November 30 (Sunday) is mum’s birthday. Before that day, I said to mum: “Mum, I’m very sorry that I won’t be able to celebrate your birthday with you. We’ll take action to escalate our movement. I’ll be up all night at Admiralty and won’t come home. Let’s have that birthday meal on December 1.” Because of my hunger strike, this birthday meal was postponed.
In fact, I have had pathetically few opportunities to come home to see my family since the Umbrella Movement began. The tents in Admiralty have become my second home, but my real home has become estranged. Whenever I come home to change clothes, parents were either asleep or at work. Even when we actually met, I was too tired to talk and fell asleep because of extreme exhaustion. So we’ve only been chatting here and there on “whatsapp”. I miss having late supper, drinking milk tea on those nights with my family. In my blurred memories, I long for those meals with the whole family at the table.
Because of this, the only thing in my thoughts when we discussed who would go on hunger strike was mum’s birthday meal. I was worried if I lost the chance to have that meal, when would be our next time to eat at the same table again. I can count with one hand how many meals I have had since the occupation began. I’m not afraid of the sense of starvation brought by a hunger strike. I’m only worried the relationship with my family will become distant because of the hunger strike.
Nevertheless, I still made this decision, to go on a hunger strike with Prince Wong and Isabella Lo. As Scholarism’s organizer, it’s natural for me to take the responsibility, and should not involve two female students. I need to take action, either going forward or backward, with every fellow student in our group. The more important thing is to be determined not to let the Umbrella Revolution fail.
Even if the hunger strike won’t be effective -- I know a hunger strike won’t shake the government, and it’s difficult to make them withdraw the decision by the National People’s Congress (NPC). But I’m feeling guilty for returning home empty handed from the Umbrella Movement. Not even a single outcome. This makes one feel rather powerless. But before being arrested again, I’m not planning to occupy indefinitely. When the voices for retreating are becoming louder, I can only use my body to shout at the government, calling out to my fellow warriors who once held umbrellas, facing our original goal that seems to have been forgotten. It’s not about arguing over police over, it’s not about conflicts between blue ribbons and yellow ribbons, but about political problems made by those in power behind the ribbons and batons. We should be back at the negotiation table, solving problems through politics.
A dialogue between officials and civilians over “restarting political reforms immediately” -- this is not a hefty demand. This demand has no direct connection with the decision (by the NPC) on August 31. It’s not violating the Basic Law. The Hong Kong government received the NPC decision and ignored people’s demands such as “abolishing the Selection Committee (to elect the Chief Executive)” and “nomination by citizens”. We only want the government to restart political reforms, which is within its power to process demands, making officials face issues in Hong Kong. We want the government to overturn all the past consultations, decisions and procedures and start all over again. In so doing, the Umbrella Movement can find a turning point and some hope.
Asking for dialogue is a very humble demand. The purpose of the hunger strike is to try every means to bring some outcome with all others in this movement. I only hope mother can understand my decision. Do you still remember that you didn’t criticize or question me after I called you about the hunger strike decision? You just said plainly: “I understand. I wait for you, Joshua, to come home for my birthday meal.” After that, I was overwhelmed by a sense of guilt all of a sudden. At that moment, I said many sorries. I knew you asked me to spend less time online and more time to rest. But I still want to publicly thank you and father for your tolerance and support. There’s one sentence that I find it hard to say, thoughI’m a rational, straight forward quick mouth, I’m not used to saying such a thing. But I want to say it to mum, whose birthday was the day before yesterday, mum: I love you.
The day when C.Y. Leung is willing to have a dialogue with students will be the day to make up for this birthday meal. I will remember what you said: rest and pray during the hunger strike. And finally, please allow me to say this: I am very grateful for and proud of my parents.
On the 23rd hour of the hunger strike
December 2, 2014
Translation by Rose Tang. 轉載英文翻譯請注明譯者為Rose Tang. Twitter推特@rosetangy Facebook 臉書: https://www.facebook.com/rose.l.tang