It Will Be A Boy
I hear a muffled sound; the source is uncertain. I try to listen. I turn over. Someone is speaking in the other room. It sounds like a familiar voice… It is the small piping voice of a child. The voice is answered by a gleeful prattle. I prick up my
ears more. I recognize my daughter’s elocution with her unique pitch and tone.
This can’t be.
“Fillette, who the hell are you talking to?”
“Come on Dad, I’m playing with my new baby brother.”
“But it’s late, go back to bed…huh!? Your baby brother!?”
This can’t be.
I’m in Hong Kong. In a hotel room. My daughter is fifteen hour’s flight from here.
And I wake up, disoriented, shivering, the voice of my daughter still echoing in my head: “my new baby brother — baby brother — baby — baaaaaaabyyyyyyyy”.
I’m just back from holidays in Thailand and I’m sleeping alone. I’m not accustomed anymore to be lost in a large empty cold bed. I miss the warmth of Phuket.
In this 28-story hotel for penguins and English people the air temperature is conditioned at 16°C everywhere. I switched off the A/C in my room but got almost no improvement.
I look through the window and I see that the night is still not over. The traffic on the roads below is very light. The late party-goers must have called it a day, and the early workers are not yet awake. Even the skyscrapers have dimmed their multi-colored lights. Hong Kong, the city that never sleeps. It is strange that coming back from Thailand, Hong Kong looks so cold, dull and boring. But when I arrived a few weeks ago from my corner of Gweiloland, Hong Kong looked so bright, lively and welcoming.
I go back under the thick quilt, wondering about this dream.
Is it a glimpse of the future? Of what could be this future?
Could it be that the common denominator of all the possible futures is generating a signal strong enough to be picked up?
Could it be that my future son wants to be more than a very low probability and that he is calling his dad for help?
But then, this dream could affect my behavior and by a series of cause-to-effect events leads me exactly to this future…
Or could it be that my secret thoughts have escaped during my sleep only to ring on the circular walls of this building and that all the echoes concentrated back on me?
I chase these ramblings by acknowledging that I simply miss my daughter a lot. One more week and I will be back home holding her in my arms.
Anyway my wife is not in a state of bearing a fourth child. What a silly dream!
Fortunately I sink quickly into the soundless black limbo of a dreamless sleep.
Today I have a very important business lunch. This is the kind of meeting where no mistake is allowed.
I have a few hours to kill in the morning and I’m not going to pace up and down my room or engage in a strenuous weightlifting session. No, no, no. I must relax.
So, I call my favorite in-room massage service. I ask for Alice. The voice at the other side of the line tells me that she knows only the girl’s number or Chinese name.
And then I remember. Alice has a rose tattooed in the very lower part of her belly.
Not long after, there is a gentle knock at my door. As I open, a 28 year old woman holding a small wicker basket and wearing red high-heels shoes, red mini-skirt and tight-fitting jacket is standing there. Again I’m struck by her perfect fair complexion and by her classical hourglass figure. She is just the size I like, somewhere between 1.5 m and 1.6 m, and her body has a fullness that is rarely seen in Chinese women. She has a glamorous round face with flip level curly hair. The way she looks at me reminds me sometimes of Gong Li. And of course she is very good at massage.
“Why you not call me” she says straight off slightly shuddering while entering.
“Hi Alice. I came back in XiangGang only yesterday. I want body massage and full service. Two hours. Hao ma?”
“Wu bai” she adds showing me her palm with all the five fingers extended to inform how much hundreds of HKD will cost me the extra.
She drops her shoes, spreads a towel on the bed and very soon the hotel room is not cold anymore.
Lying on my back and fully relaxed with my hands tuck under my head, I’m as happy as a man can be as I watch Alice riding me and sliding up and down along my dick.
She suddenly stops, gazing intensely at me and with her heavy breasts still wobbling she says out of the blue and very seriously while I’m deep inside her:
“I want make baby with you. Baby be very beautiful, like you.”
Then, realizing what she said and maybe to hide some embarrassment, she starts a rippling laughter that she conceals with her hand.
The meeting is over. It has worked out fine. My professional future is secured for some time.
This afternoon I want to be a tourist. I decided to go again to the Lin Fa Kung temple in Tai Hang, Wanchai district. Inside there is an altar with a tiger deity I want to study and photograph.
As I’m to get out of the South Pacific Hotel, a tall stern Sikh in red uniform wearing the beard, turban and strapped sword opens the door for me.
“I will walk” I inform him before he calls a taxi. I don’t like people trying to force me in something I didn’t ask for.
This end of November afternoon the weather is ideal for a stroll, average temperature of 23°C and no more rain.
I’m relieved to have escaped the coldness of this glass tower. I’m no more a lost soul condemned to see the world go by through a glass window; I’m back with the living beings. As I hit my stride, my mind is setting free; I can think again, in every direction, I have no limits.
For each person I pass I imagine a life, a possible connection with mine and I look for what we have in common. All the scanned people accumulate inside me; all the faces are stacking into one.
At each pace and at each encounter I’m becoming larger and larger. Soon my cells are made up with all the living beings of Hong Kong, and in my arteries red taxis, black luxury cars and fuming cream-colored buses are flowing instead of blood. My nervous system is a tangle of neon signs, wi-fi emissions, optic fibber nets, internet-intranet connections. My bones are made with steel and concrete, my nails are blue glass, my feet rest on the sea bed. I’m still me but I’m also Hong Kong.
At the end of Tin Tok Lane, I reach Hennessy Road and I jump inside a double-deck tram with a Causeway Bay sign. I alight near the Victoria Park just in front of the Public Library. Then I walk a few minutes along Causeway Road and I turn right in Tung Lo Wan Road to finally arrive a few minutes later at the Lin Fa Kung temple.
There are only a few people inside and I can study that special altar without being bothered or without bothering worshippers. I still don’t understand what represents this tiger and why I’m so mesmerized. Although it is a little bit dark inside, viewed through the round opening in the wall that separates the most holy prayer room from the tiger altar room, this could make a very good photo.
That’s when I see the “no picture” sign.
As I turn over toward the exit, I see a very old woman kneeled on a red pad in front of the statue of Kwun Yum. She is picking up a wooden stick from the ground that has just come out from a tumbler she was rattling. She stands up with a surprising agility and brings the stick to another woman with bi-focal spectacles waiting near a big book that looks very old.
I look back at the Goddess of Mercy and suddenly I know what I’m going to do.
Once the old woman is gone, I head toward the woman with the bifocals. I ask her if she knows why I can’t take pictures inside the temple. She answers with good English that taking pictures of Buddha is not blasphemous in itself. But the use of the pictures, or the location, for example into the back pocket of a trouser, or mixed with other pictures, girlie pictures for example, could be blasphemous.
“Madam, I can’t read that book. If I’m doing the sticks stuff, would you read the book for me?”
“Of course, no problem.”
“What is the procedure?”
“You have to kneel in front of the goddess and bow three times in sign of respect. Then you shake the tumbler this way <rattle rattle> while asking to Kwun Yum what you want to know.”
I’m doing exactly as requested and a stick pops out.
“N°18, oh very good one! Let me see… Like an arrow pointing to its target on an already flexed bow, what you have asked will not fail to happen. Everything is already in place, this will just be the expected conclusion. What is your sign?”
“Hor…Hors… Horse fire” I splutter out shaken up.
“Let’s see… The prediction has a chance of 5 on 5 to realize.”
“Can I tell you what has been my question to the goddess?” I manage to articulate with a toneless voice and my mouth now very dry.
“Of course” she answers gleefully.
“I have asked Kwun Yum if I will be the father of another child.”
“Let’s see… Sure, it will be a boy!”
“B—bu–but I have already three children!”
“Oh you so lucky. What a happy family. So, when your wife will be pregnant you must come back here, and burn three joss sticks and thank Kwun Yum. And after, once the baby is born, you must come back again and do the same. It is written here, it will be a boy!”
What happened after I don’t remember very well. I may have dropped a 50 HKD note in the donation box for the maintenance of the temple. I may have thanked the lady profusely. I may have missed a step on my way out.
I’m now walking and I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. I don’t know if I’m happy or unhappy. I don’t know what to think. I don’t know if I can even think anymore. All I know is that I’m again in the crowded streets of Wanchai.
But I’m alone, I’m shrinking at each pace and I want to melt into the throng. I can see only a few meters ahead of me, I hear nothing as I can’t stop listening to this echo between my two ears: “it will be a boy — a boy —a boy — a boy.”
I walk faster, and faster, and I’m nearly running, not daring to give a glimpse behind me, but I feel it trying to push me in the back, the big and powerful hand of fate I’m trying to escape.