Roy Cheng Tsung was born in New York and went to elementary school there. In 1953, when Roy was 12, his uncle urged his father to move the family back to mainland China to help create a new country under Mao Zedong and the Communist Party. It was a time of great change. And so at that moment when many Chinese were fleeing the mainland, crossing the infamous Lowu Bridge into Hong Kong in hopes of a better life, Roy Tsung and his parents went back. Roy said later that it was on Lowu Bridge when he and his mother finally escaped China in 1974 to return to the US that he had a vague feeling that he might have a story to tell.
Here’s an excerpt from Roy’s book, Beyond Lowu Bridge.
My mother and I watched helplessly as the Red Guards ransacked our home, dumping the contents of every drawer, suitcase and box onto the floor, and combing through every piece of clothing, books, notebooks and what few photographs we had left.
Suddenly, everyone stopped and gathered around a small writing desk beside my bed.
“What’s this?” asked one of the thugs, pointing to a large photograph of me and my sixth-grade classmates.
“My graduation picture,” I said. “I went to a public school in New York.”
“Who’s this?” He pointed to a Caucasian man with a mustache, who probably resembled a CIA agent.
“School principal,” I answered.
By the time the Cultural Revolution first broke out, we had already shredded and burned nearly all of our English books, letters and photographs. Even my mother’s Social Security card and my father’s Columbia University papers were set to flame in the coal stove. But we saw no harm in keeping my grade school photograph. The gang finally withdrew, leaving my radio. But they took away my school picture.
After they’d gone, my mother whispered, “Go and get my slippers.”
The room was topsy-turvy, except for the slippers, which remained in front of her bed in plain sight. My mother pulled out a sock from her right slipper. She reached inside the sock and slipped out a folded paper. It was my New York City birth certificate, wrinkled but intact.
The corners of her mouth curled into a faint smile.
. . .
An excerpt from Roy Cheng Tsung’s book Beyond Lowu Bridge. To buy Beyond Lowu Bridge or learn more about Passager and its commitment to writers over 50, go to passagerbooks.com. You can also download Burning Bright from Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts, and various other podcast apps.