In a nineteenth floor flat of a tenement block, Yangdi Li's tapered fingers cascaded down his upright piano towards the concluding cadence of the Chopin ballade. As his hands flew off the joyous final chord, he swung backwards, thrusted his chin heavenward.
Grey on grey clouds suffocated the city of Shenzhen. His mother cleared her throat and opened the window of the concrete room to change the air. The rude sounds of beeping, clanging, banging and shouting attacked their ears; Yangdi covered his to keep them fresh.
The fair-haired lady in the flowery frock has seen one before in a Chinese supermarket; it's a dull yellow citrus fruit that wears a conical hat; she thought they were genetically modified grapefruits! Her Chinese lover buys the pomelo for her, plus the usual bottle of Portuguese sparkling white wine and a packet of chorizo sausages. Sex, that's what he's come to Macau for, and it's handy to have things to eat and drink in the room . But walking back to the hotel along a quiet waterfront road, she catches sight of a casino. 'Let's try our luck,' she says, squeezing his hand.
It's rocking gently on the South China Sea; a low rectangular building with an emperor- yellow tiled roof and an army of fantastically ornate red columns. 'Traditional,' he says, as they ascend swirling dragon steps to enter the dimly-lit interior. They pass through security gates. 'That bag, check-in; this bag, no bring inside,'' says a thin-lipped uniformed woman pointing to the bag with the pomelo in it.
Once upon a time there was a boy called Lo who lived on a beautiful wooded island in the South China Sea. Every day, even wet windy ones, he went down to the beach near his home and played in the soft sand or splashed in the glassy sea. Every night, even wild wolfy ones, he looked at the glittering stars twinkling above the mountains and said, "What a lucky boy am I."
After school, around five o'clock, a herd of cows visited the meadow near Lo's home. Ferdinand, a big black bull with long curly horns, would lead his family of mummy cows and calves down from the forest to eat the fresh green grass. Years ago, Lo's grandfather had set them free from pulling ploughs in the paddy fields. Every day the cows ate and drank to their fill then licked each other clean with tickly pink tongues. Every night they lay under banyan trees, sniffed the fresh salty air breezing up from the sea and mooed, "What lucky cows are we."