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踢 (tek), 踢拖 (tek to), flip flop, 啪嗒啪嗒 (pakdap pakdap). Hazel Chen’s short poem, translated by Aaris Woo, brings outs the acoustic properties of the slipper in Cantonese while connecting fragments of daily life in Hong Kong. In this lyrical collage of the quotidian, an urgency underlies the loss of something mundane. A flip flop goes missing during a crackdown at a political demonstration but the speaker, refusing to let it go, insists on finding and protecting it.

In the first installment of the Transpacific Literary Project’s Slipper folio, this everyday item that fuels kicking and noise making is vital for the survival of a community.
 
Check back over the next two weeks to read more from the Slipper folio. And add oil, Hongkongers 香港人加油!
 
 

一隻人字拖
 

清涼夜,
吧嗒吧嗒,
懶洋洋的聲音,
任性地勾著——
一隻人字拖。

「另一隻呢,另一隻在哪裡?」
他把她丟了。

丟在哪裡了?
時間的紡錘⋯⋯
落在褪色的南國青春裡,
大紅大綠的小兒女,
也染著淡淡惆悵。
為了什麼事他們大打出腳?
她跑跌了一隻鞋。
少女的纖細腳踝,
踩碎了白月光,割痛他的心。

後來的她,成為了誰的母親,
可以若無其事脫下一隻,
從後面,
猛烈攻擊,
會飛的小強。
都是夜,都是鞋,都是血。
「只有丟了」,他想,
那些面目全非的屍身,
那些被生活琢磨的女足。

再後來,那個撐著黃傘的夏日,
暴雨侵城。
睡夢中,他們的帳篷被毀。
急急著拖,跑在柏油馬路上。
哎呀哎呀,跌了一隻。

「丟了就丟了吧」有個悲涼的聲音說道。
白熾燈下屍身遍野。

他卻回頭,彳和亍前行。
「值得嗎?人字拖而已。」

總有一次不想丟掉,
太容易丟掉,
唾手可得的日常,大剌剌踢拖的權利。
也是為了嬌婉、暴躁,媚俗地穿金戴銀但也會深夜捧出一碗麵的她。

還是自己的腳和路,
想吧嗒吧嗒,
擲地有聲走下去。
一拍一拖——一世界。

 


 
A Flip-Flop

A cool night,
Pak-daap, Pak-daap,
That lazy sound,
Wilfully hooked—
A flip-flop.
“How about the other one? Where did it go?”
He lost her.

Where?
The spindle of time twirls…
Down into the faded youth of the South,
Even the youngsters in great hues of red and green,
Have been dyed with the pale tint of melancholy.
Why did they kick at one another?
She’d lost a shoe while running.
The slender ankles of young girl,
Had tread moonlight into pieces, as well as his heart.

Later, she became someone’s mother,
One who could so indifferently take off a shoe,
From its heel,
And fiercely attack,
A cockroach, small and flying.
Another night, another shoe, another blood.
“It’s only lost,” he thought,
Those corpses unidentifiable beyond recognition,
And those life-defining women’s feet.

Even later, on that summer day with a yellow umbrella,
Torrential rain swept over the city.
Their tents were destroyed while they dreamt.
So they picked up the pace, running on asphalt,
Oh, no, oh, no—dropped a shoe.

“What’s lost is lost,” sounded out a desolate voice.
Dead bodies strewn everywhere under the incandescent light.

A step and then another slowly forward, but he looked back.
“Only a flip-flop. Is it worth it?”

Don’t want to lose it this time,
It’s too easy to lose,
That easily obtainable everyday, the privilege of pompously casting off flip-flops.
It’s also for the graceful, rash, and kitschy her, the one who wears gold and silver together but would still bring out a bowl of noodles in the depth of night.

It’s still one’s own foot and one’s own road,
Wanting to pak-daap, pak-daap,
To carry on with this firm sound.
With love, with a flip-flop—with everything.

陳抒 Hazel Chen and 吳鍄穎 Aaris Woo

陳抒 Hazel Chen is a PhD candidate of Chinese literature and culture from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Her research project deals with the radio culture and its transmedial adaptations in the 1950s Hong Kong. Besides her scholarly pursuits, she also enjoys writing, music and dance as ways to explore her creativity. She has published short stories and critiques in Hong Kong literature and major Chinese Newspapers.

吳鍄穎 Aaris Woo can be found at http://www.ourwork.is/

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