Sunday, July 19, 2009


Yu Jim Yuen led Seven Little Fortunes overseas. Although the U.S. tour initially was very popular, in the end they ran into a swindler as the entire group suddenly fell into financial difficulties. It also became Yu Jim Yuen's lifelong regret.

As in the Beijing Opera FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE (BA WONG BIT GEI), the king led 8,000 followers to fight in the south and the north. Finally he retreated to Wu Jiang and ashamed to face Jiangdong elders. Yu Jim James at the time felt just like that. Second brother Yuen Tai recalls, "With founding the school and the opera troupe, Master has always been very successful. Yet after the U.S. incident in 73, Master was too ashamed to return to Hong Kong. At the time Master, Si Mo were among 20 some people who were stuck in the U.S. and had to temporarily stay with friends. Many brethrens didn't have the money for the flight back to Hong Kong. Master was at a loss."

Rather Work As Laborer, Refusing Assistant

Yuen Biao remembers those days in the U.S. with a lot of sentiment. He says, "Back then the Hong Kong government said that it could help us with the flight money, the condition was for us to leave our passports with it. When we returned to Hong Kong we could get them back once we returned the money. Finally I chose to say in the U.S. I stayed for ten months, during which I worked in sewing, supermarket labor. During my days in Los Angeles, I could say that no job was right for me. I gradually saved up the money for the flight back to Hong Kong. It was around US$500 to 600. I flew back to Hong Kong, but some brothers chose to stay."

On the eve of the Master and disciples parting, Yuen Fai saw a side of Master other than his usual steel demeanor. He says, "On the day of departure, Master personally came to see us off. over the years, I have never seen Master cry. Yet that day I saw him teary eyed for the first time. Dignity was very important to Master. That day he seemed to have a lot he wanted to say to us, but in the end he didn't say a word."

The disciples never heard a word of farewell from Yu Jim Yuen. Actually the Master has apologized long ago. Yuen Bun says, "Later I heard from many brothers, actually master back then called from the U.S. each of them in Hong Kong and personally said to all the brothers' families, 'I Yu Jim Yuen owe you. If in the future I have a chance to return to Hong Kong. I definitely will treat you to dinner and apologize with tea' The trouble in the U.S. was truly a huge setback for Master."

Master Uncle Passed, Heart Broken

Yu Jim Yuen chose to carry all the responsibility of meeting the wrong people himself as if it was a self punishment. What broke his heart even more was personally witnessing his younger brother passing right in front of his eyes. Yuen Tai says, "Master in the U.S. kept himself isolated and refused to accept anyone's help. I only knew that he later went to a coffee shop with Master Uncle, Master Uncle silently passed away in front of him. Even the brother who always helped him with the school finally left him. This broken the Master's heart the most." (30)

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