Chiang Kai-shek’s Bearer

Historical background: Chiang Kai-shek resigned from the political arena for a short period during the Republic of China

Jiang Xiaochang (in the middle) was born in 1921 in Xikou Fenghua. He is from the same clan as Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi). In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek lived in Xikou for half a year, visiting Xuedou Temple and Miaogaotai often. The Siming Mountain is steep; a sedan chair was the best means going up the winding roads. He was the bearer who carried Chiang Kai-shek uphill. Chiang was a very nice man, as he recals. He also considers it an honor, and his family takes delight in talking about it. He is 96 years old now and still healthy besides deafness.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, gangs were active in the Siming Mountain. He was once abducted by a gang, and his parents borrow money for four days in order to save him. According to him, during the four days, although he had to be tied at night, the meals were not bad at all.

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SS Kiangya: Survivor

Historical background: Wartime Turmoil before the Failure of the Kuomintang

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Zhang Ahua was born in Nanpu, Fenghua in 1937. On December 3rd, 1948, his father brought him and his three brothers from Shanghai to Ningbo by SS Kiangya. At night, the overloaded steamship that was destroyed in an explosion near the mouth of the Huangpu River. Under the leadership be his father, the four family members rushed to the up end of the steamship. They were then saved by the cargo ship “Jinyuanli” and survived the disaster.

A Veteran in the Second Sino-Japanese War

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Zhu Dexing was born in 1922 in Xizhou, Xiangshan. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, he joined the local armed organization. He defended Xizhou from Japanese invasion and killed a Japanese soldier. He became deaf during the war. After the war, he went home and served as a forest ranger. Zhu has been single his entire life. Now he lives in a nursing house, subsided by the Xiangshan government. When talking about the Japanese army, Zhu, who lay on the bed, lifted his arm and made a shooting pose with fierce stare.

A Veteran Graduating from Republic of China Military Academy

Historical background: Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War

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Jiang Fufang was born in 1920 in Tang’ao, Fenghua. His family, belonging to the merchant class, provided him with great living conditions. After graduating from Ningbo High School, Jiang went to Republic of China Military Academy, determined to serve the nation. He joined the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1943. During the Chinese Civil War, serving as a major, he was shot at abdomen when fighting against the People’s Liberation Army. He went home after being cured. He faced discrimination due to his social classes and rebelled successfully in the 1980s. Now he lives in a nursing house for old people and is subsidized by the Academy Alumni Foundation.

Adoption

Wang is a 91 years old man living with his nephew. He is a little deaf and does not like to talk. When he was 31, his wife died when giving birth. Thereafter, he decided not to marry but adopted his nephew. The sad story has never been mentioned in front of Wang by the nephew and his wife. Besides helping with cooking, Wang spends most of the days sitting outside, ignoring other’s chat.  The shabby house was inherited from his great-grandfather a hundred years ago. The mottled address card on it was from the Republic of China era.

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Chiang Kai-shek’s Bearer

In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek* lived in Xikou for half a year, visiting Xuedou Temple and Miaogaotai often. The Siming Mountain is steep; a sedan chair was the best means going up the winding roads. It was this bearer who carried Chiang Kai-shek uphill. Obviously, he considers it an honor, and his family takes delight in talking about it. He is 96 years old now and still healthy besides deafness.

*Chiang Kai-shek: Leader of the KuomintangIMG_4784IMG_4785IMG_4786IMG_4787IMG_4788IMG_4789IMG_4790

Nostalgia: Abduction

In Feitianwugong Village lives Yu at the age of 89. On July 30th in 1934 in lunar calendar, his father went to work in the cornfield with him before it was too dark. When they just arrived at the cornfield, a gang came up to them. Yu’s father was shot, and Yu was abducted. The gang requested 300 yuan from Yu’s mother. In order to save her son, she sold everything she could and even borrowed money from others. After half a year, Yu was released. Maybe because of such experience, he does not like to talk.img_4689img_4690

Nostalgia: The Enemies of “The Emperor”

In 1949, the militia of the village killed a member from the Liberation Army. In order to quell the rebellion from Yankeng Village, thousands of soldiers from the Liberation Army gathered at Shanjia Village. The commander lived in the house of Zhang. Though it was a small village with few people, they had 8 guns in total. The villagers with guns all had connection with the leader of the militia. Zhang’s husband identified the eight villagers for the Liberation Army, who confiscated their guns.

At that time, the leader, whose nickname was “the emperor,” had already escaped to the remote mountains. When he heard the news, he threatened Zhang’s husband to send 150 kilogram of rice as apology. Afraid of his local power, they fulfilled his request. Soon, “the emperor” was still arrested what he had done under the pressure of the Liberation Army.

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Nostalgia: The Daughter of a Translator

The old lady is from Shanghai. His father is a translator for a Japanese officer invading China. I was too shocked to link her with the gorgeous ladies from Shanghai. His father made a decent living in old Shanghai, and the family could be even classified as middle class. At the beginning of the 1950s, her mother disclosed everything that her father did during the time period ruled by Japanese invaders. His father was arrested, therefore. At the 1960s, he was released from the prison but lost the Hukou* from Shanghai. It was the age of food shortage, so the government tried to move people to the countryside to release the pressure of urban areas. The whole family moved responding to the call.

*Hukou: A household registration record officially identifies a person as a resident of an area

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Our Documentary Nostalgia

We finally made some progress on our documentary Nostalgia! Here is my script in it!

He is my dad, an accountant of a foreign-funded corporation.

This is I, Emma, studying in an American high school.

My dad likes photography. Every weekend, he drives into mountains. He used to take pictures of landscape, but he shifts to the people there for the past two years.

The Siming Mountain is the mother mountain surrounding Ningbo.

This is how my dad, with his photos in hands, walks on the mountain roads without a specific destination.

He meets everyone like old friends of his, even though for some of them, it is their first meeting.

In order to make the villagers feeling comfortable telling personal stories to an invader of their houses, dad strives to become friends of them by engaging in their daily lives.

He thought the lives of him and these villagers were two parallel lines whose ends will never meet or overlap until he meets this old lady.

She is a 97-year-old mother, losing the ability to listen or speak.

She comes home from the temple only when her son comes back, as if there is telepath between them.

A son and a mother sit face-to-face, accompanying each other wordlessly.

Zhang is the 75-year-old son of her. Every other month, he comes into the mountain from Ningbo, which is 80 kilometers away, taking the responsibility caring for his mother from the hands of his  younger brother, who comes from Shanghai. They take turn living in the house renovated from a former sty.  Their constant company with their mother has lasted for more than ten years.

Overflowed with joy,  dad is deeply engaged in the process. At this moment, time stands still.

In summer, I go back to Ningbo. Being moved by his works, I become the curator of his photography exhibition. It turns out to be successful. I, with dad, go closer to the lives of these old people. Behind each and every one of them hides a touching story.

These two people are diagnosed with cataract. When dad wants to contact a doctor for them, the old lady rejects.

I am so impressed by them that I ask my dad, “What else can we do for them?”

This is a photography exhibition at a larger scale, and we welcome more people to come.

The exhibition opens with the support from all sectors of the society.

Dad even invites Zhang and his mother to the opening ceremony.

The photography exhibition is successful. All we do is to benefit more people in the Siming Mountain.

One rainy day, I experience his way into deep mountains with Zhang again.

Coming into the mountains is coming back home. As long as his mother is there, deeply inside the Siming Mountain locates their real home.

No matter how tough the trip is, men residing far away from home are unable to let go their initial concern.

Everyone has their own road back home. The soil far away from us lightens and warms our souls.

We live in the same world. We are not separated by a frame, and they are not frozen at the moment of picture. 

They are the epitome of our past generations. They were born at a time of political turmoil and have suffered their entire lives. They are always right there for us until the end of their lives.

Eventually, we have to say goodbye.

However, we are never willing to say goodbye to the land.

They are ourselves.

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