20 years ago today, Mui stole the show:
Adapted from: The Girl Behind The Face.
It’s June 30th 1997. The eyes of the world are on Hong Kong. It is a sultry night. 156 years of British rule are ending. The territory is being handed back to China. The “Great Chinese Takeaway” Prince Charles calls it in his diaries.
At a few minutes to midnight, Tina and I sit glued to our TV.
Mui has a fever. She sleeps fitfully in her room a few metres away.
CBS news anchor Dan Rather, who Mui likes to watch and calls Uncle Dan, is dressed in khaki fatigues ready for four thousand Chinese soldiers to arrive on Hong Kong soil.
I fill our glasses with champagne.
Prince Charles represents the Queen. He begins to deliver his farewell speech. In minutes Hong Kong will once again belong to China.
The door of Mui’s bedroom opens. She stands bolt upright in the doorway. Eyes stretched wide-open, she looks ahead with the opacity of a blind man’s stare. ‘She’s still asleep,’ Tina whispers. Tina and I remain stock-still. Mui often sleepwalks. We guess it’s best not to wake her.
Bloody from scratching, Mui walks round the settee and squeezes into her favourite spot: in-between Tina and me. She stares vacantly at the television. Tina looks at me, I look at her, we both look down at Mui. We stifle giggles and sniggers. We’re missing Prince Charles’s farewell speech. But we can’t take our eyes off Mui. ‘Should we wake her?’ I whisper. Tina shakes her head.
It’s midnight. The rigmarole is done. The Union Jack is lowered, the communist flag is raised, the PLA rumble into Hong Kong in their thousands.
Mui stands up and sleepwalks back to bed. Only now, of course, her bed’s in China!
With champagne, we toast our daughter and Hong Kong.