My love story with HKUST goes back a long way. Twenty years ago when she emerged on the hills of Clearwater Bay, I was working for the TV studios nearby. At that time, UST stands like a fairy rising from the sea, young and alluring. I fell in love with her instantly. Her biggest attraction, though, to a TV executive, who had left college for over 10 years, was the idyllic hillside bistro. Lunching at the charming little restaurant with a magnificent view had been both a treat and a solace. Twenty years ago, UST was virtually a haven amidst my hectic corporate fight.
Very soon I left Clearwater Bay–and indeed Hong Kong–for London to see the world. Since them, I had traveled frequently and changed jobs incessantly, gaining a nickname, “Monkey of TV.”
If fate does exist, it must be my returning to Clearwater Bay three years ago picking up the school bag again. Campus life in UST has since been kind to me, allowing me to rest my soul tattered by human greed and stupidity. UST now is no longer a fairy. She has become, to this aging monkey, a mother of faith and wisdom. She makes me young again.
UST is no shy of young people. Being a research postgraduate and a teaching assistant, I have to work closely with classmates young enough to be my sons and daughters. Frankly, I have had my worries. Would they be like monkeys, untamed and teasing?
Not long ago, JJ called upon me at my dormitory and gave me a bag of sundried bamboo shoots. He had just come back from his hometown Zhejiang and specially brought me his hometown delicacy. JJ had been my TA partner for a couple of semesters last year. His name is Jun Jie. “JJ” is my creation to mark his congenial and sanguine character. He took it with a big smile.
I later found out that he was presiding the “Mainland Student and Scholar Society” in the campus. The society had published a small book to commemorate UST’s 20th anniversary. It carries articles written, apparently, by students and scholars from mainland about their moving experience at UST. I guess they must have found their second home at Clearwater Bay. The book is light in weight but heavy in emotion.
In the preface of the book, JJ wrote that one of his unforgettable moments in the campus was watching monkeys—real monkeys—playing by the footbridge on his way back to the dormitory. I have never had the luck seeing one myself. Having befriended JJ is fortunate enough. I just can’t figure out where his energy comes from. To me, he is a monkey from Zhejiang.
In one foggy spring evening I cooked the sundried bamboo shoots and savored them by the dormitory window. A certain sense of sweetness emerged. I was not sure if it was the food or the misty lights outside. I just felt being in love again.