My family is all about doing everything together as a family. If they find an activity that we’ve never done together, we go and do it right away. One day, my good-two-shoes brother realized that we’ve never gone on the KCR together as a whole family. He suggested that we travel on it together. I thought it was a stupid idea, but my dad loved it. In fact, he suggested we go out for dinner just so that we can use that metro system.
I ride the train two times a day, 365 days a year—in total, 730 times a year. My dad never rides the train. He had no idea what went on inside these trains. I didn’t either, because I was so used to everything. This is why I wasn’t able to feel that something was about to happen.
When we got on that train compartment, everything was fine. We were making small talk about school and weather. It was all good until, at the next station, a small crowd filed in, bringing with them the fumes of perspiration and a very passionate young couple. This couple was practically glued on to each other. From the moment I saw them step into the train with their lips locked, I immediately felt uncomfortable.
My dad is a pastor, and a very conservative one. He believes in doing everything the traditional way, and this everything includes relationships. He is very strongly against the idea of sex before marriage and any other sort of physical sign of affection. Since I was able to walk, he’s been reading me Scripture about this issue every night before bed time—even to this day. He also likes to talk about how rude and sick the people are that showcase their affection for each other to the public. I know that if I ever get caught even holding hands with a person of the opposite gender, it would mean days of grief for me.
Knowing how strongly my dad felt about this issue, and how awkward the situation would become if he saw this couple, I tried to cover them from his view. It didn’t really work. He spotted them right away like a how shark smells blood from miles away. My dad’s eyes narrowed and our already awkward family conversation became even more awkward. Every comment my dad made seemed to be indirectly pointing towards the matter of keeping affections for someone in private areas. I thanked God that we lived in Hong Kong and that no one understood Korean.
As more people got on the train, the lovey-dovey couple got closer and closer to us. The whole time, they had not separated not even once. Now that they were closer to us, I saw that their hands were also in places where they shouldn’t be. I gulped and squirmed at this extremely uncomfortable situation we were in. We had three more stations to go and the couple didn’t look like they were getting off anytime soon either. My family’s attempt at normal conversation died and so we just stood in silence, feeling as uncomfortable as uncomfortable can get.
If I were on that train alone, I wouldn’t have minded at all. It was like how I could watch an inappropriate movie by myself and enjoy it, but feel all self-conscious and nervous even at the slightest things when watching with my parents.
It was the longest ten minutes of my life. I didn’t know where to look—looking even at my brother was awkward, and there was no way I was going to look at my dad who was probably fuming with his fists clenched, fighting back the urge to go preach to those lost souls. For that seemingly never ending train ride, I just stared at my shoes and hated my brother for suggesting this stupid idea.