Sunday 19 August 2012, 12.30am HKT
A R T & M E M O R I E S
AND NOW for something completely different.
Memories and impressions retained and revived elicit some of the most powerful emotions inside us — often creating directions in life for us too. For some, reminiscences can become signposts for our destiny. For others, they may well be the very stuff of destiny that a person meets on the road to avoid it.
In this special guestpost, artist and writer Ophelia Kwong relays some of the momentary feelings since the passing of her father that have paradoxically become longlasting impressions.
* * *
Fourteen months have passed since I last saw my father.
It’s strange how something or someone that has always been there can vanish within a few short hours.
Like that 7-Eleven downstairs only last week: gone in the short time I was away on holiday.
Some memories are still vivid. Faces of people in day-to-day life become imperceptibly imprinted on the mind.
Like that middle-aged lady in the red shirt and curly mousy hair: unaware that a butterfly landed on her shoulder, and that made us laugh. Not that a butterfly using your shoulder as a landing pad was particularly funny, but the split second when it happened seemed funny to us. Probably 15 years old I was then, silly and naive in my white uniform and green tie.
Like that boy who worked in that 7-Eleven too. I had a crush on him for about a year. Every day for the several years he was there, I saw him, came into contact with him, but scarcely a word passed between us.
“Wait,” the boy said on seeing my box of ice lollies on the counter on that night I walked into the place after a night out. “The fridge is broken … these have probably all melted.”
There was something sincere in that smile of his, a cheerfulness about it that made me smile back. I had wanted to start a conversation with him: Do you live near here? How can you be so cheery working in a Seven for the past five or six years?
Eh, I said nothing. I decided to buy something else and then I left.
It’s strange. Moments with people we hardly even know could have that kind of impact on the memories of our lives.
Thinking back about the millions of moments I shared with my father, it all seems too overwhelming.
The first six months had been especially hard. Even now, in these past few months, I’ve not quite been able to cry. After a while, though, you just stop crying. The pain of losing someone close just drops in intensity eventually — perhaps it’s some form of self-protection, or it’s simply an adaptation to the situation of things.
I was talking to someone the other day about pain: that if we truly feel the ‘pain,’ maybe we might be able to talk about it and put it into simple words.
I’m not really sure if all pain can be put into words. Some kinds of pain just cannot be expressed, I think.
It’s like when you’re on the train, riding along, listening to a song, and then catch sight of someone with a familiar-looking paunch and balding head. And then the tears come on. You don’t really know from where or why the tears come on.
Should the tears be there?
Have they been repressed?
Or ignored or taken away, only to come back on now, suddenly?
If it’s something buried inside me, what’s triggering it into the open?
There’s the dream the other night. We were on holiday on this island, taking rides together on turtles and whales, going round the island and stuff. A happy, silly dream. I woke up smiling.
Maybe dreams have become or is a comforter, as though it’s my way of dealing with what had happened. Maybe dreams have become a kind of reality that I don’t know of. Either way, I wish for more of these dreams to keep me company in the nights to come.
Ophelia Kwong is an artist and writer previously in the UK and USA, and now based in Hong Kong. Her works have appeared in many group exhibitions such as White Tube, JCCAC, Culture Club, Mischmasch Gallery, Cattle Depot Artist Village and other exhibitions. She had been a writer for the art magazine “a.m. Post” (Artmap) and was a guest writer for “Roundtable.” Currently, she creates commissioned art pieces and works freelance worldwide. Visit her website at Mischmasch.
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Image and words © Ophelia Kwong. (B12254)