Golden Rings On The Huan
20 October 2004
I have never written anything about the Huan until today. This is the first time I want to write something about her…
Today was the last time we hosted our sponsor (Community Chest Committee members and staff) on the Huan, and certainly, it was my last presentation of the history of the Huan to our sponsor.
After the cheque presentation ceremony, all our guests disembarked at Kowloon Public Pier. The Huan was on her returning journey, sailing back to her mooring at Shum Wan. I sat on the open deck alone; it was a quiet and hazy afternoon.
Sandra, the only Adventure-Ship Youth Association helper on board, came to me. She told me how happy the children were during the day trip and described the activities they did in the morning. Sandra said: ‘You should come on board more often!’ I smiled.
May be Sandra was right. Every time I aboard the Huan, I was on special duty. But the time with her today was particularly special to me. Probably, this would be my last trip on the Huan, and I would like to use the remaining hours to appreciate the Huan and enjoy some quite moments with her.
The wind was strong. The yellow awning was fluttering in the wind, like a yellow curtain hanging across a performing stage, yearning to be drawn apart to reveal all the ardor and splendor behind its folds.
A bird was gliding in the air, offering comforting companionship. The sea was shimmering with auburn and golden waves, twirling and dancing in the radiance of the setting sun.
Ming suddenly appeared and sat next to me. ‘See that bird, Ming? Do we often have birds flying side by side?’ I asked.
‘It’s a falcon, not a bird!’ Ming said. I was embarrassed by my want of knowledge in natural science.
Ming and I had a long talk about my plan after leaving Adventure-Ship. We shared our concerns for the destiny of the Huan. It had been a long time since we had had a heart to heart conversation; the last time being eight years ago, when we were braving the English Channel, on board the training vessel Lord Nelson.
On the last twenty minutes of our returning journey, Ming left me alone. I walked around the deck, enjoying the panoramic sea view embracing me, as our ship gracefully broke the waves ahead of us. Then for the first time, I realised there were concentric circles etched into the boom, the main mast and the bollards of the vessel. These enduring scars were probably carved on the trunk during sail hoisting or mooring activities.
I recalled a story about scars. One day, a student who used to inflict wounds on her wrist in order to vent her frustration, told her teacher that she would not hurt herself anymore, after she had worked as a buddy on the Huan. The student realised that her live was full of blessings, when compared to her buddies, who had to live with disabilities.
While the student may regard the sewn skin as remnants of an unutterable past, we are proud of the scars on the Huan. The golden yellow scars on the Huan mirrored the blazing sky above and the burning waters below. I ran my fingers along the circular troughs – silent testimony of her humble but purpose-driven biography, her waging and aging for the past 27 years. The turns are the curves of smiling eyes and concentric rings, echoes of laughter. The ridges are heights of communal spirits and the troughs, the depths of brotherly love and compassion.
Suddenly, I realized it `was’ the right time for her to take a rest with dignity in her golden years. And my heart ached no more.
The scars on the bollards and the booms are the growth rings of the Huan
Suddenly, I heard the tickling laughter of children, so far and yet so near… I could see children and seagulls swimming and gliding on both sides of the Huan. Together they were breaking the waves towards their destiny. “Ga Yow! The Huan!” the children chanted. Or was it me who chanted?