The Story of My Father (3) 我的父親(3)

The Story of My Father (3) 我的父親(3)

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In the 1960’s, at the age of 27, my father was admitted to the Southwest University of Political Science & Law in Sichuan Province; and thus became the first ever university student in his village. This caused quite a sensation among all the villagers.

父親二十七歲那年,也就是1960年考上了四川西南政法大學,成了朝中鄉第一個大學生,當時鄉裡曾轟動一時。

As far as I can remember, father only told me one story about his university life, and that was about a secret skill for obtaining one more bowl of rice.

我印象中,父親只給我講過一件他大學時代的事,那就是打飯的技巧。

When my father was attending university, China was experiencing the so-called “Three Years of Natural Disasters.” It should actually be called “The Three Years of the Great Chinese Famine,” when 20-43 millions were starved to death, according to some scholars.

父親說,大學時,趕上了「三年困難時期」(那時中國有幾千萬人被活活餓死),大學食堂開飯時,是八個人一桌,每一桌給一盆飯,大家自己盛到碗裡吃。

My father said, when it was mealtime in the university, everybody ate in the dining hall, with eight people sitting at each table. Rice was supplied in a big pot for everyone to share.

那時每個人都餓得如狼似虎,飯一上來,大家都拼命盛上滿滿一碗,飛快的吃。父親則相反,每次只盛半碗,然後也飛快的吃。因為他的飯少,所以總能先吃完,吃完後再狠狠的盛上一大碗慢慢享用。這樣,別人吃到一碗飯,他卻能吃到一碗半。

At that time every student was so hungry and was ready to fight for food like a wolf. As soon as the pot was placed on the table, everybody immediately put as much rice as possible into his own bowl, and then ate with all their might.  However, my father only filled half of his bowl, so he could always finish earlier than others. Then he would fill his bowl with rice as much as he could, and enjoyed it with ease and leisure. In this way, he could eat half a bowl more rice than others.

When he told me this story, my father smiled with pride, and an almost unnoticeable trace of cunning, which one could only see on the face of a Chinese peasant.

父親講這個故事時,臉上會露出得意的笑容,還有一種農民式的狡黠。

However, I doubt how successful my father was with this kind of tactic. Mother told me that he suffered from hunger edema because of starvation and almost died in the hospital.

不過,我不知道他到底有多少次成功的利用這個方法搶到一碗半飯吃,因為母親告訴我,父親上大學時曾被餓成「水腫病」,躺在醫院裡差點沒死過去。

My mother also told me that life was extremely hard for my father then. His family couldn’t offer him any financial support. Every weekend he had to work very hard as a loader at the Chaotianmen Port in Chongqing City, to earn some money to cover his most basic expenses.

母親還說,父親這個大學上的很不容易,因為家裡沒有任何生活費給他,他一到週末就得到重慶朝天門碼頭賣苦力,當裝卸工,扛很重的貨物上下船,掙一點點零用錢來維持最基本開支。

In 1964, my father graduated from university and was assigned to work as a teacher at Mianyang Finance and Trade Cadres Training School in Sichuan Province. At that time my mother had been teaching for several years in a remote village primary school.

1964年,父親大學畢業,分配到四川綿陽財貿幹部學校做教師。那時母親已在中江縣一個偏遠的山村小學做了好幾年教師了。

(To be continued 待續 )

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Profile photo of my father at university. Ever since my childhood, I have believed that this is what a handsome man should look like. 父親學生時代的標準照。我小時候心目中的美男子,就應該是這樣子。

Profile photo of my father at university. Ever since my childhood, I have believed that this is what a handsome man should look like. 父親學生時代的標準照。我小時候心目中的美男子,就應該是這樣子。

The Story of My Father (4) 我的父親(4)

The Story of My Father (4) 我的父親(4)

The Story of My Father (2) 我的父親(2)

The Story of My Father (2) 我的父親(2)