TVB variety show Coming Home <回家> invites different artistes to revisit the places where they grew up. The show’s fifth episode stars Ben Wong (黃智賢), who reminisces about the struggles of growing up in public housing and how these experiences motivated him to work hard.
Growing up in a family where money was tight, Ben did not have a playful childhood. Instead, he and his brother tried to help make money. “At that time, I was 8 and my brother was 9. We were in charge of bringing the jeans home from the factory. The road we took to push the cart up is imprinted in my memory. It’s funny–I used to think the road was very long, but now I feel like it’s gotten a lot shorter with an adult perspective.”
When he was 11, Ben’s family grew bigger and they moved to Cheung Shan Estate. They had to fit their family of 11 into two rooms. Although there was not a lot of space, the home was full of warmth. After many years, Ben still views his Cheung Shan home as his family’s base. “Every time there is a celebration or my parent’s birthday, we will all return to our Cheung Shan home and it’s really lively.”
After living there for more than 10 years, Ben developed good relations with his neighbors and can still remember their names. “The shop owners watched me grow up and they know my entire family. They even know what we like to buy! This type of relationship can only be developed over time.”
Other than the human connections, the most memories he has of Cheung Shan is of his kitchen. Ben already learned how to shop at the market at 6 years old. His mother made Ben and his brother stand at the kitchen door and learn how to cook. “When I was young, I felt like I was being forced to cook. I thought that boys should be allowed to go play. It turns out that by learning how to cook, you are able to be self-sufficient. My mother used this method to teach us how to take care of ourselves and be independent. Whenever I cook now, I always think of my mother and thank her in my heart.”
To return his mother and neighbors’ love, Ben held a feast in his old home and cooked three of his mother’s best dishes. The neighbors praised Ben and brought red bean soup which made Ben really touched. “I told them that I wanted to eat red bean soup, and they actually remembered!”
This article is written by Kiki for JayneStars.com.