A Fiction
Vani Venkatesan

John Xi, a Chinese national badminton player, struck and wounded two policemen who intruded into his girlfriend's home. Fearing for the injustice the system might impose on him, he had to run. In the flight, he met a mysterious fugitive, who deeply involved in the corruption charges of some high-ranked officials.
If you feel that the story does not make sense, it is because it resembles the reality too closely.

Chapter 2


    In the dim light, while eating, he often greedily gazed at her steadily, his eyes filled with intense fervor.
    At one time, Pearl looked up to him, and for a fraction of a second their eyes met, and for as long as it took to happen Pearl sensed his exuberant emotion. A sudden waves of compassion rose within her, which took her by surprise. All of a sudden, she found herself vulnerable. She fought hard to control her pounding heart, and pretended to be calm, ignoring his intimate gaze.
    The first night when he escorted her home after saving her from the thugs' attack, she already smelled a dense male youth savor emanated from this strongly built and charming young man, who could provide her protection and security. He was not only physically strong, fit and swift, but also intelligent and humorous. Even when he walked, his hands shoved in his trouser's pockets, his movements had a grace, full of energy, and full of confidence. There was contempt and arrogance in his manner as well as in his speech, contempt and arrogance overlaid with air of courtesy that made his character unique and stylish. Pearl was madly attracted toward this unique character that she never encountered before. She sensed that John might have experienced an unfortunate and unhappy past which he never wanted to talk about. But it didn't dampen her strong warm feeling toward him. Above all else he had a kind heart.
    For some time, John's enchantment wound her tightly, making her mind warm as well as restless.

    With a warm smile, Pearl continued, ``Yes, he is the most courageous person I've ever met! Around the village he's known as a real hero, but one whose eccentricities are entirely benign. I love him as we all do."

Pearl Lee

    "Ke Li was an illiterate but he saw much injustice in the world around him," Pearl continued after putting down her cup. ``He made up his mind and decided to help the villagers to fight for their fate. Against all odds, he overcame tremendous difficulties to become a lawyer through self-study and hard work. He became widely known for championing victims of injustice, and he particularly offended the authorities by exposing how the officials used illegal tactics to carry out forced sterilizations and abortions involving many women in his village. Angered by what Ke did, the officials made up excuses to jail him for four years. After release from jail, under every conceivable pressure, he did not bend. The authority then put him in custody, which according to China's laws, is illegal. They hired about 100 guards, who took turns to block him from contacting the outside world. Moreover, they deployed dozens of thugs to keep visitors away, sometimes with violence. However, some guards respected Ke Li as a hero and helped him to communicate with us. We devised a secret plan to help him escape. At the time, I had to keep the plan secret and that's why I never told you my whereabouts in the past ten days and I could not keep my promise of coming to see you. I apologize for missing all your matches."
    ``We had planned the escape for two months. Each day after lunch Ke pretended to sleep, listening carefully to the activities of the guard. He laid on the bed in a natural sleeping pose except that his right-hand fingers were touching his left lower arm. He used his own pulse to time the events and found out that each day after lunch, the guard spent 5 seconds going to the kitchen to get drinking water, and another 5 seconds to come back. He would make use of this gap of surveillance to get out of his house. In the escaping plan, I was the first point person to receive him at a dried river bank, which passed by a cornfield. I waited for two days at the bank but did not see him as planned," she said with some emotion, sipping some more tea.
    John listened to her story of Ke Li with great interest, which aroused his suspicion of their relationship. It seemed to him that it was not anywhere close to what he had presumed.
    Pearl continued: ``On the third day, Ke got a chance to get out of his house. For many hours, the guards would not know Ke had escaped. They simply assumed that he was sleeping inside.
    Heat shimmered over the village. Ke moved pass several houses, trying to reach the edge of the cornfield by feel, but he tripped on a stone and fell on the rough ground, grazing his ankles and knees on the stone and the hard soil. He would have plenty of falls, some of them worse, but this was his first one. He felt that his knees were bleeding but he spent no time to sit down to inspect the injury. Standing up, he moved on. Some neighbors actually saw him escape. Worrying about revenge from the authority, they did not offer help. Nor did they report to the police. To them, Ke is more of a hero than he is a real neighbor with whom they had interacted."
    With a tone showing a little nervousness caused by frightened memory, Pearl said, ``The corn was much taller than he. It didn't provide much shade because the leaves were too thin to make a bower overhead as a tree would, but it provided an ideal cover for him to escape. It took him several hours to reach the dried river bank where I was waiting. When I saw him, he was dehydrated by the excruciating heat, his hands and legs bleeding. He could barely move and he was giddy with delight.
    I gave him water and wrapped bandages with medicine on his legs and hands. We then rode on a bus to get to a town, where Brother Wen and Brother New, two other volunteer helpers, were waiting. They took over the rescue task, driving Ke to a far away village, and hiding him in a farm house...."
    Pearl said, ``Yes, indeed the situation was getting more dangerous. To make the story short, after a few hours of rest, Ke made an appeal for help directly to the Prime Minister, who is an open-minded person, the people's premier, one who cares the suffering of everyone. Responding humanely, the Prime Minister sent Kern, a loyal high-ranked official, and a couple of assistants to meet Ke, planning to take him to Beijing and issuing his family passports so that he can go abroad to study.
    On the other hand, Ke's escape angers the Security Minister, who never respects Chinese laws. Once Ke began to make phone calls, they intercepted his messages and immediately sent out security police to get him, but Kern in turn intercepted their messages and unveiled their plan. The issue became very urgent as Kern was still in Beijing. So Kern called Ke to move to another safe place. Of course, their communication might be also intercepted by the police. There was only one safe place in China that Ke could think of. The time was tight. They had to act immediately.
    When the police arrived at the house where Ke had hidden, the men had vanished. All they could find was a very old lame woman wearing a pair of thick glasses sitting on a bed in the dim light. They queried the woman about Ke's whereabouts. They yelled at her, threatening to lock her up if she did not honestly tell all the truth. Shivering and weeping, the old woman was frightened. At the beginning, she told the police she did not know any of the persons they were asking. A dismayed security agent got mad at her lies. He raised a rough long stick found outside the house, and threatened to beat her. The old woman was scared to death. Her face, already very pale, turned ashen. `Comrade! Officer!' she cried and begged. `Please do not beat me. I am very old and fragile. I am 89, and my son is 64. There is nothing I wouldn't tell the truth.'
    `Nonsense! If you dare to say again that you are 89, and your son is 64, I'll break your legs,' the agent shouted like a thunderbolt, his stick hitting the bed.
    `No, no! Comrade! Officer! Sorry! Sorry! I am not 89. I am 98. My son is 46, not 64,' she begged the agent, her whole body trembling.
    She finally confessed to them that her two grandsons, Wen and New, had brought Ke there but someone tipped them off. Ke had just left for the Guangzhou US Consulate, the safest place for Ke to go.
    The agents got real mad at the information, shouting at her, kicking the chairs, and pounding on the table repeatedly before calling their superior, who normally would scold them with anger. But this time he was surprisingly calm, simply informing them that Ke had called a friend, telling her that he was heading to the US Consulate.
    Actually, I was the friend he was mentioning. They had intercepted our conversations.
    The police took some videos of the old woman and immediately rushed to the Consulate, hoping to catch Ke on the way. But their actions inside the house were in turn recorded by hidden video cameras set up by Wen and New. That's why we know the details of the interrogation."
    Pearl took a breath, sipping another mouthful of tea.
    Suddenly John felt someone move furtively outside. At first he thought he heard a sound that might be an imagination due to Pearl's description of Ke's thrilling escape. Then he clearly heard a clicking sound of the lock on the door. He shivered at the clicking, which might have triggered him to recall his frightened childhood. Standing up, he gazed at the door intently. As the door was being slowly opened, John waved his hand to signal Pearl to move back while he himself moved sideways.
    When the door was fully opened, a monstrous man, solid as a pine tree trunk, with brawny arms and a sacking apron strapped around his waist, appeared at the entrance. He was entering the house, his left hand holding an object with strange shape. In the dim light, John could not recognize what the object was. It could be a gun, a bag or anything. The man discovered John and quickly moved toward him, stretching out his right arm to grab him while raising his left hand, which was holding the object. He yelled, ``Come with me!" As the intruder raised his hand, John heard metal clicking sounds.
    John's eyes adjusted to the scene and was more aware of the environment. From their attacking poses, he knew that the attackers were not combat experts. He did not want to hurt them fatally. Not until he absolutely had to.

    Controlling his emotion, John said, ``I am a scoundrel but I used to be a happy kid, drowned in my parents' love, not knowing anything about hatred, jealousy and revenge.
    When I was 11, one night before I went to bed, my Dad asked me:`Son, do you know the main difference between humanism and imperialism?'
    `Imperialism has a king,' I said.
    `Not really,' my Dad said. `The main difference is that in humanism, one hundred people would risk their lives to save one person. In imperialism, for the possession or economic gain of one hundred people, they will ignore the life of one person, as long as the person does not include the king.'
    While I was thinking over my Dad's explanation, I heard a clicking of the lock and then a loud knocking at the door. I was scared, and I saw my parents shivering. They sat still, holding their breaths, in the illusive hope that whoever it was might go away. But the knocking recurred and my Dad moved heavily toward the door. When he opened the door, some strangers yelled at him and took him away. I cried loudly and my Mom consoled me, hugging me with her arms, patting my back softly, and telling me that my Dad would come back soon. But I never saw my Dad again.
    A month later, another stranger came. He informed us that my Dad was convicted of corruption in Dalian, a prosperous city of Liaoning province in Northeast China. My Dad was sentenced to four years in prison for his crime, which was later reported in all major news media, national and international. The news threw my family into turmoil.
    After release from jail, my Dad was in poor health and was hospitalized. A week later, he committed suicide in the hospital by hanging himself using a a strip of cloth found in the patient's room. He had died for a couple of days before his dead body, whose head was hung from the ceiling but feet touching the ground, was discovered by a nurse---a sudden suspicious death that many whispered. Images of the scene were circulating in the Internet. All of a sudden, I felt everything crashed to pieces around me. My Dad's crime of corruption had shamed me and his committing suicide, an act contradicting his teaching, shamed me further, inflicting in my soul serious wounds. But deep inside I still revered and loved my Dad very much.
    I became very bad-tempered, more violent, hating everyone. My teammates' resentment on my behavior exacerbated the situation. I drowned myself in training and more training so that the pain of losing my Dad could temporarily ease. I knew of no other way to liberate myself from the torment.
    My Dad's death was also a big blow to my Mom, though she did not show a big surprise or violent grief when he died. His death rendered her spiritless. Since then when I came back home from the institute at the weekends or in the holidays, she would sit almost immobile on her bed, eyes gazing into the abstract for several hours at a time. She would then hug me in her arms and hold me tight for a long time without saying a word. I was overwhelmed by sadness.

<< Prev     Next >>