The world according to Kwang-sheung Chan Kwang-sheung
It’s a rainy day, a social worker and I take our umbrellas and head to Tai Kok Tsui. We knock and open the door to a psychiatric rehabilitation home where Kwang-sheung is sitting quietly on a couch. We are immediately surrounded by a group of patients who are curious about us and a member of staff who scans us from head to toe.
After answering a series of questions from the staff member, we take Kwang-sheung to the cha chaan teng downstairs and order him his favorite dish of noodles with luncheon meat and egg, plus a glass of cold tea. He talks about his past work and life, so it takes a while to finish the noodles.
He has suffered from schizophrenia since he was a child. In primary school, he couldn't keep up with the class and dropped out at a very young age. He lived with his elder brother on the So Uk Estate for the first half of his life. In the early days, he helped his elder brother sell second-hand watches at a stall in Ap Liu Street.
Most of the people living in the rehabilitation home have a mental illness but everybody is very friendly. Many of the residents are very lively and quick-witted. A chubby guy tells us that during the World Cup in Brazil, “I snuck out to Olympian City and watched the World Cup with a lot of people. After the game, I just snuck back.”
The rules of the home appear to be effective only against those who do not know how to fight for themselves. The staff member says Kwang-sheung “likes” sitting on the couch in the main room. When we go into the room, it is crammed with more than a dozen beds, the air conditioning has been broken for ages, and the sofa is wedged into a very dark and oppressively hot corner. The staff member usually does not allow Kwang-sheung to go out so he spends his days on this couch.
Kwang-sheung says he only has one friend at the home and his name is Frog. “I always talk to him but he never responds, never a word. I consider him my brother.” Frog is a real person falling asleep on the bed next to the sofa. Frog, indeed, does not speak at all. And yet Frog is the only person Kwang-sheung has chosen as his friend.
Everyone here has their own story to tell and a painful past. Many people here want a listener. This is how lonely they are. They are in the same space but it is as if they are alone. At that moment, another member of staff comes over with a broom. After looking us over, she turns and leaves. The floor is clean and spotless, just like Kwang-sheung.(Excerpts from the book Life and Times)