Our House in the Middle of Our Street (Market)

Chelsea L. Shover

NORTH POINT, Hong Kong — Eels swim in Styrafoam boxes, astonished dead fish shine in rows next to blocks of pink-white flesh, silver heads. A live fish flails on the counter. There are clams in purple shells, small octopi, and other sea creatures already mashed into balls for soup. Lengths of meat dangle in butcher shops, knuckled feet still attached, shoppers’ chattering punctuated by cleaver’s thud.

These, and other stores displaying dragon fruit, swollen cherries, apples from Washington state, purple yams, or cases of white noodles and buns, plastic bottles of cooking oil stacked in glistening towers, or loose tea leaves and nuts in glass jars, are obscured by the stalls in the middle of the street. On weekend mornings, vendors set up in the road to sell t-shirts, watches, handbags, jelly sandals, shoes, tailored prom dresses, ties, lingerie, tablecloths.

Traffic is mostly pedestrian, except for the occasional van and the double-decker tram that winds down Chun Yeung Street, stopping at 7-11 at one end and the footbridge at the other. When I get back to my apartment at night, the market is closing down. The ground is usually wet, from Hong Kong summer rains or from hosing fish pieces and meat trimmings into the gutter.

The man I bought a purse from last week smiles, and I grin back. Welcome home.

Chelsea L. Shover ’11, a Crimson news writer, is a literature concentrator in Cabot House.