between fifteen and twenty, led by two men and one woman much older. Although they all wore the armband of the Red Guard, I thought the three older people were the teachers who generally accompanied the Red Guards when they looted private homes. As they crowded into the hall, one of them knocked over a pot of jasmine on a fencai porcelain stool. The tiny white blooms scattered on the floor, trampled by their impatient feet.
The leading Red Guard, a gangling youth with angry eyes, stepped forward and said to me, “We are the Red Guards. We have come to take revolutionary action against you!”
Even the curtains hung completely evenly, not a fraction out of line. In the glass cabinet were white jude figures, a rose quartz incense burner, and ornaments of other semiprecious stones that I had lovingly collected over the years. They had been beautifully carved in intricate designs by the hands of skilled artists. Now my eyes caressed them to bid them farewell. Having heard from Winnie that the painter Lin Fengmian was in serious trouble, I knew that his painting of a lady in blue hanging over the sideboard would be ruthlessly destroyed. But what about the other ink-and-brush painting by Qi Baishi? He was a great artist of the traditional style. Because of his having been a carpenter in early life, he was honored by the Communist Party. Would the Red Guards know the facts of Qi Baishi’s life and spare his painting? I looked at it carefully, my eyes lingering over each stroke of his masterful brush. It was a picture of the lotus, a favorite subject for Chinese artists because the lotus symbolized purity. The poet Tao Yuanming (A.D. 376-427) used the lotus to represent a man of honor in a famous poem, saying that the lotus rose out of mud but remained unstained.
Mounting the stairs, I was astonished to see several Red Guards taking pieces of my porcelain collection out of their padded boxes. One young man had arranged a set of four Kangxi winecups in a row on the floor and was stepping on them. I was just in time to hear the crunch of delicate porcelain under the sole of his shoe. The sound pieced my heart. Impulsively I leapt forward and caught his leg just as he raised his foot to crush the next cup. He toppled. We fell in a heap together. My eyes searched for the other winecups to make sure we had not broken them in our fall, and , momentarily distracted, I was not able to move aside when the boy regained his feet and kicked me right in my chest. I cried out in pain.
I picked up one of the remaining winecups and cradled it in my palm. Holding my hand out, I said, “This winecup is nearly three hundred years old. You seem to value the cameras, watches, and binoculars, but better cameras, better watches, and more powerful binoculars are being made every year. No one in this world can make another winecup like this one again.This is a part of our cultural heritage. Every Chinese should be proud of it.””
“You shut up! These things belong to the old culture. They are the useless toys of the feudal emperors and the modern capitalist class and have no significance to us, the proletarian class. They cannot be compared to cameras and binoculars, which are useful for our struggle in time of war. Our Great Leader Chairman Mao taught us, ‘If we do not destroy, we cannot establish.’ The old culture must be destroyed to make way for the new socialist culture.”
Kelly’s note: 英文讀來冷靜、嚴謹，描述的是與其形成強烈反差的心碎回憶。我很慶幸我能在書店光明正大翻閱這本書，而非偷偷摸摸下載電子版。