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    When I got off the plane in Taipei on my way to Hong Kong, I did not expect to see anyone I knew. I had asked the Chus not to meet me, knowing they were busy just then. But it ossible that they would get somebody else to e in their stead, so I was not surprised when an effit-looking man i western clothes approached me. "You are Mrs. Richard Nixon?" He said in English.

    I had seen many photographs of the blonde Mrs. Nixon and never imagined I resembled her. Besides, he should be able to tell a fellow ese even behind her dark glasses. But with a womans inability to disbelieve a pliment altogether, no matter how flagrantly untrue, I remembered that she was thin, which I undoubtedly was. Then there was those glasses. "No, I am sorry," I said, and he walked away to search among the other passengers.

    It struck me as a little odd that Mrs. Nixon should e to Formosa, even if everybody is visiting the Orient just now. Anyhow there must have been some mix-up, as there was only this one embassy employee to greet her.

    "Did you know Mrs. Nixon is etoming today?" I asked my friends Mr. And Mrs. Chu, who had turned up after all.

    "No, we havent heard," Mr. Chu said. I told them about the man who mistook me for her and what a joke that was. "Um," he said unsmiling. Then he said somewhat embarrassedly, "Theres a man who is always hanging around the airport to meet Ameri dignitaries. Hes not quite sane."

    I laughed, the under Formosas huge wave of wistful yearning for the outside world, particularly America, its only friend and therefore in some ways a foe.

    "How does it feel to be back?" Mr. Chu asked. Although I had never been there before, they were going along with the official assumption that Formosa is a, the mother try of all ese. I looked around the crowded airport and it really was a, not the strange one I left ten years ago uhe unists but the one I knew best and thought had vanished forever. The buzz of Mandarin voices also made it different from Hong Kong. A feeling of ological fusion came over me.

    &quot;It feels like dreaming.&quot; And ta<samp></samp>king in all the familiar faces speaking the tones of homeland, I exclaimed, &quot;But its not possible!&quot; Mr. Chu smiled ruefully as if I had said, &quot;But yhosts.&quot;

    Mrs. Chu told me as we left the airport, &quot;This is an ugly city, but the minute you get out of town it is beautiful.&quot;

    They lodged me in a mountain inn. I got the Generals Suite, where the generals stay when they e uphill to report to the Generalissimo, who lives a few steps away across the road. The suite was reached through a series of deserted little courtyards, with its own rock garden and lotus pond. In the silehere was just the sound of the evening drizzle on the banana palm and ihroom a tap of sulphur water stantly running out of a stone lion mouth and splashing over the rim of the t tank. There were rattan furniture oami fl and a wardrobe and bed with stained sheets. I told myself not to be fastidious. But there were bedbugs. Finally I had to get up near dawn to sleep on the ledge of the honor recess, where in Japanese living rooms the best vase and picture scroll are displayed. The maid was frightened when she e in the m and could not find me.

    It lain that the generals had feminine panionship while spending the night awaiting audieh the Generalissimo. I wo the ease of pr girls almost  door to that Christian and fu founder of the New Life Movement. Surely it was unseemly with&quot;Heavens tenanly a foot away,&quot; as we used to describe an audieh the emperor. After I left Taipei for the tryside, I realized that prostitution was more open on this land than perhaps anywhere else in the world. In a small-town neer five or six advertisements of this type appeared in one day: &quot;Joy and Happiness Prostitutes Domicile, 1st class. 124 Shin Ming Road. Swarms of pretty girls like clouds,  the best services.&quot;

    In the tryside Formosa peels back, showing older strata. There were more native Formosans than refugees. The mixed emotions of my homeing of save way to pure tourist enthusiasm.

    From time to time Mrs. Chu, sittio me in the bus, whisperio me in the bus, whispered urgently, &quot;shandi, shandi!&quot; I just caught a glimpse of a shandi, or mountain dweller, a gray little wraith with whiskers tattooed on her cheeks carrying a baby on her bad l outside a shop along the highway. &quot;Shandi, shandi!&quot; Again the breathless little cry and a nudge. I saw gypsylike children in ragged T-shirts and skirts, carrying smaller children. &quot;They all e to towheres a Japanese picture on,&quot; Mrs. Chu said.

    &quot;Oh, do they speak Japanese?&quot;

    &quot;Very well.&quot;

    Many of the bus passealked Japahey were the early ese settlers, and a surprising number of their young people still spoke Japahe bus stopped at what seemed to be the middle of nowhere and a young man got off. The ductor followed him. Suddenly there was a fight, the two rolling over and over on the wayside. &quot;Chigaru yo! Chigaru yo!&quot; I could make out the one Japanese word the young ma shouting: &quot;Mistake! Mist<mark>.</mark>ake!&quot; The driver got off to help beat him. The passenger learhat this man was always stealing rides. I thought how un-ese these people were. In Hong Kong I had seen a streetcar ductor following a free rider to the street and grad hold of his ie, in place of the pigtail which used to be the first thing reached for in a brawl. But that was just a scuffle and exge of words. Last year a bus ductor was taken to the police station on the plain of a woman he had hit with his ticket puncher, a murderous tool ductor s were forever rattling to remind people to buy tickets. But there were never any real fights like this.

    Finally the driver and ductor let the man go. He got on his feet panting and dusting himself. They drove off. He stood at attention in his torn khaki shirt and saluted the bus as it passed. He did not look old enough to have been in the army in Japanese days, but that reverence was distinctly Japanese. Oddly enough, it also reminded me of the unist ese lining up all the porters, sweepers, and peddlers on the raillatform, each presenting his broom, pole, and basket like arms as the train pulled out. Workers have been told to love their mae, but to have them pay their respects to it in this little ritual seemed strange.

    From Formosa I went on to Hong Kong, which I had not seen for six years. The city was being torn down and rebuilt into high apartment buildings. Whole streets were dug up, with a postbox <bdi>..</bdi>buried up to its neck, still funing. The refugees were settled down, hoping only to live out their lives in Hong Kong. The younger geion speak tonese in school and refuse to speak anything else at home, a good excuse not to talk to their parents that other teenagers may envy.

    The more or less well-to-do homes I saw were getting increasingly Ameriized, with amahs being too expensive and washing maes taking their place aloh the lastest-model refrigerators and hi-fi phonographs bought on the installment plan. Christmas had bee a great occasion fifts and parties for non-Christians too. Boys and girls handed each other Christmas cards in school. One girl wrote to a woman nist: &quot;I am een years old. My father and I escaped from north a a year ago, crossing the try with great difficulty. We made the last stretacao in a small boat which was fired on by the unists. My father covered me with his body so he got wounded and died in the hospital in Macao. I came to Hong Kong, where a friend of fathers got me a job paying about HK$100 a month [less thay Ameri dollars], just enough to keep alive a a bunk. I am the only ohout Christmas in all Hong Kong. Please tell me if I should go back the mainland.&quot;

    Side by side with harrowing escapes like this, there is a lot of what seems to be needless and fool-hardy traffic ees going back for visits. &quot;Weve grown poor from sending parcels,&quot; my landlady told me oh a little laugh. She never could leave off explaining why they had to take in a lodger. She and her husba both sets of parents and other depes noodles, pop rice, preserved meats and herbs, sugar, soy, peanut oil, and soap each month and clothing in season. Of one brand of British-made chi cubes, her mother-in-law had writteatically: &quot;These cubes have solved all the problems of our two meals a day.&quot; The sugar they dissolved in water and drank as a tonic. Her brother, in a labor camp for harb a friend accused of being a Nationalist spy, is still able to write her asking for pills for his ailing kidney and swollen legs. Her brother, in a labor camp for harb a friend accused of being a Nationalist spy, is still able to write her asking for pills for his ailing kidney and swollen legs. Her younger sister is doctor assigo work in the try. &quot;She has to go out on sick calls at night, where its pitch dark and the ground is uneven and shes afraid of snakes. You know how young girls are,&quot; she said, just as she apologized for her daughters monopolizing the bathroom: &quot;You know how young girls are.&quot;

    I was there to see a great pag. The landlady had a relative going back-a woman in her seventies-who could take things in for them. The landladys husband wrestled with loads and ropes all over the kit floor. She baked a cake and made stewed pork.

    &quot;They  use the pot too,&quot; she said.

    &quot;How is oo carry a pot of stewed pork all the way to Shanghai?&quot;

    &quot;It will be frozen; the train is a refrigerator.&quot;

    She got up at dawn to see the old lady off, and she had to go aloo help carry the luggage pa<q>?</q>st the iions at the Lohu border. The  day she cried out when she came upon me: &quot;Ha-ya, Miss g! I almost didnt e back.&quot;

    &quot;But what happened?&quot;

    &quot;Huh-yee-ya! To begin with, there were altogether too many things. The old ladys fault, too -she had so many things of her own. Oil drums, crates of salted fish, whole cartons of s. Clothes, bedding, pots and pans, enough to furnish a house. The an was losing his temper. Then he came upon some ge in her purse, twenty, thirty ts of Jen Ming Piao she had with her when she came out last time and fot to get rid of. Youre not supposed to take unist money in, so all hell broke loose. Where did this e from? Ha? And What do you mean by this? Ha? Turned on me now: Who are you? AH?&quot; My landlady screwed up her slant-eyed babe face to roar out the &quot;Ahs&quot; and &quot;Has&quot;. &quot;Ai-ya-I said I knew nothing about this, I just came to see her off, but all the time I was worried to death.&quot; She frowned and clucked with annoyand dropped her voice to a whisper. &quot;This old lady had dozens of nylon stogs sewn inside her thick padded gown.&quot;

    &quot;To sell?&quot; I asked.

    &quot;No, just to give as presents; womehem iheir slacks.&quot;

    &quot;But why? When they t even be seen?&quot; And with all the hunger we heard was around, I thought.

    &quot;Not full-length ones.&quot; The landlady gestured toward her calves. &quot;For the wives of officials. She likes t everybody something. Very capable old lady. She imports movies made in Hong Kong. What does she want so much money for? Ha? Seventy and no children? Ha?&quot;

    I remembered ing out ten years ago, walking the last stretch across the Lohu Bridge with its rough wood floor closed in on both sides by guardhouses and fences. A group of us stood waiting after the Hong Kong poli the other side of the barbed wire had taken our papers away to be studied. They took a long time over it. It was midsummer. The Hong Kong poli, a lean tall toh monstrous dark glasses, looked cool and arrogant as he paced around in his uniform and shorts, smartly belted and creased. Beside us stood the unist sentry, a round-cheeked north try boy in rumpled baggy uniform. After an hour i sun the young soldier muttered angrily, speaking for the first time, &quot;These people! Keep you out here in this heat. Go stand in the shade.&quot; He jerked his head at the patch of shade a little distance back. But none of us would look at him. We just smiled slightly, pressing close to the wire fence as if afraid to be left out. Still, for a moment I felt the warmth of race wash over me for the last time.

    That fateful bridge has often been pared to the Naihe between the realms of the living and the dead. Like most clichés, it is true when you experie yourself. It makes me impatient to hear westerners quibble about the free world not being really free. Too bad that many of us have to go back over the bridge when we t make a living outside.

    I have an aunt who has stayed in Shanghai because she could not leave her new house. Her son, just out of college, joined his father in Hong Kong but did not like it there. He went ba 1952, just when I was about to leave. His mother took him to have his fortuold one evening and I went along. He would find a job soon, the fortueller said. But there might be trouble. He might go to prison. The predi sounded reaso the time, with a movement on against businessmen and many suicides and arrests. The youngish fortueller looked like a shop assistant in his gabardine gown. I had no fiden him and resolutely avoided his eye although I needed badly to have my own fortuold.

    My cousin got a small job in Peking as predicted. Life was hard, he wrote his met married, his mother wrote back. Its the only way to have some happiness. But he was a quiet boy, slow to make up his mind. Ten years later when I saw his father in Hong Kong this time, I heard the son had wao get out again. Cheg his application for permit to leave, the authorities seized on the fact that he had once joined a Nationalist group in college. He was senteo three years house arrest in his mothers modernistision, which they took the opportunity to search, probing the sofas for Ameri dollars. He has all forts, even servants to stand in line for the daily rations. But three years with Mother is evidently sidered enough punishment.

    I heard about my mothers family from on of my uncles married daughters, the only o. The other two stayed in because their husbands, a doctor and the son of a high Nationalist official, chose to stay. One of the sisters had died.

    &quot;So did my brothers wife,&quot; said my cousin in Hong Kong. &quot;And both men remarried before their wives bones were cold. Father died of cer after losing everything in the land reform. Mother is wretched living with Brother. He doesnt earn enough and his new wife is a shrew. We Huangs are finished.&quot;

    Looking back, I saw how my family aives had all been taught by our aors to hang onto land, the only  and solid thing, by parison to which all other possessions are showy, immoral, therefore imperma. No matter what fools ones children were, as long as they did not slap land deeds on a gambling table they were safe. Despite aral admonitions, in time of course all their desdants tried their hands at other iments for better and quicker profits. Many soon found they were not clever enough and resighemselves to the yearly ine from the land-cut down by wars, famines, inflations-and grew poorer and poorer. The unists merely hastehe end.

    No one I know is in a une or knows anybody who is in one, with the exception of a tonese amah who went back to sweep the graves his spring. Her family belongs to the village u is still the farmers, always the worst off, whetting the worst of it. Having heard of the food she, the amah brought in a bit of cooking oil and salted fish of her own use.

    When she arrived for a twenty day visit, the une allowed her to buy a large quantity of rid small quantities of cooking oil and pork as a special favor. The pork was divided among her family and neighbors because they had not tasted meat all year. So went her salted fish. Her last ten days there she lived on snails that a little girl gathered for her from a pond.

    There was no unity dining hall. Everybody queued up with s to get the rid what went with it, served through two holes dug in the kennel-sized temple of the earth god. When they got home the food was cold, of course.

    Everyday at four in the m a ma a gong to summon everybody to the fields. Breakfast at nine. Work at ten. Lunch at twelve. Wain at one. Supper at six. Wain at seven. But not in the fields this time-usually it was carrying coal or mud. Quit at ten at night. Sometimes &quot;leap forward&quot; to twelve midnight. No Sundays or holidays, only a few days off at the New Year. This despite the slogan &quot;Let the farmers rest.&quot; Wages varied from a dollar something to fifty or sixty ts Jen Ming Piao a month. Medies had been free but now you buy your own. Herd doctors were available but herbs are scarce.

    We ese have always been at our best within a rigid frame, even iry writing. Its when we are most hemmed in that we seem able to rise above ourselves. After twenty turies of rule by the family we have been free for perhaps twenty years, and it has not been a pleasant time for many of us, full of flicts and self-doubts. Now the state has taken the place of the big family, ing into every moment and aspect of life with its familiar persuasive pressure. The sheep has returo the fold. Even hunger  feel right-up to a point.

    Those who live near Macao swim a mile or escape by sampan in bands sometimes as big as a hundred, fighting the mae guns of pursuing motorboats with sharpened bamboo poles. But they will not stay put and fight. The trouble with us ese is that we are too sensible. Sixty thousand crashed the land border to Hong Kong last May. The buards who had shot at smaller numbers evidently held back because the crowds were too big, the gover having always avoided massacres if possible. After this the unes were modified but not abahere is already talk now of their being revived in the area around ton.

    Advawo steps, retreats a step-Mao Tse-tung has said this is his way of making progress. Whether danarch, the people drag on, hoping to outlive their tormentors.


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