Sunday, 7 May 2017

Many Happy Returns!

Okay I'm SO going to make this!

“Chor tai-gor, long time no see!”

Chor Lau Heung nodded excitedly as he saw Szeto Man Mo walking into the garden pavilion with Lam Chor Yin, who was carrying a medium-sized colourful package. “Glad that you make it here, A Man,” Lingering Fragrance nodded to the couple, “ – considering your wife’s pregnancy.”

Chor Yin smiled as she caressed her enlarging stomach. “I’m fine. Plus, I can’t miss her birthday!”

“True,” A Man said as he took the package from his wife’s hand. “Where should we – Ah! Li tai-gor is here!”

Chor Lau Heung whipped his head to see Li Sai Man sauntering into the pavilion; one of his arms holding Chun Sik Sik tightly as if she’d run away if he didn’t do so.  It’s not a secret in their small group that Chor Lau Heung and Li Sai Man had an unspoken rivalry, hence Man Mo held his breath to see if the two dashing tai-haps can actually act civil this time.

 To his relieve though, Lingering Fragrance smiled sincerely as he fist-greeted the Tang Emperor. The latter also returned the greetings in a civil manner, and even asked if all their friends had arrived.

“Ah, yes, the Hong Kong couples are inside already, but we’re still waiting for Wong Yung and Kwok-hing,” replied Lau Heung. He was about to suggest that the Tang couple take the seat when they heard some noise outside. Sik Sik craned her neck and, eyes bulging, gasped. Sai Man followed the direction of his wife’s gaze and inhaled sharply.

“What the hell is he doing here?!” Sai Man was flabbergasted to see Yeung Hong, grumpy but civil, entered the garden with Kwok Ching. A few steps behind them, Wong Yung couldn’t hide her scorn despite her plastered smile, possibly to appease Mok Nim Chi who was walking nervously next to her. Being an emperor and being a well-mannered prince consort prepared Sai Man and Lau Heung, respectively, for that shock, such that they managed to greet Yeung Hong with an utmost civility. However, after the ever kind Sik Sik and the curious Chor Yin escorted Yeung Hong into the dining room (Yeung Hong was entrusted with carrying a gift, apparently, hence it was the right alibi to bring him in), Li Sai Man practically hissed at the fidgeting Kwok Ching.

“Again, what the hell is he doing here?!”

“Well…” the hero Kwok Ching looked uncomfortable under the glare of the Emperor. “Siu Ching said that we could invite him… because, he was there when they first met…”

“Siu Ching didn’t tell me that!” Chor Lau Heung was surprised.

“Ah, communication problem, have we?! I thought there was no secret between you two.” For a few seconds, Li Sai Man forgot that he had decided to stay civil for a while. He and Wong Yung had developed an easy friendship since they first met during a get-together that Song Siu Ching initiated a while ago, and since Yeung Hong was Wong Yung’s mortal enemy, Sai Man didn’t feel like being civil towards that Jin Prince. Plus, it pleased him to see Chor Lau Heung being in the dark!

On his part, Chor Lau Heung still remembered his promise to his wife, that he’d be civil to Li Sai Man. The Emperor had been taking care of his wife Chun Sik Sik anyway, and there has been no further indication of a new TF fan-fiction series that would overtake his turn for a CLH fiction. Hence, Lingering Fragrance swallowed his annoyance and shifted his focus on the greater matter.

“But Yeung Hong, for Heaven’s –”

“Leave him alone, Chor tai-hap,” a deep baritone voice entered the garden earlier than the owner of the voice. Yet, the friends in the garden knew who that person was. They turned to the gate to greet Master Wong Yeuk Si, the Peach Blossom Island Master, entering the garden  with such a grace and presence. His blue grey robe billowed poetically in the same rhythm  with his white-gold hair as the Master approached Chor Lau Heung, Li Sai Man and Szeto Man Mo; his Heavenly Jade Flute on his right hand.

“Just leave him, Your Highness…” Master Wong also addressed the surprised Li Sai Man. “If they invited them, then let it be…”

Li Sai Man was about politely argue when merry steps and giggles were heard from the manor. He didn’t need to look to know that one of the girls coming was Sik Sik.

“Sai Man…” Sik Sik smiled gently as she registered that her husband was still annoyed at Yeung Hong’s presence. “– Siu Ching asked us to come in, we’re going to start the dinner soon.”

“Good,” Wong Yeuk Si smiled. “I’m hungry.”

“Please don’t compare our cooking with your daughter’s, Master Wong,” said Ho Doh Wan as she escorted the Tao Hua Island master inside. Doh Wan liked Wong Yeuk Si; somehow he reminded her of her own father. “We’ve tried our best today. We even made a birthday cake!”

“Ah, I’ve always heard about this “birthday cake” thing… if it’s indeed that good, I need to ask Yung-yi to make it for us.”

“It will be for your next birthday, Daddy –” Wong Yung’s cheerfulness returned as she entered the dining room and saw more of her friends (Yeung Hong had been stationed in the corner where Fei was strategically conversing with him). “ – promise, next birthday!”

“You’ll have to learn from us first then, and get the ingredients from Hong Kong!” Dragon Ying entered the dining room from the kitchen, her hands carrying a large pink birthday cake, topped with swirling sweets that look like pink plums. “Don’t worry, it’s easy!”

"You girls made this??" Wong Yung couldn't believe her eyes.

"What, you don't trust me?!" It wasn't in A Ying's nature to be challenged, but she eventually grinned and admitted that she only helped putting the ornaments on the cake, and to bring it into the dining room. 

Elated to see her sparring partner, Wong Yung grinned back and asked her what A Ying bought as a birthday present. “Ching gor-gor and I –” she added, “ – we bought her a bonsai plum tree. Thought she’d like it.”

“She would,” Dragon Ying nodded. “A Leung and I chipped in for a vintage 1930s dress that Doh Wan and Fei sourced from England. From Cambridge, no less. Doh Wan said she’d like that.”

“A Man and I got her a traditional Cheong-sam actually, the fabric is pure silk, delivered earlier by Sik Sik,” Chor Yin joined the conversation as she laid out some dishes on the table. When Wong Yung said that the dishes smelled good, a girl giggled and declared that she made many of them.

“You, Siu Ching?!” Wong Yung was genuinely surprised. “You couldn’t even grill a fish!”

“Hah!” Siu Ching exclaimed in glee, her hands on her hips. “You’d be surprised that I’m getting much better now! Even Tim Yi and you have to acknowledge that soon!”

“No – seriously, tell me –”

“Friends, thanks a lot for coming here to celebrate our dear friend’s birthday,” a very familiar person came into the room, cutting off Wong Yung’s plea. Dashing as always, wearing a black turtle-neck, he lifted a glass of wine. “Sorry, Yung-yi, but since we’re all here already, I thought we better start.” Upon receiving a friendly nod from the Peach Blossom Island girl, the man resumed. “I’d like to start this evening by asking you to, if you can, say some words to our beautiful birthday girl of the things you love about her and things you thank her for. Perhaps one message per couple, except for Master Wong? Wong tai-hap, if you please?”

Wong Yeuk Si smiled. “Well, I should be the last to say this… for I am the last to appear… but having said that, I just want to say I love the way you were so ready to jump into the water, literally and proverbially, to try new things. Your courage is admirable." The Master chuckled as he remembered the diving and jumping scenes in the olden days. "Also...thank you for… portraying the best daughter I’ve had. You made Wong Yung the unforgettable character. ” Master Wong’s eyes became glassy as he lifted a wine cup offered by Doh Wan. “And I cannot thank Heaven enough for the chance to be your father. I am, forever, grateful.”

“For me –” Chor Lau Heung said as he held Siu Ching close to him, “I love you, my dear friend, for being able to be the cheerful, yet sensitive you. I also thank you for giving me the beautiful, spirited princess I love to laugh with, a princess who matured into a sensible, kind woman she is…”

“As for me, I love the way you laugh. Also, I thank you for making me realise how much I love Chor Yin…” said Man Mo, as he held his wife’s hand. “For making me realise that I’d do anything to win her back…”

“I love you for your wittiness, quips and energy." Kwok Ching raised his wine cup. "And I thank you for giving me the warrior princess that is Wong Yung,” 

Fei and A Leung raised their wine glasses. Fei spoke first, "We love you for your empathy, and also for your bubbling laughters." A Leung added, “And we thank you for giving us the amazing twins.” 

The Emperor spoke, “I love you, my dear friend, for being the kind and sensitive soul you are. I also thank you for giving me the best lady to live my life with, a sensitive, considerate, strong and kind lady that I, in all truthfulness, cannot live without,” Li Sai Man saluted, then he (and Chor Lau Heung) glared at the corner, to the sulking Yeung Hong. It was a while before the sulking Jin/Song boy realised that he also had to say something.

“Well… I thank you for…” Yeung Hong finally stood up after receiving an elbow from his wife. “For being you… for…” he hesitated, “– for hurting my left eye? And thus we became… friends?”

Michael Miu laughed. “That should be my line, Yeung-gor!” Michael turned as he hugged Barbara Yung, who was blushing from the attentions she received this evening.

“To Barbara. My beloved friend, my beloved confidant, who fills my life with laughter and joy.”

“And who gave you pain as well,” grinned Barbara rather uncomfortably.

Michael grinned back as he touched his left eye. “The pain that started a beautiful friendship. For you, Barbara –” he lifted his wine glass, “– it’s all worth it…”

“For we all love you,” Everyone else added. “Happy birthday, Barbara!”

Barbara smiled as she blushed, twinkles in her eyes. “Thank you all… I love you all…” she turned to face Michael. “I love you too…”

Michael smiled, lifted his wine glass and let it clink with her glass. “Ditto.”

Author’s note:

Happy 58th birthday, Barbara… We miss you…


Ha Nguyen said...

Icha you did it again!! I can't smile any bigger. Your creative writing is so fun to read and it hits home for so many of Babs fans and Michael's.

I think one of the simplest yet best lines, well said, with thought, and respect was when Michael said to Barbara

“To Barbara. My beloved friend, my beloved confidant, who fills my life with laughter and joy.”

This really sounds like something he would say..and again, saying less is more.

Interesting that you used their Cantonese pinyin names...representing the LOCH from '83.

It really touched my heart that they gave a toast and said a few lines regarding Babs herself. She did give life to the great characters we grew up with, loved, and kept dear in our hearts..for that we can never, and have never been able to forget her.

I can't imagine my life not knowing Babs nor can I explain, like so many others, why of all people, she touched me in a way no other has ever done or come close to.

Love you forever and always our cherished Barbara.

AND Thank you my dear beautiful sister Icha for keeping her so vibrantly alive in our hearts through your amazing creative writing.

Icha said...

LOL, thanks a LOT Hannah for your presence, support and comments! TBH, I actually felt I didn't give it all for this ff, cos I wrote it in less than two hours. Glad that you like it!

Yeah, I stopped for a few minutes on the last lines, not sure how to end it. What I'd write for Michael... and Barbara's response...

I think, it's pretty much what they'd say... or unsay, to each other, eh?

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

And I almost forgot. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARBARA!!!������♥♥♥♥ I LOVE YOU!! ....and I love you too Icha sis! ������

Icha said...

LOL! love you too, Hannah!

Anonymous said...

It is so good to see all of our beloved characters again. Thanks ICha!