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A Holly Lee and Lee Ka-sing online magazine. Published on Fridays.




Lee Ka-sing
50 GLADSTONE AVENUE, a documentation

cat, Kai Chan


The photographer, Gary M. Dault

door frame




vase, Gary M. Dault


cat, Kai Chan




Sushi Grass in Paradise (A story)

written by Holly Lee
with photographs by Lee Ka-sing

(51) Love in the time of coronavirus

Chai falls into deep depression and suffers from insomnia these days, no, not only Chai, but the Bento family, and the whole world of people who have ties - families and friends living or staying in China and its environs - Hong Kong and Taiwan. Since January, the 2019-nCoV new coronavirus has shaken the world at a global scale. Hundreds of people died in the epicentre of Wuhan, and the city of eleven million is virtually locked down to contain the virus’s spread. Mr. Bento, who is still in Hong Kong and staying with Qi, Chai’s father, waiting anxiously for a seat for his trip back. He said situation in Hong Kong has becoming more desolate, people demand the complete closure of the border with mainland China to reduce risk of the disease spreading to local communities. Hundreds of hospital workers have gone on strike, to no avail. After queuing for protective masks people are now rushing to stock up toilet paper. Mr. Bento’s voice expressed grave concern as he spoke to Mrs. Bento. “A nerve-wracking atmosphere hangs over the city, everyone tries to stay home, works out from home and keep out of public spaces”.

A serenely eerie scene. In early February a drone brought in aerial photographs of Wuhan city, hovering above Yingwuzhou Yangtze River Bridge, zooming into deathly still streets, everything looks miniaturish, surreal, a pre-apocalyptic world in a post-apocalyptic movie. Picture of a misty dawn, the first time the city can hear birds sing. Another shot of the historical Wuhan Yangtze Great Bridge, following a cyclist in protective mask and suit, an ambulance went by. All silence and without much movement, the first time, ironically, to see men’s grandiose and unyielding effort in building modern cities, the first time, to have time to stop, to appreciate the dazzling serenity. Flying over Wuhan Tianhe Airport, surveying another spectacular architecture designed by talented men, like flying over an identical 3D model, everything motionless except movement of the drone, capturing back images of all quiet the aero front. The super quietness of the city contradicts what’s invisible inside - an army frantically combating, and fighting to contain a deadly war within the city.

What's worse, many cities in China are becoming like that since February.

Mrs. Bento emailed her friend Neon in New Zealand. Neon is originally from Wuhan, went to study comparative literature in the United States before finishing his Ph.D. in Toronto. He had stayed in Canada for a few years and eventually found a good teaching job in New Zealand, teaching in the Victoria University of Wellington, where he lives and raises his young family. It must be devastating, to have family and loved ones trapped inside the city where the coronavirus outbreak started. Neon wrote back: Thanks for thinking of us. It’s been very worrisome. My family in Wuhan is okay, but there are people around who fell ill. Everyone is taking extra care and supporting each other. May you all keep safe and take good care of yourselves in Canada. This is a most unusual Chinese New Year, one that gives family and togetherness a new urgency. The coronavirus crisis has escalated since Neon last wrote back, and Mrs. Bento gathered her courage and emailed him again: A very heavy heart, hope your family in Wuhan can stay calm and pull through...my family in Hong Kong is having hard times too. Fear rules. The death toll on the mainland as of the date she wrote Neon, has risen to over a thousand. The figure is according to China’s official report and is sceptical. Many reliable sources on the Internet estimated the number has surpassed ten thousands.

What can this world, at a time of unsurpassed technology, do with this scale of pandemic? Why is human, at a time of its unparalleled achievement as a species, so vulnerable, so incompetent in the face of controlling the spread of the disease? Why one party’s power, can overrule the lives of hundreds and thousands? If the ruler, Mrs. Bento thought, is proven to have deceived his people, to have caused such huge life-and-death consequence, why can the people just rise up and rebel, why can’t there be another military coup against him? This sort of naive, but fundamental thought Mrs. Bento had, and still has continues to vex her, without calculating the complexities of human beings, their never-ending greed, unceasing struggle to grasp power, self-serving and self-preservation nature…she would rather see it as a question of simply black and white.

Perhaps we have lost all capabilities in self-defence and self-sustained. To fight the disease, and prevent infection, how many protective masks can one keep stock, plus daily necessities and food? Mr. Bento said most of his friends are staying home, to finish a whole series of Game of Thrones, to read books they’ve planned for years but never do. But this time, this time, unlike a sick day staying at home, lying on a comfortable bed and read a great novel, it could be months, or even an unforeseen period of time for things to get settled, and life to go back to normal.

Against all these, some Westerners vow to stay in China because their loved ones cannot leave, and some of Mrs. Bento friends, like George and Wandy choose to stay in Hong Kong for longer. Many people’s children are working in cities in China and they want to be near them, even though the only contact they can make is through the device on their palms, love will always overcome any fear that prevails.


"Sushi Grass in Paradise" is an on-going story. To read the full length version with previous chapters, please visit- https://oceanpounds.com/blogs/sushi-grass-in-paradise




Issue 0214-2020

A Holly Lee and Lee Ka-sing online magazine. Published on Fridays.
Published by Ocean and Pounds and archived at oceanpounds.com
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Holly and Ka-sing currently live in Toronto with their daughter Iris, and their cat Sukimoto.


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