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.]
Pride entails variations of a shared exclusivity. It emerges as one observes a moment of others running parallel to what one cherishes; as I learn of others’ appreciation for Agnès Varda’s film Faces Places, for Xi Xi’s works, and for Popo’s Garden.
Popo’s Garden was the nickname my family gave to the garden on Caine Road. I later came to think that naming implies a desire to possess and exhibit, if not all, a partial knowledge of, or familiarity with, the place. The garden was when and where my maternal grandmother chatted with her acquaintances under the playground pavilion. It was our Saturday routine to stroll to the garden and linger there a while. As we arrived, I would run around in circles and pester her to push me on the swing. Her pushes, like the breeze, sent me higher and lighter. At the highest point of each advance, I would have wagged my tail, if I had one, like a monkey, and then I would spring onto the rubber matted ground, craving excitement. Landing, I often stood up straight, and more often I fell flat. I could not remember if my grandma was smiling or scolding, for I was usually focusing on steadying myself.
Or, in truth, the memory is receding. It always awaits renewal or reconstruction. The once reverberating physical sensations could only be reshaped through their verbal or visual creative afterimages. It was after several days of rain when ennui brought me to the garden once again. The breeze carried the scent of dampened grass across the quiet playground where the swings were. Upon a closer look, the rust had bitten deep into the swing’s chains, like climbing vines. Perhaps nothing could be done to those numerous pendulums except for the workers to wrap them tight to the stand, with the sign “Under Repair” on it. The garden might no longer be able to redeem my greedy ennui. As I was leaving, melancholy at the garden’s redounding solitude, there were chirps and squeaks of increasing loudness from the playground. A little boy was at the highest point on his swing in front of his father, waiting to be caught or pushed again. The breeze passed through and, once again, instilled in me a sense of gratitude and relief. I supposed the wrapped swing would hopefully be repaired, when I saw the father pushing his son in the other swing, like my grandma once did.
William Ng is a graduate of the Department of English and Department of Education (Class of 2016). [Click here to read all entries by William.]