When All Else Fails

Photo from Sketcher Kee

It’s been 2 months. Exactly 60 days since the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong broke out. I don’t talk about it much with my friends here, unless someone asks. But there has not been a single day that I did not think about it. I make sure I read the latest news on the movement, every morning on my commute to work and every night before I go to bed. It’s become my daily ritual.

At times, I’m saddened by the fact that I’m not fighting the fight with the people in Hong Kong. Other times, I feel very fortunate that I live in a place where democracy and freedom of speech is my civil rights.

During the first few days after police dispersed tear gas to the crowd for the first time, it was impossible for me to talk about it without having tears in my eyes. I still remember on the morning of September 28th, I woke up and sat down in the kitchen to check my Facebook page while waiting for the water to boil, so I can make some tea for myself and some hot chocolate for my kids. As images of the protests flashed on my iPhone, I started crying uncontrollably, as if there was a spear piercing through my heart. No, it was worst. It was a pain beyond the physical. It was like I just lost a friend or a family member.

When my older son, who just turned eleven last month, walked down the stairs and saw me crying, he came hugged me and asked me why I was crying. I explained to him, between sobs, that the police used unnecessary violence on peaceful protesters and that a lot of people got hurt. Some of them were not much older than him.

Before this, I had talked to him briefly about the student class boycott in Hong Kong. So he had some understanding of what was going on in my hometown. Previously at school, he had also learned about civil rights and some of the civil rights heroes in the U.S., such as, Martin Luther King and Rosa Park. It helped him put the protests in Hong Kong in perspective.

When I finally finished, I felt much better and calmer. He gave me another hug and told me not to be too sad. I kissed him on the forehead and held him in my arms. It was just what I needed at the time. That even if the world fell apart, I would still have my loved ones.

I try to keep my boys updated about the movement and explained a little bit more in depth each time we talked about it. The little one is too young to understand much. But I hope by talking about it, they get to learn more about their mother through the incredible city she came from. If all else fails, at least the legacy of this great city would get passed on.