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I decided that if I was going to survive the Cultural Revolution, I needed physical and mental exercise. I devised a series of exercises that moved every part of my body from my head to my toes; I did this twice a day. At first, the exercise exhausted me, and I had to interrupt it with frequent rest. Also I had to avoid the prying eyes of the guards, as exercise other than a few minutes of walking in the cell after meals was forbidden. Nevertheless, I managed to exercise each day and after a few months I recovered my physical strength somewhat, as well as my feeling of well-being. For mental exercise, I first tried to memorize some of Mao's essays to enable me to understand his mentality better and to use his quotations more fluently when I had to face an interrogator again. But to study Mao's books for many hours a day was a depressing occupation for me, his victim. I turned instead to the Tang dynasty poetry I had learned as a schoolgirl. It really amazed me that I was able to dig out from the deep recesses of my brain verses that had lain dormant for decades. Whenever I managed to piece together a whole poem, I felt a sense of happy accomplishment. My persistent efforts to maintain sanity had a measure of success. But there were still moments when I was so burdened with hunger and misery that I was tempted to let go my tenuous grip on the lifeline of survival. At those times, I had to depend on conflict with the guards to stimulate my fighting spirit. ''How long do I have to wait for the government to investigate my case?'' I would shout at one of them. ''It's illegal to lock up an innocent person in prison. It's against Chairman Mao's teachings.'' ''Hush! Don't shout! The government will deal with your case in due course. You are not the only one.'' ''I'm innocent!'' I yelled. ''I've never committed any crime. You have no right to lock up a law-abiding citizen! I demand rehabilitation and an apology!'' ''Keep quiet!'' The guard was now shouting in anger. ''Have you gone mad?'' Sometimes my endurance outlasted the guards' patience, and they resorted to physical violence to silence me, hitting me or kicking my legs. They called me a ''hysterical old woman,'' but they never knew my real purpose in provoking them. Though my legs to this day bear scars inflicted by their heavy boots, I always enjoyed good humor and calm spirits after fighting with the guards. I needed human contact; even encounters with the guards were better than complete isolation.
Early in 1969, two months after Mao had turned on his old comrade Liu Shaoqi and had him denounced and expelled from the Communist Party, I was interrogated by five men. ''We are interested in those who made it possible for you and others like you to undermine the security of China on behalf of the imperialists,'' one of them said.