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A Mulan Tale with Difference (2)
越剧: 孟丽君
Story of A Chinese Cross Dresser

16 May 2010

In the Royal Garden

An episode in the opera, Meng Lijun played by Ms Wang Wenjuan (王文娟), Emperor played by Ms Jin Meifang (金美芳) whose depiction of the emperor is so charming and amusing that it has become a true classic.


The royal garden in the spring season, peach flowers are in full blossom. Their fate, however, depends on the wind, which is not consistent, now tender now robust.


Emperor: The monarch and the prime minister, ride on ambling horses side by side, which makes me so thrilled. If the PM is indeed a female, I’ll divorce my empress in the first instance. Now let me make sure she is indeed a lass in man’s dress.


Lijun: The monarch and the prime minister, ride on ambling horses side by side, which makes me so concerned. His motivation is rather suspicious, I must be highly vigilant and very cautious.


Emperor: What a magnificent scene in the spring garden, what a marvelous time we spent in each other’s company.


Meng Lijun: The towering terraces, the elegant verandas and the skillfully painted beams are indeed impressive to me.


Emperor: The rare blossoms spread all over like a giant carpet, the aging trees shade the ground with verdant green light. Look at these birds, do you know they fall in love with each other at first sight.


Meng Lijun: I’m unaware of their love stories, but I’ve heard they all know their proper places, which is why they can fly in team without chaos.

皇帝:君赐臣一幅湖山收眼底 …

Emperor: I’ve offered you to view this stunning landscape …


Lijun: I’ll return you with my hard work. Your Majesty, we live in a time of peace and prosperity, but if we pay no attention to the perils in the society, we’ll be in for a nasty surprise of social instability.



Emperor: My dear prime minister, you are indeed the pillar of my imperial court, who never fails to admonish me to stick on to the right route. But today is a day for fun, let’s not worry about the world around. You are renowned for your talent on poem, I would like you to compose verse matching my rhyme:

I don’t know which one is more charming: the peach flowers in sunny reflection, or the beautiful face by the blossom.


Lijun: I know which one is more enduring: the flowers in the garden will not flourish beyond the season, but the pines on the mountain will be forever green.


Emperor: Her literature talent is just astonishing, if only I can have her as my full-time companion. Let me make another close examination ... Oh, my dear prime minister, how come as a bloke you were unable to hold your horse's reins tight?


Lijun: Ah, Your Majesty, as a kid I used to get sick quite often, and always traveled by sedan.


Emperor: I’m viewing the reflection in the pool, and see the profile of a royal couple.


Lijun: I have trouble to understand your remark, I only see the reflection of one monarch. Your Majesty, I thank you for your hospitality, but now the sun is setting in the west and I must return to my unfinished official duty.


Emperor: Leave it for the next day. Tonight let’s drink to our heart's content at the Terrace of Heavenly Scent.


Emperor: This is the most beautiful flower in my garden; you are the most beautiful person in my kingdom. Yet it looks so pale in comparison, so lowers its head in humiliation. My dearest prime minister, Mr Pan is said to be the No. one handsome scholar, I say you are ten-times better. During the morning meeting in court, we had this storm in a teacup, all because you are too charismatic, so I can’t blame the general for losing his mind, 'cause my heart is also after you all the way around. I wish we can share our artistic moment more often, I fancy we can exchange our views without obstruction, I aspire we can forever together reign the kingdom, I hope in no occasion we shall experience a separation. Oh, my dear dear prime minister, the true wealth is one’s youthfulness, let’s not disappoint the moon goddess with our empty wine cups.


Lijun: I’m grateful for your trust in me with the top official duty, thus obliged to serve the kingdom to my best capacity. O, Sire, the storm in the teacup shall soon be over, once the clouds are dispersed, we’ll again have a sunny weather. I'm not sure what's moon goddess's preference, but to me the wealth and the nobleness are as illusive as the clouds floating in the skies.

The garden crisis was temporarily put on hold due to the unexpected arrival of the empress and an urgent report that PM's residence was caught in fire, which were in fact all pre-arranged by Lijun.

Early next morning, she went to see empress dowager in the excuse of presenting a portrait of Guanyin Bodhisattva, crafted by herself, as her gift since the old lady's birthday was about to come in a few days. Along with the portrait was her letter, detailing her reason for cross-dressing and pleading for dowager’s forgiveness and help.

Lijun was put on trial before the royal court with the top adviser as the co-public prosecutor and the emperor acting as the chief magistrate. Ignoring the strong opposition and protest, the emperor sentenced Lijun to life in palace. But his ruling was reversed by a higher court judge, the empress dowager.

The dowager educated the emperor:


"My dear son, haven’t you heard this piece of Chinese wisdom: It is important to secure bliss from heaven, but what is more important is to win the hearts and minds of the majority people in the kingdom*. My dear boy, haven’t you heard this saying: Only when the boss is virtuous he will obtain a dignified team; only when the leader is mindful of danger in times of peace he will regain the order in the face of chaos. My dear child, remember this fact: Only when the foundation is strong a skyscraper can be built; we will lose our support if we allow property developers to demolish the bridge after we crossed the river. The government is like a boat and the people in grassroots are like water; managing the state affairs is similar to sailing a boat in the lake. If we follow the wind and the current, the boat will progress fast; and if we sail against the trend, we may just go stuck. Bearing in mind, my dear kid: Although the water in a river can facilitate a boat to carry out a voyage, it can also tip it over when it is in outrage. Therefore be careful and forever careful with every decision you made, if you don’t want to see the boat capsized. "

The emperor was touched by his mommy's reasoning, and agreed not to appeal higher court's decision. So Meng Lijun was released from the palace and married the young general, her beloved sweetheart, and the couple happily lived together … ever after ...

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*It is not to follow but to lead; not to lead without followers but to convince people to follow.

Prev: A Chinese Cross Dresser (1)
Next: A Chinese Cross Dresser (3)


A New Approach with Mao Zedong's Characteristics

On 4 July, 1945, Mao Zedong, the late leader of CCP and PRC, met Mr Huang. Huang said to Mao, "I’ve never heard, let along seen any person or family or organisation or dynasty or country being able to break this spell: People always start a new task or a new reform or a new revolution with energetic and disciplined new approach, but the old habits die hard and soon catch up with them, before long everything just return to the old way (其兴也勃焉,其亡也忽焉)."

To which, Mao Zedong replied: We believe we can break this vicious circle through a grassroots movement called people’s democracy [which is different from a superficial and ritualistic voting system-based Western style democracy]. We’ll let ordinary people from grassroots level keep the government in check. When everyone in the society takes the responsibility of monitoring the nation’s political, social and economic system, we'll be able to avoid to go back to the old path following the change in the leadership (只有让人民起来监督政府,政府才不敢松懈。只有人人起来负责,才不会人亡政息).

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