Opera: A Pair of Jade Cicada
Signing a G2 Agreement
Zhou Dongliang (周东亮) as poor Ox
Dong Yunhua (董云华) as rich young
18-year old Cao Fanger (曹芳儿) was a pretty and well-educated
girl born in a Roster year during China's highly prosperous
dynasty. One day her father had a drink
with a man who saved his life, and the both parties decided
to forge a G2 partnership between two families. An oral
treaty was verbally signed, and a pair of jade cicadas belonged
to Shen family were kept by both signature bearers. The odd
thing is the G2
negotiation was carried out without Fanger's knowledge,
despite the implimentation of the G2 required her full participation.
As a rule-abiding member of a harmonious Cao family, Fanger
had a strong faith in her father's leadership. Regrettably,
was soon proven to be misplaced. A chronic loser in provincial-level
academic competition which involved the test on a sound understanding
of science, I
Ching and astronomy, the old Cao was mere a veteran literature
lover (老文青) with limited capacity to think logically. During
the G2 negotiation meeting, the logic-deprived man only bothered
to calculate that Ox and Roster could form a beneficial relationship,
but forgot to ask in which Ox year Shen Mengxia (沈梦霞), his
son-in-law to be, was born. He failed to realise a simple
fact that a boy born in an Ox year could be either eight
years older than a Roster girl or sixteen years younger.
Unfortunately, the latter was the case.
Months later, the rich household Shen was stricken by a
series of disasters. As the result, the family economically
collapsed and the both family heads were impeached from their
positions in the human domain, with the sole surviving Ox
boy being sent to his father-in-law by his distant relatives.
Only by then Cao family found out that Fanger's husband was
just a two-year old toddler.
To be fair, old Cao was not a snob.
After the initial shock, he sensibly decided to honour the
oral agreement by adopting the boy as his son, while finding
a grown-up husband for his daughter. At the time it seemed
to be a fair solution for all parties involved.
But the inter-household
organizations waged in. The power-brokers from both
Cao and Shen communities considered this amendment bill
constituted a breach of G2 treaty which would set a bad
precedence for their clans, thus threatened the Cao family
with social sanction and physical interference had they
attempted to break up the sacred G2 pack.
Being unable to summon up further courage to challenge the
external pressure on his internal affairs, old Cao the lousy
negotiator died with grievance, leaving the shattered Roster
girl to raise the Ox boy alone and to be locked in a cruel
G2 agreement that benefited nobody but was destructive to
It was hard and heartbreaking 16 long years, but eventually
the Ox boy came of age as a highly-intelligent, very-articulated
and good-looking guy. That year, a civil riot broke out and
the pair had to flee their home. Due to the rough life on
the run, the Roster girl, by then she was almost a middle-aged
woman, fell seriously ill. So the Ox boy searched around
and begged persistently and eventually found a cozy refuge
at a grand mansion belonged to a high official who happened
to be his father's old friend.
The official's family took a good care of the G2 pair: Not
only Fanger's illness was well attended, the official's
daughter was sent by her parents to help the Ox boy preparing
for his state academic exam. After half a year studying together,
the rich young lady fell in love with the poor Ox boy (it
would be something very wrong if she didn't). When bidding
farewell to the boy who was about to go to the capital to
take the state
exam, the young lady revealed her love for the boy. And
the Ox boy, being utterly unaware that he was already an
attached man, gracefully accepted her love and gave her a
jade cicada as the tangible evidence of his promise on their
The boy won the intellectual competition and was awarded
the top prize zhuangyuan (状元). After a meeting with
the official, the emperor further awarded Fanger as a model
child-care worker, and the official's daughter as the honourable
spouse to the prized scholar.
When a frail Fanger attended the wedding party, she returned
the jade cicada to the Ox boy. Only by then the 18-year old
realised he had already been married for nearly two decades.
Fanger spat a mouthful of blood and died in the arms of
the Ox boy, and the Ox boy shed a truck load of tears and
his heart was broken, and the young lady was left with a
lifetime regret for having unintentionally conducted an extra-marital
affair with a married man.
This is a sad tragedy brought to three innocent people by
a lousy negotiator and coward family head who daringly sealed
a dummy agreement at the first then dared not to defend his
family member's interest by renouncing the treaty but allowed
the selfish external forces to dictate their lives.
Picture Book: A Pair of Jade Cicadas