A Brief Sketch of Peng Dehuai
“Once on the battlefield, we begin to trust only oneman. Scores of us will focus our attention on himand none dare to slack off. Even newcomers to thebattlefront will throw aside all fears so long as he ispresent. When he gives orders, all will charge ahead unhesitatingly to defy the invisiblepresence of certain death. Yes we fear him, but we love him more.”
That’s what I heard from a 24-year-old young political commissar. While making these remarks,he flushed with excitement. Whom did he refer to? It’s Comrade Peng Dehuai, of whom I’m now making a brief sketch. At this moment he is our front-line Deputy Commander-in-Chief.
He is attired in the common grey uniform of a Red Army man, which, covered with a thin layerof yellowish dust and black greasy dirt, looks very shabby and, moreover, very unbecoming tohim. But he doesn’t seem to care. His facial features are somewhat blurry because they areoften chapped all over by the cold wind. From the pair of lively black eyes rolling about on aface short on handsomeness, one detects naivety and mischief seldom seen on the face of anadult. And his big mouth is fully expressively of tenacity—the tenacity of a proletarianrevolutionary. Whenever young cadres or junior comrades meet him, they will have theirmilitant hearts mollified by his most natural and sincere handshakes. Sometimes he also enjoysbantering with them, cracking jokes that are coarse but harmless. Much more often he will patiently explain to them various problems concerning politics or work, offering comradelyencouragement in all sincerity. His listeners will have their hearts calmed down by his wordsand meanwhile feel pepped up. When he is silently absorbed in thought, everybody around himwill keep quiet lest they should disturb him. Sometimes he is really stern and forbiddingbecause, though lax about things in his own personal life, he is very strict with work. Thosewho have been harshly criticized by him will nevertheless love him all the more.
He often engages in small talk with villagers while holding them by the shoulder or strokingtheir backs. He will give the thumbs-up to the simple and honest peasants, saying, “Hi, youbuddies are real nice guys…” They will in turn pat him on the shoulder or try to put their long-stemmed Chinese pipes to his mouth which he always declines with a smile. When he leavesthem, he will always leave behind a permanent impression on the simple and honest countryfolks.