City Voices

City Voices: Hong Kong Writing in English 1945 to the Present

Mike Ingham
with a foreword by Louise Ho
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 420
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  • Book Info
    City Voices
    Book Description:

    City Voices is the first showcase of postwar Hong Kong literature originating in English. Fiction, poetry, essays and memoirs from more than 70 authors are featured to demonstrate 'the rich variety and vitality of the city's literary production'. Together with work from established authors, both bilingual writers who choose to write in English and expatriate authors who have made Hong Kong their home, a section of 'New Voices' introduces the work of unknown and young writers who are part of today's surge of new creativity.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-073-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Louise HO

    At a literary conference held in Downing College, Cambridge, in 1999, Salman Rushdie held forth expansively on cosmpolitanism, speaking very much as a cosmopolitan himself. Following on from him spoke a well-respected Welsh poet who claimed ‘the local’ versus ‘the global’ as his fortified ground, saying, ‘I am very conscious of being aboriginal.’ Being Welsh, he would be so privileged! I felt very envious of his staunch avowal of his sense of belonging. Later on, I gave a mini-reading of my work and I was very conscious of speaking from Hong Kong; but, although I was sent there by the...

  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    XU Xi
  5. Writing on the Margin: Hong Kong English Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Mike INGHAM

    As recently as the late 1980s the new Head of English at the University of Hong Kong, former Oxford linguist Roy Harris, infamously referred to Hong Kong English as ‘the worst in the world’ in his provocative inaugural lecture. Whether his more affectionately remembered predecessor, the prolific Oxford poet Edmund Blunden, would have subscribed to Harris’s view is a matter of speculation. However, given Blunden’s reputation for nurturing Hong Kong creative English writing at the university in the boom period of the 1950s and 1960s, it is highly unlikely he would have approved of Harris’s cultural insensitivity. It is thus...

  6. From and of the City of Hong Kong
    (pp. 17-26)
    XU Xi

    When I first proposed compiling this dungsai,¹ it was partly because disparate voices were squawking — like so many surly teenagers — in an unruly and chaotic chorus. Was it the ‘great’ or ‘meagre’ Hong Kong story we were telling in our various genres? We were all accidents that happened upon this former British colony on whom the Muse, or some lesser goddess, foisted her imperative, in English to boot, and made us what we are.

    Yet as we hover at the top of the twenty-first century, I look back at my own writings, and those of others, that emerged...

  7. PROSE
    • Novel Excerpts
      • A Many Splendored Thing (1952)
        (pp. 28-34)
        HAN Suyin

        Seldom is there such close proximity of squalor and wealth, misery and ostentation. Here, within sight, sound and smell of each other, rich man and poor man live, intimate neighbors and brother refugees.

        There are two kinds of street in Hong Kong. The smooth level main streets parallel to the shore, lined with shops, crowded with the newest cars; and the narrow, staircased climbing streets which cut across them. In the large level streets can be found all the world’s finished goods in profusion, for everything comes to or goes through Hong Kong, and the harbor is full of ships...

      • The World of Suzie Wong (1957)
        (pp. 35-38)
        Richard MASON

        I had no idea, when I first discovered it, that there was anything odd about the Nam Kok.

        It was my fifth week in Hong Kong, and I had been to call at a house on the escarpment behind Wanchai, following up an advertisement for a room to let. The advertiser had been a Mrs Ma, and I had found her flat on the second floor, but the moment she had opened the door, and I had glimpsed behind her, in the small living-room, the usual abundance of children, grandparents, cousins, aunts—they must have numbered nearly a dozen souls...

      • Kampoon Street (1964)
        (pp. 39-44)
        LIN Tai-Yi

        His mother was sitting beside him in her neat dark clothes, her hair uniquely confined in that fine hair net of hers, which gave her an appearance of tidiness which belied the nature of the mother Lam knew was underneath. She was a small-boned, pretty woman with a fine, sharp-featured face, which she would abuse by screwing up into an ugly scowl but, just as quickly, could smooth out again like a piece of silk.

        It came to Lam that his father was only pretending to be sick, and his mother pretending to be sewing, and that one day something...

      • The Virgin Market (1965)
        (pp. 45-49)
        C.Y. LEE

        The wedding dinner had not been meager. It consisted of a pork dish besides fish and vegetables. Lum Sin had a desire to clean the bowls of the gravy, but it was not proper, as a bit of food left in the bowls would indicate future prosperity for the newlyweds. He put his chopsticks down on the deck and belched properly to show his appreciation, and then proceeded to pick his teeth; the other six male guests had also begun this ritual.

        The junk was rocking slightly on the undulating dark water; the large red sun was sinking behind one...

      • The Chinese Box (1975)
        (pp. 50-52)
        Christopher NEW

        ‘Have you ever been here before, Mila?’

        She shakes her head. ‘I usually pass through the border at Lowu.’

        ‘I mean to the New Territories.’

        She shrugs. ‘I do not come. It is not my home.’

        ‘A true Chinese.’ He smiles. ‘Some of my students have lived in Hong Kong all their lives and never even been to one of the outlying islands. Let alone Macau.’

        ‘Nor have I.’

        ‘I’ll take you.’

        ‘We are not as restless as you foreign devils.’

        ‘Yet you have lived in London.’

        ‘To study, yes. That is different. We are not tourists.’

        A sudden flurry...

      • The Monkey King (1978)
        (pp. 53-55)
        Timothy MO

        Mr Poon had plans for Wallace. And the moment had come to introduce his son-in-law into the design. Wallace had not worked out quite as he had expected but he was used to making the best of imperfect material; it was the story of his business success. Moreover, time (usually a great ally of Mr Poon’s) did not in this instance seem to be on his side. He did not see Wallace’s behaviour improving; indeed, in the long term, he saw it deteriorating. He might have felt more comfortable if his son-in-law had taken the dowry or some portion of...

      • Running Dog (1980)
        (pp. 56-58)
        LEE Ding Fai

        In the all quiet of pre-dawn, Yau Man, two rubber balls strapped on to his back to increase his buoyancy, drifted semi-consciously towards the shore. He felt the muddy bottom caressing his belly and wallowed in it with exhausted abandonment. Through the flapping sound of the waves he sensed the enthralling silence and his aloneness. He lay there motionless for a while, savouring this aloneness like a gourmet sampling his wine. Had he really made it across the border, he wondered. The twelfth of April 1962 dawned as he surveyed his surroundings. Through the pale light he saw stretched in...

      • Sour Sweet (1982)
        (pp. 59-61)
        Timothy MO

        Lily had never met the wives of Chen’s colleagues; she knew of the staff only by report, having seen Lo just once for the time it took him to drink a glass of her scalding tea. She liked what Husband told her of Mr Lo and warmed to him at their first short meeting. At secondhand she conceived an intense dislike of Roman Fok; although when Husband complained about him, she tried to suggest extenuating circumstances or good aspects of Fok’s character. She felt it was her duty to do this.

        As Chen had no family of his own who...

      • Struggle of a Hong Kong Girl (1986)
        (pp. 62-65)
        Lily CHAN

        Not long after the Japanese surrender, Mo-ying disposed of all her personal effects and paid a high price to get transportation to Canton. Things were not yet back to normal. Only those who could afford exorbitant charges could get passage to Hong Kong from Canton. Mo-ying bought an expensive ticket for a deck bunk on a boat to Hong Kong.

        During the Japanese occupation, people had suffered from hunger and cold. They looked gaunt, pale, and weak. In order to provide firewood for the winter and cooking, deserted houses and buildings had been stripped of doors, doorposts, flooring, stairways, and...

      • A Change of Flag (1990)
        (pp. 66-69)
        Christopher NEW

        There were so many people at the Dentons’ on New Year’s Eve that they had to have three large round tables, each laid for ten. Grace placed Rachel next to San San on the middle table—‘To talk about America,’ she said vaguely. But Alex Johnston was on San San’s other side, so Rachel was able to watch and listen to Patrick—who was sitting opposite her—almost uninterruptedly. In any case his ringing voice dominated the table as usual. ‘When the British government sells Hong Kong down the river,’ he declaimed to Stella and John in particular, ‘as sell...

      • The Iron Tree (1993)
        (pp. 70-73)
        Martin BOOTH

        As happens these days with increasing frequency, I am startled by a voice on the stairs.

        Sometimes the voice may be one I recognise but that still does not reduce the level of surprise. I find I am becoming susceptible to sudden noises, that they increasingly catch me off my guard. There is no explanation: I have never suffered from shell shock or tinnitus and loud noises have never made me jump.

        San foo, my old friend. How you doing?’

        I remove the key from my door and turn to find Mr Wu standing a few steps up from the...

      • A Chinese Wedding (1994)
        (pp. 74-78)
        Simon ELEGANT

        For as long as Amy could remember, Chinese had meant food: spring rolls, fried rice, mushu pork; one from Column A and two from Column B; the Ho Sai Gai on Race Street in Chinatown, its name spelt out in spiky, bamboo letters on the garish violet and vermilion neon sign that flashed all night above its red doors.

        And now—sitting in the midst of the wedding banquet watching hundreds of Cantonese apply themselves to a heaped platter of food the menu calls ‘Four seasons starter’—now that she has spent several months in Hong Kong, living with a...

      • Asian Values (1996)
        (pp. 79-81)
        Nury VITTACHI

        This was not a family gathering, thought Licia, with deepening gloom. It was a trial. A court martial. A sentencing. She and Davis were placed in chairs in the middle of the room, while the older male members of the families, plus one very elderly woman, sat on an array of chairs, facing them.

        They were in the Sajbalani family’s main Hong Kong island home, a cavernous flat in an old building in Robinson Road. They had been taken there in a convoy of limousines. The atmosphere in the car had been silent and grim, like a company picnic for...

      • Hong Kong Rose (1997)
        (pp. 82-84)
        XU Xi

        “It’s Paul.” My mother handed me the phone, her face beaming with complicity.

        Although he had called me every day since I returned, he had tactfully waited a week before asking to see me, knowing it was what my parents expected. When he came by that evening to take me out, I wished I hadn’t agreed to the date. But with Paul, it wasn’t like “dating” anymore.

        “You’re still so beautiful, Rose,” he said, as soon as we were alone in the lift. “I’ve missed you.” He put his arm around my shoulders.

        Unaccountably, I tensed up.

        He pulled his...

      • All the King’s Women (2000)
        (pp. 85-88)
        Mimi CHAN

        As things turned out the baby Ah Hing was betrothed to was also a girl. There was nothing to be done. Then some years later the Heshan couple’s oldest son lost his wife, who died of a tumour. The man came to Cheung Chung with a proposition, saying. ‘I still think it is a good thing for our families to be united. Why don’t we wait until your daughter is grown. Then she can marry my oldest son. He needs a wife very badly because he has a little girl who is blind in one eye and needs a mother’s...

      • Renegade or Halo² (2000)
        (pp. 89-94)
        Timothy MO

        The Smiths weren’t exactly what you’d call Old China Hands but they were by no means greenhorns. After leaving the navy, Commander Smith had bought a practice in Surrey, then, when that had failed to live up to expectations, gone to Singapore. They’d stayed there nearly three years. From what I could piece together the island republic had been more to Mrs Smith’s taste than either her husband’s or daughters’. They’d lived near Tanglin Road with another Filipina, called Mary-Anne, to wait on them but no chauffeur. Apparently the vehicular tax was already so high a driver as added expense...

      • The Unwalled City (2001)
        (pp. 95-97)
        XU Xi

        It was half-past midnight at Visage. Saturday night overflow from nearby Lan Kwai Fong spilled into the club. A young Chinese crowd and a few Western faces peppered the scene. Wall-to-wall bodies. Even the space behind the bar was filled; the barber chairs were both occupied, one by a Chinese painter visiting from Shanghai, the other by the Cuban-American correspondent for Businessweek. Vague improvisations had begun to emerge from the cluster of musicians and would-be musicians in the corner opposite the bar.

        The proprietor unlocked the door marked “private party,” letting in Clio and Andanna.

        “Ugh, it’s so crowded in...

    • Short Stories
      • The Thrush and the Snail (1980)
        (pp. 98-99)
        Rodney DAVEY

        “I shall eat you,” declared the thrush to the snail. “I shall take you in my beak to the nearest stone and there I shall smash your shell and swallow you whole, saving just a little for my children, perhaps. But that depends on whether you are fat enough. My children shall have what I do not want. Afterwards I shall fly to the top-most branch of that ashtree and sing. I sing all the better on a full stomach, you must understand. And because singing is very important to me I shall not spare you. You are doomed, snail.”...

      • The Captain (1980)
        (pp. 100-102)
        Rodney DAVEY

        There are cities one remembers because, like the face of a person one has loved, their recollection brings happiness. Then there are cities, many cities, whose casual ugliness so appalls the mind that they can be remembered only with fear and sadness. But it is with something more than fear and sadness that I recall the city of X. It evokes in me, even after so long a time, a feeling of such intolerable loneliness that afterwards, when I have recovered my good spirits, I am amazed at myself and at the enduring vividness of my memory. Perhaps it is...

      • Lost River (1990)
        (pp. 103-110)
        David T.K. WONG

        It was one of those glorious July days that came all too infrequently during the English summer, and Jasmine took it as a special welcome to mark her return to London after more than thirty years. She luxuriated in the brilliant sunshine as she strolled from the Savoy, past the crowds on the Strand and down towards the Embankment.

        A few heads turned upon her passing. The fact that she could still produce such an effect at the age of fifty gave her a momentary glow of satisfaction. Her smooth skin and her black hair, gathered in a stylish chignon,...

      • Red, Amber, Green (1990)
        (pp. 111-119)
        David T.K. WONG

        “Your mother’s … !” the young man sitting next to Old Mak cursed.

        Old Mak did not pay any attention. His face, lined and weather-beaten like the bark of old oak, remained lifted towards the small barred window set high up in the wall of the underground cell, while his timid brown eyes, drooping at the corners, continued to stare at the grey November skies outside. His whole being was absorbed in the marvel going on, in the subtle changes in colour accompanying the slow unravelling of the dawn.

        The sight brought back with nostalgic vividness the days of his...

      • The Cocktail Party (1996)
        (pp. 120-124)
        David T.K. WONG

        The cocktail party is an all-purpose rite in darkest Hong Kong. It can be used to celebrate a betrothal, an anniversary or a national day, to gain face or to give face, to launch a business, to seal a contract or to reassure a creditor. It can be employed just as easily to turn a heart, to slight an enemy or to forestall a social death. Chinese Communist cadres adapt to it in no time at all. Sometimes even the underworld flouts the success of its criminal undertakings with such parties.

        No-one is more familiar with the multifarious uses of...

      • Valediction (1996)
        (pp. 125-131)
        XU Xi

        Hong Kong, 1995. Fall. My fortieth birthday. Letter to my elder sister.

        Dear ga je,

        Do you remember that day, twenty or so years ago, in your appartement in Rouen, that modern if sterile place in a tower in the town you were going to leave once your husband got a job back in Paris … do you remember how you designed my sanctuary, the one I would some day have as a published, income earning novelist (yes I can hear you breathing an enormous sigh of relief — at last, about time)? You sketched every room for me —...

      • A Final Appeal — Three Weddings at Tuen Mun (1996)
        (pp. 132-135)
        YANG Yi Lung and John D. Young

        When once questioned about her family history by a visiting government dignatory, Mei-lin, the eighty-year old matriarch of Tun Village replied rather casually, “My family moved here from North China during the Sung Dynasty, about nine hundred years before you British arrived in Hong Kong.” There was no genealogical evidence to support this claim, but because this visitor happened to be a Hong Kong governor, Mei-lin’s brief encounter with the big-nose foreigner enshrined her as a living legend in the region; whenever she appeared in the local market, her fellow villagers would honour her with a thumbs up sign, shake...

      • Lau the Tailor (1998)
        (pp. 136-151)
        Charles Philip MARTIN

        When I first saw him, he was peering through the glass of my shop, as if he were just another man on Portland Street with a minute to spare. But he didn’t seem to have a minute to spare. He wasn’t looking at the blazer Ah Ho had made. He paid no attention to the solitary mannequin, which I’d dressed so well it looked like a businessman who happened to misplace his head. No, he was looking at me, taking my measure in my own tailor shop.

        He walked in and asked if I needed a tailor. I did, of...

      • Transcript t/23–098076/89 (1999)
        (pp. 152-157)
        Simon ELEGANT

        June 7, 0235: “… no, no, of course, not. I keep telling you the same thing over and over; why won’t you believe me? Yes, I was there, but so was everyone else in the city. If I’m guilty then you’ll have to arrest the whole of Beijing. As soon as the troops were ready to move in, we ran away. I tell you, I was just a spectator.

        What has happened since then, how many people were killed in the fighting? Who else has been arrested? Please tell me, it can’t do you any harm …”

        June 7, 0445...

      • The One-Legged Rickshaw Boy (1999)
        (pp. 158-165)
        Lawrence GRAY

        I was on a mission to find a one-legged Rickshaw Boy. I told Mr P. about my story idea and he said it was a very good one. Mr P was my producer, which means, as you can guess, that I am in the TV business.

        My agent had arranged our initial meeting in a wine bar in London’s Soho.

        To my astonishment he told me the cheque was in the post and that I was his man and that he loved my shoes. “Policeman’s boots,” he called them and then showed me his moccasins. I didn’t understand the significance...

      • The Catholic All-Star Chess Team (2000)
        (pp. 166-173)
        Alex KUO

        My most immediate reason for recording this story is my suspicion that the monogamous obsession of the Chinese for the game of bridge will prompt them, when the island reverts to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, to dismiss from history a most incredible chess match that occurred in the middle of the century in the present British crown colony of Hong Kong. I myself do not play bridge, ever since I once read Arthur Schnabel refer to the game as a disease contracted by the demented. In fact, his warning was so severe that I have never even had a friend...

      • Mysterious Properties (2000)
        (pp. 174-184)
        Nury VITTACHI

        ‘You have to answer a question for me, Wong-saang,’ said Biltong Au-yeung, leaning over the railing of the ferryboat, and shouting over the rushing of the wind and the churning of the engines. ‘Why does everyone love the Star Ferry? Why do I love the Star Ferry? It’s old, grimy, slow, crowded, out-of-date, and the terminus buildings are cramped and unappealing. Yet there’s something almost — almost miraculously refreshing about it. Even in this city where everyone is rushing-rushing-rushing — even worse than Singapore, no? — people will make a special effort to put the Star Ferry into their schedule....

      • Conversion of a Village Ghost (2001)
        (pp. 185-190)
        Jane CAMENS

        Every autumn, after the moon festival, when the sea turns almost too cold to swim, the old Hakka Chinese women of the village sweep up the remains of summer. They light small bonfires of fallen leaves, crumpled cellophane lanterns, broken paper kites and polystyrene noodle buckets, which smoulder in a series of anonymous cremations that take the village into winter.

        It was one of the golden afternoons when the evening sky had turned red and the sea had turned into a burnished pathway to the islands of China which lie in the distance out beyond the bay, their peaks like...

      • Until the Next Century (2001)
        (pp. 191-199)
        XU Xi

        Qingfu.” He handed her the chilled champagne.

        She took it and kissed the tip of his nose. “Quick, close the door.” Even now, she welcomed him this way, recalling the first time when, embarrassed by his presence, she wanted to pull him in, to conceal him from the neighbors.

        He loosened his tie. His jacket hung untidily over his arm. “Are you well?”

        “Same as usual.” She hung his jacket in the closet. Long before she knew better, she would drape it on the back of a chair, thinking, there were plenty of chairs and this way, when their time...

      • Walking on the Melting Ice (2002)
        (pp. 200-203)
        Hark YEUNG

        When I woke up, Naja, seven dogs and I were on a piece of broken ice floating on the rough, thick sea. The midnight sun had disappeared. In the north, there was a pale blue light. The edge of the sea ice could not be seen.

        Narwhals were talking.

        Naja was facing the sea.

        ‘The ice has broken,’ she said in a normal voice without turning to me, as if our situation was part of an ordinary hunting trip in the Arctic Sea. ‘It’s not yet day,’ she added before my question came out in words.

        I gradually got used...

    • Essays
      • Why Compromise? Get Divorced Instead (1993)
        (pp. 204-205)
        Nury VITTACHI

        Chen looked like he was about to burst into tears. “Three of my clients are in the throes of messy divorces,” he said, sniffing. “And two others have this week started trial separations.”

        He dabbed his eyes with his handkerchief. “I’m SOOO happy,” he exclaimed, emotionally. “Why is life so good to me?”

        You think Chen is a divorce lawyer, right? Or a solicitor’s tout? Well, he is not. He is a property agent. He rents out flats at exorbitant prices and takes a fat percentage.

        But this evil genius has a wonderful get-rich-quick formula that cannot fail. He calls...

      • Thanks for the Memories (1996)
        (pp. 206-207)
        YANG Yi Lung and John D. YOUNG

        It was yellow, stinky, and squarish. I pinched off a small piece and placed it in my mouth when someone behind me shouted, in Cantonese, chu-si. So ended my first taste of cheese. Who would want to eat pig excrement?

        After all, there were plenty of other marvellous goodies available — chocolates, chewing gum, and beans, as well as shoes, blankets and on this particular occasion a US Army canvas bed. But the redheads and big noses handing out these free items were not military people, as the trucks they came on usually had huge red crosses painted on them....

      • Colonial Life and Times (1997)
        (pp. 208-209)
        Charles Philip MARTIN

        1841 Dear Subscriber, Welcome to the world of Colonial Life, your magazine for all things relating to life in the far-flung outpost. We know you’ll enjoy our many information and entertainment-packed articles. Watch out each month for new and exciting features guaranteed to keep you on the cutting edge. Here’s what the well-read colonist will enjoy in coming months: new beauty treatment from the north (foreign mud facials), product review, durable new umbrellas that stand up to repeated thrashing of locals.

        Enjoy Colonial Life! Please look over the terms and conditions of the enclosed treaty, which will remain in force...

      • Lives in Transition: ‘Uneasy Riders’ (1997)
        (pp. 210-213)
        Jesse WONG

        Shenzhen, China — It is 1:30 a.m. on a six-lane stretch of superhighway. With only 20 kilometers to go before reaching China’s border with Hong Kong, J.Y. Yung can look forward to the end of a working day that began more than 18 hours ago. But he isn’t there yet.

        Driving his container truck up an access road after stopping at a gas station, he spots two leather sofas in the glare of his headlights. It is an odd scene: In the dead of night, with open fields all around him, someone’s discarded furniture is blocking his way in the...

      • Our Elders: Chapter 7 (2000)
        (pp. 214-218)
        Hark YEUNG and FONG So

        I got interested in my mother’s sense of insecurity when a friend told me that her own mother had become terribly nervous after her aunt suffered a fatal stroke during a burglary.

        ‘Didn’t you say that your house was looted when you were young?’ I asked my mother. I was having tea with her and my father in a Chinese restaurant on a bright autumn Sunday nearly a year after the trip to xiangxia. I had finished two essays about them and had got more interested in their stories.

        ‘Oh, yes! Bandits looted the whole village! Rumour had it that...

      • North Wind (2001)
        (pp. 219-220)
        Nury VITTACHI

        The rain doesn’t fall in Hong Kong. It attacks. It leaps from umbrella to umbrella until it finds an opening through which it can find something expensive to ruin, like suede or silk. Sometimes the rain falls up. It deliberately misses you on the way down and then ricochets from the pavement toward your lower limbs. The moisture establishes a beachhead at your ankles, from which it scrambles up your trousers until your thighs become clammy and cold. And then, when you finally reach somewhere warm, dry and sheltered, it stops.

        So it was on the night of June 30,...

    • Memoir Excerpts
      • Myself a Mandarin (1968)
        (pp. 221-226)
        Austin COATES

        In the district I had to conduct many negotiations with Chinese people — commercial negotiations, usually involving land, and political negotiations, some with communist organizations; others — more complicated — were with local power groups. Some of these negotiations were by no means easy, and had it not proved possible to bring them to agreeable conclusions, some of them would have led to public disorder, and to the imposition of government orders by force — the mark of failure.

        These negotiations taught me a number of things, some of which — stepping once more from the smaller to the larger...

      • Crusade for Justice (1981)
        (pp. 227-235)
        Elsie ELLIOT and Elsie TU

        Others besides myself had problems in setting up schools for the underprivileged. It now seems clear that the government was hedging, not because Nissen huts were unhealthy, but because they did not want to provide education for the underprivileged. Several missionaries who were running schools mentioned that the government put every obstacle in their way, and it seemed they simply did not want them to provide education for the poor.

        Was it because the legislators were business people and wanted to keep a cheap labour market? Was it because the Financial Secretary did not want to spend public money on...

      • I Am Jackie Chan (1998)
        (pp. 236-238)
        Jackie CHAN and Jeff YANG

        And so for the first time in my life, I found myself alone — and free. I was seventeen years old, in the prime of my youth. I was determined to make a life for myself, and a name, and maybe even fame, in the wild, beautiful city of Hong Kong.

        But first I had to deal with some loose ends.

        You see, when I was thinking of leaving the school, I’d called my parents, to tell them that my ten-year contract with Master was ending soon. My father immediately told me I should join him and my mother down...

    • Prose
      • Novel Excerpts
        • The Monkey Trap (2002)
          (pp. 350-352)
          Andrew BARKER

          Well, that was my last shift at the Post. I don’t know if you can get sacked anywhere else in the world because your superiors don’t like your friends, but …

          “This is the third time,” Diane told me. She was referring to Nenuthar. “First there was that lunatic with the cuddly-toy who just wouldn’t leave even though he didn’t work here.”


          “Yes Peter. Then that … that … that oaf with the sandwiches.”


          Yes Ernie. Then … I don’t even want to know what that fucking bitch’s name is.”

          I didn’t get sacked anyway. I resigned. And...

      • Short Stories
        • Bid for Carpet Woven with Memories (1999)
          (pp. 353-355)
          Divya VAZE

          I see myself now, lying on the carpet in my father’s study. We weren’t talking to each other, but that was not important. I loved watching him, at his desk, his throne. Controlling his world and ours with a quiet conviction, a quiet devotion. A gilded fan was squeaking slowly from the ceiling, turning, and stirring the smoky air. His hands turning the pages of his book — the only other sound in the room. Rahul lay next to me on the floor, driving the tiny matchbox cars along the imaginary roads we had traced into the carpet with our...

        • Press Enter (2000)
          (pp. 356-362)
          Lex LAO


          Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1999 19:20:28

          From: Sol CW Wan

          Subject: The Dowager Empress


          hi helen!

          u know what? saw The Dowager Empress sneaking out of my room again yesterday. she was smiling like a lap-sap yan asking for a lai see. ignored her. as usual. bundle of stuff in her arms. looked like laundry, trash, paper & plastic bags.

          migod! what’s with the olds these days? they keep piling up garbage like third world war’s coming. of course, it’s good coz she keeps my room clean, but i’d be more comfy with a maid. at...

        • Back Street (2000)
          (pp. 363-365)
          Nicole WONG Chun Chi

          ‘Papa, where are we?’

          ‘At the back street, at the end of the street we live in.’

          ‘Why are we here?’

          ‘I’m here to play.’

          ‘Can I play too?’

          Papa raised his hand. He was standing against the sun; his face was dark. I drew a deep breath to keep myself from crying. I did not want to be slapped on the cheek.

          ‘We’re going up to a flat. I’ll take you to desserts later. Don’t tell anyone that we have come here today. Did you hear me?’

          I nodded. My head was heavy. I kept trying to tear my...

        • The Perfect Day (2001)
          (pp. 366-366)
          Iris EU

          Yeah, I’m okay. Smile. Yeah, I’m feeling a lot better today. Guess I slept. My plans? Um … go out with George, I guess. Yeah, he knows. What? Yeah … I told him. He’s coming to pick me up at ten. No, you don’t have to call him. He’ll be here for sure. We’ve got today all planned. No, ma, go right ahead. Seriously, mom! Smile. It’s cool. Don’t worry so much! Look, I’m feeling good, okay? Really. Now go. GO! Smile. Tell Dad I said hi. I’ll be home tonight anyway. Smile. Man, I swear I’m gonna scare Taylor...

        • To Victoria Park (2001)
          (pp. 367-373)
          Chun-kit FAN

          This staircase, made of fine polished pine, with vigor and absolute firmness, leant in the middle of the hall. An unceasing carpet of lamb’s wool, red, ran through every step and clothed the stairs with a velvety dress. The pinewood, oozing a carmine complexion, was harmonizing and merging into the redness of the hall. Vermilion light trapped in several scattered, red silky lampshades, radiated onto the railings in a suppressed silence. The railings extended to infinitude, embraced entirety. Everything had grandeur.

          A hand, a sweaty young man’s hand, held and warmed the railings.

          It was Stephen’s hand.

          He was mounting...

        • Addiction (2001)
          (pp. 374-377)
          Nancy TSUI Yuk Chun

          A parched heart encounters a day in spring. Thoughts being trapped in a room of idleness are playing hide-and-seek. Under the sun, flowers dance painfully to welcome sweat. I shade my eyes with my hands. Sunrays peep through the cracks between my fingers. Squinting in the bright sunlight, I see pools of green splash on the linen in the air. It is safe to go across, it says. I know I should go for a walk.

          Then, roses have lost their dangerous colour. Red departs from the lips. It drops a strand to the ground. A ribbon of blood. Marijuana....

      • Essays and Memoirs
        • Colonial Courtship (memoir excerpts, 1997)
          (pp. 378-382)
          David McKIRDY

          Tuesday 3rd June, 1997

          I wake up at 4.00 in the morning to close all the windows. It’s absolutely lashing down outside and the rain bounces off the window ledge next to my bed and into my face. A much more effective alarm call than my ‘Wallace and Grommet’ clock / radio that says ‘Eh up! Grommet, shall we see what’s on the wireless.’

          I actually love the rain. Hong Kong’s air is very polluted, even where I live, in the country-park, over twenty miles from Tsim Sha Tsui. The pollution comes mainly from the unregulated industrial free-for-all over the...

        • Life’s Wonderful (2001)
          (pp. 383-384)
          WONG Ho Yin

          There is an old Chinese saying: “When you are alive, never go to a police station; when you are dead, never go to Hell.”

          In my undergraduate days, I treated a tutor’s office like a police station, or Hell. I remember my exhilaration, however, the first time I set foot in my own office when I was appointed as a tutor at the University of Hong Kong. I finally had my own office! And also the key with which to open the door!

          Without hesitation, I opened the door as if I was unwrapping a birthday present. I had an...

    • Poetry
  10. References for Selections
    (pp. 395-402)