All about love

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 February, 2007, 12:00am

A group of young writers and artists have published a book about the fleeting nature of love in time for Valentine's Day.

What If We Talk About Love? is published by the group 29s. It talks about love not in terms of flowers, chocolates or lavish gifts.

Instead, the short stories, poems, photos and comics explore contemporary relationships with the incisiveness of surgeons.

'Love [today in our society] is like body slimming. It imposes a standard on everyone to follow,' said comic artist Kong Khong-chang, who is part of the group.

His work - a series of humorous short comics about the romantic relationship between a princess and a policeman - explores the possibilities of romance in the city.

'After I had finished the comics, I realised that my emphasis is on what people can do about love in this society. The environment influences our behaviour, and the love we experience is the result of the environment,' said Kong.

'If love is only about having dinner, shopping or going to movies together, their [the princess and the policeman's] love would dry up.'

The key to love, according to Kong, is to be happy and flexible. 'Sometimes you have to challenge the environment, but at some point you also have to enjoy the environment - with a bit of imagination.'

In Kong's comics, a rainbow collapses after catching a cold and penguins uproot a skyscraper like Godzilla. The humour and imagination serve only one purpose: to suggest that we should add colour to our routine love life.

Writer Tang Siu-wa gives a woman's take on romance.

Tang's short stories, unlike most romantic writings that offer fantasy scenarios, deal with intimate, real-life topics such as girls struggling with hair removal and using oil-blotting paper on their skin.

'We felt that we could deal with something fresher in the book,' said Tang.

'Most romantic novels centre around the dreams of women in love and rarely deal with their insecurities. And when they do, such topics are treated superficially.'

She said she hopes her writing will strike a chord with all girls.

'During my secondary school days, when I told my friends that I was doing something annoying and painful, and it took a long time to accomplish, everyone knew immediately that it was getting rid of the hair on my legs,' said Tang.

'These are experiences that all girls share, and to a certain extent they all have something to do with boys.'

But putting your feelings about love and the opposite sex on paper or expressing them through images is never easy.

'The biggest difficulty is sharing my love experiences with people. I try hard to hide my feelings during the creative process. But the harder I try, the feelings [expressed in the photos] turn out to be stronger,' said photographer Wong Suk-ki, who described the process as a journey into the past to bring forgotten details to light.

After all, learning to love someone resembles the process of self-discovery, said Kong.

'My ideal way of loving someone is not to demand anything from her.

'But in the beginning of a relationship, there's always friction. After going through many difficult experiences, you will come to terms with what your beloved can or cannot do.

'Accepting someone is similar to accepting oneself.'