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右派网=>One In A Billion: Journey Toward Freedom - Chapter 7(上)
One In A Billion 回忆录 Kai Chen 个人自由 一比十亿 文革 政治迫害 篮球 运动员 历史 
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Richard Pipes:共产主义只有过去没有未来

One In A Billion: Journey Toward Freedom - Chapter 7(上)

2007-03-21 19:35:13  
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【本文选自陈凯(Kai Chen)的自传《一比十亿 -- 通往自由的旅程》第七章(One In A Billion: Journey Toward Freedom)。《一比十亿》记录了作者从一个专制政权下的篮球运动员到自由世界的自由公民的过程。该书由AuthorHouse出版。】

CHAPTER 7: Testing

The train from Tonghua to Changchun, the capital of Jilin Province, set out. It only stopped in Liuhe for one-and-a-half minutes. It was midnight. The lights in the hard-seat compartment were dim, as on all the trains I had been in.

The train began to pick up speed. The rhythmical jiggling motion and the dull clanging sound in the compartment were like a tuneless peasant ditty, gently lulling those who had just been wakened by the train’s announcer back to their dreams. People ceased walking around and the haze of smoke grew less dense as the smokers traded cigarettes for sleep. Someone started to snore. The infant who had just been crying gradually calmed down and snuggled at his mother’s bosom, his hands caressing the edge of her jacket.

I sat near the door of the compartment, facing the rear of the train. Old Chang sat right across from me. He had hung his satchel on the hook on the wall right after he had boarded. Then he rested his head on his satchel, closed his eyes, and got ready to doze. Although he was only in his early thirties, Chang’s hairline had receded (probably that was why everyone called him Old Chang). His mouth was open slightly, permeating the air with a heavy odor of tobacco.

I turned my head away from him a little.

Perhaps because it was midnight, the compartment was not at all crowded. Old Chang and I each occupied a seat which usually accommodated three people. I put my legs up, trying to make myself comfortable. I could not stretch them out fully, though, because my legs were too long. I closed my eyes, but I could not sleep. An uncontrollable excitement was stirring in my heart, making it pound wildly in my chest. I took a few deep breaths, feeling my body relaxing. My mood calmed a little.

It was mid-1970, the year the country started to emerge from the raging waves of the Cultural Revolution. The bloody factional wars had finally ceased. Just as swiftly as the wars had begun, under the guidance of Chairman Mao and the Central Caucus, the warring factions reached the state of Great Solidarity. Although the danger of a Russian invasion still hung in the air, the imminent feeling of a full scale war with the Soviets subsided. The Xs taped on windows and the air-raid shelters in school yards disappeared, almost instantly. Although schools resumed, officially, the “Struggle,” the “Criticism” and the “Reform” to get rid of everything bad and bourgeois, and to establish everything good and proletarian still continued. The “Educational Revolution” had just started.

For the first time since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, colleges and universities started to recruit students. But acceptance depended on the recommendations from students’ work unit, no matter whether they were working in the countryside, in the city or serving in the military. A person’s attitude while being reeducated by the working class became the sole basis on which he or she was judged. Moral character was the first and foremost consideration. This first generations of college students after the beginning of the Cultural Revolution were called WPS (Worker, Peasant, Soldier) students.

Before people entered college, they had to go through a strict (that is, strict for those without special connections) political examination to filter out those with bad family backgrounds. Only the candidates with good family background such as poor and lower middle-class peasants, factory workers and revolutionary cadres, could pass these investigations and scrutiny. There was no hope for people with bad family backgrounds - landlords and rich peasants, bourgeois property owners, political rightists or those with family members who had been or were still Kuomintang members, those such as our family.

In the field of sports and athletics, a period of recovery had also begun.

China’s ping-pong team again reentered world competition with good results. There were articles in the press claiming that the victories were the fruit of the triumphant Cultural Revolution. The ping-pong team not only attracted national attention, but also started to bring about the rejuvenation of other sports. The newly reactivated National Sports and Athletics Commission (NSAC) started sending coaches out to many parts of the country to recruit athletes for training programs. It was said that Premier Zhou Enlai had personally issued an order to fully utilize sports for proletarian revolutionary politics and to defeat Russian and American imperialism and their attempt to isolate China in the world.

Three days before my trip, several coaches sent by the NSAC had arrived in the capital of Jilin Province, Changchun, to scout talent. Among them were two basketball coaches, and both were ranked as “Master Sportsmen” in their playing days. I had read about them from those old sports magazines. I knew that they both were originally from the famed August 1st Team, the team that represented the People’s Liberation Army in athletic competitions. Quite often, the August 1st Team would just change its name to the National Team and represent the country in international games. While Ma and Ni were staying in Changchun, they had heard that there were three tall brothers who were good at basketball in Tonghua. They immediately arranged for us to go to Changchun for a tryout. Liang did not go, either because he did not feel confident enough or because he was not interested. But Big Brother went. And somehow he went before I even got the news that they were interested in me as well.

The coaches did not show much interest in Big Brother. They said that he was not tall enough and he was too old for their program. They said they would like to see me. The coaches pressured the provincial athletic authorities to order the Liuhe authorities and the grain depot leaders to send me to Changchun. They finally succeeded.

I never heard anything about the fuss until the day I left. Somehow everybody blocked the news from me. Quange decided to send Old Chang to accompany me to Changchun. As we were about to leave, I heard Quange telling Old Chang:

“If the National Sports and Athletics Commission wants Kai, I will let him go, but if the Provincial Team wants him, I will never let him go.”

Perhaps Quange bore some kind grudge and resentment toward the Provincial Sports and Athletic Commission from the old days when he was an athlete there or he counted on my staying at the grain depot to play for him. Maybe it was a little of both. Quange told Old Chang that if the NSAC was not interested in me, Old Chang should bring me back to Liuhe right away.

Old Chang was a member of the grain depot basketball team. He stood about five feet, ten inches. He seldom played or practiced with us, but he was nevertheless in charge of the daily affairs of the team. He was always following Quange around, chatting, joking, whispering in his ears and doing things behind closed doors.

Old Chang liked to tell us how good he used to be when he was our age and repeated his amazing stories too many times to care whether anyone was listening.

Changchun, in Chinese, means the City of Eternal Spring. I never knew whether the name reflected a fact, or just a wish. It was raining when we arrived. The drizzle was more like a dense fog, spreading through the air evenly, a knit mesh that obscured everything. Old Chang and I took a bus from the train station to the south side of the city where the Provincial Gymnasium was located.

The bus rolled along the biggest and busiest street of the city, Stalin Boulevard. I had never been there before, but as I gazed through the window, everything appeared familiar. The people dressed in gray, white, blue and army-green colored outfits. They walked and peddled bicycles, holding umbrellas and huddling under raincoats. They pushed to get on the overcrowded buses and trolleys. Visiting peasants from the countryside were waving whips over the horses or cows pulling their wagons…

When our bus stopped in front of the Provincial Gymnasium, Old Chang and I jumped off the bus and pushed through the crowds. The bus had been too crowded and its ceiling was too low for me, and I stretched my arms up into the air. The gentle sprinkles scattered over my head, my face and the bare parts of my arms. The wisps of cool water rejuvenated my spirit. A sense of serenity swept into my heart.

The Provincial Gymnasium, with its gray concrete wall and arched gates, loomed in front of me in the mist. I had never before been in an indoor sports arena and was curious to see what the inside of the gym was like, so I hurried up the cement steps in front of the gates, almost trotting. I rushed into the gate, leaving Old Chang behind. Only when the guard inside the gate yelled at me to stop, was Old Chang able to catch up with me. He explained to the guard why we had come.

A middle-aged man dressed in a blue sports jacket came over. He was Cui, the assistant coach of the Jilin Provincial Basketball Team. Coach Cui asked us to wait by the bleachers for awhile, and told us Coach Ma and Ni from the NSAC would be there soon.

It was quite dark inside the gym. Only the basketball court was illuminated, and the Provincial Men’s Team was in the middle of practice. All the player wore white high-top Rebounce brand basketball shoes. 【未完】

Author's Website: http://www.freewebs.com/oneinabillion
Email: elecshadow@aol.com
Publisher: AuthorHouse (www.authorhouse.com)
Order Information: Google, Amazon, All Bookstores, Sales Links in my websites
Authorhouse (the publisher): http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail~bookid~42719.aspx
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