A Dream During the Cultural Revolution

A woman dying by the roadside during the Chinese Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1961. (Image: Public Domain /  CC0 1.0)
A woman dying by the roadside during the Chinese Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1961. (Image: Public Domain / CC0 1.0)

A true story about my family. Normally, a married woman goes to live with her new husband’s family. But my father’s family was very poor, so instead, my father went to live with my mother’s family. My parents moved to where we live now after my mother’s parents passed away in 1975.

My parents would only return to my mother’s hometown when it was time to pay their respects to my grandparents by burning some paper money for them. While my grandfather on my mother’s side was still alive, he used to bury pieces of silver in the ground that he had accumulated. Even my grandma didn’t know where he hid them.

When my grandfather was suddenly struck by illness, he completely lost his ability to talk or write – and soon he passed away. None of my mother’s family members knew where he had hidden those pieces of silver.

One day, a mouse dug a hole and uncovered about a hundred of the pieces of silver. That precious silver saved my mother’s family from starvation during the three toughest years of the Great Chinese Famine. It’s hard to imagine the abuse, shame, and humiliation a family from a wealthy background had to endure during communist rule.

china 1967 Chinese Cultural Revolution Capitalist public abuse humiliation

This image is a rare photo taken during the 1967 Chinese Cultural Revolution in which two Chinese citizens have been branded as Capitalists and hence subjected to physical abuse in public. (Image: via CC0 1.0)

One night, 10 years after we moved away, my mother had a dream. In the dream, her father told her there was some money hidden in the old home that she could get by digging it out. Since my mother was brought up to believe in portents, she somehow knew there was truth in this strange dream. But at the same time, she wasn’t sure about it, so she asked her sister to go with her to their old home.

In order to avoid any trouble, they decided to arrive during the night. My mother’s family used to live in a cave under a ditch. All the caves there were now completely deserted after so many years having passed. My mother knew all about this because she returned to her hometown every year.

But the cave that had been their old home was very big, with two small ones beside it. They never really expected to find anything in the darkness of night. But when they arrived there, everything went smoothly, as if they were being guided.

They poked in one area with a small stick, knocking down a piece of earth – then they saw the corner of a small niche. Inside the niche was an earthen jar. Inside the jar was 160 pieces of silver.

What a dream it had been!

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