It was only five-ish in the afternoon, but I headed out earlier to get my dinner takeout. I simply couldn’t sit still and relax as my ribs and abdomen were hurting badly, especially sitting down. Besides, I wanted to allow myself more time to finish my dinner, primarily vegetables, and during which I would take my codeine and supplements for the evening, followed by Chinese herbal medicine after an hour, then the last dose of medications of the day to send me to sleep. And if time permits, I would have a bowl of fruits too. Some say people with chronic pain and illness are very good at time management. Like every morning, I would have to wait for my meds to kick in before I could get to the shower and get ready to go out.
I was heading toward those restaurants where I usually got my dinner. One of those is situated on Lion Rock Road. I got in there, paid, and waited for my takeout. There were two tourists or photographers with their Canon cameras taking photos of the street and the buildings, so I took out my iPhone and tried to take one. There’s not much that I found appealing to me in the first place, but on second thought, perhaps I could write something about Lion Rock Road. After all, I was born here.
It’s a six storeys old building, probably built in the 50s, and it’s still there – incredible. Whenever I walked past, I would look up into that bedroom window, with so many childhood memories still so vivid. Happy, sad, dramatic, sweet, tragic, you name it. I used to look out from my window to see if my schoolmates had arrived before I headed down to meet up with them. And I remember the first secret cigarette I had in my room, puffing through the window. It felt so good, without knowing that it could kill. Mum would knock on the door as she knew I was puffing away. Thinking back, she gave us a lot of freedom which I don’t know whether it’s good or bad.
Dai Pai Dong
People familiar with the old Kowloon City and Lion Rock Road probably would remember those Dai Pai Dong (大牌檔). Open-air food stores along the road, from the junction of Nga Tsin Wai Road to the end where the Kowloon Walled City was. I spent numerous mornings or afternoons there having congee, noodles, fish balls, Shumai, rice noodle rolls, and so on, mostly with mum, if I am not wrong. Apart from food stores, you would find villages selling all sorts of things, clothes, gadgets, and household utensils, you name it. We were allowed to wander along as it’s pretty safe there. Still, We had to return whenever we reached the end of the road at where the legendary Kowloon Walled City was. Mum didn’t allow us to go in as there were many stories about crime and drugs happening inside that mysterious zone.
My schoolmates would typically wait for me at the entrance of a supermarket no longer there before we went for a movie, party or roller skating. It’s called International Supermarket 國際超級市場. My brother and I went to the same Primary School. We would go home together most of the time, and we would always stop by that supermarket to get some snacks for the afternoon before heading home. Ice cream, biscuits, soya milk, anything that we fancied and could afford at the time with the bit of pocket money from mum. There was once he forgot to pay and walked out of the store. He ended up being accused of shoplifting while I was waiting outside. He got into big trouble, and I still feel sorry for him. If I were with him, he wouldn’t have to go through it alone.
I decided to move back to Kowloon City three years ago because of numerous reasons. A wrong move probably as I started falling sick soon after I moved back. The vibe of Kowloon City is no longer the same. The Walled City, those street food stores, and the supermarket were long gone, but my childhood memories at Lion Rock Road would always be with me, for it be good or bad.
Ps. The featured photo at the top was Lion Rock Road in the 50s.