Liminal Spaces

Melanie Wong

Artwork: Elby Chai | @elbowchai

a

Visiting Hong Kong now is a strange experience. It is at once the home away from home that I know but also different; its very essence has changed and so the city tries to change with it. The streets are lined with posters and graffiti, the thoughts and words of the people scattered on the road like marbles, an unending path of transmogrification. 

a

The people are angry.

a

Some things remain the same – the egg waffle stand near my grandpa’s is still open and Victoria Harbour is still beautiful, glittering, calm despite everything. The herbal tea shop in Kwun Tong is still open, different pots bubbling, the scent recognisable from a mile away. Peak hour is always a rush of bodies in all directions, the metro stations a blur of coming and going, the people crush themselves into the subway, bodies pressed between bags and metal. Tsim Sha Tsui. Admiralty. Central. Change lines. 

a

But the police parade in riot gear along the Avenue of Stars and the people walk quickly, unease pushing them further than impatience ever could. The buses halt and the metro speeds past Mongkok, a battleground littered with iron nails, petrol and smoke. 7-Eleven runs out of shaomai. The cafe has no more bread. The schools are closed and the children run amok, on bikes and scooters, in the middle of the apartment complex at 9am on a Wednesday. The television at the restaurant is off now, because of rising electricity bills (and too many arguments from different sides, fought at the dining table). 

a

In Park Island, the streets are quiet at night. The sea holds her breath as the riots clash on the other side of the city. Hong Kong has become a liminal space – a no man’s land and every man’s land at once. She shakes from the force of molotov bombs and coughs and cries from the tear gas that chokes her. She does not crumble under siege, even under the force of a hundred students, seeking safety, setting traps, even under the force of police batons and dyed water. 

a

She is far from defeated.