junkboat 2Hong Kong 1960

I am so drawn to faces. These two people show the ravages both of time and of hardship. And yet they have survived for who knows how long? Ancient yet ageless. They cling to an old-style of dress, perhaps the only clothes they own, perhaps their best, yet they wear the farmers’ hats to shield their faces from the relentless sun. Her jade earrings may have been a wedding gift from the groom’s family, and they have elongated her lobe through the years. Together they are an enigma. I can’t take my eyes from them, or keep my mind from creating a history for them. Were there children playing around them once? Where are they now?

He is altogether pleased with himself! We wonder why that is. Has he just won a game of Mah Jong, Pai Gow or Sic Bo? His old eyes are blurred, yet he sees all he needs to, and passes the time of day while his wife sits behind the trays of cheap tourist knick-knacks for sale, while studying each person and evaluating a possible customer. He sits under the large umbrella and smokes his hand-rolled cigarette watching the constant flow of humanity.

Where do they go at night? Do they live on one of the many junk boats at rest in the busy harbor? I hear her loud cackling voice chastizing him, but he pays no attention to her, and remains King of his own domain. His old head nods in appreciation when a pretty girl goes by, perhaps remembering his old wife in their youth.

More important: have they discovered something that we don’t know? The art of survival, and satisfaction with simply being alive?

Hong Kong 1960 2