Oh My God! (1999)

A Pious Play

In this city, there are four seasons in a day,
as there are four mobilities in a pious play

Rising —

is the incense from two pairs of sticks, plugged onto two Apples.
They only have one another, leaning onto a bar of concrete,
in a park where old men are playing tingou.
A mobile altar. Perhaps offering sacrifice
to a young student who jumped out from the 13th floor same time last year,
or to one of the tingou players who died long long time ago.
Wherever the incense goes, the next morning the Apples are gone.
Perhaps taken away by the garbage collection unit,
or is it the mouse?
What’s left, if one lies on the ground on one’s belly and one will see,
is some ash, rotating with the rest of the earth, in the universe,
like an Apple, in the Garden of Eden.

Growing —

is the Child in the carriage, older than himself.
Unless he cries, he is pushed as quickly as Maria,
the Filipino maid, wants to push him.
But when he cries, displaying a pink sponge of a terminal,
leading not much longer than 20 mm to his basic needs,
the world stops around him.
A mobile god. To be served by day by Maria, who earns $3,000,
and by night by Mother, who earns more.
The difference is his,
for which he has to pay, one day.
Now, he is dancing his crooked limbs, watching
more clouds than the rest of his life.

Flowing —

is the Flame, from one end to the other.
“We Re-charge for You”, says the notice in front of a little phone shop,
in a little street named after an English gentleman.
A myriad of jackets dangles on the rack,
like a school of cocoons, waiting to reach out.
A mobile phone. Exhausted, but you will be saved,
by an instant supply of energy, free of charge.
Leaving the re-charging station, a Chinese in Armani calls
someone who is calling him, at exactly the same time.
A perfect embrace in space.
He hears a ready-made voice, female, announcing a process of diversion.
Shit, but it doesn’t matter.
Only connect.

Seeking —

is the Old Man for the right place to put down his latest burden,
a 1000-dinner-old table,
abandoned in a corner forever shadowed by the Wanchai Flyover.
He finds it and finds it
an ideal companion to the blankets now scattered, somewhere, in the city.
A mobile shelter. To be visited by a social worker every Friday afternoon,
between her tour to the psychotic woman in the public housing estate,
and her shopping in the supermarket for her daily supplies.
Same time next year, it dawns on her,
this Old Man might join his ancestors of at least 5,000 years long,
some of whom were as mobile as him.
They moved, with what they had,
to survive.


— inspired by the summer of Hong Kong, 1999.


Text: Chow Yiufai

Images: Jeroen de Kloet & Marcel Vergunst


Part of: Oh My God – Contemporary Forms of Spirituality, project of Arctic Foundation, co-edited by Nina Simone Bakker