Photography & art / December 2017 (Issue 38: Writing Hong Kong)

From Midnight Train to Joan《中夜火車》

by Po Wah Lam

  This is a story that begins on an island that is something like Cheung Chau.



Finding a lonely, hurt dog behind a locked gate upsets Joan (中) but this after all is her destiny.
It also marks the beginning of a fabulous adventure...


Help! Looking for grandparents! Have not seen them since I was three! Now I am nine!
Staying at the forgotten train station up the hill with Wando the dog. It’s a wonderful place.

A bit creepy, but safe. If you know my grandparents, please tell them I am here.

I am waiting. Yours faithfully, Joan at Joan Island.


Susan, Joan and Wando prepare to enter the supernatural place.
A place that Joan would eventually call: The Place of Hallo.


The key is the charm. A charm that looks like a sword.
With this, Joan feels she and Wando the sword dog are one.
With this, she fears nothing, not even the abandoned railway
foretold to be a place of angry spirits.

Children wish only to say Hello. Never Goodbye.


 Catch me if you can! A run along the beach.


 Night time on the Island of Diana.


Clearly Susan was upset and crying after their close encounter with the pirates,
but now she was smiling and laughing again.

I love you, Susan! Joan said.

I love you, too! Susan replied.

More than you will love a man?

Joan was only a little girl, but her power for life and fun reminds the older girl
that growing up and taking it too seriously is not the only life.

The picture of the two girls is like two sisters, which in turn
is like two seas that meet under a charmed sky. They meet on the remote Island of Diana,
a place near the end of the railway where two seas collide.
The cold current of the north. And the warm current of the south.


Author's Note:

The images and text here are extracts from my book, Midnight Train To Joan or 《中夜火車》, a title that I like to think can mean many things. Joan (中) is a play on words that links the legends of East and West. 中 is a pictogram of a straight line intersecting a space or room in the same manner as a railway. It also looks like a long, straight piece of steel, such as a sword or railway track, meaning the three things match: 中, steel sword and railway on a journey of the heart; a young girl's journey of destiny to save the life of a doomed dog.

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