一盞發亮的燈泡        陳澤基

散落家中地上的雜物,在澤基眼中,都是「有用的東西」。平日逛街,他喜愛到垃圾桶「尋寶」,有時見到地盤附近堆著玻璃窗及木材等棄置材料,二話不說便拾回家。要數他最喜歡的傑作,是床頭的多盞壁燈,為甚麼?澤基邊笑邊開燈說︰「因為佢夠光囉。」雖然,那燈光亮得教人不敢直視,但一明一滅間,卻能勾起他童年美好時光。「細個嗰陣最鍾意同細佬喺街度執d木頭造木凳仔,細佬做木工叻我好多,又識得整屋企d鎢絲電燈,佢好聰明。」

澤基兒時住在廣州,父親賣砂糖,他還可上中學讀書,過著小康日子。可惜,遇上「文化大革命」,家人各散東西,做慣少爺仔的他,1968年無奈要走到沙頭角鹽田當農夫,「嗰陣真係過得好辛苦,頂唔順,於是一個人爬過邊境鐵絲網,跑過嚟香港囉。」初到香港,他投靠在港定居的表姐,輾轉在港做過裝修學徒、送貨等工作,可惜沒有一份做得長,夜晚睡在床上,難以入眠,白天遇見人,總覺得別人在罵他。表姐見澤基健康轉壞,帶他去看醫生,1974年,澤基確診患上精神分裂症,曾經長期住院。現時病情大有改善,搬離醫院後,他曾當巴士清潔工,平日需定時覆診及吃藥。現在每月靠4170元綜援金過活,沒有儲蓄可言,間中到街邊檢拾些舊電器,把爛銅爛鐵拆出變賣,幫補生活費。

談起家人近況,他說父親80多歲,住在廣州天河區的護老院,兩年前曾探望父親。有沒有打聽弟弟消息?他神色凝重地說,當時探望父親,順便向在場的親戚問弟弟住在哪裡,對方突然拉了他到一角悄悄說,弟弟死了。澤基怎也不相信,他把鐵罐上的紙條遞過來,指著「聖誕快樂」四字說︰「嗱,你睇,明明就係細佬嘅筆跡嘛!」而他拿著的單張,其實是印著義工團體聖誕節服務內容,他指的「聖誕快樂」,只是新細明體。

(節錄自《活一生人》攝影文集


A light in the dark    Chan Chak-ki

While heaps of things at his home are junk to most of us, Chak-ki regards them as useful. He likes to trawl the rubbish bins on the streets for “treasure”, and would often haul back home bits of glass pane and wood he found near construction sites. His favourite creation is a light installation. I ask him why he likes these lights. He laughs and flicks on the switch. “Because they’re bright,” he says. Although some of the lights are so bright he has to squint or look away, he enjoys the show of light and shadow, which reminds him of his happy childhood. 

“When we were young, my younger brother and I loved to roam the streets for discarded wood that we’d use to make stools. My brother was the more skilful with his hands. He even knew how to fix the lights at home. He was really smart.”

Chak-ki grew up in Guangzhou. His father was a sugar trader, and was well off enough to afford sending him to school. Then came the Cultural Revolution. The family fled and got separated. In 1968, Chak-ki found himself working as a farm labourer in Sha Tau Kok, at the border with Hong Kong. It was back-breaking work, particularly for someone used to a comfortable life. 

“It was so tough. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I crept through the wire mesh at the border and fled to Hong Kong,” he says. On arrival, he looked up a cousin who had settled in Hong Kong and went to live with her. In Hong Kong he tried his hand at various jobs – an apprentice for housing renovation, delivery worker, and so on – but none for long. He didn't feel well, too: he couldn’t sleep at night, and often thought people he met were scolding him.

His cousin eventually took him to a doctor. In 1974, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. After a long stay in the hospital, his health improved and he was allowed to leave. He then worked as a bus cleaner, and stuck to a schedule of regular check-ups and medication. In 2006, he quit his bus cleaning job and began to live on a monthly social welfare of HK$4,170. He has no savings. To supplement his income, he sometimes collects discarded electrical appliances and strips out the metal for sale. 

We also talk about his family. Chak-ki says his father is now over 80 and lives in a home for the elderly in Tianhe district in Guangzhou. I ask him about his brother. Suddenly more serious, Chak-ki says when he last visited his father two years ago, he took the opportunity to ask his relatives there about his brother’s whereabouts. One of them later pulled him aside and told him his brother was dead. Chak-ki doesn’t believe it, he picked up a slip of paper taped to a can. Pointing at the Chinese characters for “Merry Christmas”, he says, “See. This is obviously my brother’s handwriting.” The paper he’s holding is actually a pamphlet distributed by a voluntary organization during Christmas. And the words “Merry Christmas” were printed in a commonly used computer font. 

(Excerpts from the book Life and Times)

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© 2017 Dustin Shum via Visura