BEIJING: The tale of a 70-year-old Chinese man who hand-carved more than 6,000 stairs up a mountain for his 80-year-old wife has won the award for China’s greatest love story of 2006.
The story began half a century ago, when 20-year-old Liu Guojiang fell in love with a widowed mother, Xu Chaoqing. In a twist worthy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, friends and relatives criticised the relationship because of the age difference and the fact that Xu already had children.
Desperate to escape market gossip and the scorn of their communities, the pair eloped to live in a cave in Jiangjin county, which is in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality. Now the local government is attempting to supply electricity to the cave, which has been the couple’s home for the last 50 years.
Their story came atop a list of China’s top 10 love stories in a contest event organised by the Chinese Women Weekly, which collected tales from around the country since July.
At the beginning, life was harsh and Xu felt that she had tied Liu down. She says she repeatedly asked him: “Are you regretful?” Liu always replied: “As long as we are industrious, life will improve.”
Liu and his wife were not present at the award ceremony due to their age, but their son Liu Mingsheng came with a kerosene lamp that his father had made from an ink bottle.
“My parents have lived in seclusion for more than 50 years because of their love for each other. They had no electricity and my father made kerosene lamps to light up lives,” the son said. “My mother seldom goes down the mountain but my father cut the 6,000-plus stairs for her convenience. It’s a ladder of love.”