The Gate of Frienship

The Gate of Friendship is in Lukang's Temple of Litterature. That is where in a bright and breezy morning almost twenty years ago, along with Chu Yong-Tan, we became sworn brothers. Wang Chien-Chu acted as M.C. Hsu Tsang-Houei was the Elder Brother, I became Lao San.

A gate is only a gate, a gateless gate for that matter, as friendship so happily knows no frontiers as we lived it. The fact that Tsang-Houei lived, studied and composed in France helped enormously ; so did the fact I had lived and worked in Chinese lands and struggled bravely with the language.

The brother was also a teacher, my teacher, or to put it more properly, my mentor. During a long (seven years ! ) and a continuous string of provincial visits, banquets, xiaoye, friendly family reunions, working sessions at the University and other activities, he opened to me the gates of the Chinese world and culture, these ones very real gates indeed, without the opening of which the visitor might as well remain bewildered. Lively memories of those trips to Peikang, Omei, Changhua, Keelung, Pingtung (to mention but a few places ) remain intact and treasured by myself and my wife.

We happened to travel together to Osaka where the Symphony Orchestra performed an hommage to some of his compositions. He appeared to be the so very perfect Japanese gentleman, complete with bows and accent, to the astonishment of many Japanese who could not believe he was actually not a son of the Rising Sun. To my own astonishment too, as I know only too well the empathy and fineness it takes to become bi-cultural : what about becoming tri-cultural ?

That was him, a man of many cultures, of many talents, the most remarkable among them being the innate capacity to trigger off friendly feelings around himself : a great gift of the Gods indeed which all the people who met Tsang-Houei experienced.

The loss of a friend is a grief unlike any other as it takes time and luck to meet and to make a friend : a rare occurrence in a life time, which makes the loss all the more distressing and the memories more treasured. Among these, the long evenings in Hsu Tsang-Houei and Li Zhi-Hui's cosy appartment off Jen-Ai Lu smile to us, over the steaming huokuo, over the years, over the distance, for ever, as long as ever is ever.

Michel Deverge
Paris, November 10th, 2001
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