It Happened In Pampoo

It happened in Pampoo
By Y. C. Chang
ffstchang@ig.com.br

“I am Liu Yu-Mei, 25 years old. She is Liang Pei-Chu, 23 years old, and she is Chao Kuei-Lan, 26 years old. We are transients here in Pampoo city on our way to find better paying jobs in the South. On our way, we met three boys from the same city in the Northeastern Provinces where we came from, and invited them for a chat in our boarding house while, all in a sudden, this group of city police broke in. The boys escaped through the window and we, the three girls, were bounded into the police van.
In the police bureau, they wanted us to sign a confession of engaging in prostitution. We refused to sign this false charge and they began to make threats.
“We can convince you to sign this confession with our great bantz.” waving a great bantz in front of us. We understood that “great bantz” is a cudgel made of a long bamboo stick of about four feet, used for beating the bare buttocks while the “bantz” is a short bamboo cudgel of one foot and half, used for beating the palms of hands.
“Dare you to use this on us, or anybody?” Protested Chao Kuei-Lan, “Corporal punishment is illegal in this republic!”
“Dare you to disrespect the police officer?” Retorted one of the policemen with the great bantz, “Corporal punishment is used everyday in this police department. We make the illegal legal! We are the republic. The republic is us! Take off your trousers before we rip them off for you and lie down on that carpet!” We scuffled with them while making a frantic effort to run toward the door.
Out came another policeman with shoulder patches of a captain, “What is the noise here?”
“These three prostitutes we caught would not sign their confession. We are going to persuade them with this great bantz on their buttocks.”
“We must think twice before taking trousers off women. A scandal may break out if one of them cries rape when we do that. It happened before and our police bureau was in trouble a couple of times. The public believes the women and blames always the policemen.”
“But how can we convince them without the great bantz? What else than great bantz would these Northeastern wenches understand?”
“Bantz! It may just be as persuasive as the great bantz.”
“The palms of their hands are so toughened. Bantz is not even enough to make a tickle in their palms.”
“Take off their shoes and stockings and beat the flower calyces in the centers of their soles with bantz! They will cry of pain and beg for mercy. Their feet are not tough. The Northerners, including the Northeasterners, are not used to walk barefoot as we do here in the South. You do not need a confession. Prostitution is punished by bastinado of ten lashes of bantz in each sole and a public display of their bastinadoed soles. It is more humiliating for the Northern women to display their bare soles in front of strangers than to display their bare sex.”
“What if their feet smell in this room when we take off their shoes?”
The captain walked back in.
While we were listening to their conversation, we did not notice that we were already bound into three stocks with our feet stuck out through two wooden rings in each stock. We were laid on our backs in the stock with our soles facing skyward. They came now to slip the shoes off our feet and to peel the stockings off our knees while we kept on struggling, throwing vile names at them. True to their expectation, we have not washed our feet on the train for the past three days. Several of these policemen approached our wiggling toes with wide open nostrils as an overpowering fragrance wafted out of our soles like vapor enveloping the whole room, which even I myself felt.
After they marveled at our delicate pink white, perfume emitting, soles for 15 minutes, they threw a bundle of bantzes on the floor and brought out a pale of red liquid which we found out later to be mashed chilli pepper in water. They began to smear this evil-looking liquid on our soles with brushes. I could not hold out the tickling sensation when the two brushes contacted the bare skin of my soles. I started to laugh uncontrollerably. The other two girls also giggled with closed eyes.
“Hold your feet still! Sister! We have not begun our torture yet!”
After they dipped their bantzes in the same liquid, they began to swing them with a whistling sound through the air, “Now, your tender flower calyces will taste our bantzes. After the skin of your soles will be ripped off, you will get the lesson of not engaging in lecherous activities in the future! Beg for pardon now for the last time!”
We clenched our teeth and shook our heads in defiance.
Each of us was worked on by two policemen, one for the right foot and one for the left foot. They held our toes by their left hands, bending them backward to make the skin of soles taut and swang their bantzes with their right hands. I shrieked even before the bantzes fell in the centers of my both soles at the spot between the balls and the arches where the skin is the tenderest. I believed that they have already cracked my skin with their two first strokes. I howled to the full of my lung as their second lashes falling on the raw wounds made by their first lashes. I heard that Liang Pei-Chu was crying for the pity of heaven at my right side and Chao Kuei-Lan was cursing these devils of hell loudly at my left side as each cracking sound exploded at their crispy skin. I found out that the hollow depression in the center of sole between the ball and the arch was their choice spot, as the calyx, or Hwa-Shin, for bastinadoing. Most of their ten lashes fell in these spots of my two soles while only a couple lashes fell on my soft fleshy balls. None fell on my heels or toes.

The chilli pepper began to take its effect, filtering into the crevices of my cracked skin to cause a burning hot sensation in my both soles. I found myself crying bitterly when they finished ten bantz lashes in each of my soles. I cried even more as I saw the bloody soles of my two companions resulted by their heinous work.
“Now, bring these three stockades with quarries inside to the plaza for public display as warning to prostitution!"
Right as they were doing that, your group broke in and saved us from further humiliation of exhibiting our bastinadoed soles to the public. And this is our story.”
“Well, all I can do is to write your story in a reportage to www.gansudaily.com.cn 02/24/2002, for publicity. Here, Miss Hsu is to send a simultaneous letter to Amnesty International. Our attorney, Dr. Hu, here is to file a formal charge to the local court against police brutality and to ask for your physical and moral indemnity. Our photo reporter, Mr. Ye, is here to take several pictures of your wounded soles as evidence against them in the court. And this Mr. Hwang will take the three of you to protective custody in the Social Service Center for your psychological recuperation.”
“But we want to continue our journey to the South. All what we want is to have our private properties back, which they confiscated illegally."
“What are they? You still have your purses in your hands.”
“Our stockings!”
“No, please,” pleaded one of the policemen, “I want to keep these sweet smelling stockings as souvenirs for my memory!”
“Let them to keep these stockings. Here is some money. Go buy yourself a new pair.”
The non-governmental organization group of reporters, lawyers and social workers stumped out of the room.
“Yes, Hwang Hung-Tai? Is this your name on your police badge? Can you find me a job in this police station so that I can be bastinadoed by you everyday?”

“But, are you dropping your charge against us?”
“Please, I can also help you to bastinado the men-prisoners.”
“Wait a minute,” chorused Liang Pei-Chu and Chao Kuei-Lan, “We too!”
“We have no other prisoner here. We ourselves are the men-prisoners charged of police brutality!”
Compiled Jul. 28, 2005

Addendum: This story is an exaggerated version of a news item. Interested reader may read the original version by opening the website cited in this story.
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Feb 9, 2012