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February 11
2019 年 2 月 11 日

大年初二的驚奇

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羅小姐是台灣大學物理系畢業的高材生,當年以幾乎狀元的分數入學。這樣的女生,在校園裡晃蕩,想必炙手可熱。

之一
去去去,去美國。台大畢業後,她到美利堅,獲得博士學位。有天在舊金山的聚會上,一位香港的男子被她的美色給吸引住了。

雖然男子擁有數學博士,但並不是書呆子,也喜愛美女。他貪心,想知道美色的腦袋裏到底裝了些什麼貨色,於是推開閒雜人等,快步上前,自我介紹,順便給她出了個數學問題。這道題目不容易,我事後問了幾位諾貝爾獎等級的飽學之士,他們都無法即時回答。然而她眼睛不眨一下就給了答案。據說,他聽了答案,當場求婚,她也識趣,立馬接受,變成太太。

小姐的先生是香港人。美貌的人不一定有腦袋,有腦袋的人不一定有學問,有學問的人不一定美貌。像她這樣美貌、有腦袋、有學問,而又富甲香港的人好像不多。至於他,錢財之外,不但有港人羨慕的博士學位,翩翩君子,還長得體面。

我開口要求支持城大。3 年前,她爽快認捐 500 萬,卻遲遲未能兌現。

年前,我硬著頭皮撥了電話。她説:「我 6 次請你出席我主持的活動,你都因故缺席。」看來是我的不是;但是:「為什麼總是選在我有要事的時候舉辦活動?」

她説:「對不起,我們彼此緣份不夠。」言下之意是:「城大跟她的 500 萬港幣沒有緣份!」

最後她以「下次見面,再談捐款」結束枯燥的電話。之後,接到她親自寄來她當會長最後一次主持活動的通知,一再囑咐我務必出席。這應該也是她給我的最後一次機會了。查查行事曆,活動居然又跟校董會議衝突。失望之情,不言可喻。我啞口無言。

之二
農曆春節,勉強搭上飛往台北的班機。

二月六日大年初二,台北早上 11 㸃,我由麟光起步,開始 20 公里的路跑,上了路面凹凸不平、山坡漫長陡峭的小道,目標是後山小廟,繞了一圈。下山,轉個大彎,在寧靜的空曠路上巧遇 50 年前的朋友。

別離後,經和平東路、復興南路,進入台大側門,一路找尋農學院的雪糕專賣店。台大校園,沒有人氣,轉了兩大圈,繞過羅斯福路,再度回頭,借用水源,洗手洗臉。既然校園商店因年假關閉,我只好做個脫韁野馬,轉眼跑出校門。總算一路交了好運,遇到的都是綠色的交通燈號,腿下不停,上了新生南路、辛亥路,轉復興南路,直奔麥當勞。路上無車也無人。店家休業,僅有水族館的老闆開著水龍頭給水箱換水。我再口渴也不能要求喝水龍頭的水吧。

思考中,對面走來兩個男人,一個踱著方步的先生跟我招手,居然是她的先生東尼,身旁還有小舅子陪著。香港有身份的人心思細膩,走的都是方步,舉止穩重緩慢,步步為營,滴水不漏,難怪家財萬貫。兩人各拿著麥當勞的冰淇淋,我吃驚心儀,看看他發呆的模樣,任由冰淇淋順手流下。這時候,大街上就只有我們 3 個人,頂多還有背後水族館的老闆。他説她就在附近。

新年快樂,少許寒暄,我起步繼續前行,穿過和平東路、信義路,往仁愛路、Sogo、忠孝東路、遼寧街、八德路的方向不停的跑,一心一意想著麥當勞,還有下午兩點與王伯輝廠長的約會。

不久收到簡訊,她要確認我的確與她的先生不期而遇。我聲明彼此打過了照面,心想是否可得 500 萬港幣的慷慨捐助。這次換她啞口無言。

台北的天空原來就是緣份的天空!


An unexpected meeting at Chinese New Year

Ms Lo is a gifted physics graduate from National Taiwan University (NTU). She got accepted with nearly the top academic score. Such a talented student must have been a highly sought-after figure on campus.

Episode One
After graduation, Ms Lo got her PhD in the United States. One day, she met a man from Hong Kong at a gathering in San Francisco. He was immediately attracted by her beauty.

Even though the man had a PhD in mathematics, he was not a typical bookworm – he also liked beautiful girls. He was eager to learn if Ms Lo had brains as well as beauty. He pushed through the crowd and introduced himself. He did so by asking her a question about maths.

It was not an easy question. I have since asked several accomplished scholars in the same league as Nobel Prize laureates the same question. It took them some time to come up with the answer but she replied, correctly, without hesitation. It was said he asked for her hand straight away, and so she became his wife.

Some people in Hong Kong are under the mistaken belief that a beauty may not necessarily have brains; a person with brains may not necessarily possess scholarship; and a person that has scholarship may not necessarily be a beauty. So someone like Ms Lo who is beautiful, intelligent, scholarly and wealthy, too, is very rare indeed, people say.

Three years ago, I asked Ms Lo if she would support CityU. She readily pledged to donate HK$5 million, but somehow that promise has never been fulfilled.

Before Chinese New Year, I called her. She said, "I have invited you to six different activities I have organised but you never showed up." It seemed it was my fault. The activities she mentioned happened to fall on days when I had other engagements.

She said, "Pity that our paths were not predestined to cross each other," meaning CityU is unlikely to get her HK$5 million.

"We will discuss the donation when we meet next time," she said.

Later, I received another letter from her. It was an invitation to the last activity she was to organise as chairperson of a society. It sounded like my last chance. But when I checked my calendar, I found Ms Lo's activity fell on the same day as a Council meeting. You can imagine my deep disappointment.

I was speechless.

Episode Two
If our paths weren't meant to cross, how would you explain the following?

During Chinese New Year, I flew to Taiwan. On February 6, the second day of the New Year, I went for a 20km run. Starting from Linguang MRT Station, I ran along the unevenly paved path up the hill, heading for a small temple on the other side, and turned around, heading back down. After a U-turn, I ran along a deserted street where I bumped into a friend I hadn't met for 50 years.

After saying goodbye, I jogged along Heping Road East and Fuxing Road South and entered NTU campus, keeping my eyes open for the ice-cream shop run by NTU's College of Bio-resources and Agriculture. There's nothing like an ice cream after running.

But all the shops on campus were closed because of the holiday. So, I ran two large circuits before I headed back after reaching Roosevelt Road, hoping to find water to wash my face and hands. Exiting campus, I ran along Xinsheng Road South and Xinhai Road and then turning on Fuxing Road South, heading straight for a McDonald's. And ice cream.

Again, there was no one around. No cars on the road. Only a shop for pet fish was open. The owner was cleaning out his tanks. By this time I was really thirsty but I wasn't going to drink from the tap here.

Just then, two men approached me. One man, who was walking with measured steps, waved at me. It was Ms Lo's husband, Tony! Walking beside him was his brother-in-law. In Hong Kong, you are usually an agile thinker if you are somebody, walking with measured steps in an unhurried way, careful not to miss a single step. No wonder such people make fortunes.

Both men were eating ice cream from McDonald's, much to my admiration. Tony didn't seem to know what to do while his ice cream started dripping down the cone. There were only the three of us on the street, plus the owner of the aquarium. Tony mentioned that his wife was nearby, but I didn't see her. Instead, we exchanged new year greetings and chatted briefly before I resumed my run. I went across Heping Road East and then Xinyi Road towards Ren'ai Road, Sogo, Zhongxiao Road East, Liaoning Street and Bade Road. I ran without stopping, thinking of nothing but a McDonald's ice cream and a meeting that afternoon with Mr Wang Bohui, a retired plant manager at the Lungmen nuclear power plant.

Soon after I received a text message from Ms Lo. She asked me to confirm the unexpected meeting with her husband. I did so, and then asked her about her HK$5 million donation.

This time, she was speechless.

So, there is predestination, in Taiwan at least.

 

11 February, 2019

 

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