Living happily ever after

Updated: 2011-07-15 10:59

By Liu Zhihua (China Daily European Weekly)

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Living happily ever after
Yuan Dibao (left) and Danny Lifirst met in Hangzhou in 1953. Provided to China Daily. 

After 55 years apart, a couple's love story begins again

In the autumn of 1953, French-Chinese teacher Danny Li fell in love with handsome young student Yuan Dibao. Then fate forced the two apart - she moved to France and he stayed in China. After hearing nothing from each other since the 1960s, the two miraculously made contact last year. They married in September and at ages 84 and 83, are now living happily ever after.

"It is like a dream. I never expected to see him ever again," Li says.

"He is my first and only love. I will never regret loving him and keeping single all those years even if we didn't reunite."

Li was born in Beijing in 1927, to a French mother and Chinese father. At 24, she became one of the youngest teachers of Zhejiang Medical College at Hangzhou, and became well-known for her mastery of four languages - Chinese, English, Russian and French.

In 1953, Yuan, a 25-year-old freshman, entered her life and was the best student in her Russian class.

"He was a good person, very nice to others. All the students and teachers liked him very much," Li says.

Li also discovered they both shared a Christian faith. Despite the prejudice against a relationship between a teacher and student, they grew close. Every time Yuan went to Li's office, ostensibly to ask for help with studies, they would arrange their after-class dates.

The two spent a lot of time walking along the banks of the famous West Lake (see top picture). Yuan would often walk Li home and stay for a while. Her parents were open about their fondness for this polite and charming young man.

However, while Li thought she was in paradise, Yuan was torn between happiness and guilt.

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