November 25, 2009

I've Made a Memory / Denise Yuen-hang Tse

--- My Dearest Grandma 親愛的婆婆

That is grandma’s conclusion when asked to tell me about her story with grandpa, who passed away for more than two decades. The fragments of her life that I picked up together with her are exquisite relics coated with colour of Hong Kong in the 1950’s, colour which I have never seen, and only see in a distance if I could. Although story of grandma and the old Hong Kong would remain as a blurry cloud after the visit, I am more than grateful that I have seized the chance to have a deep talk with her, thanks to this piece of assignment.

Inspired by the autobiographical dimension of Stanley Kwan's Still Love You After All These exploring history, I took the chance to do an experimental clip of the visit in order to see the life in the past and present Hong Kong through a life of my grandma. I got a hand-held camera to capture the precious moments that we shared as she told me about the moments that she had experienced. On the way from Pokfulam to her home in Tai Wo Hou, I realized the distance between us, the double geographical distance (my home is in Prince Edward), was filled with question marks about each other’s lives and feelings. When I contemplated the city on the minibus, I re-experienced my grandma's life – there are changes that I could notice but could not tell, and gradually I saw a blurred Castle Peak Road filled with water through my eyes.

From preparation to the visit to the thirty hours of video editing, I have recalled and reflected upon the memories of hers and ours. Through her sharing and my observation of the neighbourhood, I realized that history is being written every day, everywhere. The clip I did may reflect Hong Kong through a person and the cityscape at a point of time.

Grandma showed me some photos and told me the stories behind. The relationship of my grandparents and the mentality of the city in the past interest me the most. Unlike today’s material and cyberesque love, their courtship was simple. It began as my grandpa walked my grandma to work or home, and it was so plain. In her descriptions of the streets they travelled, I realized the transformation of the urban landscape. The most intriguing story that she laughed helplessly was that my grandpa once held a gathering to discuss about communism at home in which dozens of photos of Mao were hung. The sentiments of the citizens were so high; people all discussed politics, and their bonding were so strong.

Looking at her albums and assignments (she goes to elderly school now), I thought: Grandma is writing a new chapter of her life. This visit allowed me reconnect with my grandma; I also managed to experience what I have learnt in the lectures – to see history through history, comparing and contrasting histories in the micro, macro, older and recent versions. My grandma and I are perhaps little people in the city, yet our daily lives are contributing to the history of this city. Ambitious as I am, knowing nothing about filming and editing, I did a clip called “I’ve Made a Memory”. It is a chronicle of our private chit-chat some day in 2009, it may also be a piece of memory in the great wheel of Hong Kong's history, who knows?

Denise Yuen-hang Tse is a student from CLIT2065 Hong Kong Culture 2008-2009 second semester.

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