Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chengdu Lei Wu High School (成都列五中学)

Chengdu Number Five High School was founded by Zhang Lei Wu (张列五) in 1904. He was born in Longchang (隆昌), part of Neijiang. (Former name was 叙属中学). He was in charge of Sichuan’s army (蜀军政府都督) and was killed trying to get rid of Yuan Shikai (袁世凯) in Tianjin (天津). Next to the high school, there was a double well not far from Ba Jing’s (巴金) home where Ba Jing spent his first 15 years in the Li Family Courtyard (李家院子) and his real name was Li Yaotong (李尧棠).
The first year of high school was political as usual. We had military training for two weeks before we began so that everyone would be disciplined. We were excited that we had one chance to shoot with a real gun after two weeks of practice. My three shots weren’t bad compared to some of the others who missed the target completely. It was the second time for me to use a real gun. Class was easy because we spent a lot of time studying the government’s new guidelines. I soon joined a communist youth group as a sign that I was not just there for good grades. This was called “two red” not just “one.” I was elected as vice president of our class. The class president was a boy call Li (李) Cho Yuan. He was a very good public speaker. As vice president, I did not do much since he did almost everything.
Like our middle school, boys and girls usually didn’t socialize except during class discussions. However, we did have one girl in our class who was known as “a bad girl.” She didn’t have good grades or the correct attitude toward political issues. Instead, she liked to dress up sexy with high heels and tight pants, walking while swinging her butt while passing boys. Good students simply ignored her. A few bad boys would just stop whatever they were doing, watch her and joke with her in a very low manner. She didn’t care. She was proud of herself.
I was surprised one day when a girl in my class asked me to lend her some money so that she could buy some clothes that she liked so much. I said, “you have your own money? You don’t earn money since no student works. She said that she had an allowance to cover her personal things. I told her that I never had an allowance. I had some money most of the time, but that was for the family’s groceries. On the way home from school, I would buy some vegetables or if I saw some other food item that was good. She simply laughed at me -- was that why my clothes were always out of fashion? – because I never bought them myself? When my pants and sleeves became short, I had sewn different color cloths on the hems to extend them since my grandma had taught me how to mend. I thought that I did a very good job mending those holes. But I knew that there were a few making fun of me. I didn’t know what about so I just ignored them.
When I was with my girlfriends in class, I was not very good at girls’ subjects. Very quickly, I could change the conversation to the subjects, which interested me. At that time, I was interested in the universe. I told them about the things I read about including the solar system and the unknown universe. I felt that we humans were so small and helpless. I would rather be a planet or a star. Human society, government, teachers, everyone always told us that we are in charge of the earth. We could change the world. We are so small if we rise above the earth. The girls in my class had no interest; they gave me a nickname “Doctor Han.” I gradually learned that I had nothing in common with most girls in my class.