Mongrel and Black Kite (Diary of a Madman – Hong Kong), 2017
Mongrel and Kite:
First Draft of Script
I’ve lived in this electronics shop for seven years.
Sometimes the business is good, and sometimes nothing sells for days.
The boss wanted to switch to cell phones, but his son ran off to do grey market imports.
Ah-Hua, the girl in the drink shop across the way, is my little sister.
She’s full of energy. She’ll run right across the street to see me.
I don’t have the guts for that. The taxis drive so fast. What if they hit her?
I told her, don’t come over. If you miss me, call at me across the street.
She said, wouldn’t that be too loud? We should be more civil.
But she once went out for fun and didn’t come back for a week. I had missing posters up on three streets.
I dreamed about her at night, saying, “The poster called me the mongrel girl.”
She asked me, “Why do they call us mongrels, and not something like alley cats?”
This is a very deep question. I couldn’t answer her.
My Cantonese isn’t as good as Ah-Hua’s.
(Mongrel and Kite)
Then I realized, I would never learn it unless I started going out.
I went down a street with Ah-Hua.
Someone pried up a brick, and then another.
The atmosphere was tense.
You can’t imagine the sounds the bricks made when they landed.
Smoke and dust was everywhere, a frenzy for the birth of a fish ball.
A fish ball rolled to our side, and Ah-Hua lapped it up, her tail wagging.
I ran away without another glance.
I used to like eating fish balls.
The curry smells great.
Then, one day, the street in front of the shop suddenly filled with tents.
A lot of people were camping here, making a cramped, lively city.
I snuck into the camp, and there were fish balls and curry chips everywhere.
I thought I was in heaven. I stayed until morning.
The tents were taken down one by one, like so many balloons popping. I didn’t have any energy for days after.
I learned a local idiom from the vet. “Anything in excess will hurt.”
A tray of tong sui would be great. Spongy, sweet, white like snow on top. It would be beautiful.
I don’t think I’ll ever want another fish ball as long as I live.
There are massage parlors all over the place. The feet on their signs look big and plump.
Their lights are on almost 24 hours a day. People stop in front of the signs, and rush in and out.
Pure, clean feet, and feet with dubious smiles mix together to make a secret legend of the city.
Ah-Hua goes to a clothing store called “Mey-Jee.” The prices are pretty, and you wouldn’t believe the stuff they have.
But she never buys anything. She only shops with her eyes.
Or she will sniff voraciously at the clothes that have been handled. It’s like an addiction.
Each piece of clothing has a long atmosphere to it, a story of people’s emotions.
Some of is imaginable, but some of it isn’t.
Under a dense array of overpasses, at the end of the road, there grows an unexpected park.
It is a great expanse of green, without a single flower. The local flora consists of hypodermic needles and empty pill boxes.
The person curled up in the passage was worn down to just one layer of skin. You could pick him right up.
His hand was hooked into a greedy pose, groping around for a land of fantasy.
I went over and smelled his clothes. The smell had been brewing for years.
I prefer the smell of the sea at Cheung Chau. Ah-Hua and I would romp around all day.
In that humid air, moss could sprout at any minute.
Pirate’s treasure is hidden in human voices and being eaten away by the day.
It is really cheap to rent a vacation bungalow, like a bucket of charcoal. It is so cheap as to be dispiriting.
Those people with worry growing in their hearts went there.
They never came back.
They got tired, and went on permanent vacation.
They’re just like me, on vacation forever.
Will I be in this electronics shop for the rest of my life?
I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of it.
It’s not like I am a bird with no feet.
What else can a dog do?
Black Kite’s Monologue (female voice):
“Milvus migrans” is a poetic, but somewhat awkward name.
No one talks like that.
“Black kite,” on the other hand, is too simple.
It’s really annoying.
On a clear day, the tourists often mistake me.
They think I’m an actual kite flying high up in the sky
I follow the wind and can fall at any moment. It’s quite dangerous.
It’s like a game where the kids try to get their parents’ attention.
If I fly more dangerously, with better moves, the tourists notice me more.
This excitement and guessing feel so precious.
The locals don’t get excited anymore when they see me.
All these buildings are coming up higher and higher.
As I fly around, I make a turn and barely miss a new scaffold.
Bamboo feels cool, more alive than steel scaffolding.
The higher people can climb, the higher they want to climb.
They look down on everything else on their same level.
As for me, I’m here every year. I come every year. I’m never missing.
The bauhinias and the kapoks bloom every year, bright and colorful.
And the banyan branches strike countless poses.
But what is different about this year from the last?
This harbor is like a hot magnet, and I am a piece of iron.
No matter how long I leave, I yearn to return.
They do not know me, but I can see all kinds of little things.
The higher I fly, the farther I can see, and everything starts to look small.
The dark of night falls like a curtain.
The bright lights of the tower begin to fade.
They come down from one brightly lit tower, and file into a faded one.
They return to lowly corners, sacrificing everything for one little cell in the hive.
Sometimes, they hold a bag in their hands, some tasty food or beautiful object.
Beauty is the only thing that is not essential.
Beauty is something to enjoy.
I migrate in the warm winter.
I circle around back and forth.
But I am not a beloved immigrant.
Though people don’t hate me either.
The girl at the window wears a hospital gown, her belly resting on the sill.
Her face has a look of anxiety and expectation as she counts the days.
The days ahead, and the ones to follow.
The nurse comes and speaks earnestly with her, but she understands nothing.
She just shakes her head shyly, quickly, almost imperceptibly.
I heard her: “this breeze will give you a headache.”
I suddenly realized that the sky was just as vast as always, but the land had become cramped, simply because there were more feet walking on it. If the clouds could be stopped, would I be squeezed out to the edge too?
The countless people will take up residence in buildings of different colors, named after so many animals.
They will struggle to pay rent for spaces you can’t turn around in.
Everyone is powder in a gel cap.
The 13 Streets all have nice names: dragon and phoenix, kylin, eagle, running horse and golden roc.
It has everything precious and auspicious.
Of course, it also has my name.
When I heard this, my crisis level dropped quite a bit.
But I also felt petty.
I saw all the car shops lined up one after the other under the low buildings, the livelihood of so many people.
The smell of spray paint seems to seep into the brain. It slowly wafts up to almost touch my nose.
Smell it long enough, and it leaves the mark of people.
I don’t want to leave this year. I want to see more.
Each person in that dense forest.
There is light.