Journal Entry 1
The Diary of Cai Shu Xian
May 27, 1966 Zhang Ayi looked extra tired today. Her hair, grey with age and her hand wrinkled by time, yet she woke me up with a smile and that same soft, gentle voice. For breakfast, I had the usual, congee with some side dish and some pastries. I took two bites and decided I wasn’t going to finish. Yuck, my taste buds told me. Ha, I sound so privileged. I'm in grade 12, heading off to Tsing Hua next year. Not a lot of girls go to school around here, and all the ones that do go to school, are spoiled. Their fathers are all landlords like mine, but I study hard, and they don't. The way to school was the same. The same trees, the same shops. Sweat dripping, face burning, my body screamed for ice cream. I continued biking to the little shop just around the corner of our school. A massive crowd has formed around our peaceful neighborhood. As I swiftly swing off my bike, I could hear a loud booming voice screaming, “Let Chairman Mao’s word educate us all! Who are these peoples? They’re nothing but a bunch of liars!” I pushed to the front to see what was going on. Following everyone’s gaze, no surprise, there it was, all of our teachers. I glanced around for disapproval or any sign of a joke gone wrong. No one spoke up. are going to the kill Four them! I open my Red They Guards “Smashing Olds” and evicting citizens out of mouth to protest, but the crowd said otherwise. their homes. I knew very clearly that if I complained, my best chance was, my head will soon be among theirs. Though I knew this was going to happen one day, I didn’t expect it to come so soon. This couldn’t be happening. I’ve worked my whole life, just to get into Tsing Hua. Now, all the schools have closed down, all my dreams, shattered. I had no hopes left for our country. Disgusted by all the bloodshed in front of our holy library, I walked my bike home. Just a few streets down, another parade of “Smash the Four Olds” was going on. The red guards, some I grew up with, were banging on cans, screaming for attention. Another man was brought down. A wooden board restricted his head and his armed. Heaving chains hang from both hands, and his head hangs low. You could see how his hair was neatly styled before blood and sweat stained his face. Though his shirt was soaked with sweat, you could still tell it was an expensive material only the rich could afford. “Get rid of Counter-revolutionary Red Guards arresting the intellectuals, land lords, the rich, capitalists and revisionists! Smash the four olds!” The voices of Red guards echoed in counter revolutionary revisionists. the once-peaceful neighborhood.
Father is in danger. After seeing parades of caught landlords and the rich, I couldn’t help but think where my father and my family was. With the red guards getting rid of bourgeois ideas, my father was a clear target. Hopping back on my bike, I pedaled with my life. I was too late. Shattered porcelain filled the way in. Our house was practically a mansion. People were envious, for sure. But no one ever dared to mess with us. Books, porcelain, and pieces of torn silk set a path into the common area. My heart skipped. I could feel my head getting light; my uneven heartbeat was all I could hear. Forgetting about the broken pieces of china, I ran in. I was too late. My father, my mother, were all caught and tied to the pole. The Red Guards, kids around my age, some even younger danced and chanted as if they were hunters who made their first kill. Then they started singing “The East is Red” Despite the off tune and cracking voices, they all seemed mesmerized by the song, other than my family of course. As I stood in shock, father suddenly yelled, “Enough is enough! Kill me or stop singing that awful tune.” he knew he was practically begging for death. No one seemed to notice me. No one seemed to care who I was. No one even bothered asking. I was just the idiot who stood there, helpless as I watched my house, my childhood and all my memories swallowed by the flames of death. It wasn’t until the devilish flames have already licked my skin, did I know to run. I was lost. For a second, I thought, wouldn’t it be better if I burned to death with them? A strong arm grabbed me by my school uniform. My lungs were on fire. My face ached, my heart pounded. I could hear mother screaming. I wanted to go back, but back meant death. But how could I live without my parents? Without a home? Without someone to always look when you're lost? I cried, I screamed, but all the noise all drowned out in the crackling of fire, as it swallowed our mansion. I’m going to kill them, those who killed my parents, those who took away my bright future and those who are responsible for all the bloodshed and death.
Journal Entry 1
The Diary of Cai Shu Xian
May 28, 1968 It’s been almost one year. One year since my family’s death. I remind myself every day that as long as I am alive, I will live for them. I made friends. At first, it was hard; it was hard to be friendly to those who denounced my family. But I learned to survive. I learned how to pretend, to hide, to not be killed. It’s ridiculous what life makes you do. I joined the red guards, got a little red book myself and now all I wear is the green jacket and a red armband. Yes, instead of revenging the red guards, I became one of them. My hands that used to know only how to write calligraphy is now stained with blood. To survive, I remind myself, I did this to survive.
Propaganda for "Up to the mountains and down to the countryside" movement.
In one year, this revolution changed me drastically. I was a top student in Beijing high school and a daughter of a landlord, but now, I wear a green coat and a red armband to march around to kill all the bourgeois ideas. Despite the reliability of the source. Putting a mask on, I roam the streets with my fellow Red Guards.
“Up to the mountains and down to the countryside.” they said. There were too many of them to argue with. Everyone from our group wanted to go. It was a trick. Just another one of Chairman Mao’s lies. Still, I’m forced to go. To pack up everything and leave. One shirt, one pants, one pencil and this diary. To fit all of my belongings fit in my old school bag. We left at 8 am the next morning, eating a plain bun and having sips of cold water. We marched for hours. Wearing the heavy jacket in summer was torture. I looked around, there were at least hundred, no thousands of us. The red armband stood out from the green, army-like jackets as thousands of bodies slowly moved endlessly. Sweat soaked my shirt inside and dripped down my forehead. After a short period of walking on well-managed roads, we walked on dirt paths. Why weren’t we there yet? I often asked. We’ve been walking on dirt paths for at least an hour. My feet were numbed from the pain, and my body longed for a rest. We kept walking. When finally, the massive crowd of red guards slowly dispersed. We were separated into different teams and sent to different villages. The noon sun was ruthless and cruel. No mercy down on us at all. And finally, we arrived. A little dirt path leading to 17 lone houses that will soon be inhabited by us. Our leader, the one who set fire to my mansion, cheered. Then along with everyone else, we sang the “East is Red” for the last time to mark the end of our journey.
More than 16 million teens were sent down to the countryside.
The living conditions are poor, poorer than what I’ve lived in for the past year or so. Yesterday we were divided into different jobs. Me, Xiao Hua and along with 13 other girls were distributed to the garage. Our primary responsibility is to feed the animals or fetch milk from cows. It was much less work than the boys I admit, but how did I end up like this?
Journal Entry 1
The Diary of Cai Shu Xian
September 9, 1976 Every day I spend here, meant hard work. But I think today might be the last day. 8 years pass in a blink of an eye. Dreams are beautiful, there are no limits to dreaming, and the only thing that can break your dream is the reality. Suddenly I was dragged back to almost 20 years ago when I was only 8. That year, mother bought me my first book. I remembered my thirst for the twisted plotline and my hunger for new books. Waking up on the hard bunk bed, I was reminded of my state of being now. As I grab on to my childhood memories, we headed off to the never-changing breakfast that Xiao Liu cooked. He isn’t much of a cook, but he did learn how to boil congee over the years. Then we headed off to the farm. Today was a bit windy compared to other days. As the boys head off to work in the fields, us girls headed to the farm where we then dispersed into smaller groups. Some of us were responsible for the chicken, and some of us took care of the cows. The pigs were easy to take care of. I was accountable for chicken. Every morning, we checked for eggs then we did the usual routine of fetching water and chicken food. At noon, a man on a bike biked past us screaming, “Mao is dead!” over and over again. This caught the Red Guards attention, mine included. 52 heads turned fast towards the only newspaper dropped off on the dirt path. All of us ran. Being the closest, I demanded to for an answer. Grabbing the piece of paper and climbing to the roof, I cleared my voice and read out loud. "Chairman Mao Died After a Series of Heart attacks" the headlines read. One voice started Teens were sent down to the rural whimpering, their faces twisted in shock as if countryside due to the government’s russification campaign to get rid of bourgeois their parents were dead. The truth is, they’ve and counter-revolutionary ideas. probably only seen Mao once at the Tian An Men square. For me, I felt a stone drop. Mao caused this revolution. My parent's death is because of him. My revenge has come, and I can finally go back to peace. Then it hit me. Even if I went back to Beijing, there wouldn’t be anywhere I could go. I have no job, no house. I have nothing. A group of villagers gave us a ride back to Beijing. Everywhere we went, the sound of weeping filled our ears. Most of the Red Guards from our district were crying too. I, The Red Guards show strong affection for on the other hand, was planning my future. Where would I go? 1966 to 1976, these Chairman Mao. ten years was the longest torture anyone has experience, yet it passed leaving China's citizens without education and property. Many Red guards were orphans now; many were like me, never graduated from high school, nevertheless college. Today, I'm 28 years old without a home to go back to, without a job to support me and no high school qualifications. Mao's revolution completely tore me apart. I don’t want a life like this. Living to only wait for death.
Published on Mar 13, 2018