FP Manager Wai crafted Tiger I in 2016 from a Tamiya model kit he aspired to have but couldn’t as a kid. Time changes many things. What does his lasting zeal tell us about the forgettable yet unforgotten of growing up in Hong Kong?

[English translation follows from Chinese text. Please scroll down]

清靜的下午,偶然的鬧市蹓躂,被一間店舖的鬧哄哄氣氛吸引住了,反正無事,就入內逛逛吧。近門口的位置,擺放著大量日本科幻動畫的人偶模型,擠滿著青年及小孩,有凝視著貨架觀看新產品的,有諮詢著店員的,也有三三兩兩熱烈地討論著的,我欠了欠身,信步走入店的深處,一個清靜的角落,這裏擺放著一些數量不多的過時貨品 - ‘Tamiya’ (田宮)的二次大戰軍事模型!曾幾何時,這些東西是發燒友的至愛,今日卻已被打進幽幽的冷宮。

我看著久違了的東西,思憶一下子回到童年:物質匱乏、環境擠迫的屋邨生活,走廊末端的一小片空地是主要的玩耍空間,玩具不多,踢踢塑膠足球,拍拍「公仔紙」,玩玩完全不需成本的「三六九」或「天下太平」也很快樂了。不知從何時起,一班鄰居的大哥哥在星期天搬來了小檯小摺櫈,砌起模型來,年幼的我只能屏著氣息在旁觀看著。漂亮的紙盒,醒目的「雙星」標誌,一排一排的塑料零件,眼看他們聚精會神的閱讀著說明書,手中拼拼貼貼,最後又為組件上色,只覺好玩得很,心中羨慕不已。暑假來了,求媽媽買我一套坦克車模型,不得要領,只換來一盒遠遠便宜的納粹德軍小兵,那些年,那有金錢購買昂貴的工具和模型專用的「膠水」及清洗劑,只好使用廉價的「OK膠」和五金店購買的工業用「天拿水」,塗料也只能購置一二,但也玩得津津有味,腦裏充滿著繼續玩下去的念頭。

上了初中,一次生日前夕,又舊事重提,大著膽子央求媽媽給我買一套新推出 “Tiger I”(「虎一」戰車)模型,這次媽媽沒有說話,只是眉頭輕皺了一下。夜裡,睡夢朦朧中,聽見媽跟父親提起這件事,耳中隱約傳來爸爸輕輕的埋怨聲音。隔天,媽媽領我到家附近的玩具店,給我買了我的心頭好,我垂下頭來說了一聲:「謝謝!」,心中卻難過得再說不出話來,我知道,自己的任性,已令媽媽費煞思量,也為這個捉襟見肘的家庭,帶來沉重的負擔。自此,暗地裡下了決心,從每月微薄的「零用錢」掙一點下來,能買的就買,負擔不起時,就買些模型雜誌翻看以「畫餅充饑」,可想而知,當然是看的時候多玩的時候少了,卻也增長了不少知識,興趣一點沒減退。

時光飛快流逝,投身社會,紅塵滾滾,為口奔馳,持續這嗜好的閒情與時間,也消失殆盡了。

img_4788_cropped-red

“Where is Home?” (2016, LAI Wai-leung) 黎偉亮以田宮「虎一」戰車借題:“家在何處?”

今天,又和「老朋友」重遇了!一樣的包裝,一樣的招紙,不變的型號,不變的款式,時間在這狹小的空間凝住了。三十多年,這世界變了多少?這城市這社會又變了多少?往事像褪色菲林片在腦裏重播,自己呢?年少輕狂,也有過理想,努力過,掙扎過,成功過,沉淪過,隨波逐流,幹過很多事,認識過很多人,仰望過高山,見識過俗世浮華,棱角漸褪,明白人與事皆不可強求,生活的意義也逐漸模糊,世界若是一個遊樂場,那人生就像一個出口難尋的迷陣。

年事漸長,摯愛親朋離散無間,當日年輕的媽媽也白髮蒼蒼了,然而,每憶起童年舊事,心中愧疚竟沒絲毫減退。

俱往矣!

這刻,內心卻又湧起一股難言的衝動,人生兜兜轉轉,猶如回到遙遠的起點。

我長長的吁了一口氣,從貨架上取下了一個紙盒,走到收銀處,輕輕的放下數張紙幣,無聲離去:人生無從後悔,卻總有遺憾!不為甚麼,就當是彌補童年的遺憾於萬一!

久別重逢,竟是一言難盡……..

回到FP,我呆看著躺在書桌上的紙盒,斗大的英文字體眏入眼簾:Tiger I。

2016.11.01 (待續)

It was a quiet afternoon. I was tarrying in a busy part of the city when a shop bustling with customers caught my attention. Since I got nothing to do anyway, I stepped in. Blocking the entrance area were children and young people who crawled over stacked-up figure models of Japanese sci-fi anime. Some of them were staring at the “new arrival” items while others were making enquiries. Here and there groups of two or three were eagerly exchanging information. A deep yawn… I squeezed my way to the depth of the back end of the shop and found a somewhat forgotten corner. There, you would only find outdated goods such as Tamiya’s WW2 military models. Once upon a time, these were the hottest items everyone fought to own.

300-dino_red“Long time no see!” – these favorite items from my long gone childhood. I came from that generation when material lack was not uncommon, and when crowded living space in public housing estates left us with minimum provisions for playing except the long corridor that held the cell-like flats together, or the widening spaces at either end of a corridor. Toys were limited in variety – a plastic ball, image-cards (with famous fictional characters), a bamboo stick game called 3-6-9 that costs almost nothing, or various riddles played on paper. One year, a neighbor’s sons started to set up a small table outside their flat with a few folded stools, and started to build models. I watched with intense excitement, holding my breath: neat packages, the distinct double-star TAMIYA trademark, rows after rows of plastic parts and so on spread out on the table. How intensely they worked through the manual, and their hands incessantly matching, comparing and joining parts this way and that way… Then came the coloring of the assembled clusters. It was all heavens to me. Summer came, I begged Mom to buy me a kit of the Tank Series model, but to no avail. Instead, I got a box of much cheaper tiny German Nazi soldiers. Back then proper tool, glue and cleansing solution were far too expensive. I retreated to inexpensive glue and thinner available at hardware shops in the neighborhood. I was also easy with coloring agents. Nothing would take away my fun. “Keep going,” I was totally single-minded.

In no time I was in junior secondary school. It was my birthday eve when I asked Mom once again to have the latest “Tiger 1” for my gift. Mom said nothing this time, and just frowned a little bit. In my half sleep in the middle of the night, I heard Mom taking my request to Dad who responded with muffled grumbles. Two days later, Mom took me to a toyshop near home and bought me what I wanted. My head drooped, and I uttered, “Thank you!” It was a saddening moment; I was speechless. I knew I was asking for too much and had put Mom in trouble for an extra spending item that our hand-to-mouth household budget could barely accommodate. Since then, I told myself I would save from my meager pocket-money to get whatever I could and, when I really couldn’t afford it, I would turn to reading model magazines for a temporary relief of my unsettled appetite. You can already imagine: I was reading about more models far more than “making,” which turned out to be a timely boost for my “knowledge” about models, thus sustaining my interest on and on.

Time waited for no one. I was a working adult, moving from one job to another, just to make ends meet. My enthusiasm and the leisurely mind required of model making dissipated.

Today, in this crowded shop, I “reunited” with my long-gone “friend” — the exact same packaging, the same “double-star” trademark, the same model series, the same style. Has time stopped flowing in this little shop? In thirty years, one could name hundreds and thousands of changes in our world. Moments of the past “replay” in my mind like washed-down images made on overdue film stock. What has become of me? Once young and frivolous, had ideals of my own, committed, striving through hardship, rising and falling, I drifted through all kinds of jobs and met people from different walks of life. I had looked up to the hills and also known earthly vanity, and now I’ve lost a bit of my edginess, coming to terms with the fact that we’ve got to accept thing and people the way they are. So-called meanings of life are blurry: the world is perhaps a big playground, and life is like a labyrinth whose “way out” is difficult to find.

My years advancing, friends and dear ones came and went. Mom is no longer young, but I still regret for once making things difficult for her, as if that is just yesterday. All the same…

This very moment takes me all the way back to that first moment in the remote past, not without too many twists and turns.

A deep breath. I took down that box from the shelf and walked to the cashier. I gently left several paper bills and left. No more regret, I told myself. This is the moment to soothe the yearnings of my childhood.

Long time no see. Speechless…

Back at Floating Projects, I couldn’t take my eyes off the box on the table, and what screamed on the box: Tiger 1. (2016.11.01) […to be continued]

Tiger in Snow (Wai)

“Tiger in Snow” (2016, Wai-leung Lai)

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