Cemetery A Unique Cemetery

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 日记大全 点击:

  A spin-off purpose of my trip last month to Chongqing, the biggest city in southwest China, was to revisit a unique cemetery, which is believed to be the only graveyard that bears the imprint of the country’s chaotic Cultural Revolution (1966-76). There have been rumors lately that this graceless compound will be destroyed to make room for other projects. That’s why I wanted to spend time with the burial ground, for I wasn’t quite sure whether I would see it again.
  Although the exuberant Chongqing people have tremendously changed the urban landscape of the town, including the peripheral areas of the cemetery, I had no difficulty finding it. It’s still there, within the Shaping Park, whose terrain is lower than that of the cemetery.
  On a cloudy and humid morning I went to the park, which, as a center of entertainment gravity, bustled with locals--those who were doing their daily exercises and those occasional wanderers. Near my destination, about 100 middle-aged and older people were singing in a chorus. What they were singing were old revolutionary songs, reminiscent of the times when they were young.
  No one seemed to pay attention to the cemetery that also serves as a reminder of the past. It just lies in a gloomy corner opposite the pavilion where the chorus members enjoyed their songs. A crooked, two-meter-wide road separates this world and the other. On the road were some joggers and walkers with quick steps. Like the singers, they didn’t bother to mind the small historic presence that stands only a few dozen meters away.
  I ascended the mossy and narrow steps, about 30 of them, and approached the stone gate of the burial yard, a secluded and tacky spot. It somehow made me slightly creepy when I saw four Chinese characters-wen ge mu qun (Cultural Revolution cemetery)--written in red paint on the front wall. Some reports call it “Red Guard cemetery,” and claim it to be the only one of its kind. Red Guards were those students full of radical ideas and political sensibilities. They declared themselves the loyal guards of Mao Zedong and the pioneers of the revolution, which was operated by Mao and turned out to be a political tornado that trampled law and order.
  According to one report, 404 bodies were entombed in about 113 graves in this 2,100-square-meter sepulchral yard. Most of the dead were students and workers who belonged to one of the two main “revolutionary rebel factions,” as they were called 40 years ago. A few innocent victims were also laid to rest in this cemetery. The two rebel groups of the city were purely destructive and unscrupulous forces by today’s standards, though they pretended to be progressive organizations in the late 1960s. Some rebels were real believers of Mao’s canons. Some were holier-than-thou opportunists. Still others, scoundrels.
  Those who were killed during the large-scale armed clashes between the two cliques during 1967-68 were then crowned as “revolutionary martyrs.” Now they might be labeled as sacrifices of a hypocritical movement that pitted schoolmates against schoolmates, workers against workers. As the red storm gained its momentum, many became the slaves and victims of rampant and flagrant hostility. Many died young, but their deaths were worthless. They had struggled in Chongqing, their hometown, but they didn’t consecrate this land. Nobody will remember these dead rebels except their families. When they were laid to rest, their comrades carved “immortal” on their tombstones, in the hope that they would leave a lasting reputation. Decades later, however, they are merely underground, unnamed ghosts with overgrown weeds sprawling all over the ground and fallen twigs and trunks lying on the roads and tombs. Gunk is everywhere and the air seems stifling. In a booming metropolis, this lonely necropolis suggests something uncomfortable.
  There would have been many more young “martyrs” in the escalating conflicts in China’s big cities, if Mao had not sent millions of urban youngsters to the countryside in a new campaign. Ironically, it was in the countryside that many young people began to doubt and increased their incredulity concerning the basic assertions and justice of the Cultural Revolution.
  Now it seems to me that many locals are trying to forget the existence of that horrible recess, which often reminds them of the leadership’s peccadilloes and ordinary people’s silliness in the past, and which always touches a raw nerve. No wonder I was the only visitor to the graveyard that morning.
  “Would you mind if the cemetery is leveled?” I asked a middle-aged woman when I left the sepulcher and trod on the main road. “I’m not sure. Actually, I don’t give a damn,” she responded. I guess many agree with her. I can tell that. If they thought this place was something disgusting, they would speak out and report it to the authorities. But they don’t do that. They just leave it alone. The past tragedy has dissipated many citizens’ interest in politics.
  Anyway, it’s time for the local authorities to make a final decision on the fate of the cemetery. It is unique because you can hardly find a cemetery elsewhere where the mass of the buried were neither heroes, nor criminals, nor innocent citizens, nor pure victims. They were not killed by enemies and they didn’t commit suicide, either. The cemetery is unique because it can serve as an unparalleled museum if relevant exhibit halls are set up alongside it. When foreigners visit this city, they will find a new place to go. They will learn about a special part of Chinese history through those gravestones and the stories behind them.
  I will be very disappointed if the local authorities decide to tear down the cemetery for whatever reason. To dismantle such a unique graveyard is tantamount to forgoing a good opportunity to enlighten the Chinese people, and to make China more understandable to the outside world. Because valuing history, including saving those relics of preposterous times, is a universal merit. An honest city, as well as an honest nation, will make more friends.
  For the younger generation, it is not so much to remember what happened four millenniums ago as to remember what happened four decades ago. If saved and protected, this tiny cemetery can be turned into a precious classroom for the entire nation and an irreplaceable window for outside people to further understand this country. Instead of scrubbing this nook from the map of the town or from people’s memories, we should add it to the long list of China’s cultural relics.省略

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