Tingay, Frederick John Francis. (1960).
Wing-ears. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.
This is a collection of four stories about a young boy, Foong Yee, also known as Wing-ears because of his large ears. He is a shoe-shine boy on Ice House Street.
Wing-ears had attended school before his father’s death and had been first in class for writing stories. He likes to write about people he sees everyday on the street. One day, as he reads his story “The Sad Man” to his three friends, a man overhears the story and invites him to enter a “Young Writers’ Competition” in which Wing-ears has to read his own story on the radio. The story is judged by a large audience of listeners and Wing-ears’s story receives the loudest ovation and he wins a prize of fifty dollars.
“The Sad Man”
This is the story that Wing-ears read on the radio; it is about his three friends who try to find out why the Sad Man whom they see very often is sad. They take turns to follow him by pretending to be messenger-boys. Kwai Sum follows him to an expensive-looking restaurant on Queen’s Road until he is chased away by a waiter. Yung Kwong follows him along the sea-front road in Kennedy Town until the Sad Man gets into a small car and leaves. Fay Gay finds out that the Sad Man himself is following another man in a blue jacket. As the man in blue turns round suddenly, Fay Gay knocks into him ; the man falls down and is caught by the Sad Man who now has a smile on his face. The shoe-shine boys only see the Sad Man one more time after this incident, and they think the Sad Man has been promoted to Chief Detective because he has caught the man in blue with Fay Gay’s help.
“Wai Lam and the Sedan-Chair”
Wing-ears and his friends hear a story called “The Rickshaw” on the radio. His friends ask Wing-Ears to write this story about an old sedan-chair carrier, Wai Lam, who parks his sedan-chair at the corner of Queen’s Road and Wyndham Street. Wai Lam always carries a long smoking pipe, and he protects the shoe-shine boys from being bullied by men who ask the boys for “protection” money. On a rainy day, Wai Lam, and his passenger are washed away by the torrents rushing down the steep, narrow path. As carriers like old Wai Lam grow old, the days of sedan-chairs will soon come to an end.
“The Fisherman’s Daughter”
Wing-ears rewrites the story, “The Fisherman”, that he hears on the radio. Wing-Ears is sent to visit his aunt and uncle who live on a sampan in Deep Water Bay. His younger cousin, Shiu Wah, is coiling her father’s rope on the beach and playing tug-of-war with some younger children at the same time. As she gives a last pull on the rope, a little boy falls and his hand is caught under the thick rope. His mother gets him out and they leave. The next day, the woman and two men ask Shiu Wah for the ring that she has lost when she picked up her child. Shiu Wah has no idea about the ring and she hides behind some rocks worried that they will bring trouble to her parents. When Shiu Wah returns to the sampan that evening, she finds the ring at the bottom of the boat. Although she is worried that no one will believe her story, Shiu Wah is determined to return the ring to the woman who eventually rewards her with a ring and a new fishing rope. (FC)