The Story of My Father (3) 我的父親（3）
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
（To be continued 待續 ）