In response to “Generation XYZ” in WordPress’s Daily Prompt:
Think about the generation immediately younger or older than you. What do you understand least about them — and what can you learn from them?
Hong Kong in 1940s, once blanketed by the bleak pictures of weary people and dilapidated buildings in early years, was envisioned a better future after Japan’s unconditional surrender. The baby boomers, who are the offspring of those hopeful locals, were born and raised in the two decades after the war turmoil. However diverse their background might be, being Hong Kong’s vital pillars at that time, the majority of them were and still are highly-motivated, and industriously worked hard from a harsh, crowded environment.
Amid 1950s and 60s, despite without flying bullets and trampling tanks, the living conditions were cramped in general especially living in each sprawling squatter with large groups of families on the hillside, from crying toddlers, married couples and lethargic elderly. Most of the residents could only use primitive stoves and kerosene fuel for cooking; oil lamps for lighting at night, as well as corrugated iron and scrap wood for roof sealing. While the narrow corridor was filled with hand-washed clothes for cooling and also the desperate ones who were rushing to communal sanitary and washing facilities. Yet unfortunately, the bursting fire in Shek Kip Mei ruined hundreds of wooden huts into ashes, and the sweeping typhoons Mary and Wanda toppled surrounding trees and sparked citizens’ utmost fear. In the meantime, long queues on the streets appeared as people were lining up, placing buckets to collect scarce water in time of severe drought in 1960s. All those natural disasters, aimed at testing people’s social cohesion, though helped polish the images of Hong Kongers as a bond that would together rise to a rash of obstacles.
Free from China’s large-scale political turmoil and powered by impressive quantity of light industries, Hong Kong’s economy quickly prospered and was gaining recognition all over the world. With vibrant manufacturing label “Made in Hong Kong”, plastic flowers, clothing, toys and dolls, as well as watches and clocks were all in vogue when exporting to other parts of the globe. Behind such glorious scenes of economic prosperity, myriads of baby boomers were burying their head to keep focus, then using pins, needles and sewing machines in dexterity, and afterwards toiling over their final products by own rough hands day-by-day, year-by-year. Dedicated and persevered, though with blood and sweat, they still regarded their factory as their “second home”, and were proud of being one of the devoted labour forces that helped transform the city from a colonial entrepot to a world-renowned industry hub. It was also a flourishing decade when a distinctive sense of belonging, attachment and identity recognition were formed. Opportunities were knocking on their way, and so did everywhere in Hong Kong. Only by working hard were you able to embark on anything from scratch and gradually climb up to the socio-economic ladder.
The more the baby boomers shared their extraordinary past stories and life struggles as a breadwinner and, the more I realise how tenacious they were in bygone days. As a post-90s in Hong Kong, how fortunate we are with cozy living environment, brand new clothes and cutting-edged technology bought from the hard-earned gold by our parents born in baby boom era. Instead of moaning and groaning for more self-indulging entertainment, after all, let’s not forget everything is not for granted. Without the contributions made by the generation of our parents, Hong Kong would not have created an economic miracle enviably supported by the soaring lines in the annual report since 1960s. ♦
Feature image from: http://memory-of-child-year.blogspot.hk/2014/07/blog-post.html