Chow Chung-cheng 周仲铮

cimg2572.JPGZhou Zhongzheng 周莲荃 (1904 Tianjin – 1996 Bonn)

– Ph.D., 1933, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris-Sciences Po 巴黎政治学院

– Artist and author

C.C. Chow was born Lianquan 莲全 in 1904, picked Chung-cheng (Zhongzheng) 仲铮 herself in school.  For reason unbeknown other than she preferred to use 1908 as her birth year instead since it’s on her German passport … on her stone it engraved 1908-1996.

If Mom was the black sheep of the Lyus, then CC was the blackest sheep of the Zhous … no, I shall restate that of all my four branches combined… the scourge of us, the paragon of rebels.  I’ve heard a lot about her, “The French” as Popo referred to her dear cousin.  They shared two things, the love for poetry and fondness for  croissants.

As a teenager she seized the opportunity when the entire family was mourning the passing of patriarch in 1921, with the help of Deng Yingchao (wife of Zhou Enlai, no relation to the Zhous) and Hu shi, she ran away. Holding out in Beijing for three months, traded barbs, in the form of poem with her parents in the newspaper, demanding publicly not only the right going to school (rather than tutored at home) as her brothers and male cousins did, but also the freedom of choosing her own husband. Her parents gave in amid public sentiment. In the 30’s, she divorced her dashing husband whom she pursued relentlessly for ten years in Paris, citing the lack of sexual satisfaction – this time the scandal was of an A-bomb quality in Beijing and Tianjin social circles – I can’t image even more than half a century later, any lady of such background would dare to entertain such accusation. Than she ran off once more spectacularly, to Europe marrying her Prussian Knight, who had to renounce his title as well as his inheritance to be with her. I was wowed.

On a crispy late morning in Frankfurt in 1984, I dressed in qipao with heels, suppressed my anxiety mixed with excitement, walked into the Messe Frankfurt, the famed annual book fair where we made our date, composed myself as mature as I possibly could exhibit. Walking into the humming hall amid isles upon isles of books and people, I fully expected to face a senior elegantly clad in Chanel, coiffed hair, long red finger nails holding a slim cigarette, puffing slowly with innate grace. And an authoritative husky voice maybe? Then I heard my Chinese name being called in a fainted, almost girlish cry. ..

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Hubby #1                                     Hubby #2: 6/12/1940.

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brother Guoliang 国良

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