Tammy Ho Lai-Ming



i. Actress

Now in her seventies, she always tells this story at dinner parties: 'When I was eighteen my first-born son died and for three days and nights I kept him in my single-bed room. He's cold and tiny, his cheeks pale. I performed on the stage all those nights so I could buy a small tombstone.' How did he die? She doesn't remember. Where is the grave? She doesn't remember.

ii. Amateur

On the Greenwich train platform, unswept, a slender book poked out of the back pocket of the man next to me. Too small to be a novel or a collection of stories, I naturally fancied it a poetry book. Looking closely, it was in fact poetry. Call me logical. I took him to be someone who wrote poems in his spare time, complied wordlists of note, shied from but delighted also, at being called a 'poet'. Quite the amateur stalker, when the train arrived, I followed and sat opposite him. It was a hunch. Looking at his crossed eyes I realized he might not be a poet, after all.

iii. Tramp

He harbours emotions, love and hate mostly, in people he has casually met. In a nineteenth-century book press, a chicken & waffle restaurant, a pie shop, fun places for chocolate muffins, readings, movies (new and old), jazz nightclubs. On the lawn of old industrial films, nice pavements. He has picnics with them, gets undressed and rained on. Knowing he could experience the emotions, without fail, should he meet these people on the road again, he is an emotion tramp.

iv. Sculptor

I learnt something about a sculptor who died a few years ago. When he was much younger, he made a sculpture for his local pizza parlour and the owner offered two forms of payment for him to choose: lifetime pizza or a sum of money that was very substantial for a beginning-artist. He cleverly chose the pizza and had a forty-year long free pass for the pizza there. After he died, part of his studio was relocated in a museum two towns away. It's very messy and things are scattered ungrammatically: a pile of old newspapers there, then another pile at another corner; old toys such as plastic soldiers, plastic submarines, plastic and colourful doll-house utensils, plastic cats; drawings of domestic and sinister sculptures envisioned but not yet made; art books. The curator told me that there was also lots of pornography in the original studio but they omitted it from the display. He said: 'He just loved the human forms so much.'


Copyright 2012 Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born writer currently based in London, UK. She is a founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. More at www.sighming.com