[EXCLUSIVE] “Disappearing into the Vast Main” (Friday 31 July 2020) by Chris Song, translated by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

[Chris Song’s Mobile Diary]

Disappearing into the Vast Main 
by Chris Song, translated from the Chinese by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

{{{ Hong Kong—Friday 31 July 2020 }}}

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 121. Consecutive days of intense heat; the heavy rain this morning brought a sliver of refreshment. Wanchai tends to be packed with people and choked with traffic, noisy, even in the evening. Because of the pandemic, there are fewer people out, and fewer cars still. The streets are even more desolate in the rain, and the city is surprisingly calm. Not too far from here, near the Hopewell Centre, large machinery thunders away, its sound seems particularly distinct, much like an invisible behemoth descending upon us, announcing its arrival, menacing the world…

At dusk, the rain almost stopped. We took a walk on the near-deserted Central Waterfront Promenade. Every tall mansion on either side of the harbour was submerged in cloud and fog. The weather was unpredictable: cloudy or bright. There were barely any pedestrians but journalists wielding cameras and monopods were rushing towards Tamar, where the Chief Executive was giving a press conference. When we arrived at Tamar Park, the rain picked up again. There were expats running in the torrent, their ears plugged with music and podcasts but their faces unmasked. Perhaps these preventive measures mean nothing to them! We walked for a few more minutes in the direction of the Convention Centre, and the rain swiftly thickened, gusts and rain crisscrossing. We had no choice but to turn back towards home. Colourless rain beat down on the surface of the water in the harbour, each drop finding its sense of purpose before disappearing into the vast main. Against a darkened sky, the raindrops were like tiny chocolate chips…

People were leaving work. Office staff finish their day earlier on Friday. Everyone had been tortured enough after being pushed around by such unreasonable policies for almost a week; finally they could relax a little. We saw two nurses waiting for takeaways on the ground-floor McDonald’s in Admiralty Centre. Perhaps they didn’t go in because their clothes were wet, their shoes soaked? They leaned on the handles of long umbrellas, obviously exhausted. And the umbrellas looked like they would break at any moment…

Returning home, a Typhoon No. 3 signal was hoisted…






Disappearing into the Vast Main

Rainy Cheung Sha Wan

How to cite: Song, Chris. “Disappearing into the Vast Main.” Translated by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho. Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, 31 Jul. 2020, chajournal.blog/2020/07/31/vast-main/.


chris copy (1)Chris Song (author) is a poet, translator and editor based in Hong Kong. He has published four collections of poetry and many volumes of poetry in translation. Chris received an “Extraordinary Mention” at Italy’s UNESCO-recognized Nosside World Poetry Prize 2013 and the Young Artist Award at the 2017 Hong Kong Arts Development Awards. In 2018 he obtained a PhD in Translation Studies from Lingnan University. More recently he won Haizi Poetry Award in 2019. Chris is currently Editor-in-Chief of Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine and Executive Director of the International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong

tammy-lai-ming-hoTammy Lai-Ming Ho (translator) is the founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, an editor of the academic journals Victorian Network and Hong Kong Studies, and the first English-language Editor of Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine. She is an Associate Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, where she teaches poetics, fiction, and modern drama. She is also the President of PEN Hong Kong, a Junior Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities, an advisor to the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing, and an Associate Director of One City One Book Hong Kong. Tammy’s first collection of poetry is Hula Hooping (Chameleon 2015), for which she won the Young Artist Award in Literary Arts from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. Her first short story collection Her Name Upon The Strand (Delere Press), her second poetry collection Too Too Too Too (Math Paper Press) and chapbook An Extraterrestrial in Hong Kong (Musical Stone) were published in 2018. Her first academic book is Neo-Victorian Cannibalism (Palgrave, 2019). Tammy edited or co-edited a number of literary volumes having a strong focus on Hong Kong, the most recent one being Twin Cities: An Anthology of Twin Cinema from Singapore and Hong Kong (Landmark Books, 2017). She guest-edited a Hong Kong Feature for World Literature Today (Spring 2019), the Hong Kong special issue of Svenska PEN’s PEN/Opp, and an e-chapbook of Hong Kong poetry published by Cordite Publishing. Tammy is also a translator and her literary translations can be found in World Literature TodayChinese Literature TodayPathlight: New Chinese Writing, among other places, and International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong volumes (2015, 2017 and 2019). Her own poems have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latvian, and Vietnamese. She is currently co-editing several academic volumes in addition to 2020: A Bilingual Anthology of Hong Kong Poetry.

(Header photograph © Oliver Farry.)

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