LIFE IN EXILE
CHAPTER 6 The Precious Words Of God
The Second Search
After the first search, I became even more cautious when reading the Bible as I was afraid that there would be a second search. It turned out as I had expected. Winter had come and it had been quite some time since the first search. I needed to re-think how I should hide the five segments of the Bible. I did not think it expedient to hide them in five places, which would not only make it inconvenient for reading but would increase the chances of being discovered. I knew that once one segment was discovered, the others could easily be traced, and my years of Labor Reform would then be all in vain. I had come up with many ideas (such as inside a hay-stack or on the roof of the latrine) but none seemed ideal. Finally, I decided to sew a small pocket under the “quilt-protector”1. Except for the segment to be carried on the body, I hid the other four segments inside the small pocket that had a tiny opening to prevent the contents from falling off easily. At night, after the lights went out and everyone was asleep, I read it under the quilt with the help of my flashlight.
The cadre isolated and confined me and two other teammates who were considered to have the greatest and the most complicated problems. A “Study Class on the Thoughts of Mao Tse-tung” was set up. Together with seven others who were considered more successfully reformed as the “driving force” to assist us, there were altogether ten people in the study class. As we had to share one wide bed, we slept like a pack of sardines. The team was temporarily relieved of labor to allow for the whole day’s studies.
Of the three targeted, there was one person besides me who was rather extraordinary. A native of Jiangxi, he was re-arrested 10 years after his escape from another Labor Camp, and was sent to our Camp for continued reform. He was a man of few words, and all we knew about him was that after his escape he worked as a laborer in a quarry factory in a remote area of Jiangxi Province. There, workers’ identities were not checked as, apart from the homeless and the jobless, very few people were willing to make that kind of living. The wages were paid weekly and were barely sufficient for living expenses. After suffering poverty for some time, he decided to leave for Guandong Province to find a better job. Unfortunately, he was arrested after his identity was disclosed, and was sent to our Camp for continued reform. Having no shoes and no clothes to change into, he requested an allowance. He was granted an advanced payment of 4.5 yuan for a pair of rain-boots. Unexpectedly, on a drizzling night, he escaped again. Thus, with only two targets left in the study class, the attacks were even more concentrated and intense.
A surprise search was conducted one day when everything I (a special target) possessed was thoroughly searched. However, the searcher did not suspect my cotton quilt. Soon afterwards, a stout inmate named Yao, supposedly more well-reformed than the rest, came forward and grabbed the middle part of the quilt, lifted it up and said, “Nothing!” Thus, I evaded a disaster again. Praise the Lord!
The wiping out of “the four olds” was still in full swing. I finally decided to put the five Bible segments in a double-layered plastic bag and to hide it in a very tricky spot until the threat had gone: I chose one particular rice seedling in a field near our living quarters. Keeping in mind its exact position, I pulled it out, placed the waterproof Bible where the roots lay, placed a clay tile on top to prevent it from floating and, to help me locate it later, replanted the seedling on top of it (this way the plant would not be found missing). When the threat no longer existed, I secretly took it out to read again.
Oh, during the 10 years of Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), numerous Christians had tried every possible means to hide the Bible in many different ways, such as under the eaves, inside tree holes, inside sofa seats and buried in the ground. Some were discovered and their owners were subjected to various forms of torture. These occurrences reminded me of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
1. In most households in Shanghai, “protectors” were sewn on quilts. The “quilt protector” was a long, rectangular piece of cloth added along the edge of the quilt closest to the head (the part of the quilt that got dirty most easily). It could be easily removed for washing - without the need to wash the whole quilt.