tagFirst TimeTales from Old Shanghai 01

Tales from Old Shanghai 01

byChloeTzang©

© 2019 Chloe Tzang. All rights reserved. The author asserts a moral right to be identified as the author of this story. This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review.

And as always, a warning from Chloe: This is not a short story. It's approximately 108,000 words, about 29 Literotica pages long, so be warned. That said, it's written by me so of course there's lots of sex even if it does start of a little slowly. There's a story as well. So now that you've been warned, or advised, or whatever... do enjoy..... Chloe

* * *


Shanghai, China, in the mid-to-late 1930's. Old Shanghai. That Old Shanghai of the decades before the 1949 Liberation. That old Shanghai is a Shanghai far distant from the modern Chinese city of today, almost one hundred years later. That Old Shanghai, the Shanghai that was "the Paris of the Orient", "the Capital of the Tycoon", "the Paradise of Adventurers", "the Whore of Asia"; that Shanghai has long disappeared into the distant past. Found now only in the surviving architecture from that era, in old memoirs and books, photographs and postcards, music and movies filmed there long ago in what was "the Hollywood of the East," even the last survivors of that distant era are now fast disappearing as age and time take their inevitable toll.

Born in humiliation at the hands of the West, growing exponentially in the shadow of the Opium Wars and the forced opening of China to the sale of that most addictive and poisonous of drugs, Shanghai grew to dominate China with its power, its sophistication and above all, with its money. Its residents were primarily Chinese, but Shanghai was a Treaty Port, open to foreigners, ruled by neither China nor by the foreign powers whose citizens lived there. No passports or visas were required. British. Americans. French. Germans. Italians. Danes. Norwegians. Swedes. Jews. Spanish. Belgians. Romanians. Portuguese. Hungarians. Egyptians. Iraqis. Indians. Eurasians. Japanese. Koreans. White Russian refugees from the Bolshevik Revolution and the subsequent Civil War, now destined to be citizens of nowhere. Jews fleeing the Nazis, all lived an often precarious existence in this city which took in every nationality under the sun without restraint or restriction.

That Old Shanghai was an extraordinary city. Incredible wealth and unbearable squalor existed side by side. Children worked as virtual slaves in factories, young girls as prostitutes, hundreds and thousands lived and died in the streets, struggling to survive from day to day. Thirty thousand children were abandoned by their families every year, to scavenge for their food and survive on the streets. In winter, the frozen bodies of the poor were picked up daily in their hundreds by the death carts. Female babies were sold by their starving families to the criminal gangs, the triads, where they were gruesomely mutilated by the leaders of the beggar gangs, many of them deliberately blinded to arouse the sympathy of the foreigners. Young boys and girls, five, six, seven years old, worked from six in the morning to late at night over boiling vats of cocoons in the silk factories or in the textile plants.

Many of the most beautiful girls were sold to the brothels, others saw the brothels as preferable to life in the countryside where all they had to look forward to was a life of servitude, hard labor and bearing children. There was little choice for these girls, one of the few alternatives was the abject slavery of the mills and factories, slavery which would soon turn the most beautiful of girls into a haggard wretch. In 1930, when Shanghai's population was three million, an international survey found that Shanghai had a higher proportion of prostitutes to population than any other city in the world. In Berlin, one in 580 was a prostitute. In Paris, one in 481, in Chicago, 1 in 430, in Tokyo, one in 250 and in Shanghai, one in 130. For females, there were very few alternatives. Peddling food or trinkets on the street, working as a domestic, a laundress, a servant, slaving in factories for a pittance.

Following the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War, White Russian refugees flooded in to Shanghai, one of the few places in the world that, while it did not exactly welcome them with open arms, admitted them without restraint, thousands of them.

Side by side with that Shanghai of exploitation, outright slavery, squalor, misery and abject struggle for survival were other Shanghai's. The Shanghai of the Chinese intellectuals. Shanghai saw the birth of the Chinese Communist Party. Shanghai offered Chinese contact with the west and an escape from China's rigid social system. Western fashion, stylish Chinese fashion, politics, the new in everything. Many Chinese believed that Shanghai represented China's future and saw its glittering modernity as a path and an escape out of the feudalism that had held China back for so long.

There were many other Shanghai's. There was the Shanghai of the Modeng Girls, the modern girls, the "new women" of modern China for whom Shanghai was the epitome of stylishness and modernity, in fashions, in intellectual thought, in culture, in political thought. There was the Shanghai of the revolutionaries, for it was here that Sun Yat-Sen lived. It was here that the Chinese Communist Party was founded, it was here that Mao Tse-Tung lived for a number of years, it was here that Chou Enlai played an important part in the "Red Terror" and the Communist uprising in 1927

There was the Shanghai of the students, for students came from all over China to Shanghai to study in the modern schools and Universities. There was the Shanghai of the wealthy Chinese, the bankers, the businessmen, the industrialists. There was the Shanghai of the Chinese middle-classes, the Shanghai of the workers, the Shanghai of the rural poor, flooding in to escape the warlords, the fighting, the starvation that faced so many peasants. The Shanghai of the Clubs, Bars, Theatres, Brothels and Prostitutes catering to every taste. The Shanghai of the Triads, the Chinese criminal gangs with their leaders such as Du Yuesheng, "Big-eared Du", the leader of the Green Gang who dominated Shanghai's opium and heroin trade in the 1930's and secretly funded the political career of Chiang Kai-shek.

There was the Shanghai of the foreigners, seventy thousand of them in Shanghai's heyday. Foreigners of every nationality, for there were no restrictions on entry into Shanghai, no passports were required and Shanghai and an allure all of it's own. The "Paris of the Orient," the "Whore of Asia," in its heyday, Old Shanghai was the most pleasure-mad, rapacious, corrupt, licentious, squalid, decadent, strife-ridden city in the world. Missionaries declared that if God permitted Shanghai to exist, he owed an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah. Greed was its driving force. Anything was for sale. Everything had its price. Every depravity known to man was catered to. Nightclubs never closed. Hotels offered heroin on their room service menus. Aptly nicknamed "Sin City," Old Shanghai was a place and time where morality was irrelevant.

This is the world in which "Never Ending Love" is set. A world of depravity, immorality and decadence, a world where everything has its price. A world where everything can be bought or sold. A world where everything and anything is a commodity, a world where corruption and betrayal are everyday occurrences. A world where life was cheap, a world where nobody cared if you lived or died. That was Old Shanghai, and there are many tales of Old Shanghai in those far gone days of the 1920's and 1930's. This then, is one such tale.... Chloe


* * * Never Ending Love * * *


(不了情)


忘 不 了, 忘 不 了 (wang bu liao, wang bu liao)

How could I forget, how could I ever forget?


忘 不 了 你 的 錯 (wang bu liao ni di cuo)

How could I forget your mistakes?


忘 不 了 你 的 好 (wang bu liao ni di hao)

And how could I forget your sweet love


忘 不 了 雨 中 的 散 步 (wang bu liao yu zhong di san bu)

How could I ever forget our stroll in the rain?


也 忘 不 了 那 風 裡 的 擁 抱 (ye wang bu liao na feng li di yong bao)

And how could I forget our embraces in the wind?


忘 不 了 忘 不 了(wang bu liao, wang bu liao)

How could I forget, how could I ever forget?


忘 不 了 你 的 淚 (wang bu liao ni di lei)

I can never forget your tears,


忘 不 了 你 的 笑(wang bu liao ni di xiao)

And I can never forget your smile.


"Never Ending Love" (不了情), version sung by Tracy Huang

(search for "不了情 Tracy Huang" on youtube if you want to listen to it -- and if you're going to read this story you really should because the song really does capture the mood of this story, regardless of whether you understand Chinese or not)

* * * * * *


"How could I forget," I whisper. "How could I ever forget?"

It is early morning. It is another Valentine's Day. Yet another year has passed and there cannot now be many years left to me. As I do every year now, as I have done now for many years, I repeat the ritual, carefully easing the single red rose I am carrying into the delicate porcelain vase beneath that oil painting hanging on the wall. I've had that painting since I was eighteen. Since I was a girl. I brought that painting with me from Shanghai, concealed in my luggage, but I've only had it framed and hung here, on the wall in this room, after my American passed away, many years ago now.

Before then, I remembered him silently, in my heart. After my American passed on, I remember him openly, every Valentine's Day. I come to this room, I place a single red rose beneath that painting and I sit in this room all day, remembering that love from long ago. Cherishing that love, treasuring those memories that will never be forgotten. Never. Never for as long as I draw breath.

Today is Valentine's Day.

This is the day I remember him on.

This is the day on which I remember our love.

This is the day on which I remember our passion, the eagerness and excitement with which I first fell into his arms. I remember that first meeting, that first electric meeting of our eyes, so many years ago. That first kiss, that first sharing of our mingled breath, that first touch of his hands, the joy with which I first offered my breasts to his mouth, my body to his hands. That excitement with which I first gave myself completely to him, the anticipation, the fear, the eagerness, the joy, that love for him as he possessed me that first time and every other time thereafter.

I remember how his love transformed me. From a shyly innocent schoolgirl, I became a slave to love, a slave to his desires, a slave to my own desires, moaning, sobbing, begging, my hands and my body and my voice encouraging him, demanding more, demanding everything, giving everything as he brought me again and again to that taste of heaven in his arms. I remember his love, the love in his voice, in his arms, in his body, the happiness and joy I felt when I was with him and I smile at my younger self and my first love.

My only love.

"How could I ever forget," I whisper, looking at that couple in the painting, so visibly in love and that painter of long ago captured that love so well. You can read that love on their faces, in the way they lie together, touch each other. That couple, they radiate love.

She, the Chuntao of eighty years ago, so young and beautiful. Her silken black hair falls in waves over one slender shoulder, falls to the red sheet on which she lies. He, Martin, the blonde-haired Englishman, lying behind me, one hand on my leg, resting slightly above my knee and I remember him doing that, exposing me to the artist's eyes. My hand rests on his and I remember the shame and the embarrassment of posing naked with him for that artist.

I remember the excitement as we lay there there. Both mine and his. Martin lying naked behind me, his unseen erection pressed swollen and hard against me as the artist sketched us over that long morning and on into the afternoon. I remember also how our restraint and my inhibitions and shyness vanished the moment that artist left the room. I remember the wild excitement of that taking.

"How could I ever forget," I breathe, knowing I never will, for how could I ever forget his love.

My love. Our love. That love, it is with me still as I gaze at my younger self, lying there, half-smiling, captured forever as I was when I was barely eighteen, still a schoolgirl, in my last year of Boarding School in old Shanghai. The old Shanghai of the late 1930's. The Shanghai of my youth so long ago in time, only yesterday in my memories.

That Shanghai of 1938, the year that picture of he and I was painted, a lifetime ago, when we were young and in love and together. Chuntao and Martin. Martin and Chuntao. I, Chuntao, a young Chinese schoolgirl. He, Martin, a young man of twenty five, with the arrogant self-confidence of an Englishman in Shanghai who worked for Jardines Matheson, one of the largest of the hongs in China.

Martin. The world was at his feet when we met, a lustrous career ahead of him and he fell in love with me, Chuntao, a young Chinese girl, just as I fell in love with him. Love between an Englishman and a Chinese girl, the deep love that we held for each other, a love that knew no barriers, in those days that was, perhaps not completely forbidden, but certainly deeply frowned upon.

And yet, against all the odds, we loved each other utterly and completely. In that painting, that love shines through. We are so young and so confident, so in love, so optimistic that despite all the obstacles that would be thrown in our path, our lives were destined to be intertwined forever.

In that painting, I'm lying on an old wooden bed covered by a red silk sheet embroidered with flowers of gold. I can remember every detail of that that room, even now. I close my eyes and I am there. The polished wooden floor, the wallpaper, the wooden shutters, the bamboo blinds shielding us from prying eyes, the smell of incense from the neighbouring rooms in the air, the endless clanking and rattling of the old central heating, for it was mid-winter then, and Shanghai in winter is cold.

The noises from the street. That large bed on which we spent so much time together. The red sheet on which we lay. I remember that sheet. Its colors. That vivid red, the golden flowers. That fine silk against my skin as I lay naked upon it, smooth and cool against my back. The texture of that silk in my clutching hands clutched as I knelt for him. Its silky smoothness as his hands used it to wipe the sweat from my face, from my body. It's fragrance as I buried my face in it and inhaled.

I remember everything about that sheet.

I possess it still, worn and fragile now, still retaining a faint scent of our love, so faint it is almost a memory. Almost, for when I bury my face in the fragile fabric, I breathe him in, a hint. Just a slight hint now, after all these years, all these decades. Nothing more than a hint, but I treasure that single red sheet.

It is the sheet on which we lay together so many times. It is the sheet on which I gave up to him my precious virginity, that virginity which a Chinese girl of my time, from a good family, should never sacrifice until marriage, but sacrifice that precious pearl I did, willingly. Eagerly. That sheet on which I loved him and he loved me so many times, long ago in Shanghai. I still have that sheet, with that now-faint discolouration that was the evidence of that long-ago offering I made to our love.

That sheet and this painting and the never ending love in my heart; that is all that remains of that love from that long distant past and how I wish there had been more, more than only those few brief months of love together. How I wish there had been that lifetime of love that we had hoped for and talked about together.

That girl, her eyes, those beautiful almond eyes, they glow with the innocence of first love. Her lips are slightly parted, reddened with the lipstick she had worn for him on that day, smiling. Those slightly pouting lips, painted in that time before they were kissed by a thousand men. She is slender, her small breasts so firm, her nipples so red and full and I remember them aching through that long afternoon, feeling his naked excitement pressed against me as I lay there, limp and flushed with my own arousal.

My nipples. I remember them aching with that swollen fullness that desired his hands, his lips. Engorged with the shameful excitement of lying naked before another man as he painted me, as he painted us, long ago in that time when I had only ever been naked for Martin and Martin alone. Long ago, in that time before those small firm breasts and those full red nipples were caressed and enjoyed by a thousand hands, a thousand eyes; a thousand mouths.

That girl, she lies there, on her side, facing the painter, her skin silken ivory, glowing. Slim-hipped, long legged, she lies there exposing her nakedness, one leg slightly raised, held by his hand to expose her delicate sex, touched then only by him and even now, eighty odd years later, how I wish there had only ever been him.

I do not regret my American, but how I wish it could have been otherwise.

Her sex is exposed, painted in such exquisite and lifelike detail that this could almost be a photograph. Delicate, pinkly flushed with her arousal, that Chinese artist of eighty years ago captured that slight parting of that young girl's swollen labia, that hint of glistening wetness, the invitation of her hips, that hint of embarrassed sensuality conveyed by the angle of her body as she lies there.

That slender beauty, those long slender legs, those slim hips, that delicate sex, that flat stomach and narrow waist, those small firm breasts, those pouting lips, those sparkling eyes, that innocence, that love, all his. Only his. His until that innocence and then that love were shattered by the brutal realities of existence in that Shanghai of old where nothing was scared, where nothing was free, where everything, including innocence, had its price.

That slender beauty and that love, his, all his until that young girl was forced to choose survival over love, forced to stare reality in the face, forced to face that brutal truth. That simple brutal truth. Left alone, without family, on her own, her plea for his help not understood, all that innocent young girl had to survive with was her beauty and her smile. That girl, that innocent young girl, she was left to fall back on her own resources, to live or die, as she chose.

She chose to survive.

She chose to do what she must to live, and in making that choice, she lost he that she loved forever.

That slender beauty, taken and enjoyed by a thousand men. So many men in that time between Martin and my long-dead American. My American. I always called him that, never by his name, both when he lived and now. I married my American, but Martin was my love and I will never forget Martin. It is my American who took me from that life, who brought me here, who gave me my children and my beloved grandchildren and my great-grandchildren.

My American will always have my gratitude.

My Martin will forever have my love.

He has always had my love.

"Grandmother... grandmother... it's time to go to dim sum." My oldest great-grandchild's voice calls me away from the past, away from that painting from long ago, when I was young and beautiful and so innocent and so in love. I take one last sip of my jasmine scented tea before she finds me in my tea-room and comes to help me to the car.

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byChloeTzang© 48 comments/ 58999 views/ 44 favorites

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