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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

The Sky Won't Fall

In 1960, my parents planned to leave the large Cheung family home at Graham Street, Central, bought a piece of agricultural land at Tin Sum San Tsuen, Hung Shui Kiu, NT, dug our well, and built our accommodation, chicken sheds and pigsties. Just a month or so before I could complete my primary one studies, our family, together with my grandparents, moved to Tin Sum. Our rural new home environment was very different from the urban old one.

In 1962 came super typhoon Wanda, the name of which I associated with the star actress Linda Lin Dai and did not know what to expect. During Wanda's passage near our home, our family took refuge under the dinner table trembling with our house, as the asbestos roof struggled to keep tight while Wanda's gale force wanted to lift it off. It was terrifying but there was nothing we could do except to pray that: "The sky won't fall".

Having endured our longest hours, my family felt very lucky that we still had a roof over our heads; and I liked the flooding everywhere and could not wait for the wind and rain to die down before playing with water. I would fold many paper boats, put them on the floor or in the fields to see where would they go and which one would be the fastest. I would also look forward to seeing canned food put on the table: "Fried dace with black beans or sardines in tomato sauce?"

Having experienced Wanda, my Dad and I made even better precautions before typhoon arrivals, not only clearing our drainage system but cutting more fruit-hanging tree branches. The 1964 super typhoon Ruby stood out, and later when my Dad got a puppy that would bark fiercely and loudly, we named her Ruby. Ruby has long gone, and my Dad in 2011 - and I pray that: "The sky won't fall, and roofs of huts and houses like ours in Tin Sum can weather any typhoons!"

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