An English Fairy Tale

By Majid Gafoor

Once upon a time there was a kingdom called Nland. It was ruled by a king who sent emissaries all over the world to discover new places where Nland could be further enriched. One day an emissary returned with the news of a new place called Hong.

“It’s not much right now,” the emissary said, ”but I can see the potential.”

“That is all very well,” said the king, “but I expect they don’t even speak Nlish so how will you communicate with them?”

“Not a problem,” said the emissary, “we will build schools to educate them.”

“Very well,” said the king, “but keep in mind to always tell them that the Nlish are superior to them and they must always obey our orders.”

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The Hongs carried their Nlish master in sedan chairs in the old days of Hong. Photo: The Industrial History

Queen Elizabeth II
During a visit to Hong in 1975, the Nlish Queen is greeted by successful Hongs. Photo: British Hong Kong, via Facebook.

So off went the emissary to Hong. He did what the king instructed. The Hongs were educated in Nlish, but were always told that the Nlish were superior and the Hongs had to do as ordered.

With a growing group of Hongs who could understand Nlish, it was easy for the emissary to build a prosperous city with willing and obedient workers. He was even able to send much of the income generated back to Nland to support the king there.

The emissary was so pleased with the progress that he even felt generous enough to give the Hongs more freedoms, but always on the understanding that the Nlish were their superiors. The Hongs were happy and even accepted the restrictions of always having to obey the Nlish supervisor even if the supervisor was less knowledgeable than themselves.

The Nlish established clubs and places for recreation for themselves and allowed some successful Hongs as guests only, not as members. Other than that, the Hongs were relegated to positions of employees and servants. They even designated areas for their houses whereby they could look down on the Hongs but no Hong could have a house that looked down on the Nlish.

This situation continued in blissful harmony until Big Brother Hong who lived next door pointed out that the Hongs were behaving like slaves. 

“Hong is your land,” he said, “and you should be the proper rulers.”

But the Hongs had lived for so long under the Nlish that they could not fathom ruling the place. Despite obvious differences between their lifestyle and that of the Nlish, they felt they were being treated fairly.

Well Big Brother Hong was not going to stand for that and told the Nlish, “I’m claiming back Hong and you guys can just go home.”

The Nlish realized that their time was up. There was no way they could hold on once Big Brother Hong said they wanted the land back. Reluctantly, the Nlish packed up their bags and left.

Were the Hongs happy? No. They wanted to return to the good old days when the Nlish ruled. 

Give us back the freedom we had under the Nlish, they chanted.

There was no way they could hold on once Big Brother Hong said they wanted the land back. Reluctantly, the Nlish packed up their bags and left. Photo: AFP

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Recently the Hongs have declared that they are Nlish, chanting “we are Nlish” in demonstrations, in hopes of living in Nland. Photo: Wall Street Journal

“But you DO have those freedoms,” Big Brother Hong responded, “now Hongs rule Hongs.” 

“Not good enough,” the Hongs replied. They had taken on the role of pseudo Nlish and wished to distinguish themselves as being superior to Big Brother Hongs. “We will decide what is good enough for us.”

And so sleepy Hong became a hotbed of discontent. 

Meanwhile back in Nland, the king told the emissary, “You did a good job. The Hongs really believe that they had more freedoms under our rule.”

Majid Gafoor is a former journalist from Hong Kong. He now lives in Canada.



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