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Where food is dear life is cheap|
I met my dear little brother again in my dream or my imagination, which I cannot be certain, but I know he came to me for I see him clearly now, the way he smiled and the way he hugged me. Although I have already reached my chilly middle age, my brother stays youthful, and often in my memory I confuse him with my son. He never seems to get old.
For the last nine years. I tried not to think of him, tried to tell myself that he did not exist. I talk to my parents quite often, but we steer clear of him, out of guilt or pain, or both. From time to time he would come to see me, but he does not say anything. In fact, he does not speak any more. So for 9 years I have not talked with him at all.
Last time I went to see him. He kept silent all the time when I was there. I did not know what to say either. So silently, I kept his company for a couple of hours; in the hope that it could make any difference I gave him some money. Still he said nothing. My tears just kept flowing down, and through my tearful eyes, I could not see him clearly either; or I did not have the courage to look up straight at him for I felt the guilt, the guilt of not being able to take care of him. I stole a glance of my mother; her face was all wrinkled. At the age of 60, she looked more like an old candle burning out wax; only a few drop of tears managed coming out of her deep but dry wells.
In my memory of him are filled with a lot of incidents of how I got him into troubles. He was the darling of the family and everyone seemed to love him for he was lovely and cute, but he was also a bit spoiled. Once he stole money from my piggy bank and I told on him to my parents. They punished him really hard. Until these days I can still vividly see how badly he was punished, and wish I had not told on him.
Despite the fact I was doing very well at school, I had little influence on him academically. Many a time I tried to teach him math, but usually ended with a fight, and in the end, we both gave up. He never graduated from high school.
The last word he was heard saying was “Water………”, but nobody paid him any attention. I can vividly see how he was fighting against evils and struggling for his life. I felt so guilty that I could not pass him a cup of water, nor pay the doctors there to assist him in his struggle.
The last time he said anything to me was 9 years ago. Then he just graduated from a local college and married a young college graduate. My whole family were so happy and proud of him that we believed that it was a miracle that he could be admitted to a college, graduated from it, and captured the heart of a girl from a college with a much higher status than his own. He was confident then, and ambitious. He quit his job with a state-owned company and opened his own little one. We visited our parents together and we chatted all the time. He was the funny one of the family and his jokes would always make us laugh.
But in an evening of 9 years ago , he took that fateful taxi with his friend who was then drunk. A dispute of some sort occurred and a policeman was called; the driver, the drunk friend, and my brother were taken to a local police station to resolve the dispute. Anxious of his whereabouts, his young wife found early second morning he was taken into a police station, but the police station did not offer any information about my brother. Only through some side contacts, she learned that my brother might be found in a local crematory, where, in the same afternoon, less than 20 hours after he was taken into that police station, my brother’s body was found as an anonymous, scheduled to be cremated soon.
Later, the local police station admitted that they had detained a person like my brother but had no information on him, neither his name, age, nor address. Autopsy by police appointed doctor showed that he suffered numerous injuries, all over his body, including his inner thighs and the part close to his private. Yet it was explained that he died of an injury suffered from falling from the fifth floor in that police station. Despite our protests and complains all the way from local city, to Beijing, the local police cremated him. No investigation was conducted nor any evidence was preserved or documented.
I could only imagine how badly he was beaten up by those local policemen, who acted worse than the most despised wild dogs. In a room on that fifth floor, he was tortured to near death. Whether he was thrown out of a window or he actually jumped on his own to terminate his pain can never be learned. He was rushed to hospital but never treated.
“Water…” was his last unfulfilled wish as the few policemen watched over him.
But one thing remains an undeniable fact. My little brother was taken into a police station to resolve a dispute with a cab driver and his body was found as an anonymous in a local crematory less than 20 hours later. After more than 8 years protest and complaint to all levels of Chinese authorities, the local authority finally agreed to pay RMB100,000 (or US$12,000) to settle the wrongful death of my brother.
In the past 9 years, my brother’s wife, a young widow, a young college graduate was totally ruined from her heart to her body. She has never got out of the shadow of this tragedy and never gathered the courage to start her new life despite our strong urge.
In the same nine years, the relationship between my mother and my sister was ruined, for without any way to seek justice for my brother, my mother turned to “FenShui” master for explanation. Numerous such “FengShui” masters were invited to do magic in my mother’s house in the effort to drive out the devils who took the life of my brother. By the by it was found the thing that killed my brother was the huge iron gate at the front entrance of the yard, which my parents’ house shared with others. My mother believed that my sister did not do her due diligence in choosing the location and the orientation of that gate, which eventually got my brother killed. For many years, I mother would not speak with my sister until my mother finally rebuilt a new house, and thus moved out the shadow of that evil iron gate.
In that same 9 years, I tried to avoid my brother, taking anything associated with him out of my sight. Never had I gathered enough courage to tell other people about my brother, for I felt shame and guilt as if it was our fault that my brother was killed. This is the first time I ever talked about my little brother, little, for he never got the chance to grow up.
“Water…” was the last word from my brother. Every time I went to see him, I made sure I bring him water lest he would be too thirsty in his struggle.
He died on 11/9/1994 in GuiYang city, GuiZhou Province. And his name is Yang, Xiao Hong,
(Note. Please do not interpret this tragedy as an anti com_munist party story for I did not want to make any connection with the party nor politicize it in anyway. It is just one of the many Chinese targedies. In fact the admission of wrongful death by the Chinese Authority was not a result of our protests, but allegedly, a result of the mercy of the Governor of GuiZhou Province in 2002. His mercy brought a closure to my parents who wished to close this chapter before going to see their son soon, and a closure to my brother’s widow, who I hope will eventually gather her strength to relive her life again. For that I thank the Governor.)
As a Chinese, I cannot ask for too much. Where food is dear life is cheap, cheaper than a wild cat as in the case of my brother’s death.