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老舍之死口述实录

楼层直达
级别: 新手上路

老舍之死口述实录:他遭遇了什么? 为何走绝路?

在历史遗留下的种种谜团中,老舍之死无疑是其中相当令人困惑的一个。他在那段时间究竟遭遇了什么?他又缘何会走上绝路?在10多年的访问中,作者采访了老舍的家人与众多亲历者,胡絜青、舒乙、端木蕻良、杨洪……访问中,作者抛开个人立场,真实记录各人口述,并保留许多细节不一的叙述,只希望为读者提供一条指向真实的通途。

端木蕻良:老舍之死是“文革”中一个悲哀的插曲

傅光明(以下简称傅):1966年“文革”开始,发生了文联批斗、文庙大火那样的惨剧,当时您在场吗?
端木蕻良(以下简称端木):我写过一篇《打屁股》,写我们同时被打屁股。我们被拉到文庙,老舍跟我一起。当时要破“四旧”,红卫兵们把戏装、头盔呀、盔甲、刀枪剑戟呀,都点上火烧,让我们都趴在四边。天特别热,再一烤,昏头昏脑的。红卫兵都是学生,不是我们机关的,也不知道从哪儿来的。
傅:听说是女八中的学生。你们被红卫兵拉到文庙以前,在文联大院里发生了什么呢?
端木:那天我去文联时穿着洗得很干净的衬衫。因为要批判我们,要谈谈自己有什么错误。那天是自我批判,一个个出来,在太阳底下撅着,最后在你的背上刷上你的工资、等级,什么什么的。我自己看不见,因为很厚的糨糊给人粘上,然后就挂牌子,“牛鬼蛇神”的牌子。
傅:老舍先生也给挂上牌子了?
端木:都一样,大概是人人平等吧。我的腰本来就疼,老舍腰也疼。有时想把胳膊放在膝盖上,都不许。人都邪了。我和老舍是最后两个被揪出来的。我知道文联有个后门,我本来想和他说,我们从后门溜出去吧。后门就是西单商场。后来我想,不对,这样一来罪就加深了。他们很注意我们的动向。再后来就到文庙。文庙就是用唱戏那种黑红棍打屁股,当时我就忍不住想笑,因为这棍子是在戏台上用的,现在打在自己身上。但是不敢笑,咬着舌头。所以后来我跟秦牧说起时,他说,你真行!但是我没笑出来,笑出来不得了,咬着舌头。
傅:当时老舍挨打很厉害吗?
端木:当然厉害了。还有人问我,哪个是老舍?我说我头低着,看不见。实际上我看见他了。他离我不远,因为他穿的衣服很整齐,他还穿着外套呢,是西装。我只穿着衬衫。回去的时候,他不知怎么的,头被打破了,缠上绷带。学生们,就是那些造反派,说他故意出怪相,就都揍他。这时候有的人就想,把他送到公安局还保险一些,不至于被乱棍打死,就把他送到公安局去了。
傅:把老舍送到公安局去,是文联自己的人要考虑保护他吗?
端木:他们造反派也不是一致的,里边有好人。我在撅屁股挨打时,还有人说他态度硬。
傅:这事发生的第二天,老舍就投了太平湖。您是怎么看老舍自杀的?
端木:造反派告诉我们“老舍是自绝于人民”,是“反革命”。因为我们都集中到一个小屋里了,我还有一个床,给他留的床,床还空着呢,等着他来。造反派说:老舍不会来了。我都不大信,因为老舍这人是很乐观的,他自杀我不相信,后来我跟钟耀群还到太平湖去寻过他。当地的人也不清楚。碰到好多老百姓,有的说有这么回事。到底怎么回事也弄不清楚。还到居民委员会去问过。文庙的事,后来我才知道是文庙,当时还不知道。车子开的时候不准我们向外看。
傅:当时您和老舍是同一个车吗?
端木:不是一个车。当时上车的时候就揍你,在车上也挨打,任何人都可以揍你。
傅:从文庙回到文联又继续批斗了很长时间吗?
端木:时间不算长。老舍在文化局,我在文联。连沙发都抬走了,说那是资产阶级的东西。傅:与您一起挨斗的还有哪些作家?端木:有萧军,萧军是一个女孩子在院子里拿皮带打他。江风,在我旁边,他挨打很重。红卫兵对我还比较轻一点。老舍因为他的衣服特殊,另外我也特别关心他,所以看得见。别的好像没大看清楚。杨沫那天没有去。那天开会是自己批判自己,草明好像也没去。
傅:那您当初是怎么认识“文化大革命”的?
端木:当时我很尊重“文化大革命”。我想老舍跟我一样,也是很尊重“文化大革命”,所以那天他穿得很整齐,我也穿得很整齐。
傅:也就是说去文联之前您并不知道要发生什么事?
端木:不知道。知道我就不去了。
傅:当时是怎么形成的批斗场面?
端木:我去得比较晚。大家都坐在那儿,我觉得气氛不对,还糊了两个大高帽子,后来也没有人戴。我还奇怪呢,要给谁戴?心想其中至少有我一顶。所以我就尽量减少说话,尽量在别人后头躲着。但是这时候外头就在搞牌子,我也看不见写的什么东西,一个一个往外叫,根本就没开会,叫到院子里。是文联内部的造反派。叫到院子里撅着打。
傅:当时您是和老舍先生在一起吗?
端木:本来我在前边文联,老舍在文化局,那旧房子原是清朝的邮传部,文联的房子是英式的。前头有个大玻璃窗。那天叫了半天,我和老舍是最后两人。我俩背着手从玻璃窗往外看,看到底怎么回事,因为一会儿就落到我们头上了,我们得了解他们的用意。
傅:从文庙回来后,老舍把挂在身上的牌子摘下来,您看见了吗?
端木:是这样,他们说他奇装异服。我还奇怪,怎么个“奇装异服”。老舍大概听见这话就生气了,他就把脖子上的牌子摘下来扔在地上。那些人就火了,就打。我到屋里,沙发地毯都没有,我就坐在地上喘口气。我听见外头闹才看到的,看了一眼老舍就被带走了。我们也不敢多看,多看马上就“惹火烧身”。我们刚从文庙回来,都在屋里坐着。
傅:您什么时候回的家?
端木:当天夜里很深了才放我回家。我记得当时我对大嫂说:不要开灯。因为我怕她看见我的狼狈样子,她不在乎,我大嫂问我身上弄的什么东西,我说我也不知道。
傅:当时文联的干部都在场吗?
端木:那天是否在场记不得了,那时候目不敢斜视。
傅:老舍被“扭送”派出所,您看见了吗?
端木:那是在文化局那边,我在文联这边。文化局本来就跟我们不对付。我反党的罪名之一就是闹文联的独立王国,想跟文化局分开,后来不但没分开,还合并,把文联取消了。后来文化局管我们。
傅:当时揭发批斗的场面您看到了吗?
钟耀群(端木的夫人):我听说要打草明时,她说,你们可别打我,我就这把老骨头,经不得打。她大概还求谁,就是领红卫兵的这些人。后来大概也就没怎么打她,好像是这样的。
傅:事情已过去快30年了,您今天对老舍投湖怎样看?
端木:一个作家对人民的主要贡献是通过作品。他当时还在写《正红旗下》,他没能完成。在这之前他也写了很多配合任务的东西。他的生命不至于那么短,他有好多事可以做,好多东西可以写,他的死是我们中国的一大损失吧。别人无法代替他写东西。这是“文革”中一个不愉快的插曲。当然,“文革”唯一的就是不愉快的东西。我特别悲痛。后来恢复我可以写东西时,我还写了他。人家找我写回忆老舍的文章,我那时还病着,只能我说一段,她记一段,然后我给连起来,文气也还通。

胡絜青:他攥着我的手,哆嗦得很厉害

傅:去太平湖是舒乙陪您去的吗?
胡絜青(以下简称胡):先是给舒乙打的电话。舒乙去了之后绕了半天等着。我因为是夜里一点钟才去的,他找不着我,他就回家了,两人没碰头。可能倘若有他,骨灰不至于就没了。傅:就是说是您一个人送老舍先生的遗体去的八宝山?
胡:因为那天我家还有一个看门的老头儿,让他陪着我去的,一直跟着我。八宝山那时候死人特别多。1978年给老舍平反时,在八宝山非常轰动,八宝山里面都是人,满满的,大街上人也非常多。好多人都说,老舍一直是爱国的。邓大姐在没有正式纪念的时候,先半点钟来了,把我叫到休息室,当场跟我说,你真坚强呀,让你儿女跟你学。倘若要是没有打倒“四人帮”,你、我都活不了。这是邓大姐亲口跟我说的。
傅:老舍去世前一天,从文联回家以后没跟您说过什么吗?
胡:什么也没说,他自己觉得那五百多人没有他,七百多人也没有他。全国文联斗田汉、夏衍,也没他,所以他才给文联打电话要去。不想一去就那么样儿了。……回来之后,老舍跟我说,我希望把我的委屈说说,你写,写完之后让人给寄了去。那时只能寄。我儿子把我写的这个贴在身上,那时都夜里三点钟了,总理已经睡了,秘书接进去了,说,老舍已经没有了,你安心等待我们把老舍找着。特意给我打来电话。那时候还不知道老舍死,就知道他第二天失踪了。跟我要人,文联来的人把所有的墙都敲敲打打。上头有一个窟窿,还爬上去看看老舍是不是藏里头了……
傅:您是说是您一人送老舍去八宝山的?
胡:是我自己跟着棺材走的。
傅:老舍那天回家后,您看没看出他当时的状态很不好?
胡:他很少在家里说家长里短。第二天早上我特意让老杨买了焦圈,买了烧饼,熬的粥,他一点都没吃。他告诉我说,你有你的工作,我有我的工作,我们两人不要掺和,我上我的机关,你上你的机关。我就傻子似地听他这个了。要是多留一个心眼,他出去我跟着,兴许就不会出事了。
傅:您帮他擦伤口时,他有没有说什么?
胡:没办法,那时候统战部都打烂了。
傅:老舍让您写个东西交给总理,那时候说什么了吗?
胡:他让我拿笔,他写完了之后,就睡觉了。他在他的屋睡,我在我的屋睡。
傅:是老舍先生自己写的?
胡:他说的,我写的。我写完之后,让我儿子、我二女儿一直跟着到那儿见总理。总理那时已经睡觉了,秘书说他传达。第二天就说,总理知道了,老舍务必找到。
傅:当时老舍说您写的那个东西现在还能回忆起来吗?
胡:他让我写的就是:我由旧社会受苦受难,我写小说不算一回事。解放后解放军和毛主席、周总理又给了我第二次生命,我一定要报答党的恩情,我一定要把新社会一切事情告诉大家。就这么写的。文章已经不在了,已经拿到总理那儿去了,要不邓大姐一见面就说我坚强,熬过来真不容易。
傅:老舍回家时没跟您讲文联挨斗挨打的事?或者对运动的看法?
胡:他什么也不说。在我刚结婚时,第二天早上他就告诉我说,凡是你看我坐在那里抽烟,你别跟我搭话,我不是跟你闹别扭,是我正在想小说呢。由那时起,凡是他自己上屋里去,我都不干扰他。儿女们也知道,也不上他屋里干扰。有时他需要什么东西,买袜子啦,买小衬衫啦,买大衣,写一张条儿给我。我整个就是他的买办。就这么个情形,很少说话。
傅:他当时有没有委屈、愤怒、不满的表示?
胡:没有,他当时攥着我的手,哆嗦得很厉害。据别人说在国子监挨打时,脸色——那种气愤的样子有人看出来,情况不好。说脸色煞白,那种不服的样子看得出来,他们就说这老先生看情形不好。从派出所回来时,我当时穿了一件大衣,我把大衣脱下来给他穿上,我自己穿一个小褂。我怕他摔下来,就搂着他。
傅:老舍流泪了吗?
胡:他从来不哭,他特别坚强。我没到重庆时,他差不多老哭,知道他母亲已经死了,他不能孝顺母亲。我在北京替他孝顺母亲,把他母亲发送完之后,才带着孩子去的。他后来知道母亲没有了,他见着人就掉眼泪,就哭。
傅:老舍回家后抽烟了吗?
胡:他就是写文章时抽烟,平常日子很少抽烟,三年困难时,还嘱咐我,来的客人,你别敬烟,烟我自己还不够抽的呢。
(《老舍之死口述实录》傅光明郑实/采写,复旦大学出版社2009年5月版)


http://news.china.com/history/all/11025807/20160824/23369822_all.html#page_2


An Oral Account of Lao She’s Death [English Translation]
What happened to him? Why did He choose to end his life?


Among the many puzzles left behind by history, Lao She’s suicide [in 1966] is undoubtedly one of the most perplex. What happened to him during that period of time? And why did he choose to end his own life? Over a ten-year research period, the author has spoken with Lao She’s family members and many eye witnesses like Hu Jieqing [Lao She’s wife], Shu Yi [writer], Duanmu Hongliang [writer], Yang Hong [martial arts master]. During these interviews, the author discarded his personal biases, recorded each person’s account truthfully, and preserved many narratives with contradictory details. This was done with the hope of providing the readers with a path towards the truth.

Duanmu Hongliang:
Lao She’s death was a tragic interlude during Cultural Revolution.



Fu Guangming (from now on, abbreviated as “Fu”): At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966,  a series tragedies took place like struggle sessions at the Literature and Arts Association and the great fire at the Confucius Temple. Were you present at the time?


Duanmu Hongliang (from now on, abbreviated as “Duanmu”): I once wrote an article called “Getting My Ass Kicked,” which is about the time we both got our asses kicked. We were taken to the Confucius Temple, Lao She and I. At the time, the mandate was to “destroy the Four Olds”, [so] the Red Guards set fire to all the costumes, helmets, armours, knifes and various weaponry. They forced us to grovel on the ground. The weather was very hot and in combination with the fire, [the heat] made us really dizzy. The Red Guards were all students, not anyone from our department. I had no idea where they came from.”


Fu: I heard they were students of Beijing Eighth All-Girls High School. After you were taken to the Confucius Temple by the Red Guards,  what happened in the courtyard of the Literary and Arts Association?


Duanmu: That day I wore a very clean shirt to the Association. Because they were going to criticize us and we had to discuss our past mistakes. It was a day for self-criticisms. Everyone had to come out and bow down in the sun. Then you get your salary, rank, etc. painted on your back. I couldn’t see what they wrote on me because the glue was really thick. And then we got the placards hung [around our necks], placards that said “Cow Demons and Snake Spirits”.


Fu: Mr. Lao She got a placard hung around his neck as well?


Duanmu: Everyone was treated the same way. They were probably following the principle of equality. I already suffered from chronic back pains and so did Lao She. At times I wanted to rest my elbows on my knees, but that was not allowed. We were going insane. Lao She and I were the last two people waiting to be dragged outside. I knew the Literature and Arts Association had a back door. I wanted to ask Lao She to slip out through the back with me. The back door led directly to Xidan Shopping Centre. Then I realized this won’t do, [running away] would just get us into deeper trouble. They were very attentive to our movements. Then we came to the Confucius Temple. At the temple, they used those red and black sticks used in opera performances to hit us on our backsides. At the time, I really wanted to laugh because this stick was meant to be a stage prop, but somehow it was being used on me. But I didn’t dare to laugh and bit my tongue. Afterwards I recounted the event to [the writer] Qin Mu, and he said, “You’re really something!” But I didn’t laugh, I couldn’t. I bit my tongue.


Fu: At the time, was Lao She beaten up really badly?


Duanmu: Of course it was bad. Someone at the time asked me, “Which one is Lao She?” I replied, “I have my head down and I can’t see anything.” In reality, I did catch a glimpse of him because his clothes were particularly neat and tidy. He was not far from me. He was even wearing a blazer, in the western style. I was only wearing a shirt. When we were leaving, for some reason, he had a wound on his head and it was patched up with bandages. The students, i.e. members of the Rebel faction, said he was acting out on purpose so they beat him. At the time, some people thought it would be safer for him to be taken to the police station, at least he won’t get beaten to death there. So they took him to the police station.


Fu: Taking Lao She to the police station, was this done because the Association’s own staff wanted to protect him?


Duanmu: The Rebels were not all in agreement with each other. There were some good people among them. When I was down and getting my ass kicked, [I heard] some people say he had a bad attitude.


Fu: The day after this, Lao She threw himself into Taiping Lake. What’s your take on Lao She’s suicide?


Duanmu: The Rebels told us Lao She decided to alienate himself from the people [which meant] he was a counterrevolutionary.  Since we were all gathered in a small room, I had a bed, and there was a bed left for him. The bed remained empty, waiting for him. The Rebels said Lao She won’t be coming, and I didn’t believe them. Because Lao She had always been a very optimistic person, I did not believe he committed suicide. Afterwards, I went to find him with Zhong Yaoqun [my wife] at Taiping Lake. The local people did not know anything. We met a lot of people; some said it did happen, but they did not know any precise details. We also asked the Residential Committee. As for the incident at the Confucius temple [recounted above], I only found out about our location later on. I didn’t know where I was at the time because we were not allowed to look outside in the car.


Fu: At the time, were you in the same car as Lao She?


Duanmu: Not the same car. At the time, they started hitting you as soon as you got in the car, the beating continued throughout the trip. Anyone could beat you up.


Fu: From the Confucius Temple to the Literature and Arts Association, did the struggle sessions carry on for a very long time?
Duanmu: Not for very long. Lao She was at the Ministry of Culture, and I was at Literature and Arts Association. The sofa was removed. It was said to be a capitalist luxury.


Fu: Which other writers were at the struggle sessions beside you?


Duanmu: Xiao Jun was there. A girl was beating Xiao Jun with a belt in the courtyard. Jiang Feng was beside me. He got hit very hard. The Red Guards went relatively easy on me. Lao She I spotted because his clothes were unique and I was especially worried about him. Didn’t see anything else very clearly. Yang Mo didn’t go that day. The meeting was for self-criticisms. Cao Ming likely didn’t attend either.


Fu: Then what’s your view of the Cultural Revolution in the beginning?


Duanmu: At the time I had a lot of respect for the Cultural Revolution. I think Lao She felt the same way; he also had a lot of respect for the Cultural Revolution, which is why he dressed very neatly that day. I dressed very neatly as well.


Fu: So you’re saying before arriving at the Union you had no idea what was going to happen?


Duanmu: No idea. If I had known, I would not have gone.


Fu: What triggered the struggle session?


Duanmu: I arrived relatively late. Everyone sat there, and I thought the mood was not right. There were two tall hats patched together from paper, but nobody used them afterwards. I was curious, for whom were they made? I thought there must be one for me so I should say as little as possible and hide behind other people whenever possible. But at this moment people were making signs outside. I didn’t see what they wrote. They called us out one by one. There was no meeting. They called us to the courtyard. It was the Rebel faction within the Association. They called us to the courtyard, grabbed us and hit us.


Fu: Were you and Mr. Lao She together at this time?


Duanmu: Originally, I was in the Literature and Arts Association, and Lao She the Ministry of Culture, which was located in an old building that had once been the Ministry of Posts and Communications during the Qing Dynasty. The Literature and Arts Association’s buildings were built in the English style. There was a huge glass window in the front. That day they spent a long time calling people. Lao She and I were the last ones left. We had our hands behind us and looked out the window to find out what was going on. Because we would get called soon. We needed to understand their motives.


Fu: When you returned from the temple, Lao She took off the placard around his neck. Did you see it?


Duanmu: What happened was this: they said his clothes were strange and foreign. I was surprised why they considered this strange and foreign. When Lao She heard these words, he became very angry, so he took his placard off and threw it to the ground. Those people were furious and they started beating him. I was [already] inside the building, which was stripped of all its sofas and carpets. I just sat on the ground to catch my breath. I only saw [them hitting Lao She] after hearing some commotions outside. Immediately afterwards Lao She was taken away. We did not dare to look outside too often. If we stared for too long, we might be caught in the conflict. We had returned from the Confucius Temple and we were all sitting in the room.


Fu: When did you return home?


Duanmu: It was very late before they let me go home. I remember at the time, I said to my wife: “Don’t turn on the light.” Because I was afraid she would see my disheveled appearance. She did not care. My wife asked me what were those marks on my body. I said I don’t know.


Fu: Were the cadres of the  Literature and Arts Association in attendance?


Duanmu: I don’t remember whether they were or not. I did not dare to look up.


Fu: Lao She was forcefully taken to the police station. Did you see this?


Duanmu: That was at the Ministry of Culture. I was at the Literature and Arts Association. The Ministry of Culture did not have any dealings with us. One of the anti-party charges against me was that I wanted to make the Association an independent realm separate from the Ministry of Culture. Later on, the two departments were not separated, but merged as one instead. The Association was shut down, and we came under the control of the Ministry of Culture.
Fu: Were you a witness to the exposure of crimes and the [subsequent] struggle sessions?


Zong Yaoqun (Duanmu’s wife): I heard when Cao Ming was going to get a beating, she said: “You really shouldn’t hit me, my old bones can’t take it.” She probably also pleaded her case with someone who was a leader among these Red Guards. Afterwards it appeared she did not received a heavy beating, I think it happened like this.


Fu: It has been 30 years since the incident. What do you think about Lao She’s suicide today?


Duanmu: A writer makes his main contributions to the people through his works. He was writing Under the Plain Red Banner at the time. He didn’t get to complete it. Before this, he wrote a lot of things in support of his duties [to the party]. He did not deserve to have his life cut short. He could have done a lot more, written a lot more. His death was a great loss for our nation. No one could replace him. This is a tragic interlude during the Cultural Revolution. But of course, the Cultural Revolution was made up entirely of tragic interludes. I was very upset. Afterwards, when I was allowed to write again, I wrote about him. [Some people] asked me to write pieces to commemorate Lao She. I was sick at the time; I just wrote a few passages and she [not certain whom Duanmu was referring to; might be his wife] wrote the rest. Then I put everything together so that the writing flows.

Hu Jieqing:
He held my hand and he was shaking very badly.


Fu: Did Fu Yi go with you to Taiping Lake?


Hu Jieqing (from now onwards, abbreviated as “Hu”): First I called Fu Yi. Fu Yi went there, walked around, and waited for me to show up. Because I got there at 1 AM in the morning, when he couldn’t find me he just went home. We didn’t see each other. If he were there, the ashes won’t be lost.


Fu: Are you saying that you took Lao She’s remains to Babaoshan [Revolutionary Cemetery] by yourself?


Hu: Because at the time we still had an old man as a door guard, I let him accompany me. He followed me the whole way. There were a lot of bodies at Babaoshsan at that time. In 1978, Lao She’s rehabilitation caused quite a stir at Babaoshan. There were many people at Babaoshan; the place was packed. There were many people on the streets as well. Many people said: “Lao She has always been a patriot.” Deng came half an hour before the official memorial ceremony began. She called me over to the break room, and said to me right there, “You’re so brave! You let your son and daughters follow in your footsteps. If the Gang of Four were not overthrown, you and I would both be dead.” That’s what Deng said to me.  


Fu: The day before Lao She’s death, did he say anything to you on the way home from the Literature and Arts Association?


Hu: He didn’t say anything. He thought he wasn’t on the list with five hundred names, and he wasn’t on the list with seven hundred names. The Literature and Arts Associations [even] held struggle meeting against Tian Han and Xia Yan, but not against him. So he called the Association and said he would go. No one knew what would happen… After he came back, Lao She said to me, “I wish to tell someone of my grievances. You write it down, and then send it out by mail.” We could only send things through the mail. My son kept what I wrote on his person. At that time it was three at night. The Premier [Zhou Enlai] was asleep. The secretary took it inside, and said, “Lao She has already gone. You relax and wait until we find Lao She.” Then they specifically called me later. I did not know at the time Lao She was dead; I just knew he disappeared the next day. They came and asked me where he was. The people from the Literature and Arts Association started banging on all the walls and they climbed up to check a hole on the wall to make sure that Lao She was not hiding in there.


Fu: You said you went with Lao She to Babaoshan alone?


Hu: I walked along the coffin myself.


Fu: That day, after Lao She came home, did you notice he was in a poor state of mind?


Hu: He rarely spoke about his work at home. The next morning, I specifically asked Old Yang to buy a fried donut and some pancakes, and make some rice porridge, but he did not eat anything. He told me: “You have your work, and I have mine. Let us not interfere in each other’s work. I will go to my work unit, and you will go to yours.” I obeyed him like a fool. If I had kept my wits about me and followed him out, then this probably would not have happened.


Fu: When you were helping him clean his wounds, did he say anything?


Hu: Nothing to say. The entire Ministry of United Front was smashed.


Fu: Lao She told you to write a letter to the Premier. Did he say anything then?


Hu: He told me to take the pen. After he finished writing, he went to bed. He slept in his room and I mine.


Fu: So Lao She wrote it himself?


Hu: He dictated and I wrote it down. After I finished writing, I let my son and second daughter take it to the Premier. The Premier was asleep, and his secretary said he would give the message to him. The second day, the Premier found out what happened and said Lao She must be located.


Fu: Can you still remember what Lao She told you to write down?


Hu: He told me to write: “I had suffered and experienced many difficulties in the Old Society. My novels were worthless. After Liberation, the Liberation Army and Chairman Mao, Premier Zhou enabled me to start a new life. I must repay my debts to the Party. I must tell everyone everything about the New Society.” That was what I wrote. The letter no longer exists. It was handed over to the Premier. This is why Deng told me I was very brave. It was a difficult time to get through.


Fu: After Lao She returned home, did he tell you that he was struggled against and received a beating at Literature and Arts Association? Or any of his views about the movement?


Hu: He did not say anything. When we first got married, the day after our wedding, he said to me, “If you ever see me sitting there smoking, do not disturb me. I’m not angry with you. I’m thinking about my novels.” From that point on, whenever he was in his room, I learnt not to disturb him. The children knew this too. They would not go in to disturb him either. If at times he needed something like socks, shirts, or coats, he would write a note to me, and I just carried out his instructions. Just like that. He talked very little.”


Fu: He did not show any signs of grief, anger, or dissatisfaction?


Hu: No. At the time he clutched my hand and he was shaking badly. Other people told me when he was getting beat up at Guozijian [the Imperial College within the Confucius Temple], his face colour — people could see his angry expression and knew he was not doing well. They said his face was extremely pale, and you could tell he was in a bad state. They said this old gentlemen was in a bad shape. On our way home from the police station, I was wearing a coat. I took my coat off and put it on him. I was left with a thin shirt. I was afraid he might fall so I held on to him tightly.


Fu: Did Lao She shed any tears?


Hu: He never cried. He was very strong. Before I went to Chongqing, he was always crying because he knew his mother had passed away and he couldn’t fulfill his filial duties. I went to Beijing to take care of his mother in his place. After I had organized his mother’s funeral, I took the children and returned home. Later on when he realized his mother was gone, he would start crying and shedding tears [over her] to anyone he saw.


Fu: Did Lao She start smoking when he got home?


Hu: He only smoked while he was writing. In our daily life he smoked very little. During those three difficult years [i.e. The Great Leap Forward 1959-1961], he even ordered me not to offer cigarettes to any guests that came by because he did not have enough for himself.


A Record of Oral Accounts of Lao She’s Death. By Fu Guangming and Zheng Shicai. Fudan University Press: May 2009.

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