這裏像橋

雨水過後,陽光乍現。灰白的天簾徐徐打開,讓人能一睹久違的藍天。炎炎晚夏,與其與嘈吵的同窗擠在一輛輛的蒸籠搖搖晃晃地下山,我反倒喜歡下課後穿梭於百萬大道附近教學樓;漫步於林蔭的大學道上,一邊整理一天的思緒,一邊感受校園的寧靜。那天,也許是雨後陽光的魔力,柔和的陽光招來了不少歸家心切的同學,他們夾雜着粗言穢語的談話聲劃破了林蔭大道的清靜。幸好,斜陽也喚醒了樹林裏的麻雀。牠們清脆的歌聲把我引到離范克廉樓不遠的一道梯級小徑。常言道:大學生要勇於挑戰和探索,從失敗中找到人生的方向和突破。本着勇於嘗試的精神,隨着夏風的帶領,獨自踏上了一次大學的小探險。

和暖的微風輕輕吹拂,我小心翼翼沿梯而下。階梯的兩旁栽滿了無數大大小小的花木,婆娑樹影,古樹幽深,山坡一片綠。偶有夾雜着數片褐黃色的葉兒、或是午後的陽光所構成、或是預視着秋天經已悄悄的來到。茂密樹林中傳來微微夏蟬聲,更覺山中小梯的清靜。中大山明水秀,天人合人,環境清幽得令人百看不厭。橫看成嶺側成峰、遠近高低各不同。每一天、每一次散步都是一次新探索,豐富了我對自然之觸覺、對文字之美的追求。

淅瀝淅瀝,偶有數點清涼的水晶輕輕落在我的頭上。欲避過葉子上欲滴的水珠,我稍微把頭向下傾,低頭一看,綿綿不絕的階梯鋪滿了經不起連日風雨蹂躪的枯枝綠葉,梯級兩旁的柵欄亦開滿雨水所致的銹花。我心裏不禁黯然,在大學歲月裏,能無懼蕭瑟風雨、任周遭改變仍抱擁當初堅貞理想、佇立不倒的鮮花綠葉又有多少?

我隨着黄蝶一直漫遊於怡人樹林之間。忽然,黄蝶一下鑽進了目光探不到的深樹叢裏,消失得無影無蹤。失去黄蝶作伴,我只好獨身上路。也許是偏僻小徑,人跡罕至,加上前幾天雨總是下個不停,越是走下去,頭上的枝葉越變得凌亂,縱橫交錯,非把它們褐綠又帶點金黃的手指栽進我的髮絲不行。雖然心裏不斷掙扎,不斷說服自己別在走下去,免得迷失於人煙稀少的山頭,但好奇心還是驅使我繼續走下去。哎呀!就在思緒混亂之際,頭上的枝葉果真與我的髮絲緊緊相扣。

在叢林之間,我隱約目睹一個男子的身影。聽到我哎呀一聲,他立刻回頭一看,輕聲地向我問好。縱使我已經輕輕搖頭回應,但那刻我倆仍四目交視,呆了一會,學兄的臉變得緋紅,我的心一陣悸動。人們常說大學歲月是浪漫的、是清純的。心動的一刻雖然短暫,但是那感覺卻已成永恆的回憶,烙在心上。

經過一頓整理,隨著學長背影的逝去,我亦再次起行。綿綿不絕的階梯還終把我領到崇基著名的小橋流水。溪水淙淙從山上而來,溪石為引、荷葉作伴。鮮紅的順利橋上走着數位學兄學姊。小橋之下潺潺小溪漂着枯葉,一會兒便被流水沖到無知的遠方。也許,它們想對我說四年轉眼即逝,我終有一天便通過這道橋,成為崇基的校友,走往未知的未來。

行過連接小橋流水平坦的校友徑,不經不覺已經到了崇基禮拜堂。轉眼間便從清幽自然的小橋流水回到一座座混凝土所建教學樓之中。崇基有順利橋,中文大學有連接本部和崇基學院的小橋流水,大學生則抓緊了大學這條人生中的橋。這橋連接着兩個現實,我們可以在橋上遠離足下的鴻流,盡情的迷失於知識的探索,純真地尋找靈魂的另一半,青春無悔地發夢。這是我們的大學歲月。

沒錯,大學像橋。

(記於二零一六年十月     當了大學生一個月)

後記:隨文附上數張大學美景

 

[Poetry Analysis] Postcard from Kashmir

“Home is where the heart is.” It is glaringly clear that the speaker’s (the poet’s) heart belongs to Kashmir, his homeland as well as a region in South Asia that suffers from on-going territorial disputes among China, India and Pakistan.

Postcard from Kashmir

by Agha Shahid Ali

Kashmir shrinks into my mailbox,

my home a neat four by six inches.

I always loved neatness. Now I hold

the half-inch Himalayas in my hand.

This is home. And this the closest

I’ll ever be to home. When I return,

the colors won’t be so brilliant,

the Jhelum’s waters so clean,

so ultramarine. My love

so overexposed.

And my memory will be a little

out of focus, in it

a giant negative, black

and white, still undeveloped.

  • The word ‘Shrinks’ in “Kashmir shrinks into my mailbox” (line 1) suggests that the real, grandeur Kashmir diminishes to the tiny delicate picture printed on the postcard.
  • Home (line 2), normal speaking, refers to a place where people are currently living in. Postcards are usually sent from place people spend their holiday on. Yet, interestingly, for this time, the poet receives a postcard from his home, Kashmir. Apparently, the speaker has lost in touch with his homeland. The ‘four-by-six-inch’ postcard simply evokes his memories towards his birthplace.
  • The poet highlights that he always loved neatness (3). The adjective ‘neat’ refers not only to the regular shape of the postcard, but also the neat and harmonious Kashmir in the poet’s memory.
  • In line 3, the use of the past tense for the first and only time in the poem reveals that war-torn Kashmir is no longer as calm and peaceful as it used to be.
  • The speaker then switches his focus to the mere ‘half-inch’ Himalayas, which is, in reality, the most gigantic and iconic mountain range in the world. The poet deliberately uses the same kind of contrast to express the wide distant between Kashmir and where the speaker is.
  • Internal rhyme: “inches”, “neatness” and “Himalayas”
  • Alliteration: ‘hold’, ‘half-inch’, ‘Himalayas’ and ‘hand’
  • The tone of the poem is getting increasingly serious and emotional from line 5. “This is home. And this is the closest I’ll ever be to home.” (line5-6) What a powerful rhetorical repetition that emphasises poet’s deep affection towards the land he loves!
  • Irony: the word “closest”. It is saddening to know that the poet yearns to be home but the chance to do so is thin.
  • The poet continues to build up a bitter mood by imagining what Kashmir will be like when he returns. Torn by wars, Kashmir would not be so colourful. Bloodshed Jhelum’s water would not be so clean and ultramarine anymore.
  • The repeated use of “so” in line 7-10 intensifies the poet’s pity and lament for the destruction of Kashmir.
  • His emotion reaches the climax at “my love so overexposed” (line 9-10). The poet intentionally separates “so overexposed” from “my love” in order to achieve a rhetorical emphasis on his patriotic sentiment.
  • “overexposed”: show how overwhelming the poet’s nostalgic love to Kashmir is in a somehow distorted and explicit manner, just like a piece of photography that are overexposed (too much light).
  • “giant and negative”: the two adjectives help contrast the shrunken, idealized Kashmir in the postcard with the giant, grim one in reality.
  • “Black and white”: a metonymy for things happened in the past. It contrasts the stark color on the postcard.
  • The last sentence of the poem is filled with quite a number of commas. This structure reflects that memories are just pieces of flashbacks and feelings that tangle together. However enchanting his memories are, they are indeed messy and will gradually fade.

On a final note, one should pay attention to the number of lines in this free verse poem. Surprisingly, there are actually 14 lines, which are identical to that in Shakespearean sonnets, a traditional format for love poems. It is glaringly clear that the ultimate aim of the poem is to channel the poet’s unbounded patriotic love to Kashmir, the place he is proud to call it home.

 

18

Dear my future 18-year-old daughter,

Happy birthday, my lovely daughter. You turn 18 today! I guess you’ve yearned for this day for long, right? Mama has something to tell you, something I wish I knew before turning 18.

It is your first day of being an adult. Don’t you feel excited about it? Being an adult means having lots of freedom, lots of excitement, lots of explorations, lots of aspiration… But remember, freedom comes with responsibility and commitment.

You will find that people around you, your classmates, your besties, may look far more mature (I prefer the word “older”) than a year before. Yet, they are nothing more than a bunch of kids holding a passport for alcohol and cigarette. Just break away from prison-like high school and survive from the torture of public exam, many of your friends would pick up bad habits, finding ecstasy in overnight parties and fashion-like relationships. You will witness many people that you used to care so much transform into strangers, into someone you barely know. Sometimes you can save them, but most the time you cannot. Friends are just friends. Sometimes you should let go.

Boyfriends, caffeine, cosmetics, fashions, laptops, and smartphones seem to be your daily necessities (but they are not and should not be). You can easily get chained to materialism, conspicuous consumption, and competition. Conformity may tear your individuality and innocent soul. My daring, I am not discouraging you from becoming a prettier lady and taking up new challenges. What I want you to bear in mind is that you are amazing just the way you are. I don’t want to see that you have become somebody you, yourself don’t even know. Please stay true and be yourself.

Never rushes into relationships, my girl. Never get your lips tainted by lipsticks and kisses by somebody who is blinded by lust and infatuation. All those skinny loves would never last. It is not worthwhile to waste your tears on those playful boys. Yet, at the same time, don’t let your sense and reason bar you from getting a taste of romantic love.

Anyway, 18 is 18, it’s just a number. No big deal. Step up your comfort zones and have fun!

Best wishes,

your mother at the edge of eighteen, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

一個月

一個月了,也許是時候將那段瘋狂的經歷洋洋灑灑數百字寫下來,開始放下它,別再思念那張臉,讓那段回憶在腦海中慢慢褪色。

這個月來,那個傍晚所發生每個細節,那個人對我講過的每一句話不時浮現於眼前。從那個人係火車上跟我搭訕的第一句話、係月台上熱情的擁抱、偷偷地用手機拍下我不漂亮的臉、同我分享你手機上係世界各地拍的照片(那些黑白相真心好靚)、係尖沙咀緊緊握我的手、在我耳邊說喜歡我、到最後分開時那個輕輕的在我唇上吻了一下(這是我的初吻!),每一個片段都讓人刻骨銘心,尤其係呢一段經歷係發生係兩個以前素未謀面的大學生的身上。

Image
九龍塘火車站,我們第一次擁抱的地方。

我的理性曾經令我懷疑過那個人係唔係一個年輕的內地遊客假冒成香港大學的本科生,到處騙銀包騙感情。我的理性亦吿訴我不要那麼幼稚,現實生活中根本沒有所謂的一見鍾情(this is infatuation, not love!)  但後來我發現我的理性很不理性。就是因爲我以理性為借口,不想承認自己喜歡上他,我當晚很刻意沒有好好記下他的全名,也沒有問那個人拎contact (只係敷衍下那個人留咗自己電話)。我亦自以為很好成熟好識諗野,刻意放他飛機,係1881 Heritage只留下一封拒絶信……

那個男生曾經講過  : 每個人有自己的人生,並且要對自己的人生負責任。

就是因爲要對自己的人生負責,那個人鼓起無限的勇氣認識他來香港以來第一個自己認識的朋友。

我很後悔自己沒勇氣對自己的感情和人生負責任。我很後悔愛得太遲,現在用盡所有方法都無法聯絡上那個我遇見過最勇敢最霸氣的男生。

有人說:愛不到的人就別等了。千萬別把青春和尊嚴浪費在一個無法跟你過下輩子的人身上。

可是,世上沒有愛不到的人,只有一些迷信世上有愛不到的人的白痴。所以請你珍惜每一個心動的機會,趁青春瘋狂一次,對自己的感情、自己人生負責任,別讓理性和膽怯將一段即將萌芽的感情成為你後悔一輩子的回憶。

 P.s. Je ne peux pas t’oublier…

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當天看似理性的決定,回想起來很後悔。
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這封信你收到了嗎?

[Poetry Analysis] From the Republic of Conscience

Published on the Human Right Day of 1985, From the Republic of Conscience is written by the celebrated Irish poet Seamus Heaney (I love his works a lot!) to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Amnesty International, a leading global human right NGO. Through narrating the speaker’s journey in the virtual nation of conscience, Heaney challenges the racial barriers created by political ideologies like nation-states, explores the common ground between different racial groups, and urges his readers to defend human rights with our consciousness.

From the Republic of Conscience

By Seamus Heaney

I
When I landed in the republic of conscience
it was so noiseless when the engines stopped
I could hear a curlew high above the runway
At immigration, the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat
and showed me a photograph of my grandfather
The woman in customs asked me to declare
the words of our traditional cures and charms
to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye
No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.
You carried your own burden and very soon
your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared

Stanza I

  • Republic of conscience: Heaney imagines that Conscience can be a nation, a real place that you can visit (I consider a journey to the Republic of Conscience as some kind of ‘mental exploration’.)
  • old man: old and wise, familiar with traditions
  • ‘homespun’: simple and unsophisticated
  • declare the words of our traditional cures and charms: Strange, right? We declare luxury and taxable goods at the custom, not traditional custom and norms (Wordplay: The Customs and folk customs)
  • No interpreter: The Republic of Conscience expects every man who visits the country understand and can communicate with the language of ‘conscience’, i.e. Conscience is an inborn and primitive trait of every human being.
  • your own burden: 1. luggage; 2. your past, your family history, your traditions
  • symptoms of creeping privilege: Heaney deems privileges as ‘symptoms’, as sicknesses, defying the socio-economic and class differences between human beings.
  • Heaney subverts the general perceptions of nation-states and identities. In real life, humans are bound by their nationalities and separated by borders, races, statuses and so on. However, what truly define human are not passports and identity documents, but our personal history, cultures, and customs.

II
Fog is a dreaded omen there, but lightning
spells universal good and parents hang
swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms
Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells
are held to the ear during births and funerals.
The base of all inks and pigments is seawater
Their sacred symbol is a stylized boat
The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,
The hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.
At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office
and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky-god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless

Stanza II

  • Heaney tries to find out the common ground of humanity, regardless of races and religions: 1. Morality (e.g. everyone knows it is immoral to leave a helpless baby unattended during thunderstorms) 2. symbolism (e.g. salt: carries a positive connotation in different religions like Christianity and Islam) They are what unite humans and bring us together.
  • Their sacred symbol… the keel an open eye: Based on the fact that the poem is a tribute to Amnesty International, “a stylized boat” (line 8) with eye, ear, mouth and a sloping pen is a metaphor for the human right fighters of Amnesty International, who make remarkable contribution in global ethic initiatives (boat: vehicles for dissemination of ideas of human rights)
  • The base of all inks and pigments is seawater: inks and pigments are metonyms for words. Human right fighters like Heaney use words as means of protest (similar to seawater and boat: without water, boats can travel to nowhere).
  • Public leaders need to respect and “uphold unwritten laws ”, echoing the traditions mentioned in the first stanza.
  • sky-god wept: Sky-god cries for his solitude (vs. humans are connected by common traditions and history) Ha ha he envies us.
  • Sum Up: The transnational and trans-ethnical affiliation among every human being agrees with the principle beliefs of human rights: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. All humans are endowed with reason and conscience. We should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

III
I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs woman
having insisted my allowance was myself
The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition
that I was now a dual citizen
He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue
Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved

Stanza III

  • Without any efforts, the speaker is granted with “dual citizenship”: the citizens of both the Republic of Conscience (he is even a representative!) and his own country
  • speak on their behalf in my own tongue: We don’t have to compromise our national identity to fulfill our responsibility as a representative of conscience
  • operated independently: our judgment (conscience) should not be subject to political pressure
  • SUM UP: Finally, the poem urges us to reflect on the responsible of individuals in safeguarding human rights. Of course, Amnesty International is not the only one who should struggle for human rights. All human beings are the ambassadors of the Republic of Conscience that “would ever be relieved” (line 39).  Everyone should carry his/her own burden (protect our conscience). Our duty of speaking out against injustice would never cease.

 

 

[Lyrics Analysis] Audition (The Fool Who Dream)

Literally, this is the best song of La La Land. (Of course, City of Stars is wonderful too. But this is better.) The song comes from the scene when Mia is asked to tell a story during her audition as a leading actress. Mia recalls a story of her aunt—the woman who inspired her it is bravery (or madness, you may say) to chase her dreams. Talking about pursuing dreams, this song illustrates the struggles faced by every single artist and ‘dreamer’ in the world– juggling between idealism and reality.

“My aunt used to live in Paris. I remember, she used to come home and tell us these stories about being abroad and I remember she told us that she jumped into the river once, barefoot.”

  • My aunt refers to Mia’s aunt, who was an actress too, just like Mia.
  • Paris: the place where Mia is heading to after the audition, the starting point of her promising acting career. Also, it is the “city of stars” in Europe.

“She smiled…”

  • Mia’s aunt may feel either a little embarrassed (coz she was sharing her crazy experience) or enjoyed (took pride in her fearless behavior)

Leapt, without looking
And tumbled into the Seine
The water was freezing
She spent a month sneezing
But said she would do it again

  • leapt, without looking: setting aside all reason and sense, just follow one’s sensibility and impulse (some may think that it is insane) It is a leap of faith
  • the Seine: the most famous river and commercial waterway in Paris.  With busy water traffic, it is somehow dangerous for people to ‘swim’ in the Seine
  • spent a month sneezing but said she would do it again: Although this dauntless move hurt her, Mia’s aunt insisted on doing so. The leap into the Seine is a metaphor for Mia’s (and many other dreamers) pursuit in the film industry. Despite all the setbacks and failures, Mia enjoys the thrill of move closer and closer to her dream as a profession actress.

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make

  • Dreamers always suffer from the social pressure that following one’s dream is foolish and unrealistic. Unable to seek approval from others, dreamers often feel sad and depressed (hearts that ache). Sometimes, they may even think that they have messed up their life.

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She captured a feeling
Sky with no ceiling
The sunset inside a frame

  • Sky with no ceiling: Following one’s dreams and unleashing one’s boundless (just like the sky) potentials can bring one’s LIMITLESS (no ceiling) joy and satisfaction.
  • The sunset inside a frame: there’re 2 kinds of interpretation for this line. First, the line captures what Mia’s aunt witnessed when she tumbled into the river and looked at the horizons like a fish. Everything is inside a frame (fish-eye effect). Second, it is a metonymy for ‘a happy ending’. Many classic Hollywood movies (within a movie frame) end with a romantic sunset scene where the male protagonist kiss the female protagonist.

Ariel

She lived in her liquor
And died with a flicker
I’ll always remember the flame

  • It is saddening to hear that Mia’s aunt who could not bear the pressure of being an actress and resort the alcohol
  • died with a flicker: the word flicker implies that Mia’s aunt didn’t become a famous actress (not a bright star). Yet, she is still a flicker. She has once shined. Though short, the light is already enough to motivate and inspire Mia
  • the flame: Mia’s aunt’s passion in acting
  • Dreamers may seem to be foolish in the eyes of realists and snobbish people. (On the other way round, from the dreamer’s perspective, those ‘realists’ are foolish too. They are too shy to follow their hearts)
  • hearts that ache: feeling frustrated for their fruitless effort made in pursuing dreams
She told me:
A bit of madness is key 
To give us new colors to see
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us
  • The best part of the song. Lesson to every human beings, especially the one who dream: A bit of madness is key. All it takes is courage to achieve your dreams and ambitions. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way to add spices to your wonderful life.

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  • And that’s why they need us: True! we need dreamers who dream about a better future to bring about social changes and progress. Just as Keith in the movie said, “How are you gonna be a revolutionary if you’re such a traditionalist? You hold onto the past, but jazz is about the future.”

comfort-zone.jpg

So bring on the rebels
The ripples from pebbles (the impacts of a pioneer)
The painters, and poets, and plays
  • Rebels: revolutionaries who overthrow the status quo and bring changes
  • The ripples from pebbles: Dreamers (e.g. painters and poets) are like pebbles. Pioneers can leave a great impact on other people, inspire and change the world (the ripple effect)

And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make

  • hearts that break: So many artists had ended their love affairs (Heartbreak) with songwriting, acting, writing because of financial difficulties, the pressure from family, not recognized by society…
  • Artists think their artworks, their career, their life are nothing but a mess

I trace it all back to then

  • Mia reviews her whole life (filled with lots of setbacks), her relentless pursuit in the filming industry (failed countless auditions)

Her, and the snow, and the Seine
Smiling through it
She said she’d do it

Again

  • Both Mia’s aunt and Mia think that despite all the heartbreak, it’s all worth it to risk their future to pursue dream, to do the things that they are truly passionate with.

Stranger, you would never know…

Dear Stranger,

You would never know, as early as I had got on the train, I noticed you, a good-looking gentleman sitting in the backseat. You would never know I used to hate Mandarin a lot, but because of you, I secretly fall in love with it. You would never know my heart was stolen as early as you held me in your arms on the platform.  You would never know you unchained an imprisoned angel who has been suffering from the torture of reason, the control-freak in her family, her thick glasses and her imperfect body. You would never know the power of the four words you whisper to me, the four words I have been longing for nearly 19 years, the four words that no one had ever told me before. You would never know, you are the bravest guy I have ever met, a promising future architect with a heart that full of love and dreams, the loveliest man I won’t feel regretted giving my first kiss to.

You would never know, if I could turn back time, I would let the wild child inside me to take control over me: say goodbye to my bossy mum, spent a memorable night with you in a crowded restaurant, dream about our future under the glittering skyscrapers, catch up you the next day (10:00 1881 Heritage), tear that god-damn letter into ashes…

You would never know, the ‘boldest’ decision I thought I had made has now turned into the most cowardly memory in my life, the shadow that will haunt me forever.

Please, stranger, find me.

With love,

Saturday