⟨ Book ⟩

MUCH LOVED

A Special Kind of Sentiment in Life

Words / Jas Tse
Photography / Kimio Ng
Translation / Iris Heung

不只皮破了,眼睛耳朵也掉了,手腳經過手術重新接上了,有過很多遍縫縫補補,本來鼓起的肚子也經已皺巴巴。看起來歷盡滄桑的毛偶,在京都惠文社書店裡,在深褐色木質書架上閃閃發亮著 —— 愛爾蘭攝影師Mark Nixon的《Much Loved》,封面的粉紅色小熊倔強地看著我。

The fabric is worn, the eyes and ears got torn off, the limbs were reattached, the supposedly bloated tummy looks rumpled now because of the multiple stitching — these stuffed toys all look so battered, but they were turned into intriguing images in the Irish photographer’s Mark Nixon’s book Much Loved. Walking into Keibunsha Ichijoji bookshop, I was immediately captured by the powerful gaze of the pink teddy bear on this book cover that was found on the dark brown wooden shelf.

剛好我身邊那位,家中的毛偶是個大家族,其中有幾隻又特別親暱,會一起遠遊也經常窩在沙發聊天發呆。我偶爾會參與到他們的日常,才漸漸了解這種關係,也發覺它們會老,在跟主人相處而留下的痕跡,像勳章那樣光榮。是一種被愛的痕跡嗎。

My travel companion owns a big collection of stuffed toys. He would even bring the ones that he is particularly attached to for travel, for a chat, or for a quiet companion on the sofa. By enjoying this kind of moments with them, I came to realize how a stuffed toy can also grow old. The marks the owners left on them are like medals to be honored, as they can well be the evidence of being loved.

這本書源自一隻毛偶。當Mark兒子Calum出生時,99歲的祖母送了他一隻兔偶,名字叫Peter Rabbit。「他興奮時會緊緊地擠捏它,吮手指時又會把鼻子哄湊它,而且每晚也要抱著入睡。」看著這個小小人的舉動便讓Mark想到,大家的童年幾乎都有這種無法言喻的特別情感。於是他發出邀請請大家帶著自己的毛偶前來,出乎意料地大多是成年人。「他們就像保守了一個秘密很久,而終於能夠與人分享了。」

It all began when Nixon witnessed the powerful affection with which his own baby son enveloped his Peter Rabbit, a gift from his 99-year-old grandmother — “the way he squeezed it with delight when he was excited, the way he buried his nose in it while sucking his thumb, and how he just had to sleep with Peter every night.” Nixon began to think, maybe everyone has this inexplicable sentiment in their childhood. He then invited people to bring their beloved stuffed toys to share their emotional stories. To his surprise, most of the people who joined the sharing were adults. “It was as though they had been keeping a long-held secret and could finally tell someone what their teddies really meant to them,” said Nixon.

當中很多窩心平常、或有關失而復得的動魄驚心。又或從沃特福駕車回都柏林的途中接到兒子電話,而不得不駛一個多小時的回頭路就為了把心愛的毛偶送返兒子身邊,聽起來滑稽卻暖心滿滿。65隻毛偶與主人的點滴,每翻一頁,也像翻開一段生命軌跡。

有時候我猶豫,其實我們有否留意到,時間在自己或身邊人身上留下的線索。而我想,這些小夥伴早就發現了,我們每個微小變化。

Some shared sweet little memories, some talked about the fright of thinking they have lost the toy; one of them had to drive an hour back to send his little boy back his favorite toy when he received his son’s call on the way from Watford to Dublin. The stories are all funny but heartfelt. The book collects stories of 65 stuffed toys and their owners. Flipping through the pages, we can take a glimpse of people’s fascinated lives one by one.

Sometimes I wonder if we are aware of the traces of time imprinted on ourselves and people around us, but I believe these little buddies actually do recognize every tiny change that happens to us.