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  • Horror Story, and: Jik Yam Dak
  • Agnes Lam (bio)

Horror Story

My niece’s classmate kept a pet snake coiled next to her in bed.

One night, the girl found the snake stretched out straight along her side.

She thought it was sick and took it to a vet who said, “It’s not ill.

It’s trying to measure when it’s long enough to swallow you up.”

My friend married the man of her dreams— handsome, romantic, a home of his own.

One year into their marriage, she found him with another woman in their bed.

Before the counsellor, the man said, “It’s what I am. Didn’t mean to hurt you.”

One night, my friend woke up and saw the man curled up, breathing in his sleep.

She walked away without a sound. 21 January 2011, Hong Kong Jockey Club [End Page 13]

Jik Yam Dak

My friend has colon cancer. Why should she? A person so vibrant, so giving to homeless women. I cannot believe she will die so early. God must know we need more like her.

My sister is generous, always wanting to give presents. The other day she wanted to buy me a luminous South Sea pearl costing one-fourth her salary. I told her I would not wear it.

Yesterday I was replying letters from friends on the Mainland thanking me for books I sent but I am only giving out of the plenty I have, our conditions being so different.

The Bible says, “The sins of fathers are visited upon their children.” That sounds so unfair. Yet no one objects if God chooses to bless the descendants of a good man.

The Chinese also believe in something called bo ying do evil and evil will return to you. The opposite is jik yam dak[End Page 14] good deeds you accumulate will return to you or yours.

Christians and Chinese both seem so superstitious, even calculating, God so indiscriminate . . . until I see the logic— when a person is giving, another must be receiving.

So if we give to another, we shall increase the sum total of what is given in human history. The more we add to this total, the more likely our loved ones will be receivers of what is given.

A matter of mathematics. 31 October 1998, Pacific Place [End Page 15]

Agnes Lam

Agnes Lam was born in Hong Kong. Her books of poetry include Woman to Woman and Other Poems and Water Wood Pure Splendour. An Honorary Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa, she is also the recipient of the Nosside International Poetry Prize (Special Mention). Her work has been translated into German, Italian, and other languages. She is currently doing research on Asian poetry in English.



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