Show My Face before I Know What to Do about It?

2017-11-20 Ho Chung Guk Stone Wall RESIZED

Don’t be too sure you know where this is going:
certainty
is what we draw across windows to stop sight going out
like a flame.
What began as a statement called itself
into question before I’d even got half way out
into the vocal landscape. (But what is voice,
if not an elaborate private noise
with a strong sense of vocation?) Next time, don’t wait
for a gap in the traffic to tell you what to think:
what begins as a statement
often winds up confessing
apart-ment in a passionate query. I too thought
I was practical — an ambidextrous bear-hugger
of nuts and bolts reality,
but it turns out I’m only so in the sense
of a prank: a stupid practical joke.
It’s true: I’m tempted by this
to move out of my head at times —
take a holiday in some lost last resort where inner
and outer realms mesh in a manner of speaking
just to see what uncommon sense is actually capable of.
What began as a statement,
sure of its destination, turned suddenly Jesuspicious:
it responds if it likes to the Don’t-You-Know-Why?
but more often than not it just shrugs as it shoulders
that distinct yet instinctive load
only we half know how.

 

Photograph: 香港蠔涌谷 Ho Chung Valley, Hong Kong

Pete Postlethwaite’s “Somehow”

Pete Postelthwaite

Somehow, under flood lights, your bones
know by heart
where to begin that first first speech, and though
costumed for the crucifixion of our Lord,
your being swims with instinctive ease
against a whole school hall’s King Tide — that secret
not-so-secret thrill any precise audience
exacts from failure.
And when Mother Victorine, your one-time
formidable employer — pillar of black gabardine
crowned with a wimple — buttonholes you
perfectly out of the blue in a deserted corridor with Might on her side,
the spur of the moment
somehow spirits you through her tiny bigotry’s trap
and returns you to plain good sense. And when
even sweet reason leaves you to fend for yourself one night
in Aberystwyth,
and fallow Paranoia — risen out of nowhere —
of its own accord walks you off-stage mid-performance to the unrehearsable
horror of the cast
something
in the back of your broad mind
you manage not to notice most of the time somehow
makes it half-way OK in your head
and gets you past panic’s attack home to your Cuckoo’s Nest.
Time and again, somehow “somehow” saves you,
you think, when the chips are down
and that big shot brash Assertion
proves too meagre for Life’s lights-action-camera. Or maybe,
in the end,
behind your back,
though you could never explain it in so many words,
it isn’t a matter of somehow
but somewho.

 

All My Thoughts are by Themselves (I)

Evette KWOK_The Fish

• “Oversensitivity”

The sneer cut deep and left me brooding ⸺
Why are you so shallow? he asked.
Why do you have to stay so close to the surface of things?
At dusk, I took a dog
and my anger
down to the dam. We sat on the stony shore,
musing and watching swallows drink
with the tip of the tip of themselves.
Blunt beaks pinpricked brown water,
summoning from the impact diamond-point
an upsurge of nested silver rings that grew wide ⸺
and then wider ⸺
through each and every inch of their circumference.
Over and over the birds did it,
perhaps as much for the ripples as for the thirst
and eventually I realized here the consolation, of course ⸺
learning ⸺ by my stubborn self through them ⸺
that skimming as a matter of act could have such singular-annular beauty.

Photograph by Evette Kwok (2019)

Climbing Uluru

Uluru

They walk over the quiet of the Rock . . .

Uwa, nyangatja nganampa ngura. Piranpaku ngura wiya. Maruku ngura . . .

bragging mid-air to the top,
a file of climbers, dotted line,
sign their names to themselves,
victorious.

Only the cautious — with the signboards
and the visitor information —
listen to Barbara Tjikatu:
“If you worry about Aboriginal law, then leave it,
don’t climb it.”

《新心界》:第二章

San Sam Gaai 2_Sok Kwu Wan Rocks

•「二千七百九十四封信」

有一位美國詩人曾經寫過一首詩篇,問咗一個有趣嘅問題:非洲斑馬究竟係一種身帶白色條紋嘅黑馬,定係身帶黑色條紋嘅白馬?陳之一屬於帶有黑色條紋嘅白馬,佢鐘意大清早,熱愛黎明時分嘅粉紅色,每朝起身起得好早,夜晚九點鐘就開始打喊露。正正係呢一點,陳之一好唔適合香港嘅夜生活,成日令到佢嘅朋友、同事好失望。

香港十二月嘅天氣已經開始轉凍,攪到陳之一心情麻麻。忍受完漫長夏天嘅炎熱同潮濕之後,佢希望可以過返啲涼爽舒服嘅日子,以為有足夠時間慢慢迎接冬天嘅降臨。不過香港冬天當然唔會有咁理想嘅天氣,因爲酷熱同寒冬之間嘅距離實在太短。季節嘅輪轉雖然會為人間帶嚟變化同埋趣味,但係同樣會為我哋帶嚟種種不便。

令陳之一抱怨更多嘅卻係聖誕節,雖然佢唔反對基督教,但商場入面所有浮誇嘅聖誕樹同埋聖誕裝飾都好乞佢憎。陳之一平時好鍾意去咖啡室,但呢啲地方十一月尾就開始播佢覺得好難聽嘅聖誕歌,令佢暫時敬而遠之,寧願留喺屋企自己沖嘢飲。連佢日日經過嘅瀝源橋,今年聖誕亦都「被裝飾」,成條橋都掛滿數唔清嘅聖誕小燈串同埋各式各樣象徵消費主義嘅小擺設。天黑之後,條橋就會為市民播放輕柔嘅爵士音樂。為咗唔想被呢類音樂污染、影響心情,陳之一夜晚出街嗰陣一定會用耳機塞住對耳仔,避免聽到啲咁無聊嘅音樂。

或者,冬天嘅到來會令到陳之一覺得格外孤獨。寂寞嘅時候,佢會諗起坪洲嘅天后廟。雖然印象唔係好深刻,但佢第一次去嗰陣就好鍾意呢座廟宇時就好鍾意。隨後,有一個本地人向佢指出一個佢未曾注意到嘅特點:廟入面一個陰暗嘅角落擺放住一樣好長好細嘅東西,而呢樣嘢居然係鯨魚嘅肋骨!從此之後,陳之一心裏感到超級孤單時,就鍾意幻想自己係嗰條孤獨嘅鯨魚肋骨,咁樣就能為佢帶嚟幾分安慰、鼓勵,減少佢嘅孤獨感。

自陳之一定居香港以來,即係大約十年前,佢已經寫過好多封信俾佢爸爸 —— 一個佢從未見過嘅老豆;一個佢出世時已經遠離自己嘅爹哋:一個佢可以話係百分之百陌生嘅父親。至於寫咗幾多封,按照佢嗰本封面帶有粉嶺天后廟相片嘅筆記簿中嘅記載,佢到而家已經寫咗二千七百九十三封。信嘅內容都差唔多,內容如下:

我親愛嘅父親:

老實講,每次用「親愛」呢個詞寫信俾你,我心裏都會覺得好唔舒服。你離開我同阿媽嘅時候,我同你嘅關係只不過係微妙嘅血脈聯繫。因為喺你離開時,我仲未出世,仲未獲得「人」嘅基本形態,所以喺呢種情況下,我哋之間難以用「親愛」嚟形容。話雖如此,我已經用咗好多年時間考慮究竟應該用邊個形容詞,可惜到而家都仲未有答案,令我不知所措。

語言本身難以處理呢類事情。連「你離開我」都顯得唔太準確:對於兩個唔認識嘅人,用「離開」嚟表達,好似唔太妥當。四十幾歲時,我阿媽先至話俾我知,佢親愛嘅丈夫原來唔係我嘅生父,邁入中年嘅我突然間擁有兩個所謂嘅「父親」。其中一個真係好慘,儘然佢盡量扮演父親角色,但係結果只能令到佢個「唔三唔四嘅繼子」變得又害怕、對佢又冇嗮感情。而另外一個只不過係一個黑洞:除咗一個名字,一個地址,一個工作崗位,就冇其他細節。零存在感嘅人真係可以叫做「父親」咩?

不過,我唔想怪你。阿媽懷孕嗰時,你兩個人都太年輕,二十幾歲嘅你無疑仲未有心理準備成家立室;生命啱啱開始嘅時候,你肯定無辦法承擔咁重大嘅責任。雖然覺得好可惜,但係我永遠唔會怪你,甚至乎好希望你離開我哋之後嘅日子過得特別有趣、充滿生活嘅味道。

雖然係咁,有時我真係希望你會偶爾諗吓你未曾見過、連名都唔知嘅兒子。唔知你會唔會呢?

你個仔:

約翰˙文森特

尤其是係周末,陳之一差唔多每日都會清早五點鐘起身寫信俾父親,日積月累已經寫咗好多封。因為無法確定父親喺香港嘅地址,所以佢通常會喺各種公眾場所,譬如佈告牌,咖啡室,酒吧,辦公嘅地方將信「寄」出去,信封入邊亦都會加一個簡單嘅中文解釋,希望識佢父親嘅本地人可以幫手揾揾好可能一早就離開咗香港嘅約翰˙弗蘭克。不過,佢到而家都未收過回信。

*   *   *

呢個禮拜日,陳之一喺佢陰暗嘅書房入邊寫信,而貪睡嘅阿綠就仲喺佢大埔廣褔道嘅唐樓單位度瞓緊覺,仍然未起身。好明顯,阿綠就係屬於身帶白色條紋嘅黑馬。同外國男人相反,佢特別鍾意夜晚仿如黑色絲綢嘅氣氛。大埔充斥住無數燈光,五光十色嘅夜景令佢十分著迷,一方面為佢帶來無限靈感,加强本身已經極為豐富嘅想像力,另一方面令到佢可以將日頭嘅種種麻煩暫時抛諸腦後。

鬧鐘八點鐘就響起,打破阿綠嘅美夢。佢即刻彈起身,慢慢行到廚房,一邊沖咖啡、餵貓,一邊沈陷心事。貓貓蛾鬼嘅貓糧係阿綠親手煮嘅,絕無任何添加劑,貓貓特別鍾意食,次次都食得津津有味。不過,蛾鬼食嘢都食得好污糟,食到滿地都係食物渣滓,攪到阿綠每次都要用海綿抹乾淨地下。

「哎吔,蛾蛾,真係冇你符呀!你咁樣做,係咪收咗曱甴嘅賄賂,方便佢哋偷食屋企啲食物呀?」不過,話口未完,阿綠就意識到曱甴冇乜嘢可以用嚟賄賂貓貓,真係太荒謬啦!

廚房彌漫住新鮮咖啡嘅香氣,帶來一種零舍濃烈嘅安全感俾阿綠。喺等緊咖啡沖好嘅同時,佢開始諗吓今日要做啲乜。好多年前,佢就初步計劃咗為突然去世嘅母親組織一次紀念展覽會,將阿媽喺佢短暫嘅生命中所創作嘅油畫同埋黑白照片一齊展出,用綜合模式嘅展覽嚟肯定阿媽嘅成就,同時鼓勵自己、令自己有勇氣投身藝術家界,唔再浪費時間做佢毫無興趣嘅設計工作。

其實,去過佢屋企嘅同事、朋友都認為阿綠無疑有藝術家嘅天賦。無論係佢嘅衣著打扮,屋企擺設嘅傢俬,或者牆上點綴嘅藝術品,一切都顯露出阿綠本人嘅獨特氣質。呢種個人質素冇太多耀眼奪目嘅地方,連半點浮誇都冇,不過當客人見到佢為自己營造嘅個人生活環境,即刻會感受到阿綠獨有嘅人生質素,既美麗又寧靜。喺公眾場合見到阿綠時會好容易忽略呢種質素,人心隔肚皮,嚟到佢住所親眼睇到佢嘅安樂窩之後,一定會另眼相看。

可惜,阿綠缺乏信心,一直唔相信自己會有藝術天份,日子亦無需過得咁複雜,唔需要攞苦嚟辛﹗重要嘅唔係佢本人嘅徒勞幻想,而係佢母親嘅心血。安排展覽已經拖延咗太耐,出年過年之後一定要舉辦,唔係嘅話,佢真係會認定自己冇鬼用,枉食人間米!其實,到而家已經攪掂唔少基本工作:大部分作品已經裝裱好,展覽嘅地點亦都安排妥當,但係展覽小冊子仲未開始設計,而其中嘅內容佢亦唔知點寫:如果寫有關自己阿媽嘅嘢,會令到佢覺得冇法面對過去,好似同以往嘅痛楚仍然存在某種難以穿越嘅黑暗。另外,因為裱畫嘅費用已經非常昂貴,所以佢唔知由何方借到足夠嘅金錢印刷小冊子。今次去墨爾本(佢呢一刻諗起陳之一叫墨爾本做「新金山」嘅新奇講法)父親會唔會同意幫幫手?思緒去到呢一度,佢只好抬頭望住母親嘅自畫像,忍唔住長歎一啖氣。

阿綠發咗好耐呆先至有返心機,繼續做同展覽有關嘅工作。呢個時候,食完早餐嘅蛾鬼一面用脷仔細心咁「沖貓涼」,一面觀察阿綠嘅表情動作。蛾鬼一身蜜黃色嘅貓毛充滿光澤,同佢下巴同喉部嘅白色短毛襯到絕,令人一見鐘情。不過,外貌美麗嘅蛾鬼好鍾意玩,而且一開始玩,就變得非常之曵。名副其實係隻「百厭」貓,用「千厭」甚至乎「萬厭」嚟形容呢隻曵貓一啲都不爲過。

嘭﹗嘭﹗嘭﹗門外突然傳嚟敲門聲,令到蛾鬼嗱嗱聲匿埋去張檯下面,睇吓客人係咪可以整蠱嘅新「事主」。蛾鬼見到入門嘅阿奇就特別開心:「好嘢!阿奇嚟啦!」

阿奇係阿綠嘅一個鄰居,因為係紐西蘭人,而紐西蘭人嘅英文俗稱係「奇偉」,所以大家已經好習慣稱呼佢做“阿奇”。阿奇人品好好,樂於助人,而且因為係動物專家,喺嘉道理農場做咗好多年,所以特別熟悉各式各樣嘅野生動物。不過,美中不足係佢講英文時,一般本地人好難聽得明佢講嘅紐西蘭口音,為咗方便溝通,阿奇只好採取一種好似舊時電報咁嘅簡單表達方式。

「早晨,阿綠!早餐 … 你食 … 已經?」阿奇一入屋就好體貼咁問。

「食咗啦!你飲唔飲杯咖啡呀?」

阿奇用佢特有嘅電報式廣東話回答:「咖啡 … 一杯 … 我要而家!」

阿綠一邊為佢沖咖啡,一邊執好書房張書檯,俾佢坐低等吓。

蛾鬼即刻出嚟同佢打招呼。

飲品準備好,佢哋兩個就開始討論阿綠去澳洲時嘅具體安排。

「你去澳洲 … 幾時 … 幾時餵貓?」阿奇好認真咁問。

「我十二月二十三日離開香港,一月三日先至返嚟,呢段時間唔該請你幫我照顧住貓貓先啊!」

呢刻,蛾鬼忽然間好似老虎仔咁一跳,跳到張書檯上面,令到阿綠阿奇兩個人都好驚訝。

「哎吔!蛾鬼,你做乜嘢呀?」

「哈哈!」阿奇大聲笑起嚟。「貓貓,你 … 冇問題 … 我日日嚟 … 幫你食嘢 … 冇問題!」

蛾鬼好似聽得明佢講乜,即刻開始發出開心嘅咕咕聲,仲好樂意俾阿奇不停咁摸。不過,當咕咕聲去到最大聲嘅時候,蛾鬼嘅眼神突然變得好古惑,失驚無神用一隻前爪搲咗阿奇嘅手腕一下,之後就跳咗落地下,好似甩繩馬騮咁亂跑亂跳。

「頂!」阿奇尖叫一聲,望住手上嘅幾滴鮮血。

「阿奇,真係對唔住呀!我隻衰貓有時好曵,真係狗咬呂洞賓!你一定要留意!」

阿奇恢復得好快,笑眯眯勉強咁話:「唔緊要 … 冇事 … 曵貓 … 我唔怕。」

其實,阿奇真係好好人。雖然受到蛾鬼貓式惡作劇嘅對待,但係佢一啲都唔介意。阿綠又為佢沖多杯咖啡,配上幾粒自己焗嘅核桃酥,再次替貓貓道歉,然後就交待蛾鬼嘅貓糧放喺邊度,又將一條鎖匙同埋私人聯絡細節遞俾阿奇,萬一遇到問題都可以打電話俾佢。

阿奇準備出門時,蛾鬼發出一系列好似餓鬼咁嘅喵喵聲,應該係用咗超級萬厭嘅聲音同阿奇講 “拜拜”。

*   *   *

一個禮拜之後,陳之一打算一個人過生日。寫完信俾父親之後,佢六點鐘出門,一路到城門河畔,當時已經有唔少晨運人士喺度跑步、踩單車、或者練習健美操,同陳之一一齊享受早起嘅樂趣。接近瀝源橋時,佢又一次被橋嘅優美所感動,雖然冇太多嘅歷史,但係就逹到天人合一嘅美麗效果。

過橋之後,陳之一一直行到沙田好運中心嘅德興粥麵店,餐廳啱啱開門,員工都仲拖緊地,廚師亦十分嫻熟咁準備緊各式各樣嘅食物。陳之一第一次嚟呢度食早餐係喺九十年代末,當時佢嘅廣東話好差,只可以用普通話同侍應溝通。因為佢已經識讀中文字,所以睇餐牌冇乜大問題,不過佢總會覺得好慚愧:喺香港應該盡量用廣東話,唔係嘅話,對本地人好似好冇禮貌。不過,德興粥麵店當時真係有「道德」,完全唔介意佢講普通話,仲好歡迎陳之一慢慢學識用「白話」嗌嘢食,無論佢講到幾咁一舊舊,侍應都會以忍耐同埋鼓勵嘅態度對待呢個外國人。

佢每次喺德興食早餐都會選擇「醒神早餐:A」,即係一碗瘦肉粥、一條油炸鬼、一杯豆漿。點菜後冇幾分鐘,一碗新鮮滾熱辣嘅粥就出現喺佢面前。過去嘅經驗已經教識陳之一應該先飲幾啖甜豆漿,再稍微等等,先至可以開始食粥,以免焫嚫條脷!其實,佢已經唔記得自己條脷被焫嚫過幾多次!

兩個鐘頭之後,佢終於到達今日嘅目的地:南丫島嘅索罟灣。一落船,佢就跟隨大家、沿住第一街行到去榕樹灣嘅小徑,當時大部分海鮮酒樓仲未開門,早晨嘅寧靜仲未完全消失。喺第一街尾嘅天后宮前面,陳之一靜靜雞停咗喺度。佢抬頭睇睇大門上嘅匾額,見到寫著「神光普照」呢四個字,心裏希望自己過生日都可以享受幾線神光。2003年,呢座廟宇不幸遭受火災,喺村民捐款重新裝修之後,面目煥然一新,天后宮每一個細節都非常之精緻。另外,廟宇入面居然擺放住一個灌滿褔爾馬林嘅玻璃魚缸,裏面住咗一條叫做「銀龍魚」嘅巨魚,樣子又長又白,令到陳之一覺得自然界擁有嘅創造力實在太豐富,遠遠超過人間裏面任何嘅大藝術家、思想家。

教堂平時令人覺得自己犯咗錯,因而會變得十分虔誠,但陳之一好唔鍾意跪地認罪嗰種感覺。人雖然會對天后望而生畏,但廟中基調卻平易近人,而其中設備,包括門神、木板、香案、祭品、古鼓、古鐘等等都悅目怡人。對陳之一而言,拜訪天后、感受寺廟嘅濃厚肅敬係佢香港生活重要嘅一部分,寺廟亦都俾到日常生活需要嘅嗰種片刻神秘感佢。

拜訪天后宮係今日第一個項目;第二個係行吓圍繞菱角山嘅山徑。好彩,今日嚟索罟灣嘅遊客全部都懷有到達目的地嘅熱情,一直向前行,只有陳之一毫無猶豫咁轉入左邊嘅路仔,逐漸上山坡進入山麓嘅林木。雖然間唔中見到人住嘅山屋,但係呢度嘅山墳畢竟比人多好多。經過山坡嘅墓地時,陳之一忽然發現山徑上有一大隻長尾水青蛾嘅屍體,成個腹部都已經被襲擊者食咗,不過最美麗嘅雙翼就完好無損,上面嘅眼狀斑紋,莫名其妙咁同陳之一嘅目光對視。「真係奇怪 . . . 」陳之一喃喃自語咁低聲話,「唔好唔記得每個生日都係其他生命嘅死忌。」

行出山坡樹林嘅時候,陳之一眼前係一望無際嘅天空同埋東澳灣嘅碧綠海水。佢停低腳步,確定方向之後就仔細咁觀察周圍環境,見到幾塊巨石時,佢就即刻向嗰個方向行。到達巨石附近,佢又一次停落嚟,揾吓嗰條連接巨石地嘅羊腸小道,因為好少人行,所以好難睇清楚,有時條路幾乎完全被植物遮蔽。不過,陳之一嚟過呢度好多次,所以佢冇耐就辨認出土路嘅開端。於是佢一邊用手推開路旁嘅草叢,另一邊小心翼翼咁行過去。話咁快,佢就竄咗入一個由幾塊巨石構成嘅空洞,三邊都有石牆庇佑,冇牆嘅一邊就見到天空。呢度係一個由大自然造成嘅匿藏處,同時又係本地人常用嘅避難所。

陳之一喺背囊度攞出暖水壺,打開瓶蓋為自己倒出一杯奶茶,喺呢種十分安靜嘅環境中慢慢嘆茶。飲完茶之後,佢就放翻好水壺,再由背囊入邊攞出一個淺藍色嘅信封。信封上面寫有「約翰˙弗蘭克收」嘅字樣,係陳之一親手書寫嘅。陳之一心諗,如果父親嘅性格同自己有相似之處嘅話,佢可能會鍾意嚟啲咁偏僻嘅地方。觀察吓洞內嘅周圍環境,陳之一將封信放喺地下一個可以遮風擋雨嘅地方,跟住佢用一塊石片壓住信封,以免信封被山風海風吹走。雖然呢塊石片完全遮蓋住信封上面寫嘅名字,但依然可以略略辨別出信封左下角用阿拉伯數字寫嘅號碼:2794。

照片:香港南丫島菱角山 Ling Kok Shan, Lamma Island, Hong Kong