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  • Writer's picturePeter K F Cheung SBS

Tsinghua Ties

  1. FADE IN

  2. Act 1

  3. INT. STUDY - 10:30

  4. Mobile in hand, PETER is practising Korean. Then he checks the time

  5. PETER (V.O): I've just one more hour to learn. I'm looking forward to having lunch with CC.

  6. Pausing.

  7. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): CC couldn't join us last Thursday and fixed one today for the few who can come again.

  8. Pausing.

  9. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): I mustn't forget to post my tax return as the deadline is today.

  10. Pausing.

  11. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): And after lunch, I'd go to a Social Security bureau to apply for Old Age Allowance.

  12. Act 2


  14. Elegant. Warmly, Peter joins CC (73), CHRIS (73) at table no.1. Soon, ANNE appears.

  15. PETER (V.O.): All of us arrive before the scheduled time. We're anxious to engage.

  16. As they chat and do the orders, Peter pours tea to all. And when dim sums and fried noodles are put on the table, Peter helps all to them.

  17. CC: Peter, you're always so kind to all.

  18. PETER: When we're studying in Tsinghua, you took good care of the welfare of the class.

  19. ANNE: But Peter, you helped us with your three questions to the professor in every lecture.

  20. CC: Yes, I can remember vividly the way you put it in Putonghua: Professor, I've three questions...

  21. PETER (V.O): Oh, yes, that was my hallmark while studying in Tsinghua U in the summer of 1996.

  22. Recalling.

  23. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): The lecturing professors were experts in their fields. I took on the challenge to interact with them intelligently.

  24. Smiling.

  25. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): We were senior civil servants from Hong Kong. I found it bad if there were no questions from the floor.

  26. PETER: Wow, that was some 28 years ago....I'm now eligible for Old Age Allowance.

  27. CHRIS: It's non-means-tested. But you've to apply in the Social Welfare Security Bureau of your district.


  29. INT. WU CHUNG HOUSE - 1990s

  30. Inside a lift, Peter sees the beautiful OPHELIA and the old IAN entering.

  31. PETER: Hi Ophelia...

  32. OPHELIA: I'm taking my husband to the Social Welfare Dept to apply for Old Age Allowance...

  33. PETER (V.O): Ophelia loves to wear big diamond rings and earrings and Ian was a retired Bureau Secretary.


  35. PETER (V.O): They died several years ago.

  36. CC: We all have to keep well...

  37. PETER: When I got Covid the second time, I didn't take any medication and I survived.

  38. CHRIS: You're just lucky...

  39. PETER: Quite. I also risk myself every time I go swimming...

  40. ANNE: Why? Ah, you're swimming in the sea...

  41. PETER: Yes, to the outer limit of the swimming area. I think I'm already privileged to live to 70.

  42. CC: My father lived to 104 and my mother to 103.

  43. PETER: Wow, you should live long then.

  44. CC. Remember a very young classmate of ours who died soon after our return from Tsinghua?

  45. PETER: Yes, he's Patrick, an Administrative Officer. Due to an acute heart attack during a Marathon run, he died at the age of 29.


  47. INT. OFFICE - DAY (1996)

  48. Peter (42) is talking to Patrick over the phone.

  49. PATRICK (from phone): By the way, Peter, to maximize your benefits as a civil servant, you'd have four children.


  51. Act 3

  52. INT. STUDY - 22:00

  53. Peter inserts an AI drawing entitled "Tsinghua Ties ..." to a draft.

  54. PETER (V.O): The connections between my friends and me derived from our Tsinghua ties.

  55. Thinking.

  56. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): About half of the class was able to maintain our relationships over an extended period.

  57. Reflecting.

  58. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): Even now, we like to stick together as we can pull the magic out from one another.

  59. FADE OUT

  60. THE END

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