Up the hillside slum she trudged
With two buckets of (real) pig’s breakfast
Balanced on her bamboo yoke,
For the pigsty beneath
The family’s bed.
Her boys leaped dungheap and mud to greet,
One of them my Dad,
Now a shoe shop addict.


Colin Lee


Happy New Year, everyone! Upon the prompt from dVerse’s Quadrille #47, and as my 90-year-old Grandma is in town for the holiday, I’d like to share with you a 44-word snippet of my Dad’s life in the 1950s, during which the family had just relocated to Hong Kong. Every other day, my tiny Granny would gather food waste from Canal Road’s market (when the canal was still literally there) and carry the equivalent of her body weight through the winding alleys of Causeway Bay and up the hills to their squatter hut–sty in Nga Choi Hang. As I was searching for an image to use, I was well surprised and pleased to find a nice shot of the slum (Thank you,!) and so duly attached it to the post. (For a brief recount of my family history, please see my recent poem Beggar, Slave, Fugitive, Slummer.)

Photo Courtesy:

25 thoughts on “Barefooted

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    1. Thanks for reading! Dad, albeit not a keen shopper, used to take us to shoe shops every month, even when our family was less well-off — I dreaded them like the dentist’s. Nowadays my wife does the dragging and bought me a new pair this very weekend — glad to be off the hook for a while. lol

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right! Granny is a goldmine of knowledge. I’m so grateful she took the time to write down our family’s stories. Thank you, ma’am, and may I wish you a very jolly new year!


    1. Thanks, Jilly. That’s true — I can quickly think of ways those lives manifest through habits, mannerisms and behaviours. And as a descendant of pig-farmers … oink, oink. Oink! lol

      Liked by 1 person

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