《新心界》: 第六章 : 「已經消失嘅過去,是永遠不可挽回」

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呢一晚,孚翠一個人蒲吧飲酒,飲到好夜先返屋企。佢好希望阿綠已經瞓著咗,如果唔係,俾佢阿媽見到自己又飲大咗兩杯,佢就會覺得無地自容。

一步入住所大門,就見到屋内漆黑一片,孚翠當堂放心落嚟,認為佢阿媽嗎一早就著。但冇耐,佢就聽到阿綠用略帶醉意嘅聲音同佢打招呼。初時,孚翠好想求其揾個藉口衝入自己間房,匿埋唔理佢阿媽,但係嗰把聲今日零舎和藹仁慈,對於呢排萬事失意嘅孚翠嚟講,簡直無法抗拒,其實佢心底裏都渴望得到媽咪嘅一點點安慰。因此,佢喺半推半就下,硬住頭皮尋找嗰把聲音嘅源頭,向著黑蚊蚊嘅客廳行過去。

阿綠一個人坐喺飯廳嘅餐枱前面,枱上燃點蠟燭,燭光照出母親臉上嘅神色,同嗰把温柔嘅聲音完全吻合。孚翠暗暗感到唔對路,佢隨即就注意到枱上有隻酒杯、同埋半空嘅酒瓶。見到呢個情景,佢就知道自己今晚飲醉酒,係唔會受到阿綠嘅任何責備。貓貓蛾鬼此時正坐喺餐枱上面,好似駱駝般將四肢同條尾收喺身軀下,眼神明顯十分友善,一路咕咕、咕咕咁叫。當阿綠見到阿女嘅時候,就用手勢示意要孚翠坐低陪佢一陣。

「阿媽,你做乜一個人坐喺度?好夜囉喎!」孚翠覺得莫名其妙,出於關心,於是細細聲咁問。

「女呀!我 . . . 」阿綠情緒忽然變得好激動,講唔到落去。此刻,孚翠就開始擔心母親係咪收到啲乜嘢壞消息嗰心不期然囉囉攣起嚟。

阿綠好似識得讀心術咁已經估到阿翠嘅想法,立即搖搖頭,補充一句話:「你唔使擔心!係好事嘅,絕對唔係壞事。放心,哈!」

孚翠越聽就越擔心,難道母親真係遭受嚴重嘅精神打擊。

「阿翠呀:多謝你 . . . 」阿綠簡單但充滿感激咁講。

孚翠意識到母親向自己「多謝」嗰一刻,佢就更加迷茫,只好耐心等待母親進一步嘅解釋。

阿綠忽然又猶豫不決,其實佢真係唔知點樣開口講落去。靜咗一陣,就問孚翠想唔想飲酒?當阿綠正準備企起身去厨房攞酒杯俾孚翠嘅時候,孚翠已經不經不覺拎起阿綠隻酒杯,當堂飲一啖。

「飲勝 . . . 」阿綠忍唔住開玩笑講。

孚翠霎時間作出任何反應,但係冇耐就明白到自己頭先唔覺意拎錯阿媽杯酒嚟飲,於是向母親點頭微笑。

「阿翠,今次真係塞翁失馬呀!上次,當你打爛阿婆幅自畫像時,我真係好傷心。但係裱畫公司今日突然來電,話我知幅畫裏面藏有一個包裹,而包裹入面又擺咗你阿婆生前寫俾我嘅信,係一封好重要嘅信。就係話,你嗰晚打爛幅畫畢竟係有意思嘅,唔係嘅話啦,我就永遠冇可能收到你阿婆寫俾我嘅呢封遺書 . . . 」,講到呢度,阿綠啲情緒又波動起嚟。

阿綠已經冇法再講落去,只好將枱面上嘅紙張推到孚翠面前。呢封一定係葛艷芊寫嘅信,孚翠拎起信嚟,慢慢讀出聲:

我親愛嘅女兒:

你終於能夠讀到呢封信,我真係滿懷安慰﹗

本來好複雜嘅一件事情,我諗而家已經變得簡單:係呀,相裏面嘅男人係我最愛嘅一個人,同時亦係你嘅生父。或者世界上冇人會明白我,但係我好希望你今後會仔細閲讀我呢兩本筆記,藉此將我哋嘅靈魂拉近。

我可以肯定:我唔係一個衰人。我咁做都係為咗享受每一個女人應有嘅權利。

我最誠摯嘅願望就係你都能夠做到呢一點﹗

祝你萬事如意!

葛艷芊

睇完封信之後,兩個女人都默不作聲,但各自嘅眼下面都出現一條條閃閃發光嘅銀澤淚痕。蛾鬼亦喐都唔喐,好似一隻獅身人面嘅斯芬克斯靜哋望住佢哋。喺佢哋旁邊嘅墻上,就係曾經掛住葛艷芊自畫像嘅位置。喺暗淡嘅光下,可以見到一個又整齊又潔白嘅長方形,比墻面周圍嘅顔色更加潔白,更加真實。呢個長方形就仿如一個可以回望過去嘅窗口,卻偏偏被一塊白色窗簾布遮擋,意味著:已經消失嘅過去,是永遠不可挽回。

Learning Cantonese: The Taoist Classic of Purity

You may be familiar with major Taoist classics such as the Tao Te Ching or Chuang Tzu, but there are many others which are less well known, especially in English translation. One of them is the 《清靜經》 or “Classic of Purity”, a short text of 391 Chinese characters. In this brief overview created by Taoist TV, we are introduced to the main message of the Classic: the more we reduce unnecessary wants and desires, the more we are able to reconnect with our original nature.

The video opens with a discussion of the character 靜 jihng6. The written form suggests that the meaning has a lot to do with 爭, meaning “to contend; to vie; to strive”, or its absence. Three compound words are used containing 靜: 靜止 jihng6 jí2 = “static”, 寧靜 nìhng4 jihng6 = “tranquil”, and finally 清靜 chīng1 jihng6, a word that usually means “peace and quiet” in the contemporary language, but which seems to carry connotations of “purity” in this Taoist context, and “mental stillness”.

There are some memorable grammatical moments in this video presentation. The first involves the potential structure 得到 dāk1 dóu2, added to verbs to suggest ability to do sth. successfully (here, 得 dāk 1 means “to be able”): 買得到 = “to be able to buy; to manage to buy” (my sense is that the English “to manage to do sth.” can often be handled by means of 得到). There is also an example of the more idiomatic 買得起 máaih5 dāk1 héi2, another kind of potential structure which means “to be able to afford”. What we get in the video, though, is the negative “to be unable to afford”, expressed by 買唔起. In the following passage, we encounter these structures in close proximity: 諗吓買唔買 | 買唔起又會唔開心 | 即使買得到 . . . (“When we consider whether to buy it or not, we are liable to feel unhappy if we cannot afford it. And even if are able to buy it . . .”)

There is also plenty in this presentation to give your vocabulary a real boost: 物質嘅世界 maht6 jāt1 ge3 sai3 gaai3 = the material/physical world; 無窮無盡 mòuh4 kùhng4 mòuh4 jeuhn6 = inexhaustible; 恍惚 fóng2 fāt1 = ① in a trance- absentminded ② dimly; faintly; seemingly; 妄想 móhng5 séung2 = a vain hope; wishful thinking | ● 貪求 tāam1 kàuh4 = to seek (sth. pleasurable); to covet; 過眼雲煙 gwo3 ngáahn5 wàhn4 yīn1 = as transient as a fleeting cloud; 復古 fuhk6 gú2 = to restore ancient ways; retro-styled; 衣食住行 yī1-sihk6-jyuh6-hàhng4 = food, clothing, shelter and transportation — basic necessities of life; and 逐樣逐樣 juhk6 yeuhng6 juhk6 yeuhng6 = item by item; one by one.

You can view the video here. Since it is on YouTube, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.

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有冇諗過,乜係靜?| 一樣嘢,停,可以形容為靜止 | 完全冇聲音,可以話係寧靜 | 但係,何謂清靜呢?

● 靜止 jihng6 jí2 = static; motionless; at a standstill | ● 寧靜 nìhng4 jihng6 = peaceful; tranquil; quiet | ● 何謂 hòh4 waih6 = what is meant by? what is the meaning of? | ● 清靜 chīng1 jihng6 = quiet

Have [you] ever wondered what jing (to be still, quiet, calm, etc.) is? When a thing comes to a stop and does not move, it can be described as jing ji or “motionless”, and when there is a complete absence of sound, it can be said to be ning jing or “tranquil”. But what is meant by ching jing or “purity”?

道教一部非常之重要經典,叫做《清靜經》| 全稱:《太上老君說常清靜妙經》| 呢部經典,只有三百九十一個字,入便最主要嘅内容 | 就係 *jai日常生活中成日會遇到嘅——煩惱

● 經典 gīng1 dín2 = ① classics  ② scriptures (Measure word: 部 bouh6) | ● 《清靜經》Chīng1 Jihng6 Gīng1 = The Classic of Purity | ● 《太上老君說常清靜妙經》Taai3 Seuhng6 Lóuh5 Gwān1 Syut3 Sèuhng4 Chīng1 Jihng6 Miuh6 Gīng1 = The Wondrous Scripture of Constant Clarity and Stillness, as Spoken by the Most High Lord Lao | ● 煩惱 fàahn4 nóuh5 = to be vexed; to be worried; to fret

Note: The noun 内容 noih6 yùhng4 usually means “contents”, but the Cantonese use often calls for something else in English: here, important “element” or “theme” or “subject matter” would be perhaps more natural.

An extremely important Taoist text [經典] is the Classic of Purity or The Wondrous Scripture of Constant Clarity and Stillness, as Spoken by the Most High Lord Lao, to give it its full title. This classic is only 391 words [字] long, and the most import subject matter in it concerns [就係] something we are always meeting with in our everyday lives: vexation.

到底人點解會有多煩惱呢?| 我哋要點樣先至可以回復清靜呢?

Why do people have so much vexation? What must we do [我哋要點樣] before we can restore [our] purity?

點解我會用回復清靜形容呢?| 《清靜經》嘅經文中提到 | 當我哋一出世嘅時候,我哋嘅元神、心神係處於一種清靜嘅境界 | 但係好可惜,當我哋慢慢長大 | 我哋嘅視覺、聽覺、嗅覺、味覺、觸覺,令我哋接觸到物質嘅世界 【1:00】| 亦都因爲咁樣,產生咗對事物無窮無盡嘅慾望

● 元神 yùhn4 sàhn4  = (?) original spirit | ● 心神 sām1 sàhn4 = usu. ① a mood; the state of mind ② attention | ● 嗅覺 chau3 gok3 = the sense of smell | ● 物質嘅世界 maht6 jāt1 ge3 sai3 gaai3 = the material/physical world | ● 無窮無盡 mòuh4 kùhng4 mòuh4 jeuhn6 = inexhaustible | ● 慾望 yuhk6 mohng6 = a desire; a wish

Note: According to Sheik Cantonese, in the noun 嗅覺 chau3 gok3, 嗅 is always pronounced chau3, but the colloquial reading hung3 is used for this character in other contexts.

Why would I use “restore our purity” to describe [this situation]? In the Classic of Purity it states that from the moment we are born [一出世], our original spirit [元神] and our state of mind [心神] exist [處於] in a realm [境界] of purity, but unfortunately as we gradually grow older, our sense of sight, of hearing, of smell, of taste and of touch bring us into contact with [令我哋接觸到] the material world and, accordingly [亦都因爲咁樣], give rise to endless desires.

我哋雙眼,見到件好,好新款嘅衫 | 我哋買嘢嘅慾念亦都由此而起喇 | 諗買唔買 | 買唔起又會唔開心 | 即使買得到,過咗幾耐,我哋可能又會見到另一件又新款又靚嘅衫 | 一個念頭接住一個念頭 | 亦都係一個慾望接住一個慾望,永無止境

● 慾念 yuhk6 nihm6 = a desire; a longing; a craving | ● 念頭 nihm6 tàuh4 = ① thought, idea ② intention | ● 止境 jí2 gíng2 = an end; a limit

When our eyes see a beautiful item of clothing in the latest fashion, our desire to buy things arises as a result. When we consider whether to buy it or not, we are liable to feel unhappy if we cannot afford it. And even if are able to buy it, before too long [過咗冇幾耐] we will probably see yet another beautiful item of clothing in the latest fashion. One thought is followed by another, and one desire is followed by another, forever without an end.

咁樣,我哋嘅「心」又點樣可以安靜落嚟呢?| 而心神恍惚,元神受到干擾,咁樣元神又點可以「清」呢?

● 干擾 gōn1 yíu2 = to disturb; to interfere; to obstruct | ● 恍惚 fóng2 fāt1 = ① in a trance; absentminded ② dimly; faintly; seemingly

Given this [咁樣], how can our heart-mind become calm [安靜落嚟]? And [when our] state of mind is trance-like [恍惚] and our original spirit is disturbed, how can our original spirit become pure [清]?

呢部《清靜經》就係指出,如果想做到心神清靜一都唔難嘅 | 因爲只不過係回復到心神本來嘅狀態 | 只要我哋肯去除妄想、貪求 | 自自然然,煩惱呢,亦都會相應咁消失 | 我哋要明白,道家認爲世界萬事萬物都冇一個絕對嘅標準

● 去除 heui3 chèuih4 = to get rid of; to remove | ● 妄想 móhng5 séung2 = a vain hope; wishful thinking | ● 貪求 tāam1 kàuh4 = to seek (sth. pleasurable); to covet| ● 相應 sēung1 ying3 = corresponding; relevant; here, the sense seems to be “correspondingly; in equal measure”

This work, the Classic of Purity, points out that if you wish to achieve purity of mind, it is not in the least bit difficult. This is because it is simply [a matter of] restoring the mind’s [心神] original state. Just as long as we are willing to get rid of wishful thinking and covetousness, vexation will also decrease correspondingly, as a matter of course [自自然然]. What we have to understand is that Taoism believes [認爲] there is no one absolute standard for anything in this world [世界萬事萬物].

我哋重視嘅價值,又或者係人哋對我哋嘅評價 | 其實【2:00】只不過係過眼雲煙 | 呢一刻,你認爲係新款嘅,過咗一排,就會成爲舊款 | 而某一日,你所曾經丟嘅舊款 | 又會因爲復古而再次興返

● 重視 juhng6 sih6 = to attach importance to; to think highly of; to value| ● 評價 pìhng4 gaa3 = to appraise; to evaluate | ● 過眼雲煙 gwo3 ngáahn5 wàhn4 yīn1 = as transient as a fleeting cloud | ● 過咗一排 gwo3 jó2 yāt1 pàaih4/páai4*2 = (?) after a while (a matter of years is implied by the context) | ● 舊款 gauh6 fún2 = an outdated fashion, model or design | ● 丟抌 dīu1 dám2 = (?) to throw away; to discard | ● 復古 fuhk6 gú2 = to restore ancient ways; retro-styled

Note: The verb 興 hīng1 is used in Cantonese to mean “popular” or “fashionable”. With the addition of the aspect marker 返 fāan, we get the sense of something coming back into fashion after a period of neglect.

Values that we consider important, or [other] peoples’ appraisal of us, are actually nothing more than fleeting clouds, transient [by nature]. What you think of as the latest style in this moment will, after a time, become outdated, but one day, all the outdated [clothes] you once threw away will come back into fashion because of a revival of retro fashions [復古].

唔單止係 *jai 衣食住行呢啲物質 | 人與人之間嘅相處,亦都係一樣,呢一刻其他人可能因爲想巴結你,而將你捧到天上 | 但係下一刻呢,可能佢哋會因爲更大嘅利益,而將你拉返落嚟

● 衣食住行 yī1-sihk6-jyuh6-hàhng4 = food, clothing, shelter and transportation — basic necessities of life; the bare necessities of everyday life | ● 物質 maht6 jāt1 = matter; substance; material | ● 巴結 bāa1 git3 = to curry favour with; perhaps “to suck up to” is closer to contemporary English | ● 捧到天上 púng2 dou3 tīn1 seuhng6 = to praise sb. to the skies

It isn’t [just a matter of] material things [such as] food, clothing, shelter and transportation. The way people relate to one another [人與人之間嘅相處 = lit. “the getting on between person and person”] is the same. One moment, others are singing your praises, perhaps in order to get something from you, but in the next moment they pull you back down, probably for some even greater benefit.

最後,你會明白,我哋日日夜夜追求嘅名譽、權力同埋財富 | 都唔可以安定我哋嘅心神 | 如果我哋識得將逐樣逐樣咁放低 | 我哋嘅心神就可以慢慢咁回復清靜 | 咁樣,我哋同「大道」嘅距離就會又再近一步喇

● 名譽 mìhng4 yuh6 = fame; reputation | ● 安定 [ng]ōn1 dihng6 = ① stable; quiet; settled ② to stabilize | ● 逐樣逐樣 juhk6 yeuhng6 juhk6 yeuhng6 = item by item; one by one

In the end, you will come to understand that we can never settle the mind [安定 . . . 心神] by going after fame, power and wealth day and night. If we know how to put [such pursuits] aside, one by one, our mind may gradually regain [its] purity, and, in this way [咁樣], the distance between us and the Great Tao will get smaller, too.

Related Material on this site:

● Learning Cantonese: The Story of Gun Yam
Pak Tai, True Soldier of the North

Learning Cantonese: Unthinking Hong Kong’s Democracy

The recent arrest of 53 people connected with the democratic movement continues the sustained effort to establish an authoritarian style of government in Hong Kong and to criminalize dissent of any kind.

In July 2020, 戴耀廷 Benny Tai and others organized a primary election for people associated with the democratic camp. Identifying the most popular candidates, he hoped, would enable the democrats to win a majority of seats in the Legislative Council (click here to see a brief report on this by HK01). According to the Secretary for Security 李家超John Lee Ka-chiu, himself a former policeman, these primary elections constituted “a malicious plan to paralyse the SAR government”. The man largely responsible for implementing the National Security Law in Hong Kong, 李桂華Steve Li Kwai-wah used the phrase “to bring our government to a complete standstill” with regard to the primaries and then compared Tai’s actions to that of a person intending to commit robbery. The idea that a government is not a fixed entity but one that evolves in response to the wishes of the people it governs is absent from both views.

You can view the HK01 video by an unnamed reporter here, but scroll down if you want the Cantonese transcript, notes and translation. For interest’s sake, I have also added the official English translation of Article 22 of the National Security Law dealing with “subversion” [顛覆國家政權罪]. If you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.

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李家超(保安侷局長):. . . 涉嫌顛覆國家政權罪活躍份子 | 圖謀以一個歹毒嘅計劃 | 去癱瘓特區政府 | 如果呢個歹毒嘅計劃得逞嘅話 | 而香港亦都可能要再經歷過一個萬劫不復嘅深淵

● 活躍份子 = active element; activist| ● 圖謀 = to plot; to scheme; to conspire | ● 歹毒 = malicious | ● 得逞 = (pejorative) to have one’s way; to succeed; to prevail | ● 萬劫不復 = beyond redemption; never to be recovered or restored | ● 深淵 = abyss

John Lee Ka-chiu (Secretary for Security): . . . activists suspected of the crime of subverting state power and plotting with a malicious plan to paralyze the SAR government. Had this malicious plot succeeded, Hong Kong could possibly have experienced yet another abyss, never to be recovered from (?).

記者:警方國安處派出過千個警員 | 拘捕 53 個發起或者參與 | 舊年35+民主派初選嘅人士 | 話佢哋涉嫌干犯《港區國安法》廿二條 | 顛覆國家政權罪 | (Democrats chanting slogans) | 民主派唔同板塊見記者 | 批評係濫捕

● 發起 = to start; to launch | ● 「35+民主派初選」= The 35+ Primaries for the Democrats | ● 干犯 = to offend; to encroach upon; to break (the law) | ● 板塊 = main parts; sector | ● 濫捕 = (?) to arrest people excessively/indiscriminately

Reporter: The police Office for Safeguarding National Security dispatched over a thousand police officers and arrested 53 individuals who had initiated or taken part in last year’s 35+ Primaries for the Democrats, claiming [話] that they were under suspicion of having violated Article 22 of the National Security Law, [dealing with] subversion. (Democrats chanting slogans.) Members from the democratic groups [民主派唔同板塊] criticized [the action] as “an excessive use of arrests” [濫捕] during a meeting with the press.

羅健熙(民主黨主席):初選係任何陣營裏邊可以自由進行嘅事 | 每一個陣營或者每一個政黨,要做一個初選 | 去揀一啲人選出嚟係【1:00】非常之合理、非常之正常 | 完全任何不妥當嘅事情 | 可以 [UNCLEAR]「生案白造」| 話係會危害國家安全嘅話呢 | 國安法成爲「萬能 key」之後 | 大家見到嘅就會係白色恐怖

● 初選 = a primary election | ● 生案白造 saang1 on1 baahk6 jouh6 = to fabricate; to cook up a story; to make up without evidence | ● 危害 = to harm; to jeopardize; to endanger | ● 萬能 key (or 萬能鑰匙) maahn6 nahng4 (yeuhk6 sih4) = a master key; a skeleton key; a passkey | ● 白色恐怖 = white terror

Lo Kin-hei (Chairperson of the Hong Kong Democrats): Primary elections are something that any (political) camp can freely undertake. Any camp or any party having to do a primary election to choose candidates is perfectly reasonable, perfectly normal, something completely devoid of anything inappropriate. To cook up some story and say that it jeopardizes national security. After the National Security Law became a master key, what we have all seen is white terror.

李桂華(國安處高級警司):. . . 係咪唔人初選呢,做呢啲咁呢?| 大家都知道 | 初選係其他嘅國家都會 [UNCLEAR] 嘅 | 但係呢啲嘅運動呢,通常呢,去到嚟選擇啲合適嘅人選呢 | 同埋選擇啲適當嘅人選去參加佢哋嘅議會 | 但係正正我哋今次依個呢,並非如此 | 佢哋係只有一個目標 | 希望能夠令到我哋嘅政府停擺 | 有一個人揸車去打劫 | 揸車冇問題嘅 | 但係佢諗 [UNCLEAR] 去打劫 | [UNCLEAR] | 咁就係犯法嘅

● 人選 = a candidate | ● 並非如此 = not at all like this | ● 停擺 = (of a pendulum) to come to a standstill; stop | ● 打劫 = to rob; to plunder; to loot

Steve Li Kwai-wah (Senior Superintendent of the National Security Division): . . . is it that we aren’t letting people hold primary elections? As everyone knows, primary elections are also held in other countries, but such events [運動] are usually for the selection of suitable candidates and the choosing of desirable candidates to become members of parliament [參加佢哋嘅議會]. But this is not what we have in this instance. They only have one aim: to bring our government to a complete standstill. [If] a person drives off in a car to commit robbery, the driving of the car is no problem, but if that person was doing so in order to rob someone, for this reason it is against the law.

黃浩銘(社民運主席):即係而家唔係我攞支槍去打劫 | 係個政府俾張支票【2:00】人民 | 我要民意代表入去兌現張支票 | 去運用《基本法》一早已經寫落嚟 | 咁多年嚟都冇人挑戰過嘅權力 | 我哋今日入去到啲錢 | [UNCLEAR] 你同我哋講話我哋係打劫

● 兌現 = to cash (a cheque) | ● 挑戰 = to challenge

Raphael Wong (Chairperson of the League of Social Democrats): I mean, now it’s not me grabbing a gun and [heading off] to commit robbery but a cheque issued [俾咗] by the government to the people. What we want is for the representatives of the will of the people [民意代表] to go and cash the cheque, to use what was written down in the Basic Law right from the start [一早], a right that for ever so many years no one has ever challenged. But at this time (?) when we want to go and get our money, you tell us that we are committing robbery.

梁家傑(公民黨主席):李桂華或者,呃,李家超嗰啲呢,將佢嗰啲,呃,文章呀,係無限上綱,咁樣呢 | 我覺得係完全不容於我哋個普通法嘅 | 即係只係檢控一啲刑事作爲、行爲嘅一個法制呢

● 無限 = infinite; limitless; boundless | ●上綱 = to raise to the higher plane of principle; elevate an issue to the level of principle | ● 不容 = not tolerate; not allow; not brook | ● 檢控 = to prosecute | ● 作爲 = conduct; a deed; an action 法制 = legal institution; legal system; legality

Alan Leong Kah-kit (Chairperson of the Civic Party): Steve Li Kwai-wah [and (?)] John Lee Ka-chiu have been elevating without limit his [that is, Benny Tai’s] essays to the level of principle. In my view, this is not allowed under our common law in any shape or form [完全]. It is merely a legality for prosecuting [certain] criminal acts or behaviours.

[A list of some of the major people arrested is given. For the list in English, see this report on the Hong Kong Free Press website]

記者:警方話唔排除仲有進一步拘捕行動

Reporter: The police say they do not rule out [the possibility] of further arrests.

The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Part 2 Subversion

Article 22 A person who organises, plans, commits or participates in any of the following acts by force or threat of force or other unlawful means with a view to subverting the State power shall be guilty of an offence:

(1) overthrowing or undermining the basic system of the People’s Republic of China established by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China;
(2) overthrowing the body of central power of the People’s Republic of China or the body of power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region;
(3) seriously interfering in, disrupting, or undermining the performance of duties and functions in accordance with the law by the body of central power of the People’s Republic of China or the body of power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; or
(4) attacking or damaging the premises and facilities used by the body of power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to perform its duties and functions, rendering it incapable of performing its normal duties and functions.

A person who is a principal offender or a person who commits an offence of a grave nature shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment of not less than ten years; a person who actively participates in the offence shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than ten years; and other participants shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, short-term detention or restriction.

Transaction, Little Bourke Street

But there he was, kissing
the footpath with his knees, precisely
motionless
against the stop-start traffic’s kick-the-curb impatience
beside the heart-lifting red
and blue, and green
of the patterned Chinese memorial gateway —
Earth’s short arch to Heaven —
near Russell Street.
Steeply bent over a basin half-filled with kitchen water,
as predictably chill
Melbourne rain began to spit through storey-tall gaps
in the sky-line, his intensity
tingled
the low-key atmosphere, but it wasn’t the touch of the rain
he needed: the coins
submerged in his liquid offering spelt a different,
more drastic prayer, here
drowning
far out the white-hot-shortness of debt.

Learning Cantonese: Lennon Banners Kick off in 2021!

The Lennon Walls that appeared as a spontaneous form of protest across Hong Kong were dismantled in the latter half of 2020, but on Day 1 of 2021 they have come back to us in a new form: the Lennon Banner. The one featured in the photograph bears the words 釋放政治犯 (“Release Political Prisoners”) and references the Lennon Walls with its orange and purple post-it note squares.

The report, from 劉錦華 Làuh4 Gám2 Wàah4 at HK01 provides some of the background to the banners. As one of the councillors of the Kwai Tsing District said in a speech, the main thing is 並指希望藉行動表達過去一年港人雖受打壓,但依然人心不死的訊息 — to express the message that the will of the people will never die, despite the repression Hongkongers have endured over the past year.

For the original report and extra photographs of the Lennon Banners, just click here.

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民間人權陣線今日(1日)發起多區巡遊,向公眾展示早前在各區收集簽名及字句的「連儂布」。當中葵青區民主派議員亦響應活動,於葵涌廣場外聲援12港人。

● 發起 faat3 héi2 = to start; to launch | ● 巡遊 chèuhn4 yàuh4 = usu. to make an inspection circuit | ● 連儂布 Lìhn4 Nùhng4 Bou3 = a Lennon (Fabric) Banner cf. Lennon Wall | ● 響應 héung2 ying3 = to respond; to answer | ● 聲援 sīng1 wùhn4 = to express support for; to support

Today (1 January) the Civil Human Rights Front launched a kind of touring protest [巡遊] in many districts, to display to the public [inscribed] “Lennon Banners”, [featuring] signatures and short written messages [字句] previously collected in a number of districts. As part of this [當中], democratic councillors in the Kwai Tsing District also responded with an action, expressing support for the 12 Hong Kongers at the Kwai Chung Plaza.

多名葵青區議員輪流發言,呼籲市民繼續關注在囚及流亡外地的港人,並要求中國釋放所有政治犯,並指希望藉行動表達過去一年港人雖受打壓,但依然人心不死的訊息。

● 輪流 lèuhn4 láu4*2 = to take turns; to do sth. in turn | ● 在囚 joih6 chàuh4 = (?) in prison; imprisoned | ● 人心不死 yàhn4 sām1 bāt1 séi2 = (?) the will of the people will never die | ● 訊息 seun3 sīk1 = message

Quite a number of councillors in the Kwai Tsing District took it in turns to make speeches, calling on citizens to continue to be concerned about Hong Kong people in prison or in exile, and called on China to release all political prisoners. They also hoped that, by means of this action, they could express the message that the will of the people will never die, despite the repression Hongkongers have endured over the past year.

在多個葵青區議員展示「連儂布」活動期間,有三輛衝鋒車及十多名警員在附近戒備及觀察,惟警員未有干擾活動進行。

展示 jín2 sih6 = to display | ● 衝鋒車 chūng1 fūng1 chē1 = (?) assault vehicle | ● 戒備 gaai3 beih6 = to be on standby; to guard; to be on guard

While councillors in the Kwai Tsing District were displaying the “Lennon Banner”, three assault vehicles and more than ten police officers were on stand-by in the vicinity, observing [proceedings]. However, they did not interfere with the carrying out of the action.

葵青區議會主席單仲偕表示,葵青區民主派議員將繼續關注在港或香港以外在囚的政治犯的權益。單仲偕又呼籲市民向612基金捐贈,指基金現時只剩下千餘萬,未必能應付尚未完成審判的案件,呼籲市民積極支持基金。

單仲偕 Sihn6 Juhng6 Gāai1 = Sin Chung-kai | ● 權益 kyùhn4 yīk1 = rights and interests | ● 612基金 is short for 612人道支援基金 yàhn4 douh6 jī1 wùhn4 gēi1 gām1 = 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund | ● 捐贈 gyūn1 jahng6 = to contribute (as a gift); to donate | ● 審判 sám2 pun3 = to bring to trial; to try

Chairperson of the Kwai Tsing District Council Sin Chung-kai said that democratic councillors of the District will continue to show concern for the rights and interests of political prisoners in jail in Hong Kong or abroad. Sin also appealed to citizens to donate to the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, saying that at present the Fund had only ten and a bit million [Hong Kong] dollars left [in it], and could not necessarily cover [應付] cases the hearing of which had not yet been completed. He called on citizens to actively support the Fund.

葵青區議員梁錦威表示,多個葵青區民主派區議員在聖誕節前後,於大窩口,青衣,葵涌等地收集市民的說話,以製成該「連儂布」,並於今日元旦日展示。十二港人案日前由內地法院作判決,當中兩名未成年港人不獲起訴,梁錦威表示即使如此,他們依然坐了130日「冤枉監」, 呼籲市民繼續關注在內地在囚的其餘10名港人,又指如果市民不作關注,難以想像他們會受到什麼對待。

● 梁錦威 Lèuhng4 Gám2 Wāi1= Leung Kam Wai (Simon) | ● 日前 yaht6 chìhn4 = a few days ago; the other day | ● 不獲起訴 bāt1 wohk6 héi2 sou3 = cf. 起訴 = to bring an action against sb.; to prosecute | ●「冤枉監」yūn1 wóng2 gāam1 = ? cf. 冤枉 = to treat unjustly

Leung Kam Wai, a Kwai Tsing District councillor, said that many democratic councillors in the Kwai Tsing District had, during the Christmas period [在聖誕節前後], collected comments from residents in Tai Wo Hau, Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung in order to make this “Lennon Banner”, and had put it on display on New Year’s Day. A few days ago, the Twelve Hongkongers had been sentenced by a Mainland court, [but] no action was brought against two of them who are under-aged. Despite this being the case, Leung Kam Wai said, they still had to spend 130 days in “unjust imprisonment” [「冤枉監」] and he appealed to citizens to continue to be concerned about the other ten Hong Kong people [still] in prison on the Mainland. He also added that, if local residents take no interest [in this case], it won’t bear thinking about [難以想像] how they might be treated.

另一葵青區議員張文龍亦呼籲港人繼續關注在囚政治犯。張認為犯法的應該是政府而非政治犯,因為政府沒有按照基本法賦予港人人權。而追求民主自由不應是犯法的行為,而是與生俱來的人權。張又指,希望在囚的政治犯可以於新一年有更好的處境,而非被剝奪權利。

張文龍 Chēung1 Màhn4 Lùhng4 = Cheung Man-lung (Dennis) | ● 與生俱來 yúh5 sāng1 kēui1 lòih4 = to be born with; inherent; innate | ● 處境 chú2 gíng2 = unfavourable situation; plight | ● 剝奪 mōk1 dyuht6 = to deprive; to expropriate; to strip

Cheung Man-lung, another Kwai Tsing District councillor, appealed to the people of Hong Kong to go on showing concern for political prisoners. In Cheung’s opinion, the law-breakers should be the government and not the political prisoners, since the government has not given Hong Kong people their human rights in accordance with the Basic Law. Moreover, the pursuit of democracy and freedom should not be [regarded as] criminal behaviour but as a natural human right. Cheung also expressed the hope that political prisoners might find themselves in a less unfavourable situation in the new year rather than be stripped of their rights.

Learning Cantonese: Chilly New Year’s Eve Predicted for Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Observatory is forecasting a very cold New Year’s Eve for December 31, and not just because of the chilling political events of recent months . . .

This brief 40-second report — put together by the reporter 邱靖汶 Yāu1 Jihng6 Mahn6 at HK01 on 22 December — is jammed-packed with useful things and is especially accessible due to the absence of any intrusive musical accompaniment. In it, you’ll hear three different expressions for “New Year’s Eve”: 除夕chèuih4 jihk6, 大除夕 daaih6 chèuih4 jihk6 and 除夕夜 chèuih4 jihk6 yeh6! Another piece of relevant vocabulary is 倒數 dou3 sóu2, which refers to the “countdown” people like to do to the first moment of the New Year.

Because the report is largely based on weather forecasting, the modal verb 會 wúih5 gets used to predict the high likelihood that something will happen (although this “high likelihood” can be downplayed by the addition of other expressions, e.g. 可能就會有啲唔同呀 = it will probably by different). There is also an instance of 嚟 lèih4 to create an open time expression (7年嚟 = in the past seven years) and an interesting use of the aspect marker 返 fāan1 in 數返 sóu2 fāan1, “(?) to count back to (a time in the past)”.

Apart from grammar, there’s also a surprising amount of readily useful vocabulary, including: 感受 gám2 sauh6 = to experience; 短暫 dyún2 jaahm6 = of short duration; 乾燥 gōn1 chou3 = dry; 嚴峻 yìhm4 jeun3 = stern; as well as the Cantonese verb “to celebrate”, 興祝 hing3 jūk1. The expression 暖粒粒 nyúhn5 lāp1 lāp1 also makes an appearance. I once saw this on a billboard in Tuen Mun which said: 暖粒粒過聖誕 (lit. “warmly spend/celebrate Christmas”) which inclines me to the belief that it can mean something more than “warm in temperature”.

You can view the video here, but scroll down if you want the Cantonese transcript, notes and translation. If you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.

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仲有九日就到大除夕 | 不過今年倒數感受 | 可能就會有唔同呀 | 天文台預測,12 月 31 號除夕嘅氣溫 | 會跌到 10 度 | 係跌到得返攝氏 10度 | 上水、屯門等等嘅地方低至 9度 | 有機會成爲 7 年 | 最低溫嘅除夕夜 | 而最凍嘅除夕就要數返 [20]12 年 | 7.1 度嘅紀錄低溫 | 除夕日間短暫時間會有陽光 | 天氣乾燥 | 早晚寒冷 | 天氣凍,大家過節嘅時候不忘要 | 多啲關心長者同埋長期病患 | 疫情嚴峻 | 除夕夜都係避免外出興祝 | 屋企暖粒粒咁樣倒數 | 迎接 2021 年

● 大除夕 daaih6 chèuih4 jihk6 = (?) New Year’s Eve | ● 倒數 dou3 sóu2 = to do the countdown (to the first moment of the New Year) | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = ① to be affected by ② to experience; to feel | ● 預測 yuh6 chāak1 = to calculate; to forecast | ● 除夕夜 chèuih4 jihk6 yeh6 = New Year’s Eve | ● 數返 sóu2 fāan1 = (?) to count back to (a time in the past) | ● 紀錄 géi2 luhk6 = to take notes; to record | ● 短暫 dyún2 jaahm6 = of short duration; transient; brief | ● 乾燥 gōn1 chou3 = ① dry; arid ② dull; uninteresting | ● 早晚 jóu2 máahn5 = morning & evening (perhaps here with the implication “before the sun comes up & after it has gone down) | ● 過節 gwo3 jit3 = to celebrate a festival cf. 興祝 | ● 長期病患 chèuhng4 kèih4 behng6 waahn6 = 長期 over a long period of time; long-term +  病患 (?) to suffer from an illness| ● 嚴峻 yìhm4 jeun3 = stern; severe; rigorous; grim | ● 興祝 hing3 jūk1 = to celebrate (Current Colloquial Cantonese: 5) cf. 過節 gwo3 jit3 | ● 暖粒粒 nyúhn5 lāp1 lāp1 = warm in temperature (Sheik Cantonese) | ● 迎接 yìhng4 jip3 = to meet; to welcome; to greet (in this context, perhaps “to see in (the New Year)” is also possible

There are still nine days to go to New Year’s Eve, but the experience might be a bit different for this year’s Countdown. The Hong Kong Observatory is forecasting that the temperature on 31 December will drop to 10 degrees, only getting up [(?) 得返] to 10 degrees Celsius. In places such as Sheung Shui and Tuen Mun, it will go down to 9 degrees. There is a chance that it will be the coldest New Year’s Eve in the past seven years. For that [而最凍嘅除夕], one has to count back to the year 2012, [which had] a recorded lowest temperature of 7.1 degrees. In the daytime on 31 December [除夕日間], there will be brief periods of sunshine, it will be dry, and it will be cold in the morning and in the evening. When the weather is cold, don’t forget to give the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses [(?) 長期病患] extra care. [Since] the virus situation is looking grim [嚴峻], avoid going out to celebrate on New Year’s Eve. [Instead], do the countdown to welcome in 2021 at home [where you will be] warm and cosy.

Learning Cantonese: Lesley Mak on Wonton Noodles

Please do you best to put up with the disco soundtrack: the pain inflicted by the music is a small price to pay for the clear speech, special vocabulary (and English subtitles) you will encounter in episode No.90 of the Kong Stories series.

Lesley Mak, or 麥心睿 Mahk6 Sām1 Yeuih6 in Cantonese, runs the Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop in Jordan. Her specialty is wonton noodles, and one of the delights of this video is her use of the word 細蓉 sai3 yúng2, an insider’s term.《香港粵語大詞典》defines it as: 飲食行業術語 (“a trade term used in the hospitality industry”). You might get special treatment if you use it next time your order these prawn dumplings with 麵 noodles in clear soup. Actually, 蓉 is indispensable in another, horticultural context: it forms part of the compound 芙蓉 fùh4 yúng2 = 1. hibiscus 2. lotus.

In this episode, Mak makes several references to nostalgia or 懷舊 wàaih4 gauh6. This links with her use of the expression 難以忘懷 nàahn4 yíh5 mòhng4 wàaih4 = “hard to get out of one’s mind” and the noun 情懷chìhng4 wàaih4 = “feelings; thoughts & feelings” (observe how the character 懷 crops up again here). I sense that 情懷 doesn’t have to refer to specifically nostalgic feelings, but that it often does so.

Also of interest are the expressions 街頭街尾 gāai1 tàuh4 gāai1 méih5 = from one end of the street to the other; 後巷 hauh6 hóng6*2 = back alley; 早排 jóu2 pàaih4/páai4*2 = a while ago; a few days ago (cf. 呢排,近排 and 最排); and 心血 sām1 hyut3 = painstaking care/effort.

By the way, the character 睿 yeuih6 in Lesley Mak’s name has the meaning of “farsighted”. It’s not a very common character, but you do see it occasionally, particularly in the compound 睿智 yeuih6 ji3 = “wise and farsighted”.

Finally, I am guessing that 綠寳橙汁 luhk6 bóu2 cháang2 jāp1 is the beverage Martin Booth mentions in the following passage from his novel The Iron Tree:

‘Please,’ he went on. ‘Sit down. Take the weight off.’ That is a phrase he picked up as he did mart. ‘You wan’ a beer, soft drink? San Mig? Green Spot orange?’ Then he looked up and recognized me.

You can view the video here, but scroll down if you want the Cantonese transcript, notes and translation. Since it is on YouTube, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.

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Caption: 麥文記 | Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop

麥心睿:我鍾意懷舊 | 黑白相、聽舊歌、細蓉、飲綠寳橙汁 | 種種懷舊事物都令我好難以忘懷

● 懷舊 wàaih4 gauh6 = to remember old times or past acquaintances (usu. with kindly thoughts) | ● 細蓉 sai3 yúng2 = another word meaning “wonton noodles” | ● 綠寳橙汁 luhk6 bóu2 cháang2 jāp1 = Green Spot orange | ● 難以忘懷 nàahn4 yíh5 mòhng4 wàaih4 = cf. 忘懷 to forget; to dismiss from one’s mind

Lesley Mak: I like remembering the past. Black and white photos, listening to old songs, wonton noodles, drinking Green Spot orange. All these various nostalgic things, I find it hard to get them out of my head.

舊時擔挑托麵嘅年代 | 一個仙可以食到一碗雲吞麵 | 而家已經再呢支歌仔唱喇

● 擔挑托麵 dāam1 tīu1 tok3 mihn6 = ? | ● 仙 sīn1 = cent

Note: 1. I am not sure about the exact meaning of 仙 sīn1 and whether it is still used to refer to money in Hong Kong. The implication here is that it was a fairly small sum to pay. 2. 已經再冇呢支歌仔唱喇 (if I have got it right) appears to be an idiom meaning “those days are over” or “gone are the days”.

[In] the old days, at the time when hawkers carried around their noodles on shoulder poles [擔挑托麵], you could buy a bowl of wonton noodles for one cent [一個仙], but this little song [歌仔] is no longer sung.

爸爸媽媽四十年代中期走難到香港 | 然後,喺後巷賣雲吞麵維生 | 我4歲開始已經喺鋪頭幫手包雲吞 | 食雲吞麵由細食到大到而家都未厭 【1:00】

● 走難 jáu2 naahn6 = (?) to flee from a dangerous situation | ● 後巷 hauh6 hóng6*2 = back alley | ● 維生 wàih4 sāng1 = to subsist; to eke out a living; to keep body and soul together | ● 未厭 meih6 yim3 = have not yet got sick/tired of cf.  厭 = be fed up with; be bored with; be tired of

Note: When the character 難 (usu. nàahn4) is pronounced in the low-level tone as naahn6, it means “a calamity; a disaster; an adversity” or the verb “to take to task; to blame”.

My mother and father fled to Hong Kong in the middle of the 1940s. Later, they made a living selling wonton noodles in a back alley. I was already helping in the shop making wontons [包雲吞] when I was four. I have been eating wonton noodles all my life and am not yet tired of them.

舊時嘅佐敦街頭街尾都佈滿霓虹燈招牌,但係因爲種種嘅原因 | 早排霓虹燈招牌仿佛就結束咗一個歷史任務 | 告別佐敦

● 街頭街尾 gāai1 tàuh4 gāai1 méih5 = from one end of the street to the other (lit. “street head street tail”) | ● 佈滿 bou3 múhn5 = (?) to be covered all over with | ● 霓虹燈招牌 ngàih4 hùhng4 dāng1 jīu1 pàaih4 = neon sign | ● 早排 jóu2 pàaih4/páai4*2 = a while ago; a few days ago; perhaps here “previously” | ● 仿佛 fóng2 fāt1 = seem; as if | ● 告別 gou3 biht6 = to leave; to part from

Back in the old days, Jordan Road was covered in neon signs from one end to the other but, for various reasons, the neon signs of previous times seemed to have completed an historical mission and have left Jordan.

我期望以後麥文記可以做到等於雲吞麵嘅代表 | 代表香港歷史嘅一部分 | 見證香港情懷 | 等爸爸媽媽嘅心血長流 | 令香港人嘅故事傳留

● 見證 gin3 jing3 = (?) to witness; to bear witness | ● 情懷 chìhng4 wàaih4 = feelings; thoughts & feelings | ● 心血長流 sām1 hyut3 chèuhng4 làuh4 = (?) long continue to be effective (with regard to the painstaking efforts of people who have gone before) cf. 心血 = painstaking care/effort | ● 傳留 chyùhn4 làuh4 = (?) to be handed down/passed on (to later generations)

Note: Here, in the phrase 等爸爸媽媽嘅心血長流, 等 dáng2 is used with the sense of “to let; to allow; to make”, a colloquial equivalent of the written or formal 讓 yeuhng6. On the other hand, 等於 means “to be equivalent to”.

It is my hope that the Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop might become [可以做到] an emblem [代表] of wonton noodles, of a part of Hong Kong’s history, bearing witness to [certain] Hong Kong feelings, and enabling the painstaking efforts of my mother and father to go on bearing fruit [心血長流], so that the story of the Hong Kong people is handed on [to future generations].

我叫麥心睿,香港土生土長,七百萬個故仔成就一個香 . . . 港故仔

My name is Lesley Mak, born and bred in Hong Kong. Seven million stories go to make up [成就] one [of the] Hong . . . Kong Stories.

《新心界》: 第六章 : 「内部光輝」

•  「心界」| Soundtrack

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新界對於陳之一嚟講就好似磁石咁,絶對冇法抗拒,但佢又冇法向其他人解釋呢種力量嘅所在。儘管呢個問題佢都諗咗好耐,只能得出唯一但仍然模糊嘅結論:内部光」。

離開聯和墟後,佢就一直往粉嶺東邊麻笏河行過去。經過安全街嘅時候,佢出於好奇心,不自覺停下腳步,睇睇一架好大好長嘅貨車,向某間公司嘅入口慢慢倒車入去,而為咗幫助司機順利倒車,司機嘅友人用一條鐵通用力敲打路旁嘅欄杆,透過打擊嘅節奏、聲音傳達相當有用嘅信息俾司機,令佢能夠順利泊好貨車。不過,呢種洪亮嘅金屬撞擊嘈音,就一直停留喺陳之一嘅雙耳中,嗡嗡作響。

好可惜,麻笏河早被香港嘅城市規劃師「規劃」了,牢牢困於大量石屎之中,樣貌同明渠差唔多,同樣係雨後會流動著混濁嘅污水,已經喪失河流應有嘅活力同埋自發性。為此,外國人低聲毒罵上古治水嘅大禹,因爲由大禹開始,華夏文明就特別重視治水嘅技巧,去到二十世紀下半葉,隨著現代科技嘅昌明,「蕞爾小島」之居民對於淹沒嘅憂慮得到充分嘅表現。想必過去香港人係飽受水浸帶嚟痛苦,因此而家嘅防洪熱情,真係做得太過火,所謂嘅建設,其實正正糟蹋、蹂躪緊大自然啦!不過,諗到呢度一點,陳之一見到兩隻小白鷺,非常悠閑咁飛過嚟,其後喺有垃圾但冇青草嘅假「河畔」上,充滿氣質又優雅地尋覓食物。

麻笏河另一邊係粉嶺,過河後就踏入龍躍頭一帶,市區由此驟然退去,跟住可以察覺到新界原有嘅田園風情。喺崇謙堂附近,外國男人不慌不忙咁行過一大笪荒廢嘅土地,因為早就冇人耕種,所以已經被各種雜草徹底侵佔,包括假向日葵、黃色野菊、同埋馨氣撲鼻嘅薑花。另外偶爾又可以見到一簇一簇生長出嚟但一啲都唔搶眼嘅矮細野草,譬如狸尾豆、黃毛苦草、梵天花同埋史氏千里光等等。呢一片雜草王國對途人展現出,自然界連最微不足道嘅地方都有充裕嚟創造力:縱然其外貌顯得十分混亂,表面上缺乏秩序,但其中仍然存著一種强烈嘅美感,令到陳之一暫時忘記鄰近市鎮入面嘅高樓大廈,同時忍唔住思考一下,點解人爲嘅紊亂難以保存嗰種内在美?注意到四月份薄弱嘅陽光投射到植物嘅葉面上時,陳之一特別欣賞類彌漫活力嗰嬌嫩光芒。

到達麻笏圍鄉村,佢又一次中途停低,目的係睇吓十八世紀興建嘅門樓同埋門楣上嘅紅砂岩石匾。呢嚿石額刻有「欝葱」二字,照指示牌為遊客提供嘅簡略解釋,「欝(同『鬱』)葱」即係寓意草木茂盛之地。陳之一特別鍾意呢塊紅砂岩嘅顔色,唔係紅色,又唔算係淺啡色,而係一種落日般嘅橙黃色,呢隻顔色將石頭嘅光輝同光亮擁有嘅石質融爲一體,效果真係非常之優美、溫柔。

其後,陳之一就繼續前往老圍(「門高迎紫氣,圍老得淳風」)隔離嘅龍躍頭天后宮,接近廟宇嗰一刻,就聽到近處有人攞著掃把,好從容咁掃地嘅聲音:一次又一次喺鋪滿瀝青嘅前院上面掃過去,就好似南丫島東澳灣嘅海浪,不停向平滑嘅沙灘上拍打過嚟,沙沙作響,產生一種類似催眠曲嘅效果,好容易讓人掃回一童年時代嘅回憶。到埗寺廟嘅時候,佢就發現掃地嘅係一個年輕女人,而其揮舞嘅大掃把同人差唔多一樣高!同女清潔工人寒暄幾句之後,陳之一就心懷期望邁過天后宮嘅門檻。

此刻,廟門内嗰種獨特嘅寧靜係可以觸摸得到嘅,依外國人睇,呢一種充滿和諧嘅謐靜唔單止係所謂聲學上嘅現象,而更加係可以用肉體感覺到嘅一種感受。因此,雖然前院掃地刷刷嘅摩擦聲一路尾隨進入廟中,但係呢類輕微嘅嘈音根本無法破壞廟内嘅强烈謐靜。呢間廟宇屋頂設有天井,所以裏面嘅光缐都比較明亮。不過當陳之一行到廟堂深處嘅時候,亮度就變得較為幽暗,令到祭壇上紅色電燈泡發射出嘅光芒就更加耀眼。燈泡側邊擺放著幾個豐滿甜橙作為祭品,佢就好似落山嘅太陽咁略略發出幾綫暗光。陳之一抬頭望望一刻,就見到上面掛著一個個螺旋式向下垂嘅塔型盤香,好像一排排由煙霧鑄成嘅無聲鬼鐘般,若隱若現,在濃厚煙霧之間,半透明左右搖曳。

不過,今次吸引陳之一目光嘅唔係天后元君,而係左邊嘅嗰幅青磚墻。佢讀書時得知,香港常見嘅青磚頭係同稻田有奇妙關連:厡來稻田中慢慢淤積嘅青色黏土,就係製造青磚嘅基本原料,用呢種咁有生命力嘅泥土嚟興建寺廟、寓所等建築物,真係係一種順天而行嘅行為﹗另外,因爲呢間廟宇左側屋頂鑿有天井,所以天晴有陽光嘅時間,廟内呢一幅青磚墻就間唔中被太陽曬到。奇怪嘅係,廟内真係有一種植物能夠喺青磚墻上繁盛咁生長出嚟,品種好似屬於蕨類,而且生長得尤其茂盛,彷如過去稻田肥沃嘅淤泥,到而家都仲保留本有嘅養份,完全概括「欝葱」嘅意義。除咗陳之一外,佢就係天后宮中唯一賦有活力嘅生物。呢一個事實令到當時醉於遐想嘅葉公,面容上露出一絲笑意。

挨晚行返麻笏河嗰一刻,外國人路過一座供奉土地公嘅神壇,座神壇恰好都係用磚頭砌成嘅,後面又種植唔少樹木,話唔定係麻笏圍過去擁有一片風水林嘅殘跡。雖然外貌極爲樸素,但係祭壇上面擺放著一個做得零舍精緻嘅土地公雕塑。經過歲月嘅流逝,土地公身穿嘅紅色長袍已經褪色,但頂帽條邊就保存部分原有嘅天藍色,不過土地公面上嘅臉色一啲都變,表情非常之安詳,凡人都會覺得土地公相當平易近人。

太陽經已落山,樹林隨之不斷傳嚟幽幽嘅蜥蟀鳴叫聲,同陳之一略微憂傷嘅心情完全相符,而西邊嘅晚霞將祭壇中每一塊磚頭隱藏嘅火焰都充分釋放出嚟,致使陳之一眼前都係一片濃艷嘅粉紅色,亮刺刺嘅光令到男人根本睜不開雙眼。

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阿綠順利去到大埔嘉福裱畫公司,喺出面嘅櫃檯前等老細匡囗全由後面嘅工作間行出嚟。櫃枱非常配合周圍環境嘅裝修,又現代又開揚,照明亦非常光亮,將雪白墻上嘅幾幅畫照得特別耀眼。阿綠不能不注意到匡老闆使用嘅畫框都係超級豪華,但係被鑲嵌嘅「藝術品」就極度平庸。當諗到呢一點之際,左邊嘅側門突然打開,隨後匡囗全同綠頭髮嘅發暗家一面揮手,一面打招呼。阿綠即刻尾隨老細進入後邊嘅工作間,一步入工作間,光缐即刻暗淡下去,整體氣氛亦好似由當代回到過去,工作間嘅環境又亂又雜又殘舊,空氣裏面充滿著膠水同木屑嘅氣味,令到阿綠霎時無法適應。

行到一大張工作枱前,匡老闆就順手埋開關,頭上嘅大燈就立刻投下光缐,將面嘅物件照亮:左邊放著原有嘅舊畫框,顯得零舍赤裸,一絲不掛咁;而右邊脫框嘅自畫像背面,一眼望落去就好唔舒服。畫背面貼有一大塊經已發黃嘅報紙,上面貼滿膠紙,貼得非常之實,而報紙中間擳出嚟嘅部分十分凸出,紙下面好似收藏咗啲嘢,好明顯有人曾經將一樣蓄意插入去。

去到呢個時候,匡老闆就向阿綠解釋佢工作上嘅困難:「你睇,呢邊嘅廢紙已經同你幅畫融成一體,如果用刀鎅開,就有可能會破壞幅畫。不過,假如唔鎅開,幅畫將來就容易變形。你考慮一下啦?」

面對兩難,阿綠真係猶豫不決,佢冇法即刻回答匡師傅。佢諗下唸下,呆呆咁望住嗰塊倒轉嘅舊報紙,莫名其妙咁發白日夢。

突然間,女人大聲講出一聲「甴!」。

「咩話,你?」嘉福裱畫公司嘅老細唔知點反應,只能擘大個口。

「呢度呀!你睇先,老闆!」阿綠向報紙上指一指,喺兩行黑麻麻嘅字體之間,果真有人用鉛筆寫低兩個暗淡嘅“甴”字,如果唔留心睇,都法睇出。等匡老細望到之後,阿綠就向佢進一步解釋:「呢啲字係我阿媽親手寫嘅!我細細個唔知點解成日會將“曱甴”講成“甴甴”,屋企人於是照樣叫我做“甴甴”,不過外人唔會咁樣叫我。另外,為咗鼓勵我認字讀書,我媽咪鍾意由報紙、雜誌撕下一啲文章,叫我用紅筆喺自己學識嘅字上畫個圈,佢就會用鉛筆寫低一啲笑話。佢想透過呢種方法增加我讀書嘅樂趣。我阿媽樣做一定有目的:報紙下面一定收埋咗佢想留我嘅嘢。匡師傅,你一定要鎅開呢幅畫上面嘅報紙。」

聽到阿綠堅定嘅語氣,匡囗全便去攞一把特用嘅刀,刀刃又細長又尖銳, 同醫生使用嘅解剖刀十分相似。匡老闆警告阿綠要企後啲,俾多啲空間佢執行重要任務。於是,佢極爲小心咁開始喺隆起嘅地方下刀。喺成個過程當中,阿綠都好心急,一直忍住啖氣。雖然呢次「手術」並未涉及到任何人體部位,但係阿綠個心為早就離世嘅母親,悄悄一滴一滴咁流緊鮮血。媽!

鎅好之後,匡老闆盯住阿綠幾秒鐘,就用兩隻手指慢慢捏出入面嘅藏物。又係一堆紙!不過,呢次嘅紙係平滑嘅,上面亦都印有一彩色圖片。匡師傅頗爲隆重咁將呢堆紙遞俾甚為緊張嘅阿綠,匡師傅好似懷有期望咁,好想睇一睇佢點將第二個謎團解開。

接到手上嗰一刻,阿綠心裏隱隱產生幻覺,感覺自己嘅一生轉瞬間停止,然後就置身於一段時間嘅時間當中,知覺就全部集中喺手指同光滑紙張之間嘅接觸感。對於母親留俾佢嘅遺物,佢好懷疑自己有足夠嘅心理準備去面對?經過一番猶疑之後,佢就手喐人唔喐咁將外層嗰堆紙慢慢拆開。居然係一個小包裹,而小包裹係由一條綠色嘅絲帶捆埋一齊,個纈打得特別實。初睄一眼,阿綠就留意到最上面係一信封,信封上面寫著「公主收」五個字,下面放著兩本筆記簿,大小唔同,厚薄又有唔同。阿綠就試圖開個纈,但係打得太死,加上佢心情太過緊張,解極都解唔開。匡師傅見狀就十分靈巧咁用手上把刀將絲帶割斷,絲帶隨即跌在工作枱上面。喺呢種毫無時間嘅時間下,阿綠以慢鏡頭嘅速度將手上嘅物品擺放枱側邊,然後再伸手拿起信封。好奇怪,信封冇被封死,信封頭只不過被攝入信封内,唔使一秒鐘,就可以將信封裏面嘅嘢抽出嚟。

去到呢個時刻,阿綠面前出現咗一張黑白相,相入面嘅人就係年輕時代嘅母親葛艷芊,隔離又有一個後生男人,用右手親暱咁搭喺母親嘅膊頭上面,兩人嘅表情睇嚟係非常和諧、自在。阿綠深深咁倒吸一啖氣。好明顯,嗰個男人並唔係自己嘅爸爸。此時,匡囗全注意到阿綠對手開始發抖,與此同時,臉色亦變得蒼白。因此,老闆忽然用一種果斷嘅語氣,勸阿綠唔好喺度再睇私人嘢,勸佢返自己屋企,心情冷靜啲先至繼續睇。阿綠彷如一個聽話嘅細路女,即刻將張相、封信同埋其他嘢執好,在思維混亂嘅情況下離開嘉福裱畫公司。

“The Original Inexhaustible Fund of Buoyancy”

Whatever the Doctor orders, is there any cure
for crying out loud? Where
the po social face
wonders under control, the force of her features lives
with a distinct livelihood of its own,
owning up to everything feeling,
and not toning down for shame what captures
her imagitation.
A ray of hope
or a stingray
of doubt — these never take second place
to cool schooled composure, and when —
again for crying out loud — she is bigger
than World Protocol, tears
streaming down her cheeks
and embarrassment singe-ing her singing nerves,
she remains single in that vivid affirmation,
sparkle-arkle-arkling at us all.


Photograph: Evette Kwok (2020)