December 05, 2005

h4. Story 3: New wish

Wai-hung was very fit in shape.

No one could ever tell from his figure that he was a typical gourmet, fond of food of various kinds and in large quantity. Almost all restaurants and hotels in Hong Kong had marks of his footprints. Had his desire for exercise not been as strong as his crave for food, he would have been very obese indeed. It was his perseverance in physical training that enabled him to enjoy the food while keeping a stout body of muscles at the same time. Carefully and successfully hidden deep in him, however, was a scornful thought towards those overweight people in streets. Wai-hung felt disgusted at the sight of flabby arms, elephant legs and dragon buttocks. ‘What would they manage to achieve in their life if they can’t even control the amount of food consumed?’ sneered Wai-hung very often. To him those who failed to control their eating habits and bodies were almost next to losers. Of course he talked with fat people, worked with them and even dined with them in his daily life but none could ever be his friends.

Strangely Wai-hung started to lose weight on a regular basis. He lost exactly 1 lb every other Monday when he put himself on the scale. Regardless of the fact that his appetite was as good as a crowd of haynes while the quantity almost the same as that of a whale, he kept on losing weight! At the beginning, Wai-hung was not at all worried. It must be related to work. Clients had been nastier and more demanding recently. It might be the result of his increasing metabolism rate. After all these years’ hard work in physical training, it was time to get the pay off, wasn’t it? Wai-hung’s muscles melted away quietly and quickly; his legs and arms looked rather like dry sticks; his cheeks caved in the way that his face reminded people of a skull. He was left with bones and skin, weighing hardly over 90 lbs that all his shirts and pants were XL in size.

‘What the heck is wrong with me? Have I got a cancer or something?’ requested Wai-hung in great earnestness, looking pale and panic.

‘Haven’t got a clue, buddy! Perhaps need some more check-ups,’ came the answer from a doctor friend, wearing a puzzled look too.

Wai-hung stood on his feet slowly, signed to his chest, thinking about dying young. Once stepping out of the clinic, a crowd of people came into his sight. They looked so pleasant and healthy that even Wai-hung almost forgot he was dying. Suddenly he was hit by a bitter, envious feeling which ran up his spine. Weren’t they the crowd of super fatties he once secretly mocked at? He looked closely at them, staring so hard and greedily at their round bodies as if his own flesh would return by just a few glances. ‘I wish I were them!’ whispered the bony man.

From that day onwards Wai-hung’s life was back on track. He looked great after two months, healthy and spirited with a big belly and double chins. He had made a lot of friends, mostly fat but pleasant guys. Wai-hung even joined the ‘Tiffany’s Elephant Club’ and became its honoured secretary. How about his body shape? He didn’t care a tiny bit about that now.


h4. Story 2: Johnny’s perfect world

Johnny couldn’t complain more about his life, could he? Having graduated from a well-known university lavishly supported by his father, Johnny worked in a top-notch company for almost three years. Recently he had been promoted to be the manager supervising a team of friendly and hardworking young people. He had a warm family of three dwelling in a nice house in the best residential area. Johnny and his wife deeply loved each other still in the way they met the first day. His 2-year-old girl Betty was so adorable that everyone couldn’t help spoiling her at first sight. His life was perfect.

Johnny felt tired, bored and even a bit upset, however. It seemed that there was something missing in his life. There should be one thing or two he would crave for or feel sorry about. What was that missing piece?

Johnny had lunch alone every day at Tiffany. One day after finishing his last drop of coffee in silence, a thought crept up. ‘Won’t it be nice to join some competitions for a change?’ whispered the voice in his mind. Why not? But what kind? Johnny got the idea on his way home. He was confronted by a poster at the train station. It was a competition of gobbling up hotdogs. Anyone interested and healthy was qualified, it said. Hotdogs had always been Johnny’s favourite and he was in a perfect shape.

It was no harm to give it a try, was it? Johnny joined the competition. On the day of competition, he just ate on and on swallowing one hotdog after another… and looked great. He won the competition at the end with more than forty-five hotdogs crammed in his stomach. By the time he got his championship trophy, he fell straight on the ground like a piece of wood. Johnny was later diagnosed that he died of a stroke. Even his death was perfect. He felt painless the moment he was gone; he died in glory and happiness with the stomach teeming with hotdogs, his favourite food.

Johnny’s world was perfect. The only thing it lacked perhaps was pain.


h4. Story 1: A Christmas gift

Tears flooded in and blurred her sight. Ruth was laid off today. It happened all the time especially when the economy was not doing very well. However as a girl without much saving, qualification, and a sick mother to look after, Ruth couldn’t afford losing the job. The openings were running short and the competition for new vacancies was keen. Ruth had no idea how she was able to manage her life and her mother’s.

Ruth knew it was her fault but was it that serious to get fired? Before she was about to leave the office yesterday, Mr. Anderson, her boss who kept a poker face all the time, rushed out of his room asking her to send an urgent email to a client richardsm@netvigator.com. ‘Be careful, Ruth! It's confidential!’ warned Mr. Anderson. Maybe she was overwhelmed by loads of work that day or maybe it was the flu she had been fighting for weeks, she missed that tiny ‘-s’ in the middle of the address that the email ended up reaching a wrong mailbox. This morning Mr Anderson’s face showed colours. He spoke to her with rage in his eyes.

With tears still rolling in eyes, Ruth packed up all her stuff quietly and went into the chilly wind outside. The streets were nicely decorated with glittering ornaments. Christmas was drawing near. Some Christmas songs were played noisily but they sounded from a great distance. Ruth had been thinking about what gift she had to buy for her poor mother. She had been ill for years, falling victim to an unknown disease. She just spent all her day in bed staring at an old yellowish photo without really seeing it. In the photo stood Ruth’s mother and a man with deep blue eyes and a charming smile. Ruth had never known her father. She was told he died long before she was born.
With her mind still on gift and mother Ruth hardly noticed her phone buzzed and vibrated vehemently in the pocket.

‘Hello, is that Ruth? Ruth Mayson?’ came a very strange voice, tense and dry.

‘Yes, this is Ruth speaking. Who is it?’ replied Ruth, thinking about those annoying advertising phone calls.

‘Could we, ur…would you….um…manage to join me for a cup of coffee today?’ requested the voice.

‘Come on,’ thought Ruth, ‘not the calls again!’ She cut the line as quickly as possible as if the voice had been a sword that would penetrate her head.

Ruth knew she was young and good-looking. Since school days she had never been short of ‘admirers’. They would ask her out, buy her treats, invite her to parties or do anything to please her. Most of the time Ruth found them bothersome.

The phone rang again shortly. It was the same voice.

‘Please, Ruth, don’t hang up, please. Could you spare a couple of minutes?’ the voice sounded so desperate that Ruth hesitated what she was supposed to do.

‘Look, I cannot talk like this on phone. Could we just meet for half an hour? That would mean a lot to me.’

They met at Tiffany, the small but cosy café which Ruth visited frequently. The voice belonged to a man in his early 50’s. The wrinkles and tanned complexion hinted he had a rich but tough life. It was only his pair of deep blue eyes that gave away the secret he had once been handsome.

‘I am so glad that you come,’ the man greeted her with a charming smile, looking quite familiar. Ruth felt puzzled.

‘Please sit down. This is my name card,’ said the man.

Ruth took the card and instantly her eyes sparkled. She knew what gift she would bring her mother this Christmas.

On the card printed Prof. Richard Mayson.


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