Ongoing Moments: James Au

Ongoing Moments: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department respond to a photograph of their choice. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]

James Au

“Before ‘youth’, if nothing was impossible, shades would be cleared, and one would surmount everything and become a sun that shines upon everything,” Japanese poet Yosano Akiko once said. The photograph above, taken in July 2011, ushers me into reminiscence of moments of my late teens when two of my college and high school confidants and I founded a band called ‘Be Young’ – a near pun and parody of the local band ‘Beyond’, famous in the 1980s.
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Now the name to me means much more. It reminds me how rebellious I was with my hair dyed like a triad member, my pretentious black-framed glasses without lenses, and despite the unshakable truth that men grow physically old with time, memory remains forever young. Youth stays with our friendships, ignorance and passion. An unprecedented performance at the Avenue of Stars sent shivers down my spine, for I feared that one note might slip and skip because of my sweaty trembling fingers. But, courage had to be mustered because we all knew none of us wanted our previous repetitive practices to come to futility. Tone-deaf, we sang with passion to open up our “Boundless Seas, Vast Skies”. Nothing could be more joyful than to share the same goal and work towards it in the same time and place; nothing could be warmer than to end up with ceaseless applause. Though a hot and summer day, our summer stays in my mind like the sun that always shines.
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Thousands of miles apart and occupied with various work and toils, I strongly believe we might, however, one day gather and dine in Tokyo, London or Hong Kong and cherish those past happiest moments again. Nay, they have never gone past! They are kept in the present, and are going to be present even when we lead different lives in different places. Then five years, or a decade later on the same stage, Thomas on his guitar, Samson his drum set and I my keyboard play the melody of Beyond’s/Be Young’s song “Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies” again…

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James_AuJames Au was an MALCS (MA in Literary and Comparative Studies) student (2013-2014) at the Department of English. Spending a few years learning Japanese, French and German, he developed his research interest in comparative literature, particularly between East and West. His MA project focused on how European Dada poetry affects Chinese and Japanese poetry.  [Click here to read all entries by James.]

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