Peer Review by jeily (Hong Kong)

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hong kong

By: agustdv


i am born from the land of salt marches and saffron, and learn to spin periwinkle studded fantasies in a country slick with sweat and oil. my eyes are accustomed to only two names on the atlas resting on my desk, afflicted by bathtub fingerprints and the harsh caresses of sunlight. 

a fondness for unscathed tourist shrines settles under my skin. so i turn to the inescapable lull of cinema, the reels and the blacks and whites and eyes that speak before mouths do. and it is here i discover hong kong. 

hong kong of the '90s. wong kar wai's hong kong. 

     and suddenly, i was maggie cheung falling for a man who only loved her for an hour a day, disguised under endearing smiles and smoldering gazes; i was takeshi kaneshiro eating thirty cans of expired pineapples, for it is better to have loved and lost, than not at all; i was tony leung in the empty metro train, whispering goodbye to the man who loved like a toxin seeping through his skin.

i was all of them. 

i am all of them. i am dimly lit corridors. i am boxy ticket offices. i am mold-kissed walls. i am the lone kitchen shared by a dingy building. i am a food stall with blaring loudspeakers. i am an apartment that cries. i am an empty tunnel stretching endlessly. i am the breath fogging on unkempt windows. i am the stolen midnight kisses. i am the hollow dances between familiar strangers with a decaying love.

hong kong of the old and gray. hong kong with the sensual yellows and oranges. hong kong and the reverie of detached disenchantment. hong kong that my dreams reminisced. hong kong that i could taste between my angry teeth, touch the callouses of, house in my weary bones.

hong kong that no longer exists.


a love letter to the hong kong that wkw has shown me. 

sweat and oil, because UAE is hot, and made its fortune from oil reserves. 

the films referenced are days of being wild, chungking express, and happy together. 


Peer Review

my apologies, this became a bit of a ramble but i promise there’s constructive criticism in here! the moment i saw the title of this work, i knew i had to read it immediately. as you can probably tell from my profile, i come from hong kong and my city (and by the looks of it, your city too!) is rarely explored in literature, aside from writers trying to show how exotic their character is or how ~intriguing~ and ~mysterious~ hong kong is. with that being said, i love the way you describe hong kong. your flow and rhythm of words is stunning and it feels like you’re showing me your version of hong kong, the city that YOU see in your eyes when you think of it. the use of colours, the repetition of ‘i am’, the dreamy descriptions of these various movie scenes is simply ethereal, and it feels like a guide through a foggy, wistful dream of memories someone once had. the mentions of hong kong movie stars like maggie cheung and tony leung also are such a nice touch to making this seem all the more real and personable to you. it shows you really do know the hk movie scene and in all, this to me feels like you are introducing hong kong through a 60s film reel.

as you mentioned, this is a love letter written by you to hong kong and something i’m interested in is how did you start watching hong kong movies? why did it speak to you? however, stylistically, plot-wise, formatting is all superb to me and i think you’ve done a brilliant job in all these aspects.

Reviewer Comments

honestly, this is simply extraordinary. i was speechless after i read it and with it being such dark times with corona, the protests, and all the other stuff that has gone down in hong kong right now, i’m grateful your piece came up on my feed. you’ve reminded me how beautiful hong kong can be and is, even in these moments. thank you and keep safe :)