Hong Kong’s Danmei
He held me in his arms and I cried… I wondered if that was the last time.
In ten years, we would have forgotten the Summer morning when we met, but what we have felt, it was like pale pink color. It was an endless dream. Fatigued walls, sweat, and screams and popsicles, and blood in our teeth and drops of salty weather on the back of our necks, whispers, caresses, love, a starry void: definitely smiling, certainly home.
In his arms I had the narrow alleyways, the worn-out bed sheets, the underground convenience stores, a city too desperate and too bright –all the pretty, shiny lights were the times he breathed–; the old yellow light of the hotels and the motels… they all wailed. Everything was impregnated with our love. Every corner of Hong Kong screamed, “I was here, I existed and someone I loved, loved me back.” But for this alley there was no exit: I was leaving, going back to London; he, as well, was going back to Mainland China.
I was standing there for one last time, in the corner of Salisbury Road and Kowloon Park: my chest wide open and a bitter taste of farewell in my mouth. I could get the smell of his soap –lavender– and the warm sensation of his breathing, his skin so soft, and one last look into those almond-shaped eyes.
I felt Xie Yan holding tighter just before letting me go. Maybe he was yearning too. I missed him as soon as he let loose.
He placed his finger over my wet cheeks and with a gentle touch, he wiped away my one single tear. I could tell he, too, was holding back.
–Don’t cry…– whatever he was going to say, he was not able to finish the sentence. His cab arrived. It was so soon.
“There’s no chance I’ll see you again” he had told me once. He was the realist and me, the dreamer. Onto those dreams, with my raw fingers, I would clench, unyielding and perverse. My legs were walking before I could realize; as I saw that car moving away, I started to desperately chase it… He was still there, I could still follow him, frantically, unhesitatingly, hopelessly. He turned back and saw me, he waved his hand back at me and I stopped, crying, with my hands over my neck, trying not to fall apart, trying to make sense of the rest of my life after that final and fugacious moment.
I took a cab to the airport. Lu Han’s Tian Min Min was playing on the radio and a wave of sadness, for I don’t know how else to call what I was feeling then, quivered through my body. The aircon felt too cold, the speed seemed too fast. The taxi moved away from the city and Hong Kong was slowly fading into my memory, already small and already distant. I still had the smell of his soap impregnated in my clothes and almost obsessively, I tried to recall a year of my life in a forty-five-minute ride.
We were apart, we were already apart.
It had been too pretty. The Summer was over, tomorrow I was going to be in my four-wall dorm at the student residence, all so colder, all so grey.
I couldn’t stop moving in the back seat, just thinking and thinking and thinking.
Xie Yang, how are you going to wake up tomorrow? How am I going to go back to the world, knowing you won’t be there?
–Did you forget something? – the driver asked.
There were never flowers in you. And yet you were my most beloved Spring, a Summer that burnt my soul and the wind of Autumn that took away my ashes. Yes, in ten years I would have forgotten. August turned into September and soon it was snowing outside my window at Lambeth Road. And you have always wanted to come… It felt distant, the sweat running down our faces in the stifling weather of May in Hong Kong, with a fan barely working, with the sun trespassing the yellow curtains of that little room in Wan Chain.
I looked outside my window and you, in fact- you weren’t there, and your smile wasn’t there either and your image was so very pale. There were never flowers in you, and yet that Winter I couldn’t stop thinking how much you liked lavenders.
1Danmei is a word in Mandarin Chinese, meaning “addiction to beauty.” It usually portraits idealized romantic stories between two male characters, often written by heterosexual young women.
Eloisa Cornelio (Veracruz, México, 1995). She studied English Language and Literature at the National University of Mexico. She won an Honorific Mention at the National Short-story Contest ‘Juan Rulfo’, held by Universidad Iberoamericana. In 2017 she won a scholarship to study at Beijing Foreigner Studies University, and ever since she has been studying East-Asian cultures and literature. She writes both in English and Spanish. Currently, she reads and edits texts at the Mexican literary magazine Página Salmón.