I Remember

I remember, on Christmas morning in 2009, walking around Central after a long-haul flight from the States because it was very early in the morning and our hotel room wasn’t ready yet. I walked up to Caine Road to check out the very first place that I ever lived in, the place where my parents first brought home their firstborn. Over the years, I would always take a peek as I passed by on the 13, imagining myself going inside, but I never had the guts to do it. Bamboo scaffolding was up, and I figured they were remodeling. The front gate was open. In my groggy state, I didn’t think twice about trespassing and went inside. It was the first time I set foot in the place in 30 years.

I asked the guard if I could take a look around upstairs, telling him that I used to live there, and he reluctantly agreed. I thought I’d just look around, and not bother the current residents. Imagine my shock when the lift doors opened and the flat was completely accessible. Holy shit. All the photographs I had seen over the years suddenly aligned, memories that I didn’t even know I had surfaced. The bathroom tiles looked familiar. The wood floor looked familiar. Everything seemed a lot smaller.

There was a huge gap where the windows should have been, and I realized that the building wasn’t being remodeled, but being demolished. It didn’t really sink in until last year, when I returned to Hong Kong and saw that it was gone, now just a construction site.

Times change, people live, people die, and life goes on, but I’ll always remember the surprise Christmas present I got on December 25, 2009.

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