It's a light day for Ah-Wah, the village postman. A couple weeks ago he was complaining about the phone company. They used to distribute their printed phone directories at the Rural Committee office in the next village. Everyone received a letter which entitled them to pick up a free Hong Kong & Outlying Islands White Pages and Yellow Pages in either Chinese or English (if you wanted the Kowloon and New Territories editions as well, you had to special order them). No one uses phone directories anymore, so there are no more White Pages, and the Yellow Pages is reduced to a thick wad of advertisements. It's still pretty hefty, though, and last time the phone company simply put them in the mail. The poor postman could hardly balance on his bike. As for making it up the steep hill to the houses at the top and just over the ridge, forget about it. For once he parked at the bottom and walked up.
He shouldn't complain. I assume that every year his job gets easier. No one sends personal letters anymore. Junk mail is giving way to online spam. It's mainly the old-timers who still receive printed utility and tax bills. Occasionally his basket is weighed down by a package containing someone's online shopping. He hardly ever stops at our door.
Today he had to stop. The other day he saw how well our pomelo tree was doing, and mentioned to my wife that he had planted that tree thirty years ago, as a favor to the farmers who originally lived on our lot. The tree was neglected by subsequent tenants, so for years it bore no fruit. But after careful pruning, fertilizing and tender loving care, it has been bursting with sweet, juicy fruit for months. Today she flagged down the postman and made him wait while she plucked a few to give him. Fortunately he had room in his basket. (I took the picture while he was waiting).
Tsui is his surname, but everyone knows him as Ah-Wah. He's been delivering the mail on Lantau for 31 years: 20 years in Tai O, the fishing village at the extreme other end of the island, and 11 years peddling the paths of Wang Tong and neighboring villages. Whenever I see him coming up the path, I silently wish that maybe he's carrying something for me. Instead today I watched him go, with three pomelos from a tree that's been a part of the Lantau scenery as long as he has bouncing behind him.