Two days later, the guards suddenly ordered a watching-inmate to take me to a room in the guards’ office building.
I had no idea what they were going to do.
When I had sat in the room for twenty minutes, the chief of the Haizhu District 610, the Chatou chief, the Third Brigade chief, and a Third Brigade captain walked in.
Behind them were my father and my cousin’s husband, Yaotian.
“Dad! Yaotian!” I called out in happy surprise.
Chatou had utterly cut me off from my family ever since my leg was disabled. That was the first time — and the only time — my father was allowed to visit me.
I threw my arms around my father’s neck the second he sat down beside me. This was the first time I hugged my father. I assumed the old-fashioned man would push me away. But he didn’t, just patted me gently on the back.
“The chief of the Haizhu District 610 just treated me to tea this morning,” Father started talking.
(Afterward Father told me: The chief had told him before meeting me, “Don’t ask too many questions or talk about unpleasant things when you meet Yiwen Tang.”)
“Did they tell you what happened to my leg?” I asked Father immediately.
I thereupon related to him the torture concisely.
The air of the entire room froze.
“Dad, do you think what the guards did was reasonable?” I asked Father upon relating.
Father thundered “No!” without a second of hesitation.
How proud I was of my father at the moment!
Many mainland Chinese would have not dared to speak up in the circumstances.
All those in the room dared not utter a sound. The father and daughter might both have turned out against their expectations.
“Have you penalized the torturers?” Father asked sternly.
“Yes…” the Third Brigade chief mumbled, her eyes looking down at the floor.
“You are lying,” I said.
At this moment, Father suddenly requested a break in the next room. Father was over seventy and suffered from coronary heart disease. His breathing suddenly became difficult upon hearing what I had been through.
After the other people had guided Father to the next room, the Third Brigade chief lied to Yaotian, “She disabled herself by stupidly sitting with her legs crossed!”
By the time it had dawned on me why the guards had had me sit down before my family arrived: When I was sitting, my swollen feet inside the long trousers and socks could not be seen, and my disabled leg could not be noticed.
Father walked back slowly ten minutes later, saying he had to go. When I wished to hug him again, he adopted another way to bid me goodbye: Shake hands with me with such great strength as if I were a strong man.
I knew he was encouraging me to be tough.
Yaotian quietly said to me while holding back his tears, “Stay optimistic. Just stay optimistic.”
As I limped back to Back Yard, the Third Brigade captain swore hard at me at my side.
On getting back to the cell I cried. I cried for a long while. The guards and watching-inmates all appeared astonished. They never saw me cry as I suffered torture after torture.
A guard tentatively asked me what I was crying for. I didn’t reply.
I cried because I felt so happy and grateful.
The gentle pat my father gave me on the back was the first time I felt the warmth of paternal love in thirty-six years.