11. Gratitude and Hope
When people ask where I am from, I always treat it as a friendly gesture, and that they are interested to know more about me. I respond positively, and gauge how much more they want to hear. I would also ask them the same question with the hope that we share our memories especially someone from Hong Kong. I have had the fortune to live in a place where East Meets West, and learned from both. We are never too old to meet new friends.
I love my old Hong Kong, her land and people who were part of my early life. My Guangzhou and Maba too albeit the latter too short and early! Although these places have seen many changes since I left, they are always in my mind.
One day my cousin was playing on our Ki Lung Street balcony. I became annoyed when he started to intrude into my area, I tried to push him away. Grandma Chan saw what was happening. I know she loved all her grandchildren. She looked at us but mainly me, saying in Taishanese "你們兩個不應該打架. 你們萍水相 逢." There are various meanings of this Chinese phrase, and I think hers is the most fitting - "You two should not fight. Calm water has brought you (floating plants) together."
Several days before my mother passed away, I was by her side in her hospital room. It was late at night and the place was completely silent. She recalled one night many years ago when we were also together. In her Cantonese dialect, she said "當您出生在馬壩時，我能聽到河水的聲音，那一刻非常安靜與和平" (When you were born in Maba, I could hear only the sound of water from a nearby river. That moment was very calm and peaceful).
My sincere thanks to Andrew Suddaby whose encouragement enabled me to write this autobiography. The background in the photo reminds me of my time walking along the same Central water front.