Chapter 14

‘This place has special memories for me,’ said Gramps. ‘It was 1972. I’d arrived from Guangdong, wearing only shorts and flip flops.’ Gramps closed his eyes and breathed deeply. ‘Mmm, that smell of roasting chicken wings. But they were twenty cents and I only had five.’

HKHG 014 FHow many joyful reunions had taken place here? The walls of the Kowloon-Canton railway tower vibrated with the tick-tick-tocking of the clock. Jasmine touched its warm orange bricks. She imagined tooting taxis, rumbling trains, travellers spilling from the carriages, clouds of steam. This fine tower was built in 1913 but it took two whole years to complete, she read from her app. Many people wanted it to be knocked down to make way for a new development but others campaigned hard to keep it and the eventually government relented. The railway tracks were moved to Hung Hom in 1977.

The previous night, Jasmine had studied some architectural words: turrets, buttresses, cornices etc. She made sketches of them in her notebook. ‘Let’s climb the spiral stairs to the top,’ she said.

‘You can’t anymore,’ Gramps replied, ‘but I remember Nai Nai telling me she did so once, as a girl. At the very top, there’s a bell, although it hasn’t rung for years.’

Jasmine sketched it from a Google image.

‘The clock has only stopped once,’ Gramps continued. ‘It was during the Japanese Occupation. Nai Nai said when it stopped, it felt like the whole world had gone to sleep.’

The ferris wheel shimmered like a spider’s web on the other side of the harbour. Where was the next envelope? Jasmine found it squashed under a dislodged brick. The clue was: A Taoist temple where the Home Affairs boss picks a stick on Chinese New Year’s Day.

The next mystery letter was M.

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