[EXCLUSIVE] “A Triumphant Knight” (Monday 3 August 2020) by Chris Song, translated by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

[Chris Song’s Mobile Diary]

A Triumphant Knight
by Chris Song, translated from the Chinese by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

{{{ Hong Kong—Monday 3 August 2020 }}}

The number of COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong is 80, about two-thirds of yesterday’s. At the daily news conference, Dr Chuang Shuk Kwan, chief manager of patient safety and risk management, is always careful with the words she uses. Even though there are fewer confirmed cases than before, the number is still not encouraging. Dr Chuang once said something that I thought was quite wise: that you can’t really tell if the peak of the outbreak has arrived until you’re over the peak. This is like life, as we are often unaware of being already at the peak of our journey—we think we can climb to new heights. That’s why there are very few willing to step down at the height of their career. People tend to only call it quits when they realise they are going downhill, when their prime is passed. At this time, it’s already pointless to look at Victoria Harbour and emit a sigh of self-pity. The same applies to fighting the pandemic, investing in the stock market or real estate, writing, doing all sorts of business. Many cities have nicknames; one of Hong Kong’s is the ‘floating city’. Over the last century or longer, it has been sometimes afloat, sometimes sinking. On this soil, regardless of the heights one reaches, the height is illusory—imaginary puff. It might one day shrivel to the width of a toothpick. People who carry with them generations of memories of Hong Kong understand this situation well.

During the pandemic, one of the businesses that never stops is food delivery, and those working for the three main food delivery phone apps work particularly hard. As well as Chinese-speaking Hongkongers, there are those of South Asian descent and speak fluent Cantonese and very good English. They deliver food rain or shine and are a godsend for many, especially people confined to their homes or in forced quarantine in hotels. We actually work longer hours when it’s at home. Even if you can cook quite well, it’s nigh impossible to have the time to be at the stove three times a day. Ordering food helps fill the gap. When the pandemic finally passes, we must remember the contribution of delivery personnel. I fear, however, that they will end up being unrecognised, unthanked. I walked past Johnston Road on the way to the supermarket; the street was deserted, emptied of cars. A delivery guy proudly glided by on his bicycle. Normally, you do not see bicycles on the streets here; pedestrians on both sides of the street couldn’t help but notice him. It was as though they were witnessing a triumphant knight returning home in all finery…

I turned on the television when I got back to the flat, and found out the number of deaths related to COVID-19 was now 37. The century-old floating city has its ups and downs, while the stock market fluctuates. Regardless of how reluctant we are to accept the reality, I am afraid the death toll will only increase…. Gold-dividerx




Japnaese Restaurant_Sham Shui Po_Oliver Farry.jpg

A Japanese restaurant in Sham Shui Po

How to cite: Song, Chris. “A Triumphant Knight.” Translated by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho. Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, 3 Aug. 2020, chajournal.blog/2020/08/03/triumphant-knight/.


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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