By a beautiful sunset evening in Paris on 1992, I had the outstanding privilege to meet the wonderful Chinese singer, Mrs. Dèng Lìjūn (Teresa Teng), such a beautiful voice, who brings
tremendous technique, taste and intelligence to each of her love songs.
Here the story.
One day on Earth
By the year of 1992, I had the outstanding privilege to meet Mrs. Dèng Lìjūn commonly named Teresa Teng a day of September absorbed by a beautiful sunset evening at the terrace of the fashionable Deux Magots, place Saint Germain, the deep hearth of Paris.
At that time I haven’t had the Chinese tropism that the one I experienced in my today daily life in Tianjin. By then, I had a poor knowledge about the Chinese millenary culture. The only books I ever read staging China were written by the Belgium novelist HenriMichaux, “A Barbarian in Asia”, the “Condition Humaine” composed by the Charles de Gaulle Minister for Cultural Affairs, André Malraux, and "the good earth" narrated by the amazing American well minded writer, Pearl Buck. It wasn’t enough to stand any comprehensive opinion upon the Chinese history or culture.
Despite my notorious inconsistency, a friend of mine, a music business Mogul, asked me to meet what he portrayed as the charming voice of china. As I was arguing that I was awful busy, he frowned his eyes and said emotionally:
- Don’t be foolish! She’s the greatest! You will lose quite everything of your short and gloomy life if you don’t talk with her at least a couple of hours.
I protested heavily telling him that I wasn’t familiar with music, even more with the China idiosyncrasies. Besides, I was genuinely ignorant of the Chinese singers.
He took me by my arm and strongly advocated imperiously his invitation.
- This lady is Chinese, but not the average one. Remember that ! There are two Deng in china, both unequalled, both talented by God’s hand, both endowed with the seeds of greatness. Deng, the man! A prominent communist, a long march veteran. Not a blind hearted one, not an orthodoxstatic-centrist. The opposite, a man gifted by an overwhelming in-depth common sense. Since a decade, he is reshaping china. And Deng, the woman. A native from Taiwan granted by a splendid voice, singing alternatively in Japanese, Chinese, Cantonese and English. Do you know someone able to do so? Remember that! The two Deng are the two faces of the same universe. Altogether they are rebuilding the Chinese spirit as it stands in the old times. What I am asking you is to keep something of her mind. A whisper, I mean.
Then he called her and arranged the meeting with no more interference from my part.
Then, the day comes.
My start was awfully bad.I arrivedlately, disheveled and unshaven. Being on time for the meeting, she was sitting nearby a window, holding her face in her hand, like Simone Beauvoir in the mid fifties, allowing his gaze to wander. She was on her forties, the cheeks somewhat puffed, a warm smile. A bluelacedress, a sweater overthe shoulders
- Teresa Teng, I presumed?
- You’re François?
- I am just what I am, a human being but you are much more than that, an idol, an icon. I heard that some people pray for you before sleeping.
She laughed and said:
- I am just a woman embracing her way in the today’s life. That’s enough for me and that’s all!
- I am not sure of that. You have got a praiseworthy background, lot of songs spreading their faith of love all over the world. And as far as I learn, some lovers reached the moon. I will tell you straightly. I would need more than one year, night an day, to listen all your songs. That’s uncommon!
- And imagine, she said assuming a mischievous smile,if you have tomemorize all of them. It takes you more than all your life. So, you will get buried with my lyrics. Are you so friendly to do so?
- That seems an unbearable task! If it should happen, I need to get urgently anappointment withGod! I will ask him to insert in my brain a talent micro ship. Being a mid human a mid computer I would perhaps got the chance to meet this challenge. And even so, I am not sure to reach that goal.
- What song of mine do you know?
- What an embarrassing question? I am so sorry. I never heard any of your songs.
- Mr. Blanc (the music mogul) told me that you are…
- I do not know what he told you.
- He said that you are something like a music critic, a specialist.
- What an uncomfortable situation! I am no more that my friend old mate.
- Great! It is like a new start for me. So I am returning to my first time when I was unknown. Not more that an average Taiwanese mountain girl with Hebei roots.
- If you have that possibility, will you return to the future?
- Ten thousand times sure! Music business is not always a source of happiness. I read something about Edith Piaf. She has a prodigious voice, an enormous talent. She was in icon but she was also deeply unhappy at such level that she died very early.
She remainedsilentamoment, her eyes absorbedby the cross ofthe Saint-Germain church. At that time, I realized how gorgeous and elegant woman she was, endowed withanextreme sensitivity. Then she tooka longbreath, clenching his hands. She stared at me, as she wanted me to witness that moment. Rarelyin mylife, Ifelt suchstrengthin somebody eyes.
The conversationtookanother turn.I have moretrouble in findingmy words. Silences becomes much morefrequent. Suddenly, Iasked her aquestion that I consider retrospectively as bizarreandhazardous.
- How do you feelChinese?
- I rememberaJapanese friendasking me the same question. I gave him that answer. I am five thousand times Chinese as the Chinese civilization. No more no less. Take it or leave it!
- You lived a long period of time in Japan. As far as I know, you are always flying back to this country for some show. What isyour outlook ofacountry thathurts so deeply China in the late thirties?
- When Icame toJapan at the late sixties, I wasayoung singer. In those years, few Chinese artists were acting in the Japanese scene. Because of my concern about my people history, I remember that anuncontrollable forceimpulse me togivemy best. Unconsciously, I was trying to setup a bridge of friendship between Chineseand Japanese.
- Like asubliminal message?
- Between a man and a woman, sometimesthey loved each other sometimes not. If this happens, my ambition is to encourage them tolove each other once again.As the years passed, I assumed this message for the two countries. Of course, at my level, that’s a tiny contribution. Because fate has given to mea voice, I had to make sense. I bring my stone.
She stopped a moment to breath deeply and added in a gentle voice.
- I am a love singer no more than that. What I am sure about, you shouldn’t impose love by decree. Love is intrinsically a subsequent part of freedom. A man and a woman need to impose to themselves a complete understanding of their freedom: the freedom to choose each other, the freedom to give birthto a wonderful feeling.
Assilence feltbetween us, I wasn’t able to ask her another question. As I listen her during this priceless interview, I become to realize how exemplary she was: a model of beauty, in-depth class and charisma, altogether evolves in a beautiful spirit.
Iasked herto join me to attend a piano concert in thechurch of Saint Germain. A Rachmaninoff sonata will be played.
After the session, we walked a few miles through the Paris streets, crossing the Seine River. We talked about the mysteries of the life. Destiny and fate. She was exuberant arguing as well. Lastly, we reach the old-fashioned Brasserie, Chartier, when we have dinner. I suggested her to eat an andouillette sauce moutarde, the famous meat of this restaurant. I didn’t recall how many times we laughed together on any subject. It is then that a waiter went to our table and said:
- A man and a woman so happy! That’s the purpose of love!
I turned red while she posed a sweet smile on me.
The meal ended, she thanked me for this evening. On her way to take a cab, she said:
- Please, don’t communicate my word to anybody. Just have it classified! Be cautious! Today world is not like a love song.
As I intended to take her hand, she concluded:
- Don’t be romantic! You told me that I am Icon. An icon doesn’t love anybody else than her mirror!
Then she laughed and got into the cab.
I then understood that I had to stay a man in the crowd away form any useless dream.
I never saw her again.
François de la Chevalerie
(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)