LIFE IN EXILE
Turning Nothing Into Something?
The cadres, of course, were aware of the starving situation. Perhaps out of kindness, someone suggested a ridiculous "rice production rate" contest. It was a contest in respect of the weight of cooked rice that one could make with a fixed weight of uncooked rice. It was based on the idea that the greater the amount of cooked rice, the more feeling of fullness the person eating it would have. This actually was a trick. Everyone knew the Chinese proverb that "even the cleverest housewife could not cook a meal without rice." In science also there is the law of conservation of mass. Nevertheless, as the Chinese saying went, "When an attractive reward is offered, brave fellows are bound to come forward." In an effort to win earlier release from the Labor Camp, everyone tried hard. Then an inmate working in the kitchen came up with an "advanced formula": first, roast the rice until it turned yellowish brown, then pour the rationed quantity into each person's bamboo tube and add water before steaming. When cooked, the outcome looked like rice. The sad thing was: as soon as it was stirred with a spoon, it immediately turned into gruel. Such silly contests lasted for a while before they were silently put to an end.