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The Best Of Hong Kong
Lifestyle News
By Tammy Ha | April 25th, 2016

Hong Kong Homies is a series where we get real deep real fast with Hongkongers.

Leung porpor, 84

 On growing up during World War II

I was born in 1932 in Zhongshan. Much of my childhood was spent through World War II, when the Japanese occupied the country. There were lots of fights going on and our freedom was very limited; everyone had to bring two sets of identification with them as the police stopped people on the streets often.

The war left us with nothing — no money and barren lands. We had to rebuild our village after everything was bombed by the Japanese. It was fortunate that our village was on the coast of Zhongshan, so we slowly earned back our money from charging entry.

Eventually, they raised enough money to build us a school, and I finally got to go to school when I was around 15. Our funds were very limited, but fortunately, many of our teachers were willing to do it with little to no pay. One of our teachers was from Macau and the only remuneration he asked for was transport expenses for the ferry taking him to school in Zhongshan and back home to Macau.

I was in night school for five years. Just the other day, my doctor complimented me on my handwriting. I have nice handwriting, not even just for primary 5 level education because I practiced hard during those five years of school.

After that I went to Macau briefly to work, before a friend of mine brought me to Hong Kong for better opportunities. I started working in a factory here, and in two years, married one of the sifus there.

On making marriage work

There wasn’t much of a dating culture at that time as there is now. We didn’t have that kind of luxury then, but my husband is a very good man and we had a good relationship, so I married him. Though he does have a temper sometimes. Most of the time, I let him throw his tantrums.

I do it for my children and to keep the family together. A lot of people get divorces because they don’t have kids to hold their relationship together. When a problem comes up in their relationship, they just break up without trying to make it work or find a compromise.

I’m still the bossier one, though, and I let my husband know that he gets to throw his tantrums only because I let him. I remind him that I’m clearly the more attractive one of the two of us, and I wouldn’t lack options if I wasn’t with him.

Back then in the factory, I was quite the catch. Our bosses from Shanghai showed interest in me and people would ask why I settled down so early.

On talking about death

I’m about 80 years old, but a lot of people tell me I don’t look a day over 70. It’s all down to luck. People my age have a lot of problems with their health and are going in and out of the hospital every day, so I’m pretty lucky to still be as strong as I am even after a handful of surgeries.

I’m not dying yet, and it’s not a topic I avoid. You can avoid talking about death or saying the word, but that doesn’t stop it from happening from you — there’s no reason to be superstitious about these things. People in my family say the word “death” and swear all the time, and it’s fine — well except maybe on the first day of Chinese New Year.