It was 5:45 a.m. in the Kwun Tong District of Kowloon. The old lady walked from rubbish bin to rubbish bin, searching for discarded treasures. She walked slowly on wrinkled arthritic legs; legs bent due to years of toil and hard labour. The alleyway she walked through was littered with rubbish that had been thrown carelessly from the windows of the buildings that formed the corridor to the rubbish collection point.
It was amazing what people threw away, either by accident or on purpose. Lo Geet, as she was known to the local residents, had long since decided that the young people of today had no sense of value. You could tell that by the number of electric appliances dumped in the alleyway on a daily basis. When anything broke down they’d just go out and buy a new one. No one thought of fixing the old one. A terrible waste of money, she thought.
Lo Geet always started her rounds of the rubbish bins before first light. She wasn’t the only scavenger in the area and the others were younger, could move faster and carry more. Then, of course, the Urban Services would come daily and empty the bins with their huge, smelly trucks.
So far, the trip this morning looked as if it was going to be fruitless but she was not disheartened. Several months ago, amongst the plastic bags, offal and the occasional dead animal, she had found a real diamond, set in a thin gold ring. She thought it strange that it was in a small plastic bag. She was certain that it had been thrown away by accident. She could imagine the agony of the person who had lost it.
She had taken it to a pawn shop and the fellow had given her $800 for it. Lo Geet was sure that he had cheated her but, $800 was more than she managed to scavenge in a month of effort so she was happy enough. The $1,200 that the Hong Kong government was giving her through Social Welfare wasn’t enough to make ends meet.
There were just two bins left to search. The lid of the first one she arrived at was partly open as crammed to overload. It was an easy job lifting the lid with one hand so that she could rummage around with the other. But Lo Geet was not prepared for the sight that greeted her. It was the upturned face of a young woman that stared up at her with eyes that had obviously seen unimaginable horror.
The vision registered on her brain even as she staggered back in shock. The head had been attached to the upper torso. One arm had been torn out at the shoulder while the other ended at the elbow.
Lo Geet gasped at the first pain shot through her left arm up into her chest. It was the worst pain she had ever experienced in her 80 odd years. All thoughts of scavenging forgotten, she clutched her chest in the hopes of reducing the pain and turned towards the end of the alleyway. There had to be someone there to help her. She only managed three steps before her vision turned red. She was unaware of falling, unaware of the terrible blow to her head as she hit the filth covered floor.
Her death came mercifully quickly as the heart attack took her.