My mom just returned from a class reunion in Shanghai, where she met 10 old friends that she had not seen for 45 years. She was very happy and excited.
These were her college classmates at Harbin Institute of Technology. Actually they were only together for a little over a year before the Cultural Revolution disrupted everything. My mom became part of a performance group where she met my dad and spent most of her time there before being sent off to a village to be re-educated. She did not feel particularly close to this class therefore did not stay in touch after ‘graduation’. That’s why she was so shocked when she got a call from one of them a week ago and learned about all their efforts trying to find her.
They checked their old school record and found her address in Beijing, which was my grandparents’ apartment for decades but now it is a big construction site. They found the real estate developer and the contact number there was my parents’ home phone which was no longer in service. They searched for her online, contacted several alumni networks, asked her previous employers, with no luck. Then they solicited ‘help’ from someone who has access to the resident registration records and found her ID and an address in Changchun. After comparing her ID photo with their memories and agreeing that it was indeed the right person, they sent one of them to Changchun to check out the address.
Luckily the place is still there. This is the apartment we lived in while we were in Changchun in early to mid-90s. After we moved away, we half-gave half-sold it to my ex in-laws. Actually they stayed with their son in the US most of the time, so it is really fortunate that they happened to be in Changchun at the moment. My mom’s friend knocked on the door, nobody answered. He knocked on the neighbor’s door, the neighbor only knew we moved away. He was quite disappointed and headed downstairs to leave. Then he ran into my ex in-laws in the stairway a few floors below. Seeing that they were about the same age, he decided to try his luck and ask them. Bingo! Even though the phone number they had was a few years old, it was the right number. My mom was found at the long last!
The class included 20 students – 17 guys and 3 gals. Five of them have passed away, one is yet to be found. Out of the remaining 14, 11 showed up in Shanghai this time. Pretty remarkable considering that 8 of them had to travel from elsewhere, and all of them are 70+ years old. They had a wonderful time together, chatting about old times and friends, their experiences in the Cultural Revolution, their trials and tribulations over the years, their current living arrangements, their children and grandchildren… Time is too short, but they will definitely have other get-togethers and continue their story-telling…