Lucky You, a review of All's Right with the World written by Mr. Chen Hao
Original Chinese version published by Chinatimes on September 20, 2007
English translation published by Edwin Mak on his blog, Faster than Instant Noodles
English translation by Mei Ko
英文翻譯刊載於Edwin Mak的部落, Faster than Instant Noodles
by Chen Hao
20070920 in Taiwan China Times
Director Cheung said, "there are no more poor.""We will not 'see' poverty in Hong Kong anymore"...
We always need to fill certain forms during school opening days, my youngest daughter loves to ask every time "is our family well-to-do?" Whenever my older daughter hears, she answers impatiently "Of course, what else could we be?" More often the case she would start to count her school mates' "finance" situations, adding gossip on her new classmates, and then speak to herself like "so everyone is in the competition, at least we are better than some others." I did feel upset while listening to her precocious speech, she sharply defines "wealthy" by visible material, and understands "fortune" without conscience and modesty. Is that a blessing for their generation to ignore or even neglect poverty?
Compared to my daughter, I always felt a bit scared at childhood when asking my parents to fill out school forms. I remember my mother's tears by heart that my brother hid his tuition fee notice in order to pay debts incurred by father's surgery. My mind is deeply shadowed by the fear that one day "the big tree" [translator's note - meaning family in Chinese] could fall apart. My parents are the diaspora generation, I am too familiar with their stories from affluent life to destitution, then struggling to build a family in troubled times. And our "poor" classmates revealed themselves by their lunch boxes rather than formally on official forms. "Poverty" is just next to our doors, it is on my way to school, on streets, on the edge of dikes, or on the side of the field. We are not separated from poverty, and it is even not below our class. The meaning of life is to remind us the vulnerability of ourselves and our neighbours. Have we already ruled out this kind of memory from our next generation's comprehension of the world?
Several days ago, I took a night cab. The driver started to talk about his story looking for a daytime job, his heartfelt tone moved me earnestly. "It's a school security job, 90 NTD per hour, and twelve hours per day. No pay on holidays. But there are so many days off in a month. In total, the monthly pay is merely ten thousands something. But I really want to take it, and drive cab for rest of time. My wife said I would be exhausted to death. I said, just for three years hardship, I can sweat till my kids graduating." I tried to persuade him giving up this idea by providing statical evidence, "it is unworthy!! if you crackup in sixties, who is going to take care the whole family? " My ride is less than 10 minutes; however, I didn't want to get off and we stopped at the road side discussing the possibility for his wife to get a job. Maybe he simply wanted a company to talk to, but at that moment I was bitten by my life memories all over again. When getting off, I gave him my best wishes sincerely. I knew his plight by heart, it's like walking on the floating ice; once he fell, the whole family would suffer more unbearable struggles.
My world is deeply connected with these issues currently, I watched ten documentaries under Mr. Jianxianbin's supervising production in the CNEX film festival. Especially All's Right With The World that tells us how the disadvantaged people face their "walking-on-floating-ice" life. The camera focuses the edge of Hong Kong city, beneath the glorious shopping paradise, filming the shabby houses in Lei Yue Men, silent corners in Shatin Village, and five families in old Shek Kip Mei including Sister Di, Madam Jinshui, Manling, Lava and other members. "It's like an endless predicament".
Director Cheung said, "there are no more poor." "We will not 'see' poverty in Hong Kong anymore". "The poor would no longer wear rags, yet the destitute and distress poverty still exists in everyday life among those grand skyscrapers and opulent communities"
Director Cheung's meant and heartfelt stories moved me earnestly as well. Furthermore, the best part of his movie is how he empathizes with such misery, and you don't need to lower you head to sympathize, to share your tears, and to donate for healing. He merely wants you to look at the injustice next door in an equal position. And you leave after seeing it, go back to your comfortable middle class life, and ticking the box of "well-to-do".