Pride of Place: Justin Yeung


Pride of Place: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a place in Hong Kong. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Pet Sounds” series.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]

shing mun river.jpg
Photography by Johnny Ko (via.)

The River That Reeks Of Memories

To most people, the Shing Mun River in Sha Tin is nothing but a stinky sewer. As a child, to me it was no different. On the bus to primary school in Sha Tin Wai, I could always see the unending filthy brown water. I often wondered why people still went jogging by the river—weren’t they afraid of being engulfed by the awful smell? Some even went fishing there—didn’t they have somewhere better to fish? Even if you did manage to catch something, it would be too poisonous to eat. That’s how my childhood went by, imagining and wondering about things that were “unnecessary”.

Then came the stage of fantasy and emotion. My family moved, first, to Ma On Shan, and then Tai Wai. In the first place, at of the river, I learnt to enjoy jogging alongside it, despite the mild smell of ammonia; at the other end, in the second place, I learnt to run as fast as I could to enjoy the breeze. Jogging has become a hobby since then, but the inspirations that flowed like a stream after the run was better. The wind, the ripples, the sunset and the silence were the perfect setting for most of my love stories.

It was also the best place to hide from troubles. As an adolescent, it’s very easy to get emotional with everything in life. My biggest fear was going to school because it meant more drilling and homework. The pressure of not getting a high score in my exams meant failure to me. And the over emphasis of “getting a degree means success in life” crushed my aspirations for life. I have to admit being a teacher was never my intention as I love writing more but, judging by my grades then, swimming in the river was easier than getting a degree in writing. So, I ran away from these thoughts. I watched the twilight as the breeze embraced me. I tiptoed back home as the ripples cheered for me.

Finally came the age of awakening. Being a teenager is troublesome, but being an adult is the premium package of annoyance. Tuition fees, unnecessary courtesy and the maintaining “friendship” are the absolute rites of passage. Monetary problems aside, thoughts of reading should be added into my degree. People pretend to like you and you pretend to like them; everyone has to guess their friends and foes. To escape my Monty Hall problems, I jog by the smelly river. I am ultimately impressed—it has a mouth, but it never complains; it runs quickly, but it never runs away from its problems; it has a bank but it collects no debts.

It has become a river of memories, from the age of wonder to the age of fantasy and to the age of awakening. It’s more than a stinky sewer.


Justin.jpgYeung Kwan Nok Justin is an agitated English & Education student passionate about writing for teaching and expression. [Read all entries by Justin.]


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