A SINGLE TEAR, by Wu Ningkun (Hodder & Stoughton, $195). Friday marks the anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. In an exclusive extract from A Single Tear, Wu Ningkun - a professor who returned to China in 1951 - recounts the first four decades of communist rule when he realised his fate as a victim of a campaign to root out hidden counter-revolutionaries. IN 1951, Wu Ningkun, a professor in the United States, answered the call of his homeland, China, to help the Communist Party build a new nation. Full of hope, he returned to take up a position at Yenching University not knowing his American connections would soon make him a criminal in the eyes of the new party. WHEN at last I stood face-to-face with the legendary wall I could not see what was so wonderful about this monstrous structure of huge grey bricks. My heart ached as I visualised the millions of slaves throughout the centuries . . . driven under whips andswords to erect this monstrosity. Yikai and I climbed the wall together, apart from the group. When we reached the top, Yikai asked me: ''How do you like the Seventh Wonder of the World?'' ''It's a monstrosity,'' I said. ''A monument to tyranny erected with the bones of numberless slaves by an arch-tyrant who relished burning books and burying scholars alive. And he was not alone. Emperor after emperor added to this barrier that kept the nation benighted and slavish over the centuries.'' When the two-day recess was over, the denunciation meetings resumed. With years of loyal service in the Central Investigation Department [CID], Professor Huang [Hongxu] might have been spared the rightist label in spite of his rightist utterances. But hehad been deaf to public warnings against siding with me, and the handshake following my formal denunciation was the last straw. Meanwhile, some 20 students were labelled rightists, including a mature male student, a third-year English major, who had said the school should be administered by an academic like me rather than a party bureaucrat. Meanwhile, we found out that Yikai was pregnant with her second child. In spite of the daily increasing stresses on us, we rejoiced over the coming of a new hope into the besieged family. A child conceived in tribulation was a simple testament to our faith in life. Classes were scheduled to resume in November, and by request of the students I was assigned to teach all three third-year intensive reading classes, which before had been taught by three different professors. As a teacher, apparently, I could still hold my ground. Meanwhile, I was given a three-room apartment in a new two-storey building that had been built as a special boon for professors, following the premier's 1956 report on the party's new policy toward intellectuals. Perhaps the campaign would be declared a mistake, just like the previous one? Perhaps right-minded party leaders were beginning to see it was doing the party and the nation nothing but harm? How could a prestigious ruling party go back on its word of honour and turn on those whose criticism it had solicited with such professed good faith? In any case, they couldn't go too far in their retaliation, could they? I kept debating with myself and hoping against hope. After all, I was a family man now and I was not prepared to be made a martyr, for my flesh was very weak. When November came, however, I was told not to teach, but to go, together with other faculty and student rightists, to the library to catalogue a mass of new and old books that had been gathering dust in the corner for months. Meanwhile, the deadline for the translation of The Pearl was drawing near. After each day's political session or forced labour in the library or on college grounds, I worked on it at night in my unheated study. My fingers were stiffened by the freezing cold. But I was wrapped up in the story of the young Indian pearl fisher and his wife, who fell victim to the greedy local villains because he had found the Pearl of the World. Wasn't our ordeal over the past months just like their night flight through the mountains from their ruthless trackers, the mother carrying her baby son in her arms? Kino finally came out of the mountains and foiled the designs of his treacherous enemies by throwing his precious pearl back to the sea. I was still in the dark mountains and knew not whether I could ever get out of them. Come what may, I would never throw away my pearl of the freedom of spirit, invisible but quite luminous. In early March, rightists as well as revolutionary comrades were ordered to study General Secretary Deng Xiaoping's final report on the anti-rightist struggle. In his capacity as director of the Anti-Rightist Headquarters under the Central Committee, he set forth the guidelines for meting out punishment to rightists. Though denounced as class enemies, rightists in general would be given administrative rather than penal punishment; severity of punishment varied with the gravity of the case. From what her colleagues said at their discussions, Yikai told me to be prepared for the worst. As the day of reckoning loomed large, my heart grew heavier and heavier. What would happen to me now? What would happen to my pregnant wife and two-year-old son and the unborn child? How had I sunk so deep into this nightmarish mire? I had been trapped and I saw no way out. Right or wrong, I was no match for the all-powerful dictatorship. On March 21, 1958, a general meeting of faculty, staff and students was held in the student dining hall to announce officially the punishment of all those at the institute labelled rightists. I was at the top of the list: as an ultra-rightist of the first order, I was to be dishonourably discharged from public employment and sent to a ''state farm'' for corrective education through forced labour, pending review and official approval by the State Council. Following the announcement, faculty members and student representatives made speeches to highlight and denounce my heinous crimes. I sat through all the harangue less angry than resigned to the inevitable. My mind went back to those days in 1951 when I had turned a deaf ear to my relatives' and friends' dire warnings against returning to China under the new communist rule. Now, in less than seven years, their worst fears had come true. I had been entangled in the web of class struggle. Still, I could not say it was I who had erred. Had I chosen not to return in 1951, more than likely I would have done so at a later date. And more than likely I would have met the same fate, given the same mesh of circumstances.