HARMONY TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SECURITY BUREAU / 25 DECEMBER 20 SURNAME: MIAO / SEX: MALE / ETHNICITY: HAN / DATE OF BIRTH: 29 DECEMBER 1928 HOMETOWN: HARMONY TOWNSHIP, DISTRICT, PROVINCE HGHT: 175 CM / WGHT: 60 KG / OCCUPATION: RABBIT FARMER / PARTY MEMBER: NO / PREVIOUS DETENTIONS: NONE / FAMILY: WIFE DECEASED, NO CHILDREN / OTHER: LOCAL PINGSHU EXPERT, ARM AND LEG INJURIES, GRANNY WANG NEIGHBOR
Farmer Miao, are you ready? This will be your official statement concerning the rioting that occurred during the recent lawful redevelopment of the Harmony Township. We’re interested only in the truth of what happened, so please speak clearly and openly when answering our questions. Do you understand? (metal chair noises) To begin, how long you have known Granny Wang?
It’s truly strange they have you interviewing me. I remember when you were just a little boy playing down the end of my street. “Fatty Li” was your nickname, wasn’t it? Only this high. Cheeks like this. You were always bullying the children smaller than you. But look at you now. Thin like a steel rod. Spotless uniform, a nice desk and office. Your late father would be so proud. He was a security guard, wasn’t he? He told me one day you’d start your own security company, that you’d become one of the country’s most important business talents. Is your wife still a seamstress? And your daughter, I haven’t seen her since she learned to waddle.
(paper shuffling) I said, are you ready?
Like you, I’m only interested in the truth of what happened.
How long have you known Granny Wang?
This isn’t the first time I’ve been through one of these. You’re going to tell everyone I’m crazy if you get me talking about Granny Wang. I want the record to say I’m not crazy.
Like we discussed, we can only take care of you if you cooperate completely. We’re recording now.
Ey, well, Granny Wang was my neighbor’s daughter. She was born the year our great People’s Republic was founded.
She wasn’t born that year.
You don’t know what you’re talking about. I knew her as a baby, as a child, then as a teenager swept up by a revolutionary fervor in the year 1966.
You know what happened that year? That was more than forty years ago, I think. Were you alive then? I don’t think so.
No more jokes. Did Granny Wang participate in any violence when she was young?
What’s that old saying? “The children are the nation’s flowers?”
When she was seventeen, Granny Wang was always reciting revolutionary songs and sayings she memorized from the radio, from plays at the community center, from poring over all those pamphlets and posters. She loved her country like she loved everyone who knew her well. She was a true patriot and would’ve done anything to ensure our survival.
I remember in winter how she sang for us in front of the fireplace, our duck dinner ready to boil behind her. She was wearing her Red Guard uniform, and we were all clapping along—her parents, neighboring families, me and my wife. She had perfectly brushed hair, tight braids, a shining complexion. She kept the Little Red Book with her at all times and spoke of it as a weapon to be used against counter-revolutionaries of all kinds. There should be stories about her in your daughter’s school textbooks. Everyone should know about her.
She never took her Red Guard uniform off. To wash it she’d go down to the river and jump in. Then she’d scoop up a carp in each hand for dinner, and she’d sing songs to the little children—the little flower buds who’d come to follow her home.
Did she or did she not participate in any violence?
Why aren’t you asking me about the relocation meeting? That’s when it happened. That’s why we’re here. That day, just as the sun was going down, I’d finished painting some words on a large white bed sheet and I was hanging it across the front of my damaged house: RESPECT THOSE WHO HAVE NOTHING. CHERISH THE COMMON PEOPLE’S PLIGHT. This one dropout working for the redevelopers came and tore it down, but I caught him. I yelled, just like Granny Wang would: “Hey! You! What are you doing!” I tried to look fierce like her.
He said: “They told me to take it down! Your home is illegal!”
I thumped him on his head with my noodles wok. I felt sorry for him.
He screamed: “Ow! Ow!” and ran off.
That’s when I saw that balding and burping party chief go by in his black car. He was standing out the sunroof being chauffeured about, most of his belly still stuck down inside the car.
“Friends! Comrades of the Harmony Township!” he said through a megaphone. “Come meet me in the township community center. You will learn about acquiring just compensation for your land and farms! Tomorrow will be a better day!” Nearly everyone left in the township was following behind his car, like sleepwalkers. I couldn’t believe it.
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