“Kwan Yin” by Ainslie Meares (1969)

Tai Tseng Wai Koon Yam

香港横洲大井圍天后古廟 Tin Hau Temple in Tai Tseng Wai, Wang Chau, Hong Kong

Ainslie Meares (1910-1986) was a well-known Australian psychologist with a particular interest in the use of meditation to relieve pain. Among his many books, there is an unusual work with the title Strange Places, Simple Truths, a collection of short prose pieces about his travels to various parts of the world in search of knowledge about alternative approaches to pain. Although Hong Kong is not one of his destinations, the book ends with a short text about the author’s very personal connection with the place.

Ainslie Meares (1910年至1986年)係一名知名嘅澳洲心理學家,對於以靜修達致舒緩痛楚嘅方法特別感到興趣。喺佢眾多著作當中,有一本頗為獨特,名為《陌生國度,簡單真相》,係一本小品集,講述佢遊歴世界各地,尋找處理痛楚嘅另類方法。雖然香港並唔係其中嘅目的地,但係該書最後一篇寫到作者同香港擁有十分獨特嘅聯繫。

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Since I first started to write about these experiences, I have wanted to say something about Kwan Yin. But somehow it has seemed too difficult. I think I have fallen in love with her, and that of course makes it hard.
自從開始以短文敘說我嘅旅遊經驗,我就一直打算講吓我對觀音嘅觀感。但係唔知點解,撰寫呢個題目總覺得太難。我諗,因為早就愛上咗佢,所以想寫以佢為主嘅文章,真係變成一件難以完成嘅事。

It must have been on my first visit to Hong Kong. In a curio shop I found a beautiful stone figure. This was some time ago, and then I did not even know the name of the lady who has come to steal my fancy so completely. She was standing at ease, about two feet high, clad in the flowing drapes of the classical Chinese, and with that mystique of expression which communicates the indefinable. I knew I had to have her. I bargained and bought her. And since then she has stood on the bookshelves in my study.
想必係喺我第一次去香港嗰陣時發生嘅。喺一間古董珍品店裏面,我發現咗一座優美嘅石制雕像。由於呢件事係好耐之前發生嘅,儘管佢之後令我全身全心墮入愛河,但係當時連佢係邊個我都唔知。呢個雕像悠閒地站立,身高兩英尺左右,穿著線條流動嘅古典中式服裝,而佢臉上嘅表情真係令人覺得莫名其妙,藉此傳達一種神秘又難以解釋嘅狀態。喺嗰刻我知道我一定要擁有佢。經過一番討價還價之後,我終於買到佢。自此以來,佢喺我間書房入邊書架上面一直站立著。

When one falls for a girl, a single picture is never enough. On my next visit to Hong Kong I spent the whole of my time in search of another. Do not be mistaken. Do not think of the hundreds of factory made figures of Kwan Yin with which the shops abound. No. My lady is not like those. The fact remains that each time I have been to Hong Kong I have come home with a stone figure of my lady. It has become a family joke.
愛嚫一個女人,僅僅擁有一張相片永遠不夠。第二次去香港時,我用曬所有時間去揾另外一座同樣嘅小雕像。你千祈唔好會錯意。嗰啲由工廠製造嘅,喺商店成千上萬咁擺放出嚟嘅觀音塑像,遠遠唔似我呢位親愛嘅女仕。絕對唔係。不過,無論如何,結果每次喺香港返澳洲,我都會帶呢位女仕嘅石制雕像返屋企。呢件事已經成為屋企人嘅家庭笑話。

One of the strange things about her is that she was originally a man. He was a Bodisatva, one who has attained Buddhahood, a kind of saint; and his saintliness was concerned with the depth of his compassion. Bodisatvas are always rather sexless. Perhaps all that is spiritual within them leads to something beyond sex. Then with the spread of Buddhism from India to China, Kwan Yin became worshipped as a female deity. It may be that compassion is an attribute of woman rather than of man. People think of her as the taking-away-fear Buddha. To Europeans she is known as the Goddess of Mercy. I know nothing of China, but I have seen her worshipped widely by Mahayana Buddhists in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.
一個令人感到驚奇嘅事實係:佢原來係男性。佢已經成為菩薩,即悟到佛性嘅一個人,一種聖人,而且佢嘅佛性係同佢無限嘅慈悲連結一齊。菩薩多數係冇乜性慾嘅。菩薩內心嘅心靈或許能夠引導佢哋超越性慾嘅境界。隨著佛教由印度延至中國,觀音就被視為一個女性神而敬拜佢。可以咁樣講,慈悲或者係屬於比較女性嘅一種品質。眾生一般認為佢係能夠帶走恐懼嘅佛陀,不過對於歐洲人嚟講,佢係仁慈嘅女神。我對中國內地一無所知,但係喺香港、台灣同埋日本我曾經親眼見到佢受到摩訶衍那(大乘)佛教教徒嘅廣泛敬拜。

Ainslie Meares c.1974_8 MAY 2019

Ainslie Meares, Melbourne, 1974 (?)

I have found my stone image brings with it a sense of beauty and repose. But more than this, there is such a sense of mystique that it seems to have captivated me. So I continue my search for another. I have searched around the dust of old shops in narrow streets where such things are sometimes found. I have sought her from lush curio shops of the great hotels, where the Rolls-Royce and the rickshaw wait outside. One very hot day there was an old rickshaw man squatting on the foot-board of his rickshaw as is their custom while waiting for a passenger. He was very old. He was half asleep, half in a stupor. He was a worn-out man; his body almost gone, his mind insensitive to the noise and bustle that was all about him. I had just bought half a dozen mandarins to take to my hotel room. I quietly put one by his side, but he awoke from his stupor, and his eyes looked at me. Then arms stretched out from all directions, and I had to be off. Then, by strange coincidence, twice in the next few days I saw an old rickshaw-man wave to me. It was he again, not asking for more, but still bowing his thanks. And he seemed stronger. Strength that could not have come from my miserable mandarin.
呢座石制雕像優美,又能帶嚟安寧嘅感覺俾我,更加重要嘅係佢特有嘅神秘色彩,徹底迷住了我。因此,我到而家仲繼續揾揾其他觀音雕像。喺狹窄路上嘅舊式舖頭入邊,喺一片灰塵中曾經尋尋覓覓,期望揾到呢類珍稀物品。喺香港嘅豪華酒店中,亦有專賣古董珍品嘅商店,我都會試吓去呢啲商店揾揾佢。呢類酒店嘅外面通常泊著努斯來斯名貴汽車或者人力車。仲記得有一日,天氣非常之炎熱,我見到有一個人力車司機,佢按照佢哋嘅習慣,喺車上嘅踏腳板上面踎住,等吓一個乘客。佢年齡非常之高,當時半睡半醒,好似冇乜意識咁。阿伯十分老弱,身體狀況已經疲憊不堪,對四圍喧鬧已經達到痲木嘅地步。我當時啱啱買咗半打柑橘,打算攞返酒店房間。有見及此,我靜靜雞將一個柑橘放喺佢身邊,不過佢居然突然間醒過嚟,雙眼凝凝望住我。因為周圍其他人都伸手想攞到柑橘,所以我只好拿拿聲走開。咁啱得咁橋,之後幾日,我居然兩次遇到呢位年紀老邁嘅人力車司機向我揮手。佢唔係想問我要求啲乜嘢,只係以鞠躬嘅方式向我表示感激。佢好似好翻啲,精神體力有所提高,當然精力嘅提高同我送俾佢嗰個微不足道嘅柑橘肯定毫無關係。

In my search I have passed women in the briefest mini skirts I have ever seen, women in the traditional garb of the Chinese, women in rags, women like Chinese film stars with neat dresses and trim figures. And women with chubby babies strapped to their backs, and women with emaciated children begging for a few cents. I have been to shops where they would discuss nothing until I was seated on a china stool, and had had a cup of green tea. In others they cared little if I came or went, and in some their anxiety to sell me something spoke of their need of basic necessities. A thousand times I have asked ‘Kwan Yin, Kwan Yin’. But they could not understand my pronunciation. ‘Goddess of Mercy’. But they could speak no English. So I have rummaged  around their shops. I have examined hundreds of stone figures of Kwan Yin, but none has had the strange quality of the first one which I so happily stumbled on.
喺我尋覓嘅過程中,我經過身穿短到冇得再短嘅迷你裙嘅女人。我亦都見過穿著傳統服裝嘅女人,衣衫襤褸嘅女人,穿著稱身衣裳、身材苗條像中國明星般嘅女人。另外我又曾經見到孭住肥嘟嘟啤啤仔嘅女人,同埋抱住瘦蜢蜢細路仔嚟乞錢嘅女人。而且,我去過好多間舖頭:有啲要等我坐低瓷櫈仔上飲完一杯綠茶先至問我想買乜嘢;有啲服務員對我都漠然不關,愛理不理;而有啲,好似要賺錢養家過活,所以急於賣嘢俾我。我到而家已經喺舖頭講過「觀音,觀音」過千次,但係佢哋無法聽明我嘅發音。用「Goddess of Mercy」亦都唔得,因為佢哋唔識英文。攪到收尾我喺佢哋舖頭裏面揾嚟揾去,曾經仔細咁觀察過好多好多嘅石制觀音雕像,但係都揾唔返好似第一次偶爾揾到嗰座咁、擁有特有嘅氣質——遇到第一座嘅運氣未曾重複。

I have sought her through all the turmoil that makes Hong Kong one of the most fascinating cities of the world. Through the bustle of it all; but no jostling, no pushing, that is not the way of the Chinese. Through the smell of narrow streets, where the stench of it would be enough to stop my breathing. Passed beggars who made worse their deformities, and those who sat in the gutter quietly awaiting death to take them. Passed old men who looked as if they knew what it was all about; passed women whose gaunt eyes told that they had learned to accept what it was. Stepping over gutters of filth and children. Passed police whose impassive calm and efficiency makes them some of the finest in the world. Groups of jabbering tourists on their world cruise bent on buying junk from the Kowloon factories. Children playing in the streets whose widest horizon is the gutter of the next alley. And through all this nobody interferes. And it goes on late into the night. Women and girls come who would lead me to another love, but my desire is elsewhere.
香港嘅凌亂令佢成為世界上最為吸引嘅城市之一,而我正正喺係呢種凌亂之中去尋找觀音。雖然人多混亂, 但係當中冇人擠湧,冇人撞你――推撞唔係香港華人嘅風土習慣。我又經過氣味難聞嘅狹窄巷仔,要忍著唔透氣。我又行過急於討吃嘅乞兒,其中有啲故意將身上殘缺畸形嘅部分整得更加嚇人,又見過另一種乞兒,佢哋粒聲唔出坐喺坑渠旁邊,好似等待死亡嘅來臨。另外,我又經過洞悉世故嘅老伯,經過眼神空洞且呆滯嘅婦女,見到呢啲眼神就知道佢哋已經接受現狀,聽天由命。我亦大步跨過污糟邋遢嘅坑渠及其週圍嘅細路仔。又經過冷靜無情嘅警員,佢哋嘅高效水平令佢哋成為世界優秀之列。又經過一班班嘰里咕嚕嘅外國遊客,佢哋坐郵輪嚟香港,一心想買到九龍工廠粗制濫造嘅產品。又經過喺度玩緊嘅細蚊仔,佢哋嘅生活範圍唔可以離開呢度至下一條橫街窄巷嘅坑渠位置。冇任何人會企圖改變呢啲狀況,種種嘅凌亂會一直繼續到夜闌人靜。呢個時候,女人同埋少女們會出現喺我面前,佢哋想將我帶進另一種愛情,不過我所渴望嘅係喺別處。

And now I have several stone figures of my lady-love. They are all different, each reflecting the craftsman’s own idea of the nebulous quality which finds expression in the concept of Kwan Yin. But as in life, none has the same mystique as the one which first so captivated my fancy.
到而家,我已有好幾座石制雕塑,而佢哋一律都係我親愛嘅女人。但佢哋都唔一樣,每一座都表現出個別工匠對觀音嗰種難以言喻嘅獨特氣質嘅個人見解同構思。不過,正正好似生活咁,未有一座可以比得上迷倒我嘅第一座觀音。

Hong Kong Tin Hau Temples: Hau Kok 口角天后古廟

Evette KWOK_Tin Hau Temple_Tuen Mun_5 MAY 2019

When you get off the train at the terminus at Tuen Mun and descend into the streets, you plunge at once into a canyon of sombre, towering buildings that seem industrial in nature rather than architectural. Through the centre of town, another degraded river — the so-called Tuen Mun River Channel — crawls rather than runs on its way past the Public Cargo Working Area and down to the sea, slightly murky in appearance and bounded in its expanse by the usual snug straitjacket of concrete. For all that, Tuen Mun had no power to shut out the Spring, and it had come to the city with a riot of bird-call in the sliver of park squeezed between Tin Hau Road and the water, and with a fragrant outpouring from purple bauhinia flowers and from those red floral giants sprouting on the leafless, grey-barked, ramrod-straight kapok trees.

The Hau Kok Tin Hau Temple is, according to the signpost, an 11-minute walk away, and I get there in good time, despite the obstacles put in my path by some new construction or renovation project. The word kok in Cantonese suggest a horn of land projecting into water, but perhaps reclamation has obliterated this geographical reality — a casual flick though the Hong Kong street directory will show you that there are many man-made straight lines in the Hong Kong coastline. Given the proximity to the sea, one would expect the worship of the goddess of the sailors to be vital to the locals, and this turns out to be the case: her temple sits against a hill in a large paved public square of considerable proportions, at the entrance to which is a magnificent though modernized ceremonial pai lau gateway. The interesting thing about this is that the matching couplets engraved onto it contain references both to Hau Kok and Tuen Mun, reinforcing the idea that such temples can play an essential role in sustaining not just a local community but in communing with a specific locale. “The region responds to the attention to the attention it receives from the various members of the community”, writes Thomas Berry, and I can only hope that it is so, because like so many other places in Hong Kong, clusters of high-rise apartment buildings are encroaching with grim determination on all sides.

The temple certainly seems to be an important focus for the community: it shows many signs of being well-used. Although hardly thronging with visitors on this special day of the Ching Ming Festival, the large censer in front of the temple is belching incense, as is the incinerator for paper-offerings located off to the left-hand side, next to a squat shrine — this one painted yellow rather than the typical red —  dedicated to 社稷大王之神位 , the two great kings of the land and of grain. The main gates of this temple are painted vermilion, and the door gods have been rendered in a tasteful, antique style. Above the lintel, there are the usual paintings of auspicious animals and natural scenes. As an added bonus, reflecting perhaps the idiosyncratic bent of artist, we also have depictions of two of China’s greatest poets. On the left, Su Tung-p’o is shown “playing” with ink-stones (a less literal and more scholarly translation for the verb waan might be “makes a display of his connoisseurship”), while on the right we see “Li Po Getting Drunk on Wine” but still steady on his feet. To a foreigner, both seem frivolous if not immoral scenes, hardly edifying for the pious temple-goer intent on worship, but they suggest that the pleasures of this life are not incompatible with the upholding of the sacred, and serve as a gentle reminder that from early times, Chinese poetry has been associated with shamanism and journeys into the numinous spirit-world.

Continue reading “Hong Kong Tin Hau Temples: Hau Kok 口角天后古廟”

“Cycle” by Woo Sai Nga, translated by Audrey Heijns

Woo Sai Nga_Cycle Image TWO_25 APR 2019

Please scroll down for the Chinese version!

When only a few lamps are left on a winter night
he is left with the bitter cold,
with only a very small piece of cardboard
Why doesn’t he pull in his frozen ankles and curl up
to keep warm, amid the heart beats and
moist breath, or groom a dream
back to the time when
the bed was large, his parents still young and him
longing for tomorrow

How could he not have thought
of the risk of death as
possibly the only door left ajar
that could be fully opened
to escape the old body, just like
all the broken bowls and cups
that will eventually return with new contours

But only summer nights return, while he
unexpectedly starts to feel affection
for his cardboard, his groomed dream and when
the wind blows, and carries away sweat stains, unexpectedly
he happens to find
some leaps in rain-like drops dripping, spraying
as well as vague palpitations of existence, like
streets after the rain, wet old newspapers, a gleam of light
on the back of a cockroach, reflecting in his eyes
until the next winter night

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〈週期〉/胡世雅

當冬夜只剩幾盞燈
他剩下寒冷,
和一張過細的紙皮
就收進凍僵的腳踝吧,蜷縮
在心跳和微濕的呼吸下
取暖,或豢養一個夢
回到那個時候
床很大,父母未老而他
嚮往明天

對於死亡,他怎會
沒有過危險的想法
那可能是唯一的
裂縫像半掩的門可以徹底打開
可以逃離舊的軀體,就像
所有曾經破掉的碗和杯
終會以新的外形歸來

但歸來的只是夏夜,而他
竟然開始貪戀
他的紙皮,養出的夢以及
風過,帶走汗漬黏膩,他竟然
還可以找出
一些躍動,類似雨點滴落,濺開
以及一些有關生存的
微微的脈搏,例如
雨後的路,沾過水的舊報紙,蟑螂的背部
帶光,映在眼眸
直到下個冬夜

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● Woo Sai Nga, born in Hong Kong, is a member of Fannou Poetry Society. She graduated from the Chinese Department, Baptist University of Hong Kong in 2017 and is now teaching at a secondary school. She publishes poems in literary magazines in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and has won the Youth Literary Award (青年文學獎) and the Award for Creative Writing in Chinese (中文文學創作獎) in Hong Kong.

● Audrey Heijns, based in Hong Kong, is working at Shenzhen University. Her translations of Chinese literature have been published in literary magazines, including Het Trage Vuur, Twee Ronde, KortVerhaal, Terras, Renditions, Exchanges and Poetry International.

Cantonese through News Stories: Hong Kong Trials New Mosquito Catcher

Capture_New Mosquito Catcher_19 APR 2019

The mosquitos of Hong Kong must tremble in their boots when they see Mr Lee Ming-wai, Pest Control Officer-in-charge at the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. There were twenty-nine cases of dengue fever in Hong Kong last year, a fact that must add to Lee’s determination to control the insects effectively. Hence this story on a new mosquito catcher or 捕蚊器 bouh6 mān1 hei3, a Dutch invention that Mr Lee hopes will answer all his prayers. Whatever the eventual outcome of this innovation, the following report, put together by 關可為 Gwāan1 Hó2 Wàih4 at TVB, is a veritable treasure trove of entomological vocabulary!

Visit the TVB website for a slightly different version of this report!

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12 new words:

1. 引入 yán2 yahp6 = to introduce (from elsewhere)
2. 成蚊 sìhng4 mān1 = adult mosquito
3. 幼蟲 yau3 chùhng4 = larva; larvae
4. 滋生 jī1 sāang1 = to breed; to multiply
5. 產卵 cháan2 léun2/léuhn5 = to lay eggs
6. 孵 fū1 = to hatch; to brood; to incubate
7. 監察 gāam1 chaat3 = to supervise; to monitor
8. 白紋伊蚊 baahk6 màhn4 yī1 mān1 = (Asian) tiger mosquito or forest mosquito (Aedes albopictus)
9. 針 jām1 = (of a mosquito) to bite
10. 實地測試 saht6 deih6 chāk1 si3 = on the spot + to test
11. 成效 sìhng4 haauh6 = effect; result
12. 推展 teui3 jín2 = to roll forward; to roll out; to promote; to extend to

*For correct jyutping romanization, you can cut and paste any Cantonese vocabulary in this post into the Sheik Cantonese website for checking.

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食環署引入新型捕蚊器,可以同時針對成蚊同幼蟲。
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department are introducing a new type of mosquito catcher that can target both adult mosquitos and larvae at the same time.

Note: The character 針 jām1 crops up in a couple of words used in this report. Here, 針對 jām1 deui3 is used, which means “to be aimed at; to be directed at”. Later, you’ll notice that 針 jām1 is also used as the verb “to bite” when applied to mosquitos (it means “to sting” in the case of bees, etc.).

春夏潮濕多雨,有利蚊蟲滋生。
Spring and Summer are humid and rainy, [conditions] favourable to [有利 yáuh5 leih6] the breeding of mosquitos. Continue reading “Cantonese through News Stories: Hong Kong Trials New Mosquito Catcher”

以鉛筆寫作:杜杜嘅《晚霞》/ Written in Pencil: Toto’s “Sunset Glow”

Evette KWOK_Sunset Three

I first came across the work of Hong Kong writer 杜杜 Toto in 2002, when I bought his collection of mainly short texts entitled 《住家風景》or Domestic Scenery. His touch is very light, almost sketchy, as if he wrote everything in pencil, but there are unexpected depths in his work, inspired to a large degree by his religious orientation. If you can read Chinese, try and find a copy of 《住家風景》. If you don’t, then here’s a brief sample of his writing just to give you some idea of his quiet powers.

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《晚霞》

望出去是海。麻雀在晚霞的金黃裏飛着吱喳着。碼頭前是匆忙的行人。有巴士聲,有電視機聲。妻子和兒子臥在床上。 妻子說着故事哄兒子睡覺。我一下子就感應到一切都和我毫無相干。我只是活在這世界上,無端地在看晚霞消失。

寂寞是唯一永遠存在的事物。我原以為寂寞遠離我去,隨著我逝去的青春歲月。那些枯燥苦悶而無可如何的日子,我以為都成為過去了。我已經忘了。結婚多年,只試過有一次夢見自己走在幽暗的長走廊,碰不着一個朋友,然後一身冷汗地醒來。

如今我望着晚霞消失。我只是活在這世界上。人生不過如此。誰得意了?

我原也是個傷感多情的人。自少如此,到如今。人是不會改變的。人只是裝了個面具,嘻哈地過日子。

寂寞是我最好的朋友。我不在害怕。

寂寞,你好?

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Sunset Glow”

Looking out, I have a view of the sea. In the gold of the sunset glow, sparrows fly about twittering. People scurry around at the entrance to the ferry pier. The noise of buses, and the noise of television sets. My wife is lying on the bed with our son, telling him a story to make him fall asleep. All of a sudden, my response to all this is that it has nothing whatever to do with me. I live on this Earth and nowhere else, watching for no reason the glow of sunset fade away.

Loneliness is the only thing that lasts forever. I was under the impression that, once the years of my youth were over, loneliness had left me for good. Those dreary, depressing days that I could do nothing to change were now, I thought, behind me. I had already forgotten them. In many years of marriage, only once have I had the experience of dreaming that I was walking down a long, gloomy corridor without bumping into a single friend — after the dream, I woke up in a cold sweat.

And now here I am, watching the sunset glow fade. I live on this Earth and nowhere else. That’s just the way it is. No one’s special!

I used to be someone who lived mainly through their feelings. I was like this when I was young, and I still am. People can’t change. We all just wear masks, fake-laughing our way through our lives.

Loneliness is our best friend. I no longer have anything to fear.

So, how are you, Loneliness?

Photograph by Evette Kwok, 2019

Reverend Chu Yiu-ming: A Brave Bell Toller, Waking Up Hong Kong’s Sleepy Souls

Reverend Jyu Yiu-ming_10 APR 2019

作為一個終生為上主所用,矢志與弱勢者和窮苦人同行,祈求彰顯上主公義,實踐天國在人間,傳頌愛與和平福音的牧師,垂老之年,滿頭白髮,站在法庭被告欄,以待罪之身作最後的陳辭,看似極其荒謬和諷刺,甚至被視為神職人員的羞辱!
I am a Christian minister committed to the service of God. I have resolved to live a life of friendship with the weak and the poor, praying that God’s justice be manifested on earth as it is in heaven, and that the gospel of love and peace be proclaimed among the people. But today, old and grey, I find myself in the Defendant’s dock, making a final plea as a convict. It looks so absurd, if not outright shameful for a person holding holy office.

然而,此時此刻,在我心中,在法庭的被告欄,是一生牧職最崇高的講壇,死蔭的幽谷成就了靈性的高峯。
And yet, at this very moment, my heart tells me that with this defendant’s dock, I have found the most honourable pulpit of my ministerial career. The valley of the shadow of death leads to spiritual heights.

幾十年來,講道無數,想不到最費時、最用心、受眾最多的講道,正是在被告欄的陳辭,這裏有我童年的故事、牧區的故事、香港的故事、民主的故事、最後一里的故事、雨傘運動的故事、人間和天國的故事。
For decades, I have preached numerous sermons. Little could I anticipate that the one message which preparation took me the longest time and the most heartfelt prayer, and which probably would reach the largest audience, is precisely this one delivered from the defendant’s dock. In this message I tell the story of my childhood, of the Umbrella Movement, a story of heaven and earth.

古時的猶太人,期待救贖主來臨的日子,那裏再沒有痛苦和眼淚,但基督道成肉身,住在人間,經歷人世的艱辛,詮釋了救贖主的真義:「那裏有痛苦和眼淚,那裏就有救贖主!」
In days of old, Jewish people longed for the coming of the Redeemer when there would be no more pain and tears. Then Christ, Incarnate, took on human flesh and lived among us, sharing in our suffering and pain. And the world has since learned that “where there is suffering and tears, there is the Redeemer.”

在乖謬的時代,在專權的國度,在扭曲的社會,我甘願成為一個勇敢的敲鐘者,喚醒人間昏睡的靈魂。
Ours is an age of absurdity. Living in a society on the brink of authoritarianism and of arbitrary rule, let me be a brave bell toller, ringing, waking up sleepy souls.

“The City” by Woo Sai Nga, translated by Audrey Heijns

Woo Si Nga_Tonglau Photo_29 MAR 2019

Please scroll down for the Chinese version!

Old-style Chinese apartment buildings have listened to ten years’ worth
of falling rain, they have
listened to the stories of this city
Love and hate have aged him
sharpened time, made it unbearable
chewing him up, along with his times

On the train tall buildings flash past like on tv
passengers anxiously grab seats
then quietly abandon themselves, or leave themselves
watching how history hollows itself out to drive the train,
to take over the responsibility for playing the part of existence

Who cares about those dozing old-style Chinese apartment buildings
with those faded photos of newlyweds on the wall,
the calendars from which no page will ever be torn,
slippers left behind, or a towel that has been used right to the end of a lifetime?

Who will collect
the missing strokes from the Chinese characters in the neon signs
the mannequin from Rose Studio looks transparent and pale
the factory building is like the shed shell of a caterpillar, desolation in the forgetful city?

The compartment is so crowded that only eyes can move
I am berthed in a sea that does not yet exist
allowing the street lights to dissolve, and to make me ebb away
the new city is waiting for us
to lose our way in it, coming from far away

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

〈城〉/胡世雅

唐樓聽了十年雨
聽這個城市的故事
愛與恨使他衰老
使時間尖銳而不可承受
嚼食他與他的時代

車廂播映高樓更迭
乘客急於搶奪位置
靜靜棄置自己,或者離開
看歷史成為渣滓推動列車
負責扮演存在

誰會在意那幢打瞌睡的唐樓
掛著褪色的新婚照
一頁不會被撕下的日曆
遺下的拖鞋,或一條用了終身的毛巾

誰會蒐集
霓虹缺了一劃
玫瑰影樓的女模特透明而蒼白
工廠大廈像毛蟲褪去的殼,荒涼在善忘的城

車廂擠擁得剩下眼睛
我停泊在一片未存在的海
任由街燈溶化,後退
新的城市等待我們
迷路,從遠處走來

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

● Woo Sai Nga, born in Hong Kong, is a member of Fannou Poetry Society. She graduated from the Chinese Department, Baptist University of Hong Kong in 2017 and is now teaching at a secondary school. She publishes poems in literary magazines in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and has won the Youth Literary Award (青年文學獎) and the Award for Creative Writing in Chinese (中文文學創作獎) in Hong Kong.

●Audrey Heijns, based in Hong Kong, is working at Shenzhen University. Her translations of Chinese literature have been published in literary magazines, including Het Trage Vuur, Twee Ronde, KortVerhaal, Terras, Renditions, Exchanges and Poetry International.