Human beings communicate so differently in this world. There are some people in the world who love to speak, to hear their own voice, who talk without sharing anything of substance and carry no impact in the listeners’ lives.
And then there are the rare precious gems of human beings that are quiet, intuitive that do not say much nor often; but when they speak, their words reach our hearts, articulating sentiments in the depths of our beings that we knew not existed or had ways to articulate.
Alex is such a person.
The Alex 師兄 that I’ve come to know and love is a sublimely thoughtful, perceptive and gentle soul that communicates with us through simple yet profound words, images and motion pictures that resonate and touch us in ways that no other can.
When we watch Alex’s movies, we see the world through his eyes. And through his eyes we are able to peer back into our souls.
Alex shares with us stories of our beloved communities, of individual human beings and the unique bonds we have with each other. He moves us with stories of love, stories of unusual beauty, stories of struggles and hardships, stories of suffering, stories of triumph, stories of reconciliation and much more. Alex’s story telling ability is truly phenomenal. I have had the privilege of attending Alex’s and Mabel’s movie screenings on multiple occasions and viewings with audiences of vastly different age groups, and the impact they have on the audience, from the youngest to the most senior member of the audience is truly magnificent and unparalleled.
Every single one of us who has ever watched Alex’s movies have their own very special memories of very touching scenes and lines associated with special moments in their own lives. There is no doubt that we will savor and cherish these special memories in our hearts forever.
One of my fondest memories as an educator were times that I spent watching Alex’s movies with my students and witnessing how moved they were by Alex and Mabel’s great works and and continue to be moved long after they have left the cinema.
A few week’s back as I was preparing for our school’s Graduation Dinner, I had a strong premonition that I should share with our boys about one of my favorite movies Echoes of the Rainbow（《歲月神偷》） as it was such a touching story about Hong Kong, DBS and Alex’s own life. I was mulling over whether to use this story again as I have shared this story with another class just a few years ago. But the thought kept coming back. It was almost as if there was a gentle nudge, telling me that the story from the movie would resonate with the boys. So I finally decided that the message from the movie would be the main message of my speech.
I congratulated the boys on their hard work and adaptability throughout these tumultuous 3+ years – enduring Typhoon Mangkhut, social unrest, and the Covid 19 pandemic. I shared with them how the family in Echoes of the Rainbow (Alex’s own family) witnessed and endured hardships on so many levels yet still clung to the belief that each step of hardship would be followed by a step of blessing. In my speech, I wished the boys well as they enter the world, and urged them to keep taking steps forward no matter the circumstance. The boys were very receptive as they listened intently to the story and the message. It was a fun and warm evening as we knew that it would be one of the few times that we would convene as an entire class.
After the dinner, As I was driving home, I received the message that Alex had passed away a few hours earlier that day. It was a profoundly sad moment to hear about his sudden passing. He was taken from us way too soon. But at that moment, I also realized why the thought kept hovering in my mind, that there was almost a gentle but unstoppable urge to share Alex’s story with the boys from the graduating class. Even to the end, Alex’s spirit was still speaking to us in his typical, gentle, simple, yet profound manner – connecting our souls and invigorating us as one loving community.
Alex is indeed the soul whisperer.
Alex we will miss you and we long to see you again some day to hear and watch your moving stories again. May God rest your soul.
Ronnie K Y Cheng