The workplace romance
By Zhou Wenting(Shanghai Star)
Updated: 2014-12-17 11:16:16
Liu Xizhen and Xu Jiguo pose for a photo in 1965 when they were boyfriend and girlfriend. Photo provided to Shanghai Star
They were so poor when they first wed that they slept on two benches. But despite their humble beginnings, Xu Jiguo and Liu Xizhen have built a strong and happy marriage. Zhou Wenting reports.
They got married in 1967 and were so poor they didn't even have a decent bed. Xu Jiguo found two benches and placed two planks on them. They slept on it for seven years.
"Although the living conditions were difficult, that time was full of happy memories in retrospect," says Liu Xizhen, 69, from Zhuzhou, Hunan province.
In 1962, Liu was 17-year-old and recently graduated from a medical school. She started work as a nurse in an ordnance factory in Hunan. Xu Jiguo, a Shanghai native, worked in the same factory in mechanical design and maintenance. But they did not meet until a year later, when Liu was hospitalized at the same time as Xu’s room mate. While visiting his friend, Xu stopped to chat to Liu.
"Some doctors joked with me that he's my boyfriend. Actually I wouldn't have noticed him if they didn’t say anything," Liu says, who spent a month in hospital. Xu became a regular visitor.
Liu was impressed by Xu, who was handsome and sporty. After knowing each other for six months they decided they wanted to be in a relationship. They went to the canteen for lunch together, watched movies and danced in the factory club. All this happened in the prosperous factory area surrounded by mountains. They called it “the mini Shanghai”.
They were given a 13-square-meter room as a wedding gift from the factory. His friends bought them two thermos and her colleagues gave them two washbasins. Both were popular wedding gifts at the time.
"We invited a couple of friends for dinner that we cooked ourselves and shared some toffees and jelly drops my parents sent from Shanghai. That was our wedding party," says Xu.
"We spent altogether 80 yuan ($13) for the wedding, including the dinner and purchasing some necessities, such as bedclothes and kitchenware. I earned 40 yuan per month and I borrowed 40 yuan from coworkers," he says.
Liu later gave birth to a son and a daughter. The couple moved back to Shanghai in late 1990s and have had a busy life in their senior years. Xu worked as a construction supervisor and Liu has been a member of the sub-district's senior citizen association, engaging in charity clinics and rummage sales.
"I'm lucky to have met the one destined for me. He never makes me upset by unkindness and is capable in life and work," Liu says.
The couple moved to Shanghai in late 1990s. Photo provided to Shanghai Star
About the couple
Him: Xu Jiguo, 73
Her: Liu Xizhen, 69
Married: March 10, 1967