We all know those famous witch-hunts in Europe and North America, but there were witch-hunts in Asia too. As far as human absurdity is concerned, no continent is immune. And I am about to describe one of these concerning a pair of star crossed lovers. I promise there’s no gory detail, no hopeless injustice, no orphan left behind to fend for themselves, no faultless hero and heroine to be sympathized without reserve or controversy.
She was a chubby girl, her eyes not very big, her legs not very long. By today’s standard, she is far away from a beauty, but this is 1200 years ago when the beauty standard was considerably different. I have to point out that judging from the difference of the standard throughout the history, beauty is only 50% in the eyes of the beholders. The other 50% is in the loud noise of the contemporary propaganda. Anyway, she was considered a beauty and she liked to bath, eat, drink, and party all night. Her name is Yang Yuhuan.
His name was Tang Xuanzong. He was a clever, capable, and diligent man. At least he was diligent before he met her. When he met her, they were both married to others, but this posed no problem since he’s the king and could bend the rule to his wishes. They lived together and he promoted all her relatives, including the most idiotic and incompetent ones. Her kinsmen were all fun loving and idle. Facing the unexpected favors from the king and their rising power, they did the only thing they knew how– becoming lazy and corrupt. Everybody hated them.
Soon afterward, a series of rebels broke out. One of the rebellions was so successful that they raided the capital, from which the lovers escaped, together with a team of bodyguards. As they were traveling south to seek refuge in another city, the team of bodyguards started a riot.
“She’s a witch and has to die before the kingdom can be saved.” Everybody cried in unison. Oh, shut up, you idiot. She didn’t do anything but to eat lychee and take bath. It’s him, the king, who’s the problem. However the mob has its own mad reasoning that we normal people cannot understand. The situation suddenly went out of control and he came to negotiate several times but to no avail. Injustice is swift and deadly. She’s hanged.
When the rebels were finally defeated, he came back to the capital a shadow of his former self. He lost his spirit and his mind. The only thing he could do was to sing songs and write poems about her. He wanted to give the throne to another, but his ministers refused to indulge his wishes. Several years later, he died of broken heart.
Ever since then, the pair of star crossed lovers became a cult symbol. Whenever it’s a slow season of love, their story will be told and retold, each time with a special significance according to the fashionable moral of the moment.
Leave the lovers alone.
(This story is based on a true story and tries to adhere to the historical facts.)