17. Second Half of Life
In June 1949, brother Chang returned home. Zhongxian and I brought our two children back to our hometown for a week in October. My mother came to live in Shanghai in the spring of 1950, and brother Chang and aunt were still in Maoyan. After that, brother Chang came to Shanghai for half a year in 1954, and my aunt was home alone. After brother Chang returned home in Maoyan, we once invited aunt, eldest sister, and second sister to come to Shanghai to visit my mother and to tour Shanghai. We went to the amusement park with them and stayed for a week before returning. Brother Chang and the second sister came to Shanghai for the second son’s wedding in 1982. They also participated in a two-day tour to Hangzhou organized by a tourist agency. They took a soft-seat touring bus to and from. Although the two days were short, They visited almost all major attractions due to the touring bus.
In 1952, I transferred from the China National Petroleum Corporation to the East China Ministry of Industry, and took up the role of transportation. When I was in the East China Ministry of Industry, there was a wage reform. In about 1954, I was rated 19th grade according to my work, and the monthly salary was adjusted to 72 yuan. My original salary in China National Petroleum Corporation was more than 180 yuan. The difference was very large. Living became immediately difficult. The organization took care of the monthly subsidy of 25 yuan. At that time, there were six people in Shanghai, including my mother, mother-in-law, Zhongxian, two children, and me, and two rural people my aunt and brother Chang, totaling eight people. In order to send the living expenses in the countryside according to the original standard, we must balance the income and expenditure of the living expenses at home in Shanghai. All parties had to save money. I used to go to my work unit (at that time near Longhua South Middle School) for a one-way trip of about nine kilometers. It took about three hours to go back and forth. I walked and brought lunch every day. This saved a monthly bus ticket of 6 yuan (public subsidy) and a total of 10-12 yuan including the lunch money, it lasted for more than a year. In this difficult situation, the only way out was to let Zhongxian work.
It just so happened that Shanghai started to recruit middle school teachers, limited to university education level, and 800 candidates out of 4,000 applicants were selected. Zhong Xian was lucky enough to be admitted. After half a year of training, she served as a mathematics teacher for one year, and then she was changed to a mechanical drawing teacher. Because of her serious and responsible work, she gradually upgraded her salary to 74 yuan. My salary had also been upgraded and adjusted to 92 yuan. In this way, difficult times had been overcome and the original subsidy of 25 yuan was cancelled due to the upgrade. The salaries of the both of us were kept until retirement, and now I am 20% off, and Zhongxian’s salary is 30% off because of less working experience.
As my mother was getting older, her health gradually became weak, and she was inconvenient to move up and down the stairs. We worked during the day, the children were small, and the mother-in-law was not in good health, so we sent my mother to live in the eldest sister’s house in Changzhou for a while, and then my mother went to the countryside with my aunt and brother Chang in 1958. However, due to natural disasters, everyone was affected regardless of the food in the countryside of Shanghai. Fortunately, they survived safely.
On January 29, 1962, Wang Chunyuan suddenly sent a remittance of 140 Hong Kong dollar equal to 59.99 yuan to me on brother Kai’s behalf from Hong Kong. On February 1st, I purchased tremella juice, fish, meat, oil, cake, sugar, medicine, thermos and other things from the overseas Chinese store voucher for more than 30 yuan, and brought the remaining balance back to the countryside on the Lunar New Year. Let mother and My younger brother Chang eat them, and my aunt was vegetarian, so we bought her some biscuits. Due to three years of natural disasters, it was generally impossible to purchase these items. This time it was extraordinary to obtain these items with the Overseas Remittance Certificate. Everyone was very happy with this unexpected assistance. However, there were restrictions on the amount of the Overseas Remittance Certificate purchases, so it was impossible to buy all of them. Otherwise, all the money would go shopping. After that, remittances continued, and some food also came, and I did the same.
Because of this assistance, Zhongxian and I asked my mother to come to Shanghai again to improve her lives. In early April, brother Chang accompanied my mother to my eldest sister’s home in Changzhou. My aunt was still looking after my mother’s house in the countryside. Unexpectedly, my mother caught a cold on the way and fell ill after arriving at the eldest sister’s house Because my mother took a small boat to Banshang that day, she planned to take advantage of the commute ship’s arrival in the city, but the commute ship stopped sailing on the day. She had to stay two days at the fifth aunt’s house in Banshang. When I returned to visit my mother, I planned to have her treated in Changzhou first, and then came to Shanghai after a while. Within one or two days, her condition deteriorated, the treatment was ineffective, and mother passed away at elder sister’s home. At that time, the coffin made in 1948 could still be used, hired a boat to transport it back to Maoyan, and buried in a district on the north side of Maoqingqiao Fivemu (grandmother was buried there). My mother and father’s coffins were buried together. Unexpectedly, my aunt died of illness in her own home in Beihou Street, Changzhou in December of the same year. The coffin that we pre-made at the same time in 1948 was transported to Changzhou and buried in Ximenwai Public Cemetery. After the ten years of turmoil, the tombs in both urban and rural areas were all gone.
At that time, after three years of natural disasters, the situation was getting better year by year, especially with the help of my brother Kai, the life of the two elders could be improved. Unfortunately, this happened and the death of the two elders in the same year was the most sad and regrettable thing for us. The so-called “A child desires to take care of his parents, but they have passed away” had been experienced, but there was nothing that we could do.
In 1978, Brother kai made the first remittance after the ten years of turmoil through Wang Chunyuan. Afterwards, the second nephew remitted many times successively, and it has benefited the whole family and benefited a lot. In particular, brother Chang’s life has been greatly improved. He has taken off his hat in accordance with the policy, restored civil rights, spiritually liberated, and relaxed both physically and mentally. The year before last, I could rebuild the old house by remittance from Brother Kai. The living conditions were improved. I visited Beijing again, feasted my eyes and increased my knowledge. I will spend my remaining years in comfort.
I worked in Shanghai, and I encountered transfers several times. Some transferred to Beijing, sometimes transferred to the northeast, sometimes transferred to the northwest, and sometimes returned to the hometown for production. However, I was not transferred at all and my family lived in Shanghai for 30 years. It was a great blessing to save the trouble of moving and take care of the countryside nearby. I said it was not fate or luck, I got along well with other people, also was familiar with business, and had some working ability, so the direct leader felt that I was a little useful and made me stay. However, after being in my fifties, I participated in labor until retirement, and failed to give full play to my strengths for doing more work. It was a pity. Therefore, I was a little bit discouraged. As soon as I reached the retirement age of 60 years old, I immediately requested retirement. In November 1976, I formally retired and went home, idle and free, playing Go and fishing, and often returning home in countryside. It can be said to be a fairy life. Of course, this is due to the policy of getting rid of chaos and the help of my brother in the economy.
Playing Go, image by Jonathan Reichel from Pixabay
Often returning home in countryside, image by Michael Bußmann from Pixabay
Fishing, image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay
Due to business trips, I visited Beijing twice in the 1950s, Qingdao and Jinan, and Beijing in the summer of 1981. I have been in Shanghai for the rest of time. Compared with the tens of thousands of miles by visiting many countries in the first half of a lifetime, it can be said to be static. Now I want to travel to the southwestern provinces with brother Chang, and revisit Chongqing, Kunming and other old places. Due to physical strength, it looks to me that it will be difficult to do so.
In the past few decades, it is right to say that nothing has changed. Work and home have not changed in the old place in Shanghai, and brother Chang has always been in the countryside. It’s also right to say that there are many changes. The political movements take part almost every time, especially the last one, brother Chang is similar. But now that the clouds and mist have been removed to see the blue sky, it has really improved. However, aging has come, and the physical strength is not as good as before. This is also an inevitable law, not surprising.