One city, two worlds

Two scenes I observed on the MTR in the last couple of days spoke volumes about the difference between the children of the haves and have-nots.

One was a primary school child being escorted to school by her Filippino maid. They were sharing a few laughs while asking each other in English: "Do you love me?"

The other involved two boys from a secondary school which I know has a majority of weak students. Not only the boys' uniforms look shabby and untidy, the one who sat next to me stank of body odour. The boy who was standing in the carriage talked about himself and his family, how he missed the time when he was last in the class and there was no pressure from anyone because his father rarely came back, but now that his father no longer works in China he is home a lot more often and sometimes supervises his study.

"You have two mothers, right?" the standing boy asked.

"Yeah, the other one I call 'auntie'. I don't see her often as she is in China."

The exchange took place in a most matter-of-fact way. Then after the standing boy got off at the next station, the one sitting next to me just stared blankly at the empty ice-cream sundae cup in his hands.

Looking at the way different people live their lives here, it is hard to imagine that they are living in this same "vibrant and dynamic" city.

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