Chun Tung Lam

Photographer
活著 We Live
Public Story
活著 We Live
Credits: chun tung lam
Updated: 09/10/16

活著 十八位長者生活誌

走近平凡

在那三年裡,每周探訪長者好像成了一種習慣。

走進姑婆的家,就像闖入另一個世界。一切都發黃、發舊,每一件過往的物品都放在原位,不同年份的年曆掛在牆上,時間也恍似停滯了。姑婆大聲說起往事,剛來港時的辛酸、替洋人打住家工的威水史、有男生追求也梳起不嫁的驕傲,最後從床邊拿出毛綫斗篷,披上身:「我自己織的,很靚!好暖的。」我去了一次又一次,原來姑婆每次說的話、做的動作都差不多,不過大家都不揭穿。

林伯的家在一個狹小的後樓梯。那時候,他在一幢大廈做保安,放工後就睡在頂樓的後樓梯。我通常在清晨五六點去那幢大厦天臺待著,等上完夜更的林伯。那是一個炎熱的夏天,後樓梯裏沒有一絲風,林伯穿著背心,抽著烟,緩緩說:「再過一兩個鐘,這裏就不能睡,太熱了。」從後樓梯走出去,就是一個廣闊的天台,不過那裏林伯不能睡。

與吳伯夫婦一起的時候,時間流得很緩慢。太太中風了,吳伯每天扶著太太在公屋樓下散步,一步一步走得很慢。回到家中,吳伯會在厨房裏慢慢準備晚飯,又或者慢慢地從洗衣機裏抽出被單來晾曬,偶爾太太叫他幫忙做事,他就慢慢走向太太。有一次吳伯發現自己衣服的左邊袖口處抽了毛綫,他用右手拿剪刀去剪,但總剪不准,太太突然說要幫忙,然後就用自己還算靈活的左手拿起剪刀剪斷毛線。

這些片段,平淡、瑣碎。好多次探訪的時候,記者在一旁和長者聊天,我竟在不知不覺中睡著了。甚至有一次,我自己探訪喜歡逛公園的周伯,兩人坐在椅子上坐了很久,他手上的收音機一遍遍播放著粵曲,我也睡著了。或許那溫度,那氣味,令人安心。

就這樣,我嘗試盡量用平等、含蓄、安靜的視角,走近每一位長者的生活,展現其中的智慧,捕捉那些平凡而又充滿力量的瞬間。這些生活的片段有時會讓我想起小津安二郎的電影,雖是兩個國度、兩個時空,但都關乎平凡人的生活。 小津曾說:「電影是以餘味定輸贏。」 在我看來,人生也一樣,這十八位長者的生活表面平凡,却也是充滿濃烈餘味的。


Getting near the ordinary

For more than three years, it had almost become a habit for me to pay weekly visits to the elderly.

Going into the grandaunt’s home, it was like entering another world. Everything is yellowish and oldish. Every past article remained in its original location. Hanging on the walls were calendars of different years. Time appeared to have stopped. Grandaunt loudly talked about her past. There were her bitter life when first arriving in Hong Kong, her glorious account of working as a domestic helper for a foreigner and her pride of being determined to lead a single life and hence refusing the advance by men. Finally, she took a woolen pullover from the bedside and put it on: “I knit it myself. Beautiful! It is warm”. I visited her time and time again. Her talks and gestures turned out to be almost the same every time. However, no one bothered to point it out.

Uncle Lam’s home was located at a narrow back staircase. He was then a security guard in a building. After work, he slept at the staircase on the top floor. I usually waited, on the rooftop at 5 or 6 a.m., to meet him when he completed his night shift. It was a hot summer day. There was not any breeze at the back staircase. Uncle Lam, wearing a singlet and smoking, said slowly, “One or two hours later, this place will become unsuitable for sleeping. It is too hot”. Outside the staircase was a large rooftop. Uncle Lam, however, could not sleep there.

Time passed slowly when I met Uncle Ng and his wife. Mrs Ng suffered a stroke. Every day, Uncle Ng helped her to walk slowly on the ground floor of the public housing estate. They walked very slowly step by step. After returning home, Uncle Lam would prepare  dinner slowly in the kitchen. Or, he would pull out the bed sheet slowly from the washing machine and take it to dry under the sun. Occasionally, when Mrs Ng asked him to help her to do anything, he would advance to her slowly. On one occasion, Uncle Ng found the woollen thread to be coming out from the left sleeve of his clothes. He tried to cut it with the scissors held in his right hand but could not aim at it accurately. The wife suddenly said she wished to help. Then, holding the scissors in her left hand, which could be regarded to be dexterous, she cut the woollen thread.

These episodes were ordinary and trivial. During many visits, when the reporter was chatting with the elderly, I dozed off unconsciously. On one occasion, I dozed off even when visiting, by myself, Uncle Chow, who liked to saunter in the park. By then, the two of us had been sitting on a bench for a long time. One Cantonese opera song after another was broadcast from the radio in his hand. Perhaps the temperature and the smell were relaxing.

It was in this manner that I tried my best to use an equal, subtle and peaceful vision to get near the life of every elderly person, unfold the wisdom therein and capture those ordinary yet energetic moments. These episodes in life sometimes remind me of Ozu Yasujirō’s movies. Though from different countries and different ages, they are all about the lives of ordinary people. Ozu Yasujirōonce remarked, “The success or failure of a movie depends on the impression it leaves”. To me, the same applies to life. While the lives of these eighteen elderly persons appear to be ordinary, they are filled with strong pleasant impressions.   

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