至近至親 至遠至疏        王莉萍

阿萍是一個典型的北方姑娘,有一對巧手能製各式飽點,說話更是帶有溫柔婉約的捲舌腔,問她甚麼也答得大方,讓人不易察覺抑鬱症一直糾纏不休。

1993年,已與丈夫離異的阿萍,隻身來到香港,一邊照顧姑媽,一邊工作,只懂得講國語又沒有其他技能,故她做導遊專門接待台灣及內地遊客。

到96年,阿萍念掛女兒,於是申請剛升中學的女兒來港。小女兒來港後面對適應的問題,「見到其他同學有,佢又要……電視、電腦、背囊,我賺啲錢都比她花掉了。」於是兩母女開始吵架不斷。

母女關係緊張的同時,一直同住的姑媽又離世,阿萍失去唯一的傾訴對象,情緒亦開始出現問題。有一天,阿萍走在街上,走着走着,竟然忘了回家的路。情緒問題令阿萍「數錢也出錯」,無法應付工作就只能申請綜援。這時,她與女兒的關係沒有好轉,社工最後建議兩人分開住,一年後在社工建議下嘗試再住在一起,但僅僅同住四天,阿萍被女兒打到遍體鱗傷,她至今也無法釋懷女兒留下的最後一句話:「你咩都比唔到我,見嚟做咩!」從此,兩母女便不相往還,提起女兒仍難免慨嘆:「女兒是我生的,應該是最親,但又最遠,見不到。」眼淚也奪眶而出。

阿萍說,不想那麼多了,苦中作樂的把覆診──包括老人科、婦科、乳房科、骨科、精神科──當成工作,閑時又會弄一些北方飽點滿足一下口腹。社工說,阿萍包的餃子人人讚「正」,請教她有什麼秘技,也會傾囊相授 。

其實,阿萍不抗拒與人交往,而打開話閘子後,更是非常的開朗豪爽,完全展現了北方人的直性子。不過,好客又熱心的阿萍,卻沒什麼朋友,平日多留在家中,看看電視,打發時間,就算出外也會盡量少與人講話,原因是「我一出聲,佢哋就問我咩鄉下,我唔鍾意」。

(節錄自《活一生人》攝影文集

Separate ways    Wong Lee-ping

Wong Lee-ping works fast, wrapping and shaping Beijing-style dumplings in her tiny kitchen with a practised skill. As she works, she talks, her Beijing accent flattening out the words. She is a stocky, soft-spoken woman with a kind, round face.

But there is a sadness in her eyes; she is all alone.

In 1993, separated from her husband, Ah Ping was raising her daughter on her own in Tianjin, but with an ageing aunt in Hong Kong who needed care, she decided to make the move. In Hong Kong, she had her aunt but she also needed a job. She decided to make use of her Putonghua and took work as a tour guide, mainly for Taiwanese and mainland Chinese tourists.

But she missed her daughter, and three years later, in 1996, she applied to bring her to Hong Kong. But life was not easy for her daughter in a new city and at a new school. “She wanted to have everything her classmates had – a television, computer, rucksack. She spent every dollar I earned,” Ah Ping says. The pair argued a lot.

It was an extremely difficult time. And when Ah Ping’s aunt died, Ah Ping felt she had no one to talk to anymore. She started to lose her emotional bearings. One day she just couldn’t find her way home. She was taken to a police station, and after a social worker referred her to a specialist she was diagnosed with depression. It was debilitating. Unable to perform basic tasks, such as counting money, she had to stop working and go on the dole.

Her relationship with her daughter broke down and her social worker suggested they live apart for a while. A year passed, and the social worker suggested they try to live together again. Their arguing turned violent, and Ah Ping was badly beaten by her daughter. She will never forget the last thing her daughter said to her: “Why should we meet again? You can’t give me anything.”

When she thinks about her child it makes her sad and depressed. “She’s my daughter. She’s supposed to be the person closest to me, but she’s the furthest from me,” she says, wiping away tears.

Instead, life goes on in Hong Kong. She sometimes feels like an outsider here, even after all these years. “When I talk to strangers, they often ask where I’m from. I don’t like it,” she says.

But she enjoys cooking, and receives compliments on her dumplings in particular. She says she spends a lot of time at home watching television, and has even removed the battery from her doorbell so that she isn’t disturbed.

She wants to stop thinking about her daughter, and whether it was the right or wrong choice to move to Hong Kong. All she wants now is to live a happy life. As I bid her farewell at the end of our interview, I find myself wishing her the same.

(Excerpts from the book Life and Times)

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© 2017 Dustin Shum via Visura