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"Since then, I haven't eaten eggplants -- purple eggplants."

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  • When the Cultural Revolution started, I was 25. At that time, I was studying at Hebei University in Tianjin.
  • The whole country was a mess. Workers did not work. Farmers did not farm. Students did not go to school. Classes were suspended to make revolution.
  • [Students] took to the streets every day, shouting slogans: down with this, down with that.
  • What left me with the deepest impression was the two-party struggle during a demonstration in Tianjin.
  • There was a factory in Tianjin; it was probably named 2672. The two-party struggle happened there.
  • [The workers from] one party threw a worker from the other party into a pool of sulfuric acid.
  • [That worker] was burned alive. That person looked purple, like an eggplant, and was carried out to the street to be paraded around.
  • Since then, I haven't eaten eggplants -- purple eggplants.
  • If I eat purple eggplants, I have to cut away the skin. Otherwise, I won't eat them.
  • For all these years, I've been like this, even up until now, almost 20 or 30 years [later].
  • Every time I see a purple-skinned eggplant, I think about that worker I saw burned to death during the two-party struggle demonstration.
  • After graduation, during the later period of the Cultural Revolution, [the situation] remained the same, especially for intellectuals.
  • You could say that intellectuals were treated disdainfully. My husband and I should have had been assigned to work together.
  • It was inhumane: I was assigned to Hebei [Province], and my husband was assigned to a tiny coal mine in a little valley in Guangdong [Province].
  • You could not resist. If you did, you were counter-revolutionary, and you would have been struggled against.
  • People had already said intellectuals were “the stinking old ninth” -- they named us “the stinking old ninth” – [so we] didn't dare say anything [to disagree with the work assignment].
  • Couples could not be assigned together, and no one helped you.
  • No one cared about you, and no one sympathized with you.
  • We lived apart for six years. I cared for two children on my own. Life was almost too hard to continue. That was the situation I faced.
  • That was right at the later period of the Cultural Revolution.
  • Soon, at a place in Henan Province called Zhumadian [Mazhenfu in Tanghe County, Henan], a female middle school student -- I don't know her name -- did not fill in the answer sheet for the foreign language exam.
  • On the answer sheet, she wrote, “I am Chinese, why should I learn foreign languages?!"
  • Because of this, the foreign language teacher criticized her, her homeroom teacher criticized her, and the school [administration] criticized her.
  • The student couldn't get over this, and killed herself by jumping into the river.
  • Because of this [incident], the second nationwide [trend] of struggling against teachers began.
  • At that time, I had already been assigned to teach in a middle school, and I was struggled against for the second time.
  • The struggle against me was ridiculous; it almost seems like a joke.
  • At that time, I had just given birth to my eldest child.
  • After that, I was anxious, with too much internal heat, and a sore developed on my breast, so I stayed at home [to rest].
  • Later on, I went back to the school. I was kind of mixed-up when I went back.
  • The school said that I was late, and that I had already overstayed the maternity leave period. I thought I had overstayed, too. I probably had.
  • They arranged a struggle meeting against me. All of the school faculty struggled against me.
  • They were struggling against me, so I went to the stage and spoke.
  • I did not talk about anything other than the whole period [of giving birth and being sick]. I cried while I was speaking.
  • Because of the sore on my breast, I had stopped breastfeeding. My baby was just a little over a month old.
  • After getting that sore, I did not lactate. After I stopped lactating, I had no choice but to give my baby to others to care for.
  • I had a student helping me look after the baby. The baby was hungry and did not get anything to eat. Ah -- I felt sick at heart then.
  • I'd leave the baby at home for other people to take care of, and hurry off to work.
  • I believed I might have overstayed the maternity leave. I spoke when they were struggling against me.
  • I cried while I was speaking. I spoke while I was crying. While I was crying, the entire school faculty, over 100 people, started crying with me on the spot.
  • The principal realized that the situation was getting out of control, so he/she cancelled the [struggle] meeting.
  • They did not finish struggling against me. They did not finish criticizing and struggling against me.
  • After that, I went to the payroll office to calculate my pay. It turned out I’d gone back to work a couple of days early!
  • I had not stayed longer than the maternity leave, and they did not cut my wages.
  • This was the mistreatment of intellectuals caused by the Cultural Revolution -- criticizing [us], calling us “the stinking old ninth," and so on.
  • In all, life was almost too hard to go on with.
  • At the school where I was assigned to work, there was a teacher who had graduated from Shijiazhuang Normal University.
  • After graduation, before he had taught a single class, he started being struggled against, and that lasted for several years.
  • The students would just lift him up and thump him to the ground, as if they were throwing a cloth bag.
  • [The students] struggled against this teacher until he lost his mind.
  • There was a saying at that time that the Cultural Revolution would be held once every six or seven years.
  • The idea crossed our minds that if this chaos continued, the whole country would be totally ruined.