“The next station is Sakai East,” the announcement was lucidly heard, both in Japanese and English, even though I was listening to the music with my headsets on as usual. Outside the windows of the train were the ever-changing landscapes from verdant green arbors, peach pink cherry blossoms to loosely-packed tall, white buildings. The sky was constantly azure, and free of clouds. Yet I felt nothing; my senses of perception were forever lost; time froze some years ago when I was dumped to a wasteland as though Adam and Eve were scourged by the God of Punishment. Sooner or later I knew my Eve left me alone too, knowing what a pious Christian I am and that she cannot be a convert from her Shintoism belief. My soul has always been trapped in the nation where, I was told, the sun once never set, and where the Victoria Queen had inculcated in my home town, for more than two decades, my predilection for Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen instead of Cao Xueqin, Lu-xun and Lao She. My dream, had there been one, would have been laden with alphabets rather than enigmatic hieroglyphs.
“I ha-ve a friend,” she stammered, trying hard to fumble for the right English expressions, “she is also studying in P. A. O. S.” I could still recall how hard she was to articulate each alphabet accurately.
“We just call it P-a-ə-z,” I stifled my laughter when I heard someone for the first time who enunciated my university name like an electronic dictionary.
Questions about what sort of feelings I had once possessed, or since when I had showed my irreplaceable affection for her had all been metamorphosed into a puff of translucent smoke, and melted, together with the spotless white clouds, into the emptiness of the sky. He – Heaven – intended another doctrine which said that everything was born out of nothing should return to his embrace at last. But many times my heart revolted, just as the train shook countless times to derail itself. I wondered. I considered. I contemplated. And I concluded I was perhaps an inborn rebellious man carrying some Chinese revolutionist’s genes that can never compromise or satisfy themselves with the monotonous violence of the colour red.
Once my mum asked casually whether I wished to work as a diplomat in the future, and almost spontaneously and readily I denied. A politician was destined to be hated by his people, and even despite his good intent, he would eventually be engulfed by endless political wrestles. I prefer being a lonely ugly duckling to belonging to a flock of crows, swarthy and filthy.
My thoughts rambled, with my heart being at odds with my mind. Music secluded me from the other passengers; occasionally I grooved with the songs. They must be teasing and jaunting at me, I imagined, but as a frequent traveller, I learnt how to lead an individualistic life apathetic towards what was around me. I had gone numb. “Soon you’ll understand,” I comforted myself, “when you know you’re a stateless prisoner put behind bars, the most dictatorial and indifferent bars, you know nowhere to escape, and that you need morphine – art – to anaesthetize yourself that you’re not living in a reality full of nightmares but merely a nightmare of reality.”
“The next station is Kansai International Airport,” once I heard again the languid voice of the announcer, he reminded me, after a week of a wanderer’s journey, of my mundane Spartan time schedule back at Hong Kong, a timetable that offers no rest, no kindness except my desperate hope to moan, under the embrace of God, whether He had mistaken my British ethnicity for a Chinese one.
[Featured image taken by James at Osaka on 6th April, 2015]