The other day , Stacey literally waited for me to finish up so she could walk me down the street towards her station. I guess the frequent cordial smiles I’ve been giving, out of a terrible habit i picked up from down under, proved to be infectious in some sort of karmic way, which showed its symptoms through her more than polite gestures towards me. Basically she deemed herself my new best friend (and felt quite snubbed when I went out for lunch with other interns yesterday..she gave me that ‘Oh you found someone new now’ look). Did I mention that she’s 60+ ?
While were walking that day , I was enlightened about her younger son-who at the age of 10 picked up a very interesting first book at a store and pleaded his mother (who said she’s more of a friend to him) to buy it. It was a book about the Malaysian Legal System.
It was then that his mother sighed at the inevitably expensive and demanding journey which awaited him.
He’s a graduate now, interning at a law firm. He’s a smart cookie and knows that life (although quite shitty as a lawyer) is much better when you deal with corporate law, rather than at the courts.
Stacey told this smart cheeked son of her’s, that she could not be bothered to cook her lunches any longer because she had plans with her ‘girlfriend” (moi) – I laughed at this and cracked a lame ass joke about how lucky I was to attain such an exalted and saucy position…only to find out that she genuinely called all her ‘good’ friends that. Now to think of it, she has no friends at work.
She also kinda repudiated my eating habits, pulling out valid reasons as to why I shouldnt eat at the ‘warungs’ which I’ve been shamelessly gorging at (infact- I don’t know if it’s something to be proud of- but I’m quite popular over there already, and a favourite of a ‘Thambi’ uncle who always wants me to eat his buns and drink his juices). She said that those places were dirty and that the biggest sign of dirtiness is the fact that there’s no water supply. I suddenly wanted to upchuck all my intestines, put them through a washing machine, soak them in hot water and then MAYBE , just maybe re-install them into my body.
Anyway, she let me in on some inside info on issues here..like how her brilliant son at grade 6 was denied an award for achieving the highest score in the Malay language (oh, stacey and her son are chinese by blood) because the principal and teacher thought it would ‘look bad’. In Malaysian government schools classes are usually divided into malays and non malays. Stacey’s son went on to be an A+ student who was denied a place in a big national university here because they ‘simply had no place’ for him and suggested that he went for MassComm. A 70%-er got his place. She was local…by blood. A girl he crushed on, who was as brilliant as him had to go to another country where she was granted a scholarship.So he went private and ta-da! he’s working by hook or crook ( I think that’s how the phrase goes…its so indian ugh). But, good on him.
As I continued to talk with Stacey- and we eventually managed to move beyond what she cooked the night before and how she learnt to crack up killer prawns (after all, the gal is 60), she told me that she forever considered herself to be a Malay-chinese, not just chinese. She reminded her son about it all the time. Even during the riots of ’98- when she hid in a small shop with her girlfriend in Petaling street (which is china town), she still remained a Malay Chinese. I think Stacey is the epitome of true Patriotic Nationalism at its best. I wish some of us could be instilled with such fervour. Although I think of myself as a Global Citizen- something which no one my age can help BUT to be.
I also found out that Muslims can’t get tattooed….. apparently if they do, they’re prohibited from praying. I wonder where all these ‘laws and rules’ are written and who’s keeping track….