my youngest sister, when she was some 8-years-old, used to refer to a chinese man as chinaman. she wanted to marry one when she grew up. i am afraid after reading this blog she would probably revise her thoughts.
among the many weird experiences i have had so far, the weirdest was last week in singapore when a very old chinaman [easily over 90! - confirmed my sister, an expert in reading people's real ages] tried to get cosy.
i wasn’t sure if i should have felt insulted or let down that he approached me. perhaps i should have - by all means. perhaps a younger man in his 20s, 30s or 40s would have made me feel less atrocious! i am not sure what i am thinking here but this event was unbelievable. here is why.
not really making too much eye-contact [rather looking few inches below my face] he asked me whether i was from indonesia or philipines [first looking left at indonesia, then right at phillipines]. for those who may think i was probably wearing a world map t-shirt, let me please inform that it was not the map!
though i did not want to answer him i let him know i was from india. and he looked up to confirm. but he wouldn’t believe that i was from india may be cos all indians in singapore were wrongly assumed to be dark-skinned tamils.
i had my mother and sister by my side and they were worried for what i was getting into as they saw me engaged in an odd conversation with a creepy-looking complete stranger.
mother said 'he looks weird' and added that 'if he utters anything funny i am going to land my fist on his face.'
sister, worried of singapore's laws, asked mother to just push him aside if need be and not really hit him cos pushing can be considered as an act of self defence whereas hitting can be seen as an obvious act to hurt a weak/meek 'senior citizen'. probably the man was a PR [Permanent Resident]. she begged mother to not land her into trouble as her work visa was renewed just a few weeks back. mother agreed as she continued to keep a protective stern face for her first born - me. she was confident she could simply sigh hard and have the chinaman fly off the building.
i showed him [rather informed him i am not alone] my mother and sister, fairly better in stature than me, thinking he would back off.
he was happy to see them. happy expression was a constant on his face. can you believe he asked my mother for her number! 'no need' she said sternly, almost as sternly as it would mean that her fist was going to come straight to his face next.
my sister made facial gestures meaning to say 'please dont encourage him'.
he turned back to 'philipines and indonesia' and continued speaking to them. 'where do you stay and how long are you in singapore lah?'
i said i stay faraway and that i was leaving in a day.
'oh! so sad lah! if you were here we could make a small affair lah. just friends lah!' he managed to say that in his broken english and laughed as if he cracked the century’s best joke while his eyes disappeared into the many folds on his face.
the little chinaman did not waste anymore time. he left us and headed to another lady. much taller than him with 'indonesia and philipines' at his eye-level. what more could the happy chinaman ask for?
i could hear my mother mutter, ‘imagine how annoying he would have been when he was younger’ and my sister replied ‘i don’t think the poor guy has had any chance ever – leave alone his age factor.’ we laughed in unison and left him to the joys he could afford at his age.