She said to me in her way, “You haven’t suffered enough”.

I thought, here we go again. My eyes rolled internally and I braced myself for the verbal lashing that was to follow. The resulting feelings of guilt and worthlessness came from a world that was not mine, and really wasn’t hers either, but the women before her. I stayed silent.

She continued, “You are so spoiled. I spoil you. You are ungrateful, you evil little child.”

I looked down at my once white, now turned grey, tennis shoes with a hole forming near the left big toe. The kids at school made fun of me for only owning two outfits, both of which were hand-me-downs that my mother took from a mah-jong friend who probably pitied us as she observed our circumstance. Yet, I was spoiled.

Sarcasm became my shield.

This is a memory from my memory museum (Kanye West- Flashing Lights). There was no way I could have understood my mother’s reactions to me prior to reading the book, Wild Swans. Jung Chang’s autobiography takes you through three generations with her family living in 29th century China, I realized I had not suffered enough. My mother was right.

The country was and filled with uneducated and illiterate countrymen (country-people?) and living a dignified life was only for the select few, often the wealthy and those in positions of power. They ruled with fear and used shame and disgrace to control the masses. Women lived to pay a debt accrued by merely existing. The women suffered the most.

But that wasn’t my mom’s generation. My mother was born during Mao’s rule. It is unbelievable how one person was able to deify himself and brainwash hundreds of millions of people and turn them on each other.  He ruled initially by gaining respect, creating the apparition that he alone held, and possibly even invented the moral compass. Delusions. But people slowly bought it. Once the people respected him and his words, it became a race of the masses to prove their loyalty to him and compete for the best moral and loyal Communist award. From there, it was all too easy for Mao to master the puppets…