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A Holly Lee and Lee Ka-sing online magazine. Published on Fridays.
Sushi Grass in Paradise (A story)
written by Holly Lee
with photographs by Lee Ka-sing
(55) FaceTime Rough Time
Mrs. Bento was sitting in front of her desktop to FaceTime with Bento, George and Wandy from Hilly’s studio in Fotan, Hong Kong. The heavy atmosphere there has lifted a little since the numbers go down daily in China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and most Asian countries. The bad news is that the epicentre has moved on to Europe, crossing sky and ocean to affect North America.
“We’re in a prep state of war, which I hope won’t ever happen,” said Mrs. Bento, “overall people’ve reacted calmly, and panic shopping has not been very serious. The government continues to warn us about social distancing, hand washing and try to stay home. All public venues have been closed, schools shut down, cafés and restaurants, cinemas are put on hold, except groceries and eateries are open for take-outs and delivery. I think the measures taken are more severe than Hong Kong! Just heard from the news today our border with the US would be shut down tonight," signed Mrs. Bento, "since Bento left I haven’t gone to China Town! How I miss dim sum…”
“And me?” Bento returned good-humouredly.
“Everything will be alright,” Wandy said with a calm voice from the other side. “We’ve battled this dreadful disease in Hong Kong for over two months already, hopefully it has peaked and will soon die down. Now the question is coming back to Canada.”
“Oh don’t worry Wandy, I can pick you up. I’ve got masks from Korean Supermarket, no don’t panic, nobody’s sick there. Then we can all come home and do the self isolation thing. Hey Hilly dear, nice to see your face after such a long time! Since you move so much and so often, how are you coping with life in your cave?” Mrs. Bento asked.
“Hi there!” Hilly waved her hand mid-air, and continued, “I am quite well actually, and enjoy settling down for a while after that many trips. By the way, I thought we are having a small conference with the YTT team, where are the others?"
“Social distancing means not to gather at friends’, so obviously they are at home. YYT, no, the name has been changed to HOSOP, House of something on photography. Did we update that to you? Hmm...it was changed some time ago. Hey," Mrs. Bento spotted something interesting to the left behind Hilly. "What’s that big thing behind you?”
“Oh, I’ve been reading and re-reading books since ‘caved in’,” Hilly explained, “this huge book is GENESIS, the XL edition of Sebastião Salgado’s photographs.” She turned her back to the left, made a hand gesture to introduce the object on a lectern.
“Genesis are photographs of places far and beyond civilization. Wandy and I saw an exhibition maybe five or six years ago, I think at the ROM about these photographs. At that time, they displayed a very big book at the venue, almost half of a person’s height. It was superb! Photographs of such size really show the technical excellence of the photographer, the majestic mountains, forests, plants, animals and peoples that have lived outside modern society. Though I really loved it, I looked at the price, it was obviously beyond my reach.” Said George in a burst of enthusiasm.
“No, not anymore,” turning to talk to George, Hilly continued, “you can get a far more affordable copy right now, like mine. Taschen has released Genesis in a hard-cover XL edition in 2019. You can get it at eighty US dollars, plus shipping, I mean.” As she was saying she walked over to the huge book and moved the lectern, which was actually a tripod, closer to the computer screen, turned the pages with help from fingers of both hands, slowly, one by one, so everyone can see the images.”
“I see…these pictures…we saw that exhibition too, remember Bento? You were thinking of buying it…but that would have costed us two months income, and we don’t really have any spare money for such a luxurious item. Honestly I love those photographs, maybe we should get the book when you’re back?” Mrs. Bento said in a pleading voice.
“I’m thinking about it too. Don’t you think it’s strange that we always have the same wavelengths…by the way, how’s our Ginger, Cigar, and Chai?” Asked Mr. Bento.
“Each doing their own thing. Ginger has started a drawing project, she’s creating drawings inside pages of a pocket size shoe catalogue, in fact I find it quite beautiful. Cigar is always hungry. His stomach hour is always an hour ahead of food time. Chai and I have avoided going out to study the streets, she’s doing more research on the history of Toronto now, that also helps me to understand the city better.”
“What about you?” Wandy asked.
“Oh, I’ve watched two operas on the net since the day before yesterday. Two days ago Met has started to stream a free opera everyday from their website. Can you believe I watched them with Ginger? She said a lot of the songs sounded familiar and now she knew where they came from, Carmen and La Bohéme etc., and you know what, though all public libraries are closed here, I can still use our third floor library, not too bad eh? Except, I’m worrying about our B&B business. Since January, we’ve got nothing but cancellations…I’m prepared...rough time is coming.”
"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
Photographs from domestic-life-colour-book series (2020)
Drawings by Chloe
My heart sings and drops as I located this drawings. I must admit I’ve forgotten them, but awfully glad to rediscover them in the greyish green document box amid other paper things. A decade ago, when Chloe was still at her teens I asked her to draw our family - of four. I remember Chloe as a small child, around the age of two to three, she was impatient, difficult and crying all the time. It must have been a challenging time for her parents, both very close friends of ours, who at that time, were still struggling to establish a life in Canada. Now, a quiet, soft-spoken, well-mannered and composed young lady, I can see the kind of effort - love and guidance the parents must have put into her. She was quick and confident when she sketched us, each person for less than five minutes. Thank you Chloe, for keeping us forever young.
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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leekasing.com is a portal website for current and earlier works. Apart from exhibitions, Holly and Ka-sing use extensively web platforms to display photography and writing projects. Contact us for a detail list of links.
Holly and Ka-sing currently live in Toronto with their daughter Iris, and their cat Sukimoto.