Outstanding Awards

Junior Secondary

A visual representation of "Shanghai Street" by Jennifer Wong

YCH Wong Wha San Secondary School

My work describes the mysterious Shanghai Street. A child is standing on tiptoe, looking through the window of a shop which reads ‘Eternal Living’. In the window, it features a dead soul receiving offerings, a paper car, a paper house and some paper dolls, from his family. Although he no longer takes the human form, he is filled with joy and enjoys his ‘eternal life’. He even dances with the paper dolls. In Chinese traditional culture, people believe those who pass away will go to a world with celestial pleasure. With such a sad incident being packaged into something positive, this sparks the curiosity of the child, which drives him to peep through the shop window to learn more about it. At the same time, death is also a taboo, which should not and would not be mentioned. This is reflected in the avoidance of the passers-by, which contrasts the curiosity, ignorance and innocence of the child. In addition, among the soul and the paper offerings, there are 4 packets and items people receive at a funeral. This further symbolises the superstitious nature of the Chinese.

Shanghai Street

It is the missing block four of a development,
the way we avoid going outdoors
one summer evening of ghost festival.

We suspect foreigners may be confused
by shop signs that read
‘Celestial Pleasures’ or
‘Eternal Living’ nestled between
tuck-shops and stationers
in the middle of Shanghai Street.
I heard that folks went there
for quality timber and craftsmanship.

When I was a kid I used to think
they were toy shops - all those
paper houses, paper dolls,
paper shirts and even mobile phones.
I didn’t know until the day I saw
Grandmother burned them after purchase.

I didn’t know what to do
with the packet I received:
a coin, a sweet, and tissue paper.
A riddle.
How strange it feels,
things we don’t talk about.

Jennifer Wong

“Shanghai Street” was published in Goldfish by Jennifer Wong, p.9. Copyrights © 2013 byChameleon Press.