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After 90s

2020-02-13
For many people, the number “9” means forever and ever. The average life expectancy of Hong Kong people ranks amongst the top in the world. Yet, nobody can foresee how long himself / herself can live. After all, what do people still need when they are in their nineties?

MAK Wai-sheung (Grandpa MAK) had just turned 90 in October 2018. Born in a rural village, Grandpa MAK spent his childhood there. He had received primary education only. After that, he had experienced the anti-Japanese war and the liberation of China, and then arrived in Guangzhou. Until he was in his twenties, Grandpa MAK came to Hong Kong on his own to seek a livelihood. He had worked as a casual worker in construction sites, waiter in a Chinese style tea restaurant, hawker, etc. It took him a lot of efforts to finally have a stable life, and then he got married in Guangzhou. Soon after that, he even applied to send his wife and his eldest son to Hong Kong for reunion.

Grandpa MAK has worked as a hawker at Tung Choi Street for decades. He had been working hard for his children’s schooling, and to provide his family with a stable home. He retired before 60 and followed his children and grandchildren to migrate to New Zealand. However, he chose to return to Hong Kong for living as he could not adapt to the life in the foreign country. The second half of Grandpa MAK’s life is far longer than lots of people. It seems that he does not have much planning, but instead has his own thoughts. He believes that one should go with the flow in life. When the environment changes, one has to change too.

YEUNG Sau-wan (Grandma Sau-wan), who is also 90 years old, came to Hong Kong at 7 with her relatives from her hometown to reunite with her father. She had started following his father to work and helped replace gas lamps when she was not even 10.
The early-married Grandma Sau-wan gave birth to seven children after tying the knot, and has since then devoted herself to taking care of her family. With primary education only, Grandma Sau-wan had worked hard for half a lifetime, and her life was all about her husband and children. She had never had time to fight for herself.

About ten years ago, Grandma Sau-wan suffered from intestinal cancer. Fortunately, the disease did not recur after surgery, but since then her health has been much worse than before. After discussing with her family, Grandma Sau-wan began living in an elderly home in 2004 so that she could be conveniently taken care of. The numerous hardships she encountered in the first half of life made the optimistic Grandma Sau-wan learn how to enjoy the happy bits in life. She started learning to draw at leisure, and it turned out that she found her own talent and held her small art exhibition at the age of 90.

“Do not be stubborn about things, but be able to let go” – perhaps, this is the attitude towards life that these two 90-year-old elderlies are currently adopting.

Hong Kong Stories-Life and Numbers

  • Video
  • English
  • Family
  • On-going
For many Hong Kong people, numbers are something they concern most, e.g. the number of income, savings, the cost of property, mortgage rate etc. Actually, there are some numbers which seemed more important and may even affect one's life. Like 0, this number can be used to describe some people's social status; while number 2 may be used to represent a couple's marital status; and for the elderly, number 9 may be related to the last stage of their life.
In this series of Hong Kong Stories - Life and Numbers, from 0 to 9, each episode focuses on one number, trying to show how numbers give special meaning to the life of different people in Hong Kong.

VO: Scott Wilkins
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