Wei Liu: My Life in China 1.2: My Kindergarten in China
Wei Liu: My Life in China 1.2: My Kindergarten in China
Wei Liu April 2013
I’m sent to a kindergarten when I’m three, but actually I don’t want to go there. There are no real games for us children to play. The teachers there most times are telling or showing us the so-called revolutionary stories, which are about how the Chinese Communist Party grabbed the state power. I don’t like it, not only because it is killing, but also because our life is miserable. If the so-called revolution made us common people live so poorly and constantly starve, what’s the significance of revolution? Is that real revolution? That year is 1973. That kindergarten is within the periphery of the hospital in Chongqing, China, where my father works. It is in fact the first floor of the building next to our dormitory building.
I still remember in some grayish chilly days, around 5 o’clock in the afternoon when the sky turns to dim, a large group of adults stand at the gate of the kindergarten to pick up their respective child and my peers run to them. Those adults hold their children in front of their chest. “Mom—”，“Lin—Lin—”，“Dad—”，“Shan—Shan—”，these joyful sounds come to my ear incessantly. Having not seen my mom or dad appear, I cannot share their joy. Where are they? Have they forgotten me? I go on watching the joyful gathering, filled up with more anxiety. 5 o’clock in the afternoon is the time for the parents to pick up their children, and the teachers in the kindergarten also feel their responsibility for the children ends then. No one comes to take care of me. I keep standing there smart or silly, waiting desperately for the appearance of my mom or my dad’s figure. The sky is already grayish, turning dark and still no sign of my parent’s appearance. The buildings, the ground and the wall of the kindergarten all look very dim now, the same with the sky. The joyful gatherings of the parents and their children have passed for long. Even the teachers are gone. Maybe one teacher is still here, with no sign to take care of me. I’m frightened. If my mom or dad does not come to pick me up at all today, what can I do? How can I spend tonight? But I can only stand there idle.
No one comes to give me a stool to sit down. I’m 3 or 4 years old. My mom or dad still hasn’t come and I have been in despair. The surroundings get darker and darker and my scope gets dimmer and dimmer. The buildings around, the ground and the wall of the kindergarten look blur to me. It must be half past six in the afternoon now. Except waiting there idle, there is nothing for me to do, and that seems to last forever. I don’t know how, a young lady leads me out of the kindergarten and back to my home.
“Old Wei Wei, your dad gets involved in the Cultural Revolution in the hospital,” she says.
She does not tell me more of it. I guess she’s a teacher or staff in the kindergarten. From the broadcasting, I know the Culture Revolution is to inflict the enemy of the Communist Party. I don’t know whether dad is being inflicted by other people or he is inflicting other people. People around me all call me “Old Wei,” “Old Wei Liu”, and those who like me call me “Old Wei Wei”. I don’t know why people around me like to call me Old, who is just several years old. I’m willing to be called Old, which shows that I should know something. Actually, my mother or father gave me another Chinese character of Wei for my name, which I don’t like for its too strong meaning of fighting. Later I change to another Chinese character of Wei, meaning light blue, giving out a peaceful feeling.
I feel my Dad is honest, hard working, nice to the patients, good at curing the disease, but I don’t why he keeps striking my body with a stick. But I didn’t impeach him to any one, and then other people shouldn’t bring trouble to him. He has never told me anything of the Cultural Revolution, which runs from 1966 to 1976. I get puzzled. Every one at that time says aloud that the Cultural Revolution is a very, very good thing. If it really is, why no one tells me about it in private? In private, I don’t like the Cultural Revolution. Look, because of it, my Mom or Dad even cannot show up on time to pick me up in the kindergarten. My mom must have been affected by my dad’s issue.
I’ve undergone the dark hours in the kindergarten for many a day. I cry, but my mom or dad cannot hear. They do not show up at all. After I return home, they do not mention it to me either, seemingly they get stuck on something or noting happened. I don’t mention it either for a sentence from me may incense my Dad pop up to strike me.
My mom does not protect me either, having her theory that she should have the same attitude toward me as my Dad. So when my Dad spanks me, she just stands idle next to me and sometimes even participates in the striking, like holding my arms, making me unable to move. Sometimes she strikes me herself. If she had protected me, it would be much better. My home is just 180 square feet, where anything happens, she should have known.
I like my mom, but not including the time she strikes me or she letting my dad strike me. In my eye, she’s pretty high, about 5 feet and 4 inches. When I want to touch her face, I have to climb over her body, which is like a hill. When I succeed in climbing up, usually by her help, I can get the reward. Her face feels smooth and her neck is smooth and white. Her body type is average or a little extra padding. At that time I hold her neck tight and she holds my back. At that moment, I really feel she’s my mom. I like her fragrant smell. There is a pair of glasses on her nose, with the degree being about 4.0 on each eye. Once she’s awake, the glasses is always on her face. She’s about 35 or 35 years old at that time. She teaches politics at No. 52 High School of Chongqing at Guihuayuan, Urban District, Chongqing, China. She leads me to her school twice, which is truly mile, over half a mile.
I wish I can stay on her neck forever, because only then do I feel that I have a mom. That pleasure time is so short. In other times, my Mom is very rigid. She always wears a dotted light brown suit. She does not talk to me nicely either. I’m not saying she curses me or blames me, though it happens often, I’m saying she always tells me that I should be obedient, listen to them, to be strong, especially to be strong in mind. I don’t like it. Why should I listen to them? They often strike me. Is it right for them to strike me? In the movie, it is the bad guy to strike the good guy, and the good guy seldom strikes the bad guy.
More strangely, every time after my Dad strikes me, seeing me cry, scream, she will come and say to me, “You Dad strikes you because he loves you, it’s for your goodness.” I don’t say anything. I cannot contend such logic. If this is love, I would rather stay away from such love. My buttock and my hands all feel pain.
When they strike me, I scream with a high pitch, making me heard far away. Ms. Liu, the second daughter of the family Liu, lives on the first floor and my family live right above it on the second floor. She may be 10 years older than me. One day when I comes to play at her home, she says to me, “Old Wei, don’t be resistant before your parents. When they strike you, you just acknowledge that’s your fault and then they will not strike you any more.”
I’m moved for there is somebody who cares for me in the world. But I don’t like her idea. In the movie, heroes never surrender under the torture of the bad guy. I also want to be one who holds fast to his/her idea or dream. My Dad and Mom blame me for being stubborn, which I don’t like. In the movie, all the heroes are stubborn. Look, even being put into prison, they still hold fast to their ideas. Every one may think about this. One being thrown into prison for something, but he still persists in his disposition, isn’t that being stubborn or obstinate?