Pet Sounds: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a piece of music or song. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]
“The Egg and the Lamb”
Imagine if you were kidnapped and sold into slavery. Which of the following two options would you choose? Would you rather be an egg that crashes into the brick wall and goes against the grain, or a lamb that goes with the flow, willing to be enslaved? Inspired by the Academy Award-winning movie 12 Years a Slave, Kay Tse’s “The Egg and the Lamb” (雞蛋與羔羊) retells the story of an African-American man, Solomon Northup, who constantly fights for his survival and freedom during his twelve years of slavery.
“The Egg and the Lamb” was released on 30 June 2014, the day before the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China. Whether or not it was a deliberate act by the music company, the lyrics of the song are full of allegories. Many critics believe that the song is about the tense relationship between Hong Kong (the egg or lamb) and the Chinese government (the brick wall). This claim gained further credence when the song was banned in mainland China after its release because of the ‘sensitive political issues’ it touches on.
‘Knives and guns are arrogantly held aloft / turning all the old values to trash’ (屠刀機槍，高舉得囂張 / 要過去的價值成呆壞賬). Over the twenty years since the handover, Hong Kong has, from the outside, become more vibrant and prosperous. Beneath the glamorous veneer, however, our home is gradually losing its uniqueness and people living here are starting to lose their freedom. The Chinese government promised us everything would remain unchanged for fifty years after the handover. Twenty years on, many things have changed. From the amendment of the pre-handover constitutional laws to the Causeway Bay booksellers incident, the ‘wall’ is impeding the development of our home and slowly eroding the values, beliefs, and freedom of expression we have long embraced. Like one line in the song—‘We have already got to the point where we have to choose, keep dragging on and we will die’ (人已到了決志現場，再拖便遭殃)—we have indeed reached the moment when we should step up and refuse to succumb to the political pressure of the Chinese government.
If I have to choose between being an egg and a lamb when confronting the wall, I will always, undoubtedly, choose the former. Even though the wall in front of us is so gigantic and intimidating, I truly believe that it will collapse if we, as Hongkongers, strive to protect our home by uniting our minds, hearts and strengths. This reminds me of one line from David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas: ‘My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?’
Never give up, Hong Kong.
Kobe Kwan is a graduate of the Department of English and Department of Education (Class of 2017).