口述人:普桂珍 (女,1928 年出生,云南省凤庆县白云村独家村寨子村民)
采访人: 李新民 (女, 1988 年出生, 草场地工作站驻站)
采访日期: 2014 年 1 月 17 日
采访时长: 43 分钟 4 秒
采访原文抄录(访问人李新民简称 “民”, 被访人普桂珍简称 “普”)
普: 我这天天有病,我这这个满月爬起么,那外头大哥李高家伙食团,你们花木林那个大哥杨顺,人不在家,二哥李忠他们去拆那间房子,叫我们满月起来背柴,大哥李高家煮牛 肉,压着了咔嚓一声,现在么越老越就是这些疼,不得这些肉化完了,样都不在了,伙 食团伤着,就是伙食团伤着,哪里伤着回,约二哥李忠去砍,二哥李忠你咯记得,又在 这里我们瓦窑田边,有好多大树,嬢嬢怕记得呢,这些么样都认不得。二哥李忠又去砍得些柴,现在小会枝家田哪里有块大石头,那个柴背着从那挣上来么, 这里倒是响呢,咯噔一声响呢,那样我也听见呢,就是这几回挣着,满月这几回挣着。 哎啊乖我说,现在吃是想吃点呢,一顿吃啊满些小碗饭,要自己会爬起煮吃呢,人家要 去了,人家满人家要去了,哎老天,饿是饿,他们嬢嬢家帮进来时候,啊嫂罗定妹,阿 嫂周法妹,老海家阿妈,在这里煮饭么。阿嫂阿嫂啊早饭米不有称给我小点,红徐徐称给小斤说,哎称给小斤么天天就不是那样饿。大呢那个你啊叫啊嬢噶,相庄在着那个。啊嬢不知姑妈不知,做月子恢复着过,饿着过,饿不死那个,我日你娘,肚子也不饱, 大大那俩吃了么,我得吃这么小点。
普: 伙食团吃了些,黄泡,黄泡掺饭,桥康掺饭,甘蔗渣掺饭,蕨菜掺饭,香菜那样都不得吃点,香菜,包白菜那样都不得吃点,就是那种绿黄泡现在摘吃那种,桥康晒晒整整掺 饭,来掺饭吃,拉拉整整打面果吃,还吃过那个,这下头她们嬢嬢家镊子房那个,炸山 果镊又去镊玉米臭成什么,吃也吃不进去。
普: 那伙食团做,伙食团做,拿回来么伙食团吃,做么就是,那个饭一顿大人么蒸二小两, 小娃娃么整一小两,这么大一小个小碗么,满满一碗,那样呀,那个蕨菜拿回来,蕨菜花么更好吃点,更难吃那种甘蔗渣,甘蔗渣咽也咽不下去。玉米骨头,样样都吃着。
普: 就不是掺拢点面,掺拢点面么这样揉揉整整么,那个那小碗饭头装上,装上给你有些那样,装上给你那么吃呀,那小碗饭么,你去抬饭么,你老姑奶要叫老姑奶呢,那个抬带 来饭么,我呢一小碗么抬回来么,我呢装起给我,他爹呢他呢一家小碗那么吃。白日一 天天,满月爬起么,去那猴子菌山和那个,现在大树林小久生死也死了,普应科、小久 生去那开田,煮来给你一小两米呢稀饭,一小勺,现在么饿么成个根,及时饿么人家赶 不上,什么时候饿么想整吃点,你大姑奶买来点玉米面么,什么时候饿么这么烫吃小点, 就不是那样。
普: 最苦就是食堂下放,就是大伙食团,那年是属狗,娃娃背着背着去么,娃娃都干瘪烂翘呢,这里过去摔了一跤么,娃娃哪里摔到了不知道,干瘪干瘪那样就瘪死了,属狗那个。 罗从兴不满月么去那外头,马从妹家灶房,不满月要去哪里在休息了一段时间,我们是 满月了,晚上么娃娃装下给我阿嫂托儿所,叫呢叫,拉呢拉,大火把点起来去李宽山割 谷子, 李宽山你咯认得,现在有家人在处,老面果树对面,那么大坡下来么,火把望不 见了么,坎子滚下来帮腰都摔脱了,现在还不是一会腰疼, 一会这些疼, 一会脑子这些 疼,那么疼,不疼处不有,白日么早饭吃了, 来这里睡睡,这个脱了么又来这里睡一会, 睡一会太阳啊有三点了,三点多钟么又爬起,爬起又蹲了一会么, 又热饭吃,那样呀, 饭热吃了么, 又蹲一会, 又来这睡起。
普: 最难吃是甘蔗渣啊, 甘蔗榨了那种甘蔗渣, 那种渣渣是掺拢那个面,吃吃不下去, 吃下去么火烧火燎这些这些烫疼, 最难吃是甘蔗渣,甘蔗渣拉拢这个。阿嫂周法妹, 这底下 么李绍妹,我阿嫂罗静妹, 就是嬢嬢家老婆婆, 她们四个在这里煮饭, 肚子从来都不得 饱。现在么有呢, 这个不拿给, 那个拿给, 是吃不下去。
普: 不够吃就不是掺给这些是, 就掺这些啊, 就掺这些吃。还有那些生菜,生菜老了么, 揉也揉不动, 拿去厨臼冲, 冲冲整整那么煮给你一锅, 黑漆漆就不是那么打给你。最难吃 就是甘蔗渣,甘蔗渣吃了是不得了呢,玉米骨头, 甘蔗渣,就这样了, 最难吃就这两样 了。香菜包白菜这些是好吃呢, 软软这种也不扯气, 耗央做活去么, 望见香菜还大家抢, 拿拿整整回来么, 烫一下么, 盐都有逼不起, 哪里拿的一点这样装着么,拿得那种菜么, 回来烫一下么,小小切一下么, 盐拌上点那么吃。我说现在么, 种这么点也够吃了, 种 那么点也够吃, 就是吃不完,吃不下去, 米也有呢,这个抬给我一包, 那个抬给我一包, 好几包呢, 这么煮一点要吃三四顿。老是疼那段时间,我床都不会下来, 慢慢拐棍杵着 下来么, 慢慢出去么, 火烧起么, 叫儿子柴抱下给小点,水打下给我小点,慢慢油烟装 上么,冷饭整上那么热吃,人家人家赶不上,人家是去做活路,那俩娃娃是,你小叔老 军二十岁怕。
民: 那么你家咯饿死过? 普:我家不饿死过,我家不有饿死过。哦还掺过细糠,细糠掺饭,我家不有饿死过,我家么娃娃少,左个死了,右个死了,属鸡死了个儿子,这么高,属狗那个死了么,也怕有四五岁了,死了两个儿子,姑娘么五六岁那么死了一个,死了两个。
普: 伙食团时候不是,伙食团时候死是不是,伙食团时候死是属狗那个不知,那样摔着么, 摔死也不是,是饿死。我一生当干部,一生不说个什么,真就真假就假,别呢认不得那 种我也不会说成。我家七个八个么不有饿死过,说不好,这种是他也病些,我们也是人 家哪里调去也去了,哪里调去也去了,药那些那么多不发达那样。这些你妈她们都不有吃着过。
普: 大集体么我说给你,大集体么哪里重哪里调装,二哥李忠倒是说不好,他说他老婶拉娃娃么给她挨处些,另外那些李彬宜哪里重么哪里调装,李宽山挖田,这外头挖田,这种大山么两台两台缩。就是我说属狗那个,属狗那个娃娃这丢下么,活路哪重哪调装么, 每天二十分二十分,我们二十,人家也二十,我们不高分,二哥李彬宜就叫人家,下头 记工分,记工分也不是,叫人家帮我每天二十分帮我完全拿了呢,完全拿了那么整呢, 我说二哥啊,我这娃娃丢成这样,你们那重那调装那重那调装,我呢这个瘪娃娃交给你们去,你们帮 我整成这样,人家那二十你们做什么不去拿,来拿我那二十,你们背后 这么不用整,那么哎我工分高我一天天去那闲着,你不直接说吗，直接来说帮我杀了 也好这么整么,和二哥李彬宜吵,你不是人我也不是人,你当干部我也不是当干部,怎 么你会这么整我, 我喂儿喂女,天天不是在你们面前这样,你们肚子是吃吃不完,我 们是天天饿着,一天天饿着。
有些坟地哪是你们花木林家坟地（有些山是花木林的地），去那开田,开得多大山田（把山开成了地，开了很多地），肚子饿饿人家回来么,我哥养着蜜子（蜂蜜）又给吃点,是不是饿死了，是不是饿死了，这饿死是只听见大树林那个,我 们也不联系,饿死小石场家两口子,是真饿死还是假饿死我们也不懂这些,这种是要实 事求事,我们家也说不好,因为我是天天打头打头去（我天天带着大家去挖地）,这个娃娃么说样不有得给吃,饿死这样么不有,娃娃也少，左个死了右个死了。
普: 批斗啊,批斗么我娃娃又小, 两晚上三晚上, 逼迫逼迫打呢, 晚上晚上说不好开会得你 爷爷去, 我又在家领娃娃, 那样的批斗呢, 啊嘛害怕呢, 你话今日说不成句, 今晚上就 来斗争你了, 那样呢,
普: 打啊, 踢打, 嘞, 嘞起不说给你, 头颠倒颠, 吊起那样。
普: 看见过呢，我们还领到，红旗抬着罗锅家伙考着（抬着小红旗、敲着乐器），要去那个去呢，人家战斗那个队，白云队来占哪角（白云队站一队），勇上队来占哪角（勇上村站一队），陆敏队来占哪角（陆敏来的站一对）,工具加石考(敲)着,大红旗抬着, 哎现在我也记着呢。那个罗在行家阿妈,阿爹阿妈死得早,那个讲孤苦日子,人家阿爹打么阿妈顾,阿爹打么阿妈顾。阿爹打不有人顾,阿妈打也不有人顾,阿爹阿妈不有么人家打嘛,不有人顾,讲讲哭呢。小村大学堂,那个是诉苦,讲讲哭讲讲哭。又是我们在大河边,杨勇行那个当兵回来么,也是讲讲说肚子饿，当兵处掺给沙子吃,饭里掺给沙子，吃不下去。这个草鞋么这种,还不是讲讲还不是哭。
普: 嗯不在了,不在了,毕金意,杨易川,大河边那些也死完了,李忠这些也死完了,我们队这些都死完了, 他们大叔老外生也死完了,只是我独自,我哥我妈也是养得我们姊妹八个呢,姊妹八个死完了,只留着我独自一个,也是那个,相庄人家批斗那个也是，批斗那个李绍青，那个是我们落党镇镇长,现在不知道怎么叫。现在还不是他去新村那那那那，他和人家姑娘联系，我们去城里三刚会，这样去他也照顾呢（接着姑娘就去开会），我们只是六个人还是七个人，他就不找上我们，我们就够了，最朝后和人家姑娘，公社那些干部,那个还不是来我们在相庄批斗他呢，你就大干部还不是大干部,还是批斗他呢。
普: 啊嘛,就不是按照那些政策,你违反政策,多少干部你帮人家妇女领着,那个还要叫人家去接,开会来是还要去接,接那个姑娘。啊嘛人家有多少条件啊,多少条件那么说啊, 说出来了,那个人是在雪山李绍青,现在我还记着呢。
普: 啊嘛不是,我这讲给你过呢,那调装,最朝后你娃娃小还不是小,我们党员去石洞四开那些茶地，辉仕学、杨自兴他们一起说，现在只死不完个杨自兴,朝后慢慢才入党呢, 我是在小村就入回来了,他们完全这分上来,分上来以后才入的,月亮白生生呢,就去到茶地,两个人挖一凳（两个人挖一个台阶）,两个人挖一凳,吃饭吃饭差,人家么肉会吃完好多,饭都会吃完这么两大桶,我是两大桶这样一小半,一小半都不会吃完,那个毕莫忠去煮饭,大五、六月又叫我去撒麦子,那些坟地多成什么,害怕了我,人生面不熟我去我是害怕，怕呢, 麦子撒完了又去背,撒完撒完又去背,正正在那个庙房下头歇着,地震,地震叫我去院子角睡，他们在房子里头睡,我日你老娘,人家晚上开会,他们不在老子就火塘边叶垫上些（别人不在的时候我就偷懒), 我就在火塘边睡,他们就在这样高床上睡,地震成什么,天天那样,那年是地震人死过呢,那个广播那哼着,啊嘛阴老实气呢,不得还叫我去煮饭打面果,面果面果不会打成,人家拿去荞面也有,拿去玉米面也有,拿去荞面么那个小夫地,小夫地在那石洞四,那里读书,他是和我们去他那来,小夫地小夫地你咯会打荞面果,啊老婶我会打呢，他来帮我打，现在不有病等几时（老了病多）。我是 87 了,你啊三奶罗世英咯厉害呢,咯望见?
普: 啊嘛我是慢慢碗饭吃不完,素来吃口细是（吃不了硬的东西）,菜好吃些要去找去呢,不会去呀,不会去找, 哎我说不得我会过着这样一步,人家死完死了,我不会死,一天天这张床上睡一会爬起 一会,一处都不会去,那段时间大门不会出去怕有三个月了,八月九月怕七月就来了, 疼啊这样疼有时候这样小香小香来贴给我个膏药，这里就不会进来,小香来这里帮我扶 进来,要不然一会就死了,来到这里,来到这里就死了,老奶是老奶，叫是叫我心里听见呢,不会答应出来,不会答应出来。
普: 啊嘛不是管工是人家大队李彬意、李润、二哥李忠,朝前找他他不去,后头才去呢,后头后头些才来,后头后头缩下,我是不有管过,管日巴工,人家帮我管得干的点工分帮我拿了, 我日你娘,你帮我当做什么人,晚上日你娘我这娃娃才满月,娃娃才满月就叫我去陆明开会,晚上十二点才回来到家,老天那个奶这样流下来,才满月呢,日你娘我说我开日巴会,那外头大沟那些进来么,还点电筒么,要用那种烂毬灯泡,一小个灯泡瞎了么,黑蒙蒙这样摸,摸着摸着回来,啊乖啊乖说话是伴面前这样,去也不会去, 去不去讲话这样人家（去不了邻居家）,心就乱起了（心跳加速）,气不有,气不有（没有力气）,来这里睡着（在床上躺着）,不得不得这样吃上 口（吃不下东西，过一会儿再吃一口）,不是人家说我假（别人说我装病）,我说我不假, 86、7 是。
普: 1978 年还是怎么说,怎么说我不会赶成,就只得报给人家,报给人家人家有通书,人家赶。啊三嫂罗世英是大我七岁呢,她属鸡。啊乖你咯吃水?
普: 日你娘我这苦成什么,夜半三更小星密密呢,月亮白生生小星密密,辉仕学那个烂儿子, 带起就去背起（带着辉仕学的儿子一起去背东西）,啊嘛我苦过度就那个时间,苦过度了,你要做姑娘人,要做拉娃人,好好吃吃不得吃点,肉一大盆,饭一大蒸,吃口又细么,不会吃下去（一个女人，有了孩子要带孩子，想吃点好的，肉也有，饭也有，我就是吃不下）,当干部有钱得人家有,我不有,我样都不有,不有什么钱,现在都我不有,怎么叫那个六十岁以上发的一个本本,一个月六十块那种，那个是相片咯。
Interviewee: Pu Guizhen, female, born in 1928, Dujia, Baiyun Village, Fengqing County, Yunnan Province
Interviewer: Li Xinmin, female, born in 1988, Caochangdi
Time: Jan 17, 2014
Location: Pu Guizhen’s home
Min: I’m here to interview people who went through the communal canteens. Can you hear me like this?
Pu: I’m not deaf. I’m blind.
Min: So can you talk about the canteens?
Pu: I don’t feel good every day. One month after I gave birth to my child. My big brother Li Gaojia was at the canteen. Yang Shun wasn’t home either. My second brother Li Zhong and some other people are pulling down a house. They asked us to carry the firewood. Li Gaojia was cooking beef. The weight was too much for my back and I heard a snap. The older I get, the more painful I feel. It hurts as if my flesh is melting away. It’s because I got hurt during the collectivization. I went with Li Zhong, if you know him. There used to be a lot of big trees at the field near the tile kiln. Auntie maybe still remembers these.
Li Zhong went for some firewood. There was a large rock at where now Xiaohuizhi’s field is. I was walking on the slope with firewood on my back and I heard a crack in my body. My body was hurt during these few times when I carried woods after I just gave birth to a child after a month. When I wanted to eat, I needed to get up and cook myself. Others went for their food. I was hungry. Some people helped and cooked here. We only got one jin of rice per day. Lived like that. With no food, we were just starved. Someone at Xiangzhuang was recovering from childbirth. Fuck. I let them eat more and I just had a little bit of food.
Min: What did you eat at that time?
Pu: We ate rice mixed with Huangpao, Qiaokang, sugarcane dregs, Juecai. We didn’t have cabbages. We made corn rice with different things. We also fried wild fruits and then corns. The smell of the wild fruits made corns nasty too. Those were really hard to eat.
Min: How did you make those into food?
Luo: We made them at the canteens. Adults had 2 liang of steamed rice per meal and children had one. Bowls were like this big. Juecai was relatively better. Sugarcane dregs were hard to swallow. Corncobs. We ate everything.
Min: How do you deal with Juecaihua and corncobs?
Luo: We mixed them with flour and made doughs. Doughs were put in small bowls. We went to the canteen to get them. We labored every day. I had to get out of bed one month after giving birth. We went to Monkey Jun Hill—Little Jiusheng is dead now—Pu Yingke, Little Jiusheng and I dug the ground on the hill. We only got a little porridge. So hungry. If we are hungry now we can get something to eat. But we couldn’t back then.
Min: When was the hardest moment?
Pu: It was the year of dog. I carried my child and fell over. My child hit the ground and died. The one born in the year of dog. Luo Congxing had just given birth, so she could rest somewhere. My child was more than one month old. I gave my child to someone and went to Li Kuanshan with a fire. Do you know Li Kuanshan? There’s a family living there. I was walking downhill and couldn’t see things clear with my fire and fell down. I rolled down the hill and I broke my back. I still have backaches now. I also have headaches. Every part of me aches. After breakfast, I come here to sleep till afternoon. I get up at 3 pm and squat down for a while and heat myself dinner. After dinner, I squat down a little bit more and go to sleep.
Min: What’s the worst thing that you had?
Pu: Sugarcane dregs were the worst. We mixed the dregs into the flour. Those were hard to eat and they made our throats hurt. Four women were cooking here and they were never full. We cannot swallow sugarcane dregs now.
Min: What else did you eat when hungry?
Luo: We mixed stuff. We also cooked old vegetables in a big pot, which turned out black. Sugarcane dregs were the worst. Then corncobs. Some vegetables were better. They were soft and people fought for them. We boiled the vegetables somewhat and added a little salt. Today, the things I plant is more than enough. Have plenty of rice too. One pot of rice is enough for several meals. Some time ago, my body ached and I couldn’t get out of bed. I walked slowly with a cane and slowly started a fire. I asked my son to bring the woods and water. I heated my meals. Other people were working. Your little uncle was like 20 years old.
Min: Did anyone die because of the collectivization?
Pu: Yes. They struggled. Some didn’t have enough food and were starved to death.
Min: Did anyone die in your family?
Pu: No. Nobody in my family died of hunger. Oh we also put chaff in the rice. My family didn’t have that many kids. The boy born in the year of rooster died. He was this tall. The boy born in the year of dog died too. He was 4 or 5 years old. A girl died at the age of 5 or 6.
Min: Did they die during the collectivization?
Pu: No. The dog boy died around that time but I’m not sure if he died because of a fall or of hunger. I’ve been a cadre for all my life and I don’t lie. I don’t say things that I don’t know. There were 7 or 8 people in my family and they didn’t die of hunger. It’s hard to say. Some of them were ill. We were sent to places and didn’t have good medicine. Your mother has never been through this.
Min: So what farm work did you do during the collectivization?
Pu: During the collectivization, we were sent to places with lots of work. Li Zhong said that his wife needed to take care of their children, so she didn’t work that much. But people like Li Bingyi were sent to Likuan Hill to dig the field. I left my baby—the one born in the year of dog—and went wherever there was hard work. We had 20 points every day. Li Bingyi once asked them to write down our low points. Why didn’t they just take away all of my 20 points? I left my baby at home for work. If they took away my points, they might as well kill me. I was working hard every day. I said to Li Bingyi: “You are human and so am I! You are a cadre and so am I! How can you do this to me! I’m raising my children while working. You have more than enough to eat and we are starved every day!”
Some hills belonged to Huamulin. We went there to turn the hills into farming fields. When we got home and felt hungry, my elder brother would give me some honey from the bees he kept. I don’t know if some people died of hunger. I heard that a couple at Xiaoshichang died of hunger. I don’t know if it was true. I only tell the facts that I know. It is hard to say if people in my family were starved to death too. I went land ploughing with people every day. My children couldn’t be well fed. They didn’t really die of hunger. I didn’t have many children and some of them died.
Min: How much rice does one person eat?
Pu: One got two liang per meal. You put some water in a bowl and steam it in a big pot. Then we put some doughs on the top.
Min: Were there struggle sessions?
Pu: About the struggles. My kid was still little. They had struggles two nights or three nights in a row. Your grandfather went there, since I needed to look after my baby at home. It was scary. If you said something wrong, they would criticize you later at night. Like that.
Min: How do they struggle?
Pu: They kicked and beat people. They hung your body upside down.
Min: Have you seen a struggle place?
Pu: Yes. Down the Little Village. Those were struggles with landlords. We had to show up too, although we didn’t want to. They beat people. It was terrifying.
Min: So you’ve seen it?
Pu: Yes. We also took part in it. We carried red flags and played instruments in a team, marching on the street. People from Baiyun formed a team; people from Yongshang formed a team; Luming was a team. We struck our instruments and carried big red flags. can still remember those.
The mother of Luo Zaixing had a sad time. Her parents died when she was very young. In many families, if the father got beaten up, the mother took care of the kid; or if the mother got beaten up, the father took care of the kid. She didn’t have any people to take care of her. People beat her and she told us in tears. She told her hardships at the school at Little Village while crying. At Dahebian, Yang Yongxing came back after being a soldier. He told us how hungry he was and that in the army, people put sand into their food. They wore straw shoes. He cried as he talked about it.
Min: Where was that place that had food mixed with sand?
Pu: Dahebian. People have died out there. All of we cadres have passed away.
Min: Great grandmother, so you were a cadre?
Pu: People have all gone from the world. Bi Jingyi, Yang Yichuan. People at Dahebian have all gone. People like Li Zhong is dead too. Our team is dead. Their big uncle Old Waisheng is dead too. I am the only one left. My mother and brother were supporting eight kids including me and now I am the only one alive. About the one that was struggled against at Xiangzhuang. The person is named Li Shaoqing. He was the head of Luodang. I don’t know what he is now. He went to Xin Village and had affairs with women. When we went to a meeting in the city, he would pick up some other’s wife with him. We were 6 or 7 people. He got criticized at Xiangzhuang, even though he was a big cadre.
Min: So how did they struggle against cadres?
Pu: They did it according to the policies. If you broke a policy, and had a thing with others’ wives, you would be criticized. They brought the women with them when going to meetings. They had money and means to do this kind of thing. That person was Li Shaoqing. I still remember it.
Min: So at that time, as a cadre, you didn’t have to do farm work?
Pu: No. As I told you, I was deployed. My kids were still young. We party members went to Shidongsi to plough the tea fields. Hui Shixue and Yang Zixing were with us. Now only Yang Zixing is still alive. They didn’t join the party later than me. I joined the party at Small Village and they didn’t join the party till later. The moon was still up bright when we went to the tea fields. Two people dug a hole. I couldn’t eat well. Others could eat lots of meat and finish two buckets of rice. I couldn’t even finish a small half of it. Bi Mozhong was the cook. In May or June, they asked me to sow the wheat. There were many graveyards there and I was scared. I didn’t know that place or anyone. After the sowing, I carried stuff. Then I rested at a temple. There came an earthquake. They asked me to sleep in the yard while they slept inside. Fuck them. When they had meetings, I would try to sleep near Huotang. They always slept in their high beds. The earthquake went on for days. People died in the earthquake. There was talking in the radio. They also asked me to cook and make doughs. I didn’t know how to make doughs. They carried buckwheat flour and corn flour. Little Fudi was in school at Shi Dongsi and I asked him if he knew how to make doughs. He said he knew how and helped me. I am old and have many health problems. I am 87 years old. Your third grandmother Luo Shiying is doing well. Have you visited her?
Pu: Does she have trouble walking in and out?
Min: She can walk well but she’s losing her memory.
Pu: Her mind has gone wrong?
Pu: Does she eat a bowl of rice every meal?
Min: She eats two bowls.
Pu: Ah, I can’t even slowly finish one bowl. I can only eat soft food. Vegetables are easier for me, but I couldn’t go to find vegetables. I have been living like this while others died one by one. I’m not dying. I just lay in this bed every day and get up sometimes. I don’t go anywhere. There was a time when I stayed in for three months. July, August and September. My body ached. Sometimes, Little Xiang came over and put a plaster on me. She helped me to move to my bed. I would have been dead if it weren’t for her. She called me grandmother, but I wouldn’t voice my answer.
Min: Should I call you great grandmother or grandmother?
Pu: Great grandmother.
Min: Great grandmother?
Pu: Your grandmother calls me auntie and your grandfather calls me auntie too. Your mother also calls me grandaunt.
Min: Great grandmother, what is your official name?
Pu: My official name is Pu Guizhen.
Min: Pu Guizhen?
Pu: I am only telling you how my life was like. I would say anything otherwise.
Min: I heard that cadres didn’t need to do farm work. They just had to supervise the people working?
Pu: Those who were supervisors were Li Bingyi, Li Run and Li Zhong. He didn’t want to do it first and came later. I was never a supervisor. What fucking supervisor! I worked hard and they took my working points. Motherfucker. What did they think I was? Fuck. My child was only one month old and I was required to attend a meeting in Luming. When I got home at midnight, my breastmilk was running down. My child was only one month old. What fucking meeting should I go to? I came back with a half-broken flashlight—one little lightbulb was off—and I had to find my way in the dark. I can’t go to my neighbors. When I go, my heart started racing. I don’t have enough strength. I often just lay in bed. I can’t eat much and will have another bite later. Some say that I’m pretending to be sick. I am not pretending. I am 86 or 87 years old.
Min: What’s your zodiac animal?
Pu: I’m a dragon.
Min: What year was that?
Pu: 2987? I don’t know my birth year. I usually just tell my zodiac animal to someone with a Tongshu (almanac). Luo Shiying is 7 years older than me and she’s a rooster. Sweetie, do you want some water?
Min: No, great grandmother.
Pu: How about some tea?
Min: No, no.
Pu: I can make you some tea?
Pu: Are you staying after the spring festival?
Min: No. I will leave.
Pu: Where are you working?
Pu: How long does it to travel to Beijing?
Min: Taking a plane is faster. It takes one day to take a bus to Kunming and three hours of flight from Kunming to Beijing.
Pu: It takes 3 hours by air from Kunming to Beijing?
Min: Yes. Over three hours.
Pu: And you come back to see your mother?
Pu: If you get married out there, you should come back here.
Pu: If you get married away from here, you should at least come to Fengqing. When your mother got old, she couldn’t go to her grandparents. Come to Fengqing to get married or your mother can’t see you. When you have children and they are sick, your mother can’t see them and you can’t come here either. Are you staying away from here after being married?
Pu: Like Li Chunfang’s family. You don’t have to be too close. Places like Lincang is good. A double income family is good. Two people can look after each other.
Min: Great grandmother, did you get paid when being a cadre?
Min: Shouldn’t there be some payment?
Pu: I was fucking suffering. In the middle of the night, when the moon was bright and there were tons of stars, I got up and brought Hui Shixue’s son with me to fetch stuff. I suffered too much at that time. A woman with a child should take care of her child. I want to eat something good. There’s rice and there’s meat but I can’t swallow the food down. Cadres and rich people could live normally like that but I had nothing of that. I didn’t have money. People over 60 years old have a booklet and get 60 yuan per month. I don’t even have money now. People above 60 Is that a photo?
Pu: Taking a photo?
Pu: I never thought that I would meet you. Even if we met each other on the road, I would not be able to recognize you. I can’t go out. I can’t recognize you even if I see you.