The Story of My Father（6) 我的父親（6）
My mother was finally allowed to move and live with my father and me when I was in grade two at the elementary school. At that time, I already had another younger sister. The five members of our family were finally able to live together in a small and crude bungalow type of house built on top of the floodplain.
It was a time when people’s material and spiritual lives were both extremely lacking. My father was the only university graduate in his factory, while my mother taught at the primary school in the town. As an intellectual family, we belonged to the “five black classes.”
In a time when the “working class” was in charge of everything, our family was an “outcast” from whatever angle one looked at us.
To avoid possible trouble, my mother didn’t encourage me even to play with other kids. If I became involved in a fight with other kids, this could be interpreted as a “class struggle” and implicate my parents. The whole family would then have an even harder time.
During many hot summer nights, when other kids were playing and enjoying the cool air outside, I shut myself inside alone at home. As there were way too many mosquitos in the still “wild” floodplain, I had to hide inside the mosquito net to read in the suffocating heat, while watching my perspiration dripping and leaving wet circles on the pages.
Reading was the only enjoyment during my childhood. However, there were too few books to read. Many literary classics had been burnt as “poisonous weeds” before and during the “Cultural Revolution.”
In order to satisfy my desire to read, my father started writing children’s stories for me, and then gradually expanded his writing to other literary works such as novels. He was a great lover of literature.
My father wrote all his stories and novels on lined manuscript paper, and then bound them neatly with cotton thread, making them truly “thread-bound books,” with each of them absolutely the “only copy” in the world.
Most of the time, I was the first and only reader of my father’s literary works. Whenever my mother found out about my father’s writings, she would throw them into the fire, even if the stories were “pro-revolution” and catering to “the tide of the times,” such as “Little Red Guards Catching a Spy.”
My father never said a word when my mother burned his writings. However, he would always bite his lower lip in a unique way with an expressionless face, and this would always make me feel extremely anxious and scared.
The only happy time then was Chinese New Year. My father’s calligraphy was very beautiful, and all the big banners in the factory were all hand-written by him. Many people would also ask him to write couplets for them to hang on their doors. Every year when Chinese New Year was approaching, he would definitely write a couplet for our own house.
He was also a very smart craftsman. Apart from knowing how to sew clothes, he also knew how to do carpentry work and make furniture. Many small pieces of furniture in our home were all made and painted by him, such as tables and stools.
When it was Chinese New Year, he would make beautiful things such as red lanterns or a rabbit shape light, with four small wheels underneath. My sisters and I would drag this rabbit light and swaggered through the street to show off this beautiful piece of artwork. All the children would look at us in admiration and awe, as they had never seen such a pretty rabbit light, nor could they ever dream about buying one from anywhere. Surrounded by those envious eyes, we felt extremely proud and wonderful!
（To be continued 待續 ）