Stories Hub / First Time / Tales from Old Shanghai 01

Tales from Old Shanghai 01

by ChloeTzang 02/07/19

© 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 * * *


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.

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