Harbour Girl

19 Oct 2021 (Full Moon Eve)

Bare faced and spotting a short bob, the harbour staff assigned to assist me on wheelchair to the ferry boarding gate looked like a student.

It was June 2019, and I was crossing from Kinmen to Xiamen for my flight back to Singapore.

Harbour Girl addressed me as “Ah Yi,” meaning aunt in mandarin and asked kindly if I would like to use the washroom or buy souvenirs before she took me to the boarding gate.

When we passed the windlion display, I asked if she could take pictures of me with Kinmen’s Mythical Guardian.

Her unease at my request looked as if I had asked her to perform a brain surgery on me. I learnt that she had been told that she couldn’t take nice pictures.

“Don’t worry. I’m very beautiful. You simply cannot take a bad picture of me!” I assured her in my desperation to have my last shots with Kinmen’s ancient mascot.

Kinmen’s mythical windlion chortling merrily behind me. (June 2019)

Upon my very ridiculous claim, Harbour Girl burst out laughing. Her hesitation evaporated.

So she took my phone and started snapping non-stop. As she trained my phone camera on me, while moving around freely, I felt her gaiety.

By then it didn’t really matter how the pictures turned out.

Till now, I still keep the 22 shots she took. I have no intention of deleting them. They were the last pictures of me before I left Kinmen. But mostly because they remind me of a very lovely & happy Kinmen daughter.

Her parting words when she walked me up the ferry were,”Ah Yi, I’m very happy to be of service. When you visit again, I will look out for you. I will remember you.”

As a noun, the harbour is associated with safety and shelter. As a verb, it has a negative connotation of keeping a dark thought or feeling over a long period of time.

Harbour Girl guided me safely to my boat. May her enthusiasm to indulge an old lady’s wish to take pictures with the windlion free her from all doubts that she might be harbouring about her capabilities. 😊🙏

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