It has been ten years since my father left me.
During the ten years, I have always felt that he is with me, watching me, just the way he came to visit me in jail for the first time, caressing me head and gazing at me dearly.
There were tremendous expectations of me by father, but I failed to make to the college after graduating from high school. My mom had wanted me to try one more time for the entrance exam for college, which was flatly vetoed by father. I was sent to military instead. Four years of being an aviator in Navy was my first real independence in my life, and my first “college” experience.
After being discharged with honor from military, I was assigned to work in a automobile group enterprise in Nanjing and became an employee in the Human Resources Department. Not being a communist party member with no college diploma, I faced the possibility of elimination. My parents contacted a teacher in the Education Institute of Jiangsu Province. After intensive studying day and night, I was finally accepted by the Jiangsu Commercial Management Institute, an Associate College level school with little fame. This was my second college experience.
The year with college graduation on the horizon in 1989, June 4 Students Demonstrations took place. Being a college student with burning passion, I threw myself into this movement without any reservation. After several months of fierce bloody fights, the largest democracy storm erupted ever since the establishment of the communist government in China, the dream for democracy passed on by several generations, was brutally shattered by the tanks and machine guns fired by Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng.
The diploma was taken away from me. The arrest warrant was issued against me. Then as the “ring leader of the anti-revolutionary gang”, I was sentenced to 10 years in prison. That was my third “college”.
It took a good 2 years from the time of my arrest to sentencing. I clearly remember that it was an afternoon. The cell door opened with a loud bang, and the Old Wang hollered at me, “Jianmin Wu, visit!” I finally got a visit from my parents!
Being the first visit ever since my arrest, my father, mother, brother, sister and comrades from the Confederation of Nanjing Universities all came. Because some of the comrades had once been locked up at this jail, Old Wang would not let them in. Only two of them that Old Wang could not recognize were allowed for the visit: Chang Peng and Wang Li. Both of them crouched by my legs and stuffed cash in my socks, asking me to mind my health.
Mom, brother and sister saw me in bald head for the first time. They all cried.
My father did not say a word, just touching my head with his hand. I could feel the trembling of his hand. I looked at him but saw no tear, even though I could see through his heart.
During the time behind the bars in the Dragon Pond Prison, every time my parents came to visit me, it was an full day’s trip with bus. My father was a military doctor, an old soldier under Qin Jiwei’s 2nd Wild Field Army. He retired in the 80’s as a Divisional officer, and was entitled to use military cars as part of the retirement benefits.
But since my arrest, the routine weekly meetings of political study became meetings of attack and jeers against my father by the senior officers since Cultural Revolution, saying that he raised an anti-revolutionary son. Being as stubborn as my father, he never budge to use military cars for visiting me. My parents never missed any visit no matter how nasty the weather condition could be, even though some visits lasted only a few minutes. Sometimes the visits ended after they gave the fruits and food to the jailer and barely had a chance to talk with me.
One time my father came and touched my face. He asked me, “Son, did they beat you?” I said, “No.” He said, “Don’t forget your dad is a doctor. You thought I couldn’t tell?” I said, “OK dad, but it’s all passed.” He asked, “Son, tell me, did it hurt?” I said, “No, it didn’t. I pulled through.” He then said, “Son, how I wish I could take the blows for you…..”. My tears started pouring out upon hearing those words.
The year I was released, I was already 35 years old. My father was waiting for me at the entrance of the alley where we lived. Upon seeing me, he studied me up and down and gently asked me, “Are you really back?” I said, “Yes dad. I’m back.” Father picked up my hand and straightened his chest as a military man and said, “Let’s go home!”
He was gone 10 years ago, at the age of 78. All too soon. He did not get to see my twins, a boy and a girl, nor did he get to wait for clearing of all the allegations inflicted upon me because of June 4, nor did he get to see the collapse of the Chinese Community Party, nor get to see the fierce counter attacks launched by his “anti-revolutionary” son.
I will forever remember my obligations and pursuits. On the day the dictatorship falls, I will go to my father’s graveyard and tell me, “I did not let you down, dad.”