Mr. Liu’s community garden 鳥語花香-廖世銘

Mr. Liu’s community garden 鳥語花香-廖世銘

Sai Wan Stories; memories of HK’s oldest public housing estate
In Kennedy Town you find Hong Kong oldest surviving public estate. 640 units in five blocks built in a rocky hill side, Sai Wan Estate is a living memory of the city’s first big housing crisis. Thousands of people moved here ‘temporarily’ in 1958 fleeing war and unrest, but many never left. Sai Wan Estate is a micro-cosmos of post-war Hong Kong, a place of survivors where the community spirit thrives. We met with some long-time residents. We learned about their hopes, dreams and memories.  Hear their stories, learn what they love.

西環邨
這個故事是《西灣邨故事系列》的一部分,故事由明愛莫張瑞勤社區中心及iDiscover撰寫,並曾在區內餐廳Little Creatures展覽。希望這個系列可以讓更多新街坊了解昔日的生活點滴,發現西環的美好。

 “The entire Sai Wan Estate is like a big family, everyone keeps their door open. I help others to water their plants.”

 

「我幫前面個戶同七樓日日同盆栽淋花呀。幾十年前同(房屋署)辦事處關係好好,佢地甚至乎叫我地幫佢地種盤栽然後種在山上。」

 

We meet Mr. Liu and Moon Jeh in their ‘garden’. It is a big open space filled with plants right outside of their flat where they grow chili, herbs, hibiscus, cactus, you name it. Further down the mountains are fruit trees of all sorts, papaya, lemon, and longan.

Love of birds  

Mr. Liu hangs out at this little garden every day. You typically find him on his chair with his radio on. He loves the fragrant camelia, acacia and gardenia flowers. “We used to have Chinese violet as well, giving a lovely smell in the evenings, but one night someone removed the plants, a real pity. In summer you can see more than ten birds fighting with each other. I’ve spotted oriental magpie-robins, Eurasian tree sparrows and doves also live here. They love to eat the leaves from the Taiwan Acacia.” Just, as he is talking about the magpie’s ‘landlord’ behaviour scaring smaller birds other away, a sparrow flies into the kitchen through the open door and picks some rice from the floor. Mr. Liu nods approvingly, “They come in here all the time, they really know how to find food.”

廖生滿姐由西環村一入伙就居住至今,與鄰里保持非常良好的關係,出入都帶著可親的笑容,神采飛揚。

單位對出,就是一片大空地,栽滿了大大小小的盆栽,包括小辣椒、香草、大紅花、仙人掌等;對開的一片山頭則滿眼是果樹,有木瓜、檸檬(好大好大的)、龍眼等等。根據廖生的形容,這裡春天有紅色的茶花,還有台灣相思、白蘭花,「數十年前還有棵夜來香,晚上傳來陣陣的香氣。不過可能太香,有人受不了,有一晚半夜三更樹被人斬了。很可惜。」

廖生每天打開收音機,由房子搬張椅子到這個小庭院,閒靜地坐著。「夏天十多隻『吱吱喳』打架,麻雀、斑鳩會來住;他們很喜歡吃台灣相思那小小的樹葉。有一對『吱吱喳』是『地主』,其他的入侵地盤,他們就會起勢的攻擊。」就在訪問期間,大門依舊是打開著,非常神奇地,有隻小麻雀逕自走進門口的廚房,熟練地啄食地上的米碎,再由大門跳著跳著往外玩。廖生笑意盈盈,輕輕地說,「佢地真係好識搵食。」彷彿每天也如是,廖生像看著頑皮小孩蹦蹦跳。

 

Long hours

Mr. Liu was a manager at Nam Pak Hong Trading House, responsible for cargo handling at the pier. “The coolies came from different countries. It was all about trust, we relied on each other, if you were fair and just, people would respect you.” Mr. Liu shipped green tea to Africa, black tea to Britain and red and green beans and black-eyed peas to Japan. “There were no holidays, we were hands on and worked very hard. We made long hours every day. I applied for Sai Wan Estate because it was close to the pier, even when I worked until midnight I could still walk home.”

廖生年輕時在南北行工作,是舖頭的主管,管理碼頭的咕喱。這在當時算得上是要很有「江湖地位」才能做得到,因碼頭上的咕喱來自五湖四海,「從前的人講個信字,大家靠大家,只要處事公道,人家就自然服你。」沒有假期,凡事親力親為,起初由茶葉、綠茶運到非洲,再把紅茶運到英國做afternoon tea(下午茶);後來香港的轉口地位變差,開始要另找方法經營生意,什麼出入口的都做,例如會入口紅豆、綠豆、眉豆等會運往日本做甜品。「工作很忙,我很少時間在家,當時申請住在西環村因為很近碼頭,本身在碼頭管理上貨落貨,即使有時做到通宵也可以行路回家。」

 

One big family

Mr. Liu has always had a good relationship with his neighbours. “The entire Sai Wan Estate is like a big family, everyone keeps their door open. I help others to water their plants. The management office is a bit stricter now, our neighbours warn us to move our plants in when the officers patrol.”

“This has always been a lively place, with kids running around on the corridor. Our children would often eat at the neighbour’s house or we’d have other kids at our kitchen table. If the kids suddenly turned silent, you knew it was TV time. When the clock stroke 4.30 they’d watch ‘430 Space Shuttle’.  In the evenings it was time for Yao Su Rong’s songs. We liked listening to Mandarin songs, especially those from Taiwan. Moon Jeh liked Qing Shan, she always listened to his songs.”

“During Mid-Autumn Festival we’d still be moon-watching at 11pm. All the kids would walk up the hill with their lanterns. These memories are like pieces of beautiful paintings, life was good.”

即便如此,廖生與鄰里關係卻很好。「我幫前面個戶同七樓日日同盆栽淋花呀。幾十年前同(房屋署)辦事處關係好好,佢地甚至乎叫我地幫佢地種盤栽然後種在山上。現在很嚴,很多時其他住戶告訴我們,我們便把盆栽快快搬進來。我地叫做『走鬼盤栽』。」說時仍是充滿笑意。他說,整個屋村都是個大家庭,家家戶戶都打開門,互相幫助,互相照顧。

「呢度好熱鬧呀,小朋友在(指著走廊)四處跑,通常都隔離飯香啲,所以其他小朋友都來我們家食,我們家的小朋友到其他家食飯,好開心。小朋友如果突然靜了,就是去了某個有電視的家庭,很靜很靜,專心一起聽姚蘇蓉唱歌。」

「以前都是聽國語歌,特別是台灣來的,都是聽國語歌。呢,滿姐好喜歡青山,也常常聽他的歌,到很後來的時間就一到四點半,小朋友就聚在一起看430(穿梭機)。430就是四點半的意思嘛。」

「中秋時節,我們晚上11、12時還在賞月,家家戶戶的小朋友一個個提著燈籠,由山邊的小路上山坡。」聽著聽著,段段記憶化成幅幅美麗的圖畫。所有都是如斯美好的。

 

*Mr. Liu passed away in 2017. We thank Mrs. Liu, for allowing us to share Mr. Liu’s story.  
*廖世銘先生已於2017年過世,特別鳴謝廖太林淑滿同意於本次展覽分享廖生的故事。

These stories were curated by Caritas Mok Cheung Sui Kun Community Centre and iDiscover, and exhibited at Little Creatures, a restaurant in the neighbourhood.

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