Pride of Place: Nicola Chan Oi Ching

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.]

Victoria Park_Pride of Place.JPG
Victoria Park

It is surrounded by ‘Metropark’, ‘Rosedale’, ‘Jesus is God’, and many other architectural signatures. Neon logos on these buildings beam loudly in the night, making each one a special landmark. Such is the view as you stroll around Victoria Park’s deserted football pitches at 11pm.

In this tranquil green space of my neighbourhood, flying dandelions are rare summer snow that never melts; cicadas sing their familiar soothing songs in the damp heat.

At weekends, many domestic helpers, mostly from the Philippines or Indonesia, gather in the park. They sit on cardboard laid out along the main walkway connecting Tin Hau to Causeway Bay, and in other free spaces. Some in flamboyant summery dresses; some in casual cottonware; some in multi-layered hijabs. They manifest human connection in its simplest form: sharing. From food to language. Dance and music. Time. Homesickness. I wonder where they settle when it rains.

I’ve taken countless walks around the park with different people, so much so the trees could now plot graphs of my evolving emotions, reinforced memories, or deteriorating retention from my inconsistent accounts of the past. I’ve slowly become a sustainable food source for starving mosquitos, following the many short breaks I have taken on the benches. Many friends have generously walked me home. Yet, only a few important people—past or present—have heard my impromptu solos, if not received stolen kisses, in the dark and quiet.

For the last twenty nine years, candles have lit up the park’s basketball and football fields for the June Fourth evening vigils. To commemorate the slain Chinese student protesters. The martyrs of social justice, democracy, and freedom. The self-induced enemies of the powerful cowards who shoot instead of speak. Even now.

There aren’t many places that can archive my personal history as much as the collective memories of the people in, and of, Hong Kong. But Victoria Park holds the partial truth of my life’s footprint and our city’s history. It is my reviver of sunken sentiments, a celebration of cultural integration, and our guardian of nature and righteousness.

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NicolaNicola Chan Oi Ching is a BA graduate in Stylistics and Comparative Literature (Class of 2015). She is currently a reporter for Young Post. [Click here to read all entries by Nicola.]

 

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