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“百身莫贖”楊開慧

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“百身莫贖”楊開慧

注:

筆者之前介紹了作家張戎將在本周三出版的新書《Mao: The Unknown Story》。上周六泰晤士報的書評版刊出該書的其中一章,內容講述楊開慧與毛澤東的愛情,與筆者少年時被灌輸的版本大相徑庭,故轉引到這裏跟大家分享。

中國大陸的政治宣傳,常以毛澤東在詩詞中對亡妻楊開慧的懷念,來表現他人性和浪漫的一面。例如在楊開慧死後,他說的一句感人至深的“開慧之死,百身莫贖”。後來在《蝶戀花·答李淑一》一詞中,他又寫到“我失驕楊君失柳,楊柳輕揚直上重霄九。問訊吳剛何所有,吳剛捧出桂花酒。寂寞嫦娥舒廣袖,萬里長空且爲忠魂舞。忽報人間曾伏虎,泪飛頓作傾盆雨。”也可列爲經典情詩。但事實是否如此?張戎的考據發現,楊開慧的死是毛澤東遺弃她造成的,他們的故事只是中國社會裏無數的拋妻弃子個案中很平常的一個:婚外情,杳無音信,扔下幾母子不聞不問……

'No matter how hard I try, I just can't stop loving him'

By Jung Chang
The tortured reflections of Yang Kai-hui, Mao’s second wife, written after he deserted her, were found hidden in her house long after she was executed

In 1996, when my husband and I were researching our biography of Mao Zedong (1893–1976), we obtained copies of unseen manuscripts which Mao’s second wife, Yang Kai-hui, had left behind 66 years before. This was a most exciting discovery as the woman involved was the person Mao often talked about as the love of his life, out of his four wives and numerous lovers. (The notorious Mme Mao, Jiang Qing, was Mao’s fourth wife.)

 

Kai-hui was the daughter of Mao’s tutor Yang Chang-chi, who taught Mao between 1913 and 1918 at a teacher training college in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, Mao’s home province. Eight years Mao’s junior, she was delicate, sensitive and beautiful. Mao, who had been married once before and whose first wife had died, was extremely keen on Kai-hui.

In 1920, the year Mao joined the newly founded Chinese Communist Party, he was working as the headmaster of a primary school in Changsha. The 19-year-old Kai-hui, studying in a missionary school, fell in love with him.

She often visited him in the school, but would not stay the night as living together outside marriage was unthinkable for a lady. One night, after she was gone, Mao was unable to sleep, and wrote a poem which opened with these lines:

Sorrow, piled on my pillow, what is your shape?
Like waves in rivers and seas, you endlessly churn.
How long the night, how dark the sky, when will it be light?
With no relief, I sat up, gown thrown over my shoulders, in the cold.
When dawn came at last, only ashes remained of my hundred thoughts . . . *

Helped by this elegant poem, Mao managed to persuade Kai-hui to stay. The walls were only thin planks, and neighbours complained when the pair made passionate love. One neighbour cited a rule saying teachers’ wives were not allowed to sleep in the school. But Mao was the headmaster, and he simply changed the rule.

For Kai-hui, staying the night involved giving her entire self. She was expelled from her school. But Mao continued to see other girlfriends, even starting two new relationships just after he and Kai-hui got married at the end of that year. The couple lived together for seven years, and had three sons. Mao enlisted her into the nascent Communist Party.

The summer of 1927 marked Mao’s political coming of age, when the Nationalists broke with the Russian-backed Communists, who were outlawed. Then aged 33, and in the second tier of the party hierarchy, Mao decided he would start making a grab for supreme power in the party by acquiring an armed force under his own control. He embarked on a series of hostile takeovers of armies which other Communists had built up. Through scheming and murder, he was phenomenally successful. Within four years he had grabbed enough forces to elbow his way to the top of the Communist system, becoming Mao zhu-xi — Chairman Mao. Mao’s power-grabbing cost Kai-hui her life.

In August 1927 Mao left Kai-hui and their sons, the youngest four months old, to carry out his first hijack of a Red armed force, which he then led off to a mountainous region near by called Jinggang. There he lived as a bandit, looting, kidnapping and killing.

Four months after leaving Kai-hui, Mao abandoned his family completely and married another woman. In 1930 he returned to Changsha — not to see Kai-hui, but to swallow another Red force on the outskirts. To give himself cover for this manoeuvre, Mao laid siege to the Nationalist-held city. The defending general retaliated by arresting Kai-hui. She was offered a deal: her life would be spared if she would divorce Mao and denounce him. She refused and was executed by firing squad.

When Mao learnt of her death, he wrote in what seems to have been genuine grief: “The death of Kai-hui cannot be redeemed by a hundred deaths of mine!”** Throughout his life, he went on talking about her. What Mao did not know is that although Kai-hui did love him, she had rejected his ideology and his killing.

In the years between, when Mao deserted her, Kai-hui wrote reflections on communism, as well as on her love for Mao, which she hid in her house. Seven fragments were discovered in the walls in 1982 during renovation work. The eighth piece came to light under a beam just outside her bedroom in 1990. She had wrapped them up in wax paper to protect them from damp. Mao never saw them and most of these pieces are still kept secret. Even Mao’s surviving family have not been allowed to set eyes on all of them. The writings, intense, forgiving and occasionally reproachful, show the pain Kai-hui suffered from Mao’s desertion, her loathing of violence and cruelty — and her loss of faith in communism.

The last piece, written in a mood of despair on January 28, 1930, months before she died, best summed up the emotional turmoil she had gone through since Mao had abandoned her:

“For days, I’ve been unable to sleep.

I just can’t sleep. I’m going mad.

So many days now, he hasn’t written. I’m waiting day after day.

Tears . . .

I mustn’t be so miserable. The children are miserable with me, and Mother is miserable with me . . .

Really so wretched, so lonely, so much anguish.

I want to flee. But I have these children, how can I? . . .

Even if he dies, my tears are going to shroud his corpse.

A month, another month, half a year, a year, and three years. He has abandoned me. The past churns up in my mind scene after scene. The future I envisage also churns in my mind scene after scene. He must have abandoned me.

He is very lucky to have my love. I truly love him so very much! He can’t have abandoned me. He must have his reasons not to write . . .

Father Love is really a riddle. Does he not miss his children? I can’t understand him.

This is a sad thing, but also a good thing because I can now be an independent person.

I want to kiss him a hundred times, his eyes, his mouth, his cheeks, his neck, his head. He is my man. He belongs to me.

Only Mother Love can be relied on. I’m thinking about my mother . . .

If only I can forget him. But his beautiful image, his beautiful image.

Dimly I seem to see him standing there, gazing at me with melancholy . . .

Today is his birthday. I can’t forget him. So I quietly had some food bought, and made bowls of noodles (a special birthday meal, since long noodles symbolise long life). Mother remembers this date, too. At night in bed, I think sad thoughts to myself . . .

Another sleepless night.

I can’t endure this now. I am going to him.

My children, my poor children hold me back.

A heavy load hangs on my heart, one side is him, the other is my children. I can’t leave either . . .

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t stop loving him. I just can’t . . .

How I love him! Heaven, give me a perfect answer!”

Some months earlier, in March 1929, she had written to a relative she called First Cousin, who was with Mao, hoping he would convey her feelings to Mao: “I cower in a corner of the world. I am frightened and lonely . . . I search every minute for something to lean on . . . I seem to have seen the God of Death — ah, its cruel and severe face! Talking about death, I don’t really fear it, and I can say I welcome it. But my mother, and my children! I feel pity for them! This feeling haunts me so badly — the night before last it kept me half awake all night long.”

She talked about her children, clearly showing she had given up on their father:

“I decided to entrust them — my children — to you . . . They need you and many others’ love for them to grow naturally as if in a warm spring . . . This letter is like a will now, and you must think I am mad. But I don’t know why, I just can’t shake off the feeling over my head of a rope like a poisonous snake, that seems to have flown in from Death, and that ties me tightly. So I cannot but prepare! . . .”

Earlier that month, the main local newspaper had reported that the wife of Mao’s colleague Zhu De had been killed and her head hung up in public in Changsha. The paper carried two articles in which the writers said how much they enjoyed seeing the severed head. In April, Kai-hui wrote an article which she wanted to send to a newspaper but did not, entitled Feeling of Sadness on Reading about the Enjoyment of Human Head.

The killing of Zhu De’s wife, she wrote, “was not because of her own crime. Those who enjoyed her head and thought it was pleasurable also did so not because of her own crime. So I remember the stories of killing relatives to the ninth clan for one man’s crime in the early Manchu period. My idea that killers are forced into killing turns out not to make sense here. There are so many people so enthusiastically enjoying it that we can see glad articles representing them in newspapers and journals. So my idea that only a small number of cruel people kill turns out not to be true here. So I have found the spirit of our times . . .

“Yet I am weak, I am afraid of being killed, and so afraid of killing. I am not in tune with the times. I can’t look at that head, and my breast is filled with misery . . . I did not expect to see with my own eyes . . . the human head is becoming a work of art needed by many!” Kai-hui had heard about Mao’s own killings. She did not condemn him, as she still loved him. But she wanted him to give up what he was doing and come back. In May, in a poem marked “To First Cousin”, she implored:

. . . Please tell him: Return, return . . .
Sad separation, its crystallisation, chilling misery and loneliness are looming ever larger,
How I wish you would bring home some news!
This heart (unclear in original), how does it compare with burning by fire?
Please return! Return!

Kai-hui thought of writing to Mao. But after addressing a letter “To my beloved”, she changed her mind, and tore out what she had written. Instead, she wrote an account of her life, with the heading “From aged 6 to 28”, which she finished on June 20, 1929. This was her way of telling Mao about herself, her thoughts and feelings. The memoir revealed two things: how passionately she loved him, and how absolutely unable she was to stand violence and cruelty. The latter theme seems to have taken on an even larger place in her mind, as she began and ended her narrative with it.

She began with her childhood: “Every night going to bed, horrible shadows such as the killing of chickens, of pigs, people dying, churned up and down in my head. That was so painful! I can still remember that taste vividly. My brother, not only my brother but many other children, I just couldn’t understand them at all. How was it they could bring themselves to catch little mice or dragonflies and play with them, treating them entirely as creatures foreign to pain?

“If it were not to spare my mother the pain — the pain of seeing me die — if it were not for this powerful hold, then I simply would not have lived on.”

She told Mao that she had accepted communism out of sympathy for the deprived: “I really wanted to have a faith . . . I sympathised with people in the lower ranks of life. I hated those who wore luxurious clothes, who only thought of their own pleasure. In summer I looked just like people from lower ranks, wearing a baggy rough cotton top. This was me at about 17 or 18.”

She described how she fell in love with Mao, and how totally she loved him: “I had a man I loved. I really loved him so much . . . I felt that apart from living for my mother, I was also living for him . . . I was imagining that if there were a day when he died, and when my mother were also no longer with me, I would definitely follow him and die with him! . . .”

Then: “Suddenly one day, a bomb fell on my head. My feeble life was devastatingly hit, and was almost destroyed by this blow!” She had discovered that Mao was unfaithful. But she found excuses to forgive him, and wrote with resignation: “I learnt many more things and gradually I came to understand him. Not just him, but human nature in all people. Anyone who has no physical handicap must have two attributes. One is sex drive and the other is the emotional need for love. My attitude to him was to let him be, and let it be.”

Kai-hui was by no means a conventional Chinese wife bound by tradition to endure her husband’s misconduct. She was a feminist, and one of the pieces she left behind argued for women’s rights: “Women are human beings, just as men are . . . Sisters! We must fight for the equality of men and women, and must absolutely not allow people to treat us as an accessory.”

At the end of recounting her life, Kai-hui showed that she was thinking of breaking away from Mao and communism: “Now my inclination has shifted into a new phase. I want to get some nourishment by seeking knowledge, to water and give sustenance to my dried-up life . . . Perhaps one day I will cry out: ‘My ideas in the past were wrong!’ ”

She ended her memoir with: “Ah! Kill, kill, kill! All I hear is this sound in my ears! Why are human beings so evil? Why so cruel? Why?! I cannot think on! (Words brushed out by her) I must have a faith! I must have a faith! Let me have a faith!”

Kai-hui’s cry for “a faith” says unmistakably that she was losing her existing faith, communism, which she linked with killing.

On the cloudy morning of November 14, 1930, she was dead. During his assault on Changsha a few months earlier, Mao had made no effort to get her and their sons out, or even to warn her. Her house was right on his route to the city, and Mao was in the area for three weeks. Yet he did not lift a finger to save her.

© Globalflair Ltd 2005

Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday is published by Jonathan Cape on Thursday at £25.

*中文爲:

《虞美人》

堆來枕上愁何狀,江海翻波浪。夜長天色總難明,無奈披衣起坐薄寒中; 曉來百念皆灰燼,倦極身無恁。一鈎殘月向西流,對此不拋眼泪也無由。

**即“開慧之死,百身莫贖”

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