We all like beautiful things, don’t we? When we find something magnificent, we have a great desire to keep it. Have you ever collected something?
I collected stamps when I was in primary school. I had two stamp albums, and most of the stamps were from my father. He was a ship engineer who worked on container ships and sailed to many countries. Whenever he got a chance to disembark at a city, he would send letters home. My older brother also collected stamps. We set a rule that whoever reached the stamps first got to keep them. So we would check our mailbox as often as we could in order to get more stamps. Sometimes we would even fight with each other for only just a very common stamp, but it was actually fun. My two younger sisters never could figure out why we fought. We do silly things when we are small, don’t we?
Besides stamps, I collected bookmarks when I was in secondary school. I got bookmarks from schoolmates, and I bought them on my own as well. My schoolmates and I used to visit the neighbourhood bookshops after school to check out any new arrivals. Most of the bookmarks sold there were either made locally or imported from Taiwan, so we soon got bored by their similarity of designs. One day, when I received a set of five Japanese bookmarks from a friend who studied in Japan, I was over the moon. The bookmarks were cute, fancy and colourful; and looked very different from my collections. Although my schoolmates and I had limited access to some new and special designs, we were creative. To make our bookmarks unique, we would even write our own poems on the bookmarks before we gave them out. We were very proud of our creativity. We like to be different from others when we are teenagers, don’t we?
I started collecting postcards after I left school. My collections were mainly sent by friends when they spent holidays overseas. The cards were usually printed with tourist attractions of the city where they traveled to. Other than the weather, my friends would also share with me their funny stories which happened on the journey. By reading their postcards, I not only learnt some new places, but also seemed to have traveled with them, and laughed with them along their journey. I suppose having a postcard mailed properly in a strange city is not just as easy as pie. We have to sacrifice some shopping or sightseeing time, and to find where the post office is in order to have our “mission” accomplished. Even though it is only a little sacrifice, if we can show our friends our gesture of kindness by sending them a postcard, I think it is beautiful. We like to serve others rather than ourselves when we get older, don’t we?
Speaking of a gesture of kindness, I realized that the value of my collections is not just the stamps, bookmarks or postcards themselves, but also what my father, schoolmates or friends had got through to send them to me. They were all very kind. I wish I could have appreciated their kindness earlier.
I cannot remember what every single item in my collections looked like, but I cannot forget the kindness of my father, my schoolmates, and my friends that they showed me. They have made an effort to do something for me. All their stamps, bookmarks, and postcards are as precious as pearls and gold. My deepest gratitude to all of you.
By Pat Tsang