Ms. Regin Chow (Outreaching Supervisor)
Pao is a homeless who usually wanders by the sitting-out area near Nam Cheong Street and Pei Ho Street, Sham Shui Po. His hair all messy, shabbily dressed and his toes distorted. The two ragged bags are his only accompany which follow him around. You could find him straying between the old streets or sitting by the benches, or spot him standing among the crowd gathered by the stone tables, where people play chess or gamble. Sometimes, you may find prostitutes by the shrubs or Pakistani kids playing around the playground, while their parents chill and chit chat in their native languages. There are women hanging out, passerby hurry down the pedestrian, and drug abusers killing time between trades of drugs. Such a busy world, with Pao blends in perfectly, almost invisible.
A simple question, “Are you hungry? Have you eaten breakfast yet?” Unveiled Pao’s story. Sitting at the stall by Yiu Tung Street, Pao shared his story, a sad story of Father and Son.
“Before my parents die, we owned two properties. We used to live on the rent received. However, one of the two was sold since my father was sick, and eventually died. My wife, my mum and me then moved into the same apartment. Shortly after that, my son was born. Yet, not long after my son was born, my wife ran away, claiming we could not get along well. My son stayed with me. Soon enough, my mum died too and we sold the only property we had. So me and my son rented a place to stay in. I had no idea how to take care of him, just ate when we were hungry, slept when we were sleepy. Simple as that. When he was six, I took him to Central for a walk, but he went missing. I searched for him so hard! And finally found him at Po Leung Kuk (residential service for children). I was to take him back home, but he wanted to stay there, as there were school to attend, food to eat and toys to play. There’s not much I could have done, afterall, he did not want to stay with me!”
“After finishing primary school at Po Leung Kuk, he studied in a secondary school up the hill in Shek Kip Mei. I was good to him, I bought him clothes and shoes, things he liked, such as chocolate and fruits when he was on holiday. Once I won a lottery, and shared 3000 dollars with him, yet he had no idea how much I loved him. He was only F.2, no father would have given their son that much pocket money to spend.”
“Once he was 18, he could no longer stay in the boarding school. Yet, he did not come live with me. He’s smart, he found himself a job to sustain himself. Sometimes we would have meal together, but we did not chat much – don’t know what to talk about. There was once, near Chinese New year, you know, the CSSA is not enough at all for festival seasons, so I asked to borrow him HKD2000 just in case, he turned out show an attitude. Come on! After I am his father! He ended up refusing to lend money with the excuse he did not have any job lately too and was short of money. What could I have said!”
“Every Chinese New Year’s first day at nine in the morning, me and my son would meet up at a Chinese restaurant at Sham Shui Po. But it’s all my fault. That day I woke up quarter past eight, I should have waited for him after grooming myself. Yet I was not feeling well, so I decided to rest for a little longer, and I ended up late for the meeting. When I arrived the restaurant, it was quarter past nine and my son was nowhere in sight. I sat and waited for him at the restaurant for 2 hours but still, did not see him. I worried if he was angry that I was late, and he did not pick up the phone.”
“I think I have not seen my son for almost 18 years. He should be almost 40 years old by now, ” Pao suddenly lowered his head, and as if whispering to himself, “How is he doing?” “It is not hard for my son to come find me, I told him, and I’ve shown him. Nan Chong Street, Pei He Street, the sitting out area, where people play chest or gamble, you could find me there. Where else could I be? You guys found me here too, and you find me here every Tuesday, right?”