Sunday, August 14, 2011

True love stories

I have been rereading A Farewell to Arms (戰地春夢) these days. Once again, I was indulged in the beauty of Hemingway's unique writing style which features economy and understatement, and I also experienced the marvelous touch of simplicity that I felt when I first read his works in the summer I graduated from the senior high school. This semi-autobiographical war novel has been adapted several times into cinema since its publication in 1929. The love story of a young American ambulance driver and a British nurse at the Italian front during World War I never bores generations of readers.

A Farewell to Arms, after all, is a work of fiction, whereas true love stories are found at hand in real life. There are two reported by local China Times today. (共和眷村裡 數不盡的悲歡離合) (內山勇雄3度來台 尋找65年前初戀)

The late 1949, following the retreat of the defeated Nationalist troops in the Chinese civil war, many mainlanders moved to Taiwan and lived in military housing quarters, often those Japanese style houses built before the end of World War II and commandeered by the government for the military dependants to live. In such a housing quarter in southern Taiwan lived Chang Jia-chi, a young girl whose father was teaching at the air force staff school, who fell in love with her neighbor Chang Li-yi, an air force cadet. They married in 1956 and had three children. Li-yi was later inducted to the 35th Squadron, the famous "Black Cat" squadron flying dangerous reconnaissance missions over communist China air space. In early 1965 Li-yi was shot down and captured. Not knowing her husband was dead or alive, Jia-chi accepted an accountant job introduced by the Air Force and raised her children alone for nine years before she agreed to remarry an army colonel named Ho. Ho was so gentleman that he promised to divorce once they learned Li-yi was alive. In 1971 Li-yi was released by the Communist. Ho kept his word and let Jia-chi reunite with her husband. Unfortunately Li-yi's release was considered by Taiwan government a Communist conspiracy, and he was not allowed to return Taiwan. Jia-chi then decided to leave the place where her heart had broken more than once and lived with her husband in the States.

Another story is about a Japanese pilot who fell in love with a Taiwanese girl. Closing to the end of World War II, 內山勇雄was a pilot stationing at an air base in southern Taiwan waiting for his turn to strike invading Americans. He fell in love with a Taiwanese kindergarten teacher whose brother was a cook working for his base. After the war, repatriated to Japan, he could not forget his love. Five years ago, lamenting that his life was about to come to an end, the ninety-year old former pilot decided to take action. He tried every means possible and even came to Taiwan three times trying to find his love but to no avail. Some said she was still alive but her family did not want her peaceful life disturbed and refused to let them meet. The local mayor could not help but sigh over the beauty and the tragic sense of this romance, and was still communicating with her family and hoped for a happy ending.

I wonder why local TV soap opera producers could not find material out of these true love stories and produce something different for the audience.

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