Yellow Duckie [1953]3 min read


Illustration by Arty Guava

I am the only boy in the neighbourhood to have a wooden duckie. This yellow duckie quacks and rolls when I pull it along on a long string.

Boys and girls everywhere come and look at my yellow toy. They want to play with it too. And I feel really good because I have something nobody else has.

I love my duckie because my father sent it all the way from Gum San. Ah-mah says Ah-bah carved it just for me. My duckie is my duckie.

Ah-mah says I must be careful when I take my little duckie out on the street. This is Hong Kong.  But I don’t know why she says that. Nobody ever tried to take it away from me.

It is fun letting the others pull my duckie along the streets. Then we can play, laugh together, and be happy all day long.

At night when I hug my duckie, I dream about Father getting us to Gum San, Gold Mountain, America.

“We will be seeing your father very soon,” Ah-mah says with a big smile. “We will fly in a big airplane. Won’t that be exciting?”

As Mother and I pack, I promise, “Duckie, I’m going to take you with me. And when we walk down the street, every boy and girl will want to play with you and me.”

Mother and I get to Gum San. We are all happy to be together as a family.

As promised, I take my duckie out for a walk.

America is not like Hong Kong. Boys and girls here have tricycles, play with ball, bat and glove at playgrounds, and roller-skate on sidewalks. As I pull my duckie along, they all point fingers and laugh.

I feel sad. I cry.

In America, nobody likes a yellow duckie.

Garry Engkent is a Chinese-Canadian who immigrated to gum san in 1953.  He has a Ph.D. and  taught at various universities and colleges.  He has co-authored three texts: Groundwork: Writing Skills to Build On; Fiction/Non-Fiction: A Reader and Rhetoric; and Essay: Do’s and Don’ts.  His stories have appeared in Exile, Alberta Magazine, Many-Mouthed Birds, SELS Review etc. Most of the stories have a Chinese immigrant slant, circa 1950-70s: “Why My Mother Can’t Speak English,” “Chickens for Christmas,” “Visiting,” “Ten Questions and a Slice of Boston Cream Pie,”  and “Mother Came to Visit and Stayed.” His stories “The Bear and I”, “Eggroll”, “The CNE Canary Cage” and “Acceptance” were published in Ricepaper recently. 

Lay Hoon aka Arty Guava is an Illustrator and Graphic Designer based in Vancouver. She grew up in Malaysia and spent most of her adult life in Singapore before moving to Canada. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Bioengineering but chose to make a career switch after about 1 year of working in the field. Art and Design have always been her calling. She is passionate about culture, people and nature and how these themes interact with each other.


Paul Okano 6 December, 2020 - 1:05 pm

Wonderful story, a sharp turn at the end that caught me off guard. Thank you for sharing, and publishing this work.

Leonard E 21 February, 2021 - 6:45 pm

What’s up with receiving a large yellow duck for a gift? I have a family photo taken in the late 60’s of my siblings and I posing for my father in which I clearly claimed the duck as mine! Thank you for another gem of a memory Garry!


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