"Love at first sight, love for life"
On 4th April 2020, Rao Pingru author of Our Story: A Memoir of Love and Life in China died in Shanghai at the age of 99.
For Rao Pingru, perhaps it was a way to reunite with his wife Mao Meitang.
Their story is a true fairy tale of "love at first sight, love for life". From the moment they fell in love in 1946 until Meitang's death in 2008, the couple were together for more than 60 years.
Rao Pingru initially wrote the book as a record of seemingly trivial and ordinary memories.
"For ordinary people like us, all the little things in life are kept deep in our hearts for no particular reason and over time they become a lifetime of memories.”
About the exhibition
Moments worth remembering
The exhibition Reunion – Our Story, 520 Special Exhibition displays some of the unforgettable moments in Pingru and Meitang’s lives through a selection of paintings, postcards and ceramics.
When Pingru first set eyes on Mei Tang, applying lipstick in the mirror, it was love at first sight. “Before I met her, I wasn’t afraid of death, I wasn’t afraid to travel far and I didn’t worry about the passing of time, but now I have never thought so seriously about the future.”
The two were married at Jiangxi Grand Hotel. Rao Pingru still remembers the clothes they wore and where the guests sat.
They supported one another during times of sickness. When Meitang was bedridden, Pingru made her fish soup every day and for four years he treated her kidney disease with dialysis.
Their wish was simple: "To be in good health without pain, to go out for walks together when we grow old, to watch a film or buy some food – that would be great."
Pingru’s recipe for happiness
In a short seven-minute recording on display, Pingru shares some of his stories and his advice to the next generation.
Life is short, you’re only young once.
Never lose sight of that initial spark, love and respect one another.
Be inclusive and expect anything. Have faith and endure all that comes.
Be happy until you grow old.
For as long as the earth exists, true feelings will always exist.
A capturing book
Countless readers have shared their feelings about the book. In eight years, Our Story has never ceased to touch the hearts of its readers, confirmation that love indeed never stops.
The modern version of Six Records of a Floating Life, ordinary life with profound sentiment.
Reading it on the subway, I almost burst into tears. He writes about his hometown and relatives, his adolescent thoughts and acquaintances, as well as the tiny details of his marriage with Meitang. Written about a time of rapid change, it savours the warmth and hardships of everyday life. Rao Pingru’s writing and illustrations are equally wonderful and his recount of Meitang’s illness and death is incredibly moving.
The first time I read Our Story was in bed, my pillow became soaked with tears. Since then, the book has become my bedtime reading. Rao Pingru is not a professional writer, but this heart-warming account of him and his wife's ordinary life is extremely moving. Real love is not about handsome men and beautiful women, it is each day spent together over several decades, it is the unswerving loyalty. The ordinary stories of two old people and the turbulent times they have survived is full of honest sentiment. Tear-jerkingly beautiful.
——Shaonv Xiao Xi
50 bespoke bowls
Fifty bespoke bowls were made by the Rao family following Ping Ru’s death, each decorated with an illustration, the book title and a quote from the book.
Who said fairy tales don’t exist? Pingru and Meitang used the magic of time to turn their fairy tale into reality.