A ‘light’ Saturday

I read THIS poem
And thought, well

I’ve forgotten what it’s like
To write!
And so here goes my take –
Sort of in response to HIS prose –
Of the Malaysian Chinese make

Mata sepet
Kulit kuning
Ah mois
and leng chais
That’s who we are, or at least
Who they claim us to be
Of course we don’t refer
To ourselves in that manner
Except, maybe
The leng chais

If you see two men talking
At the top of their voice
And laughing even louder
They’re probably old friends
Who haven’t seen each other
In a couple of days

Or if you see an auntie
Pulling and tugging
The hand of a child
Desperately out of place
In the wet market
Be sure she’s a Chinese
And her child, well
A makeshift “trolley”

At the pasars
And I mean those in the night
Don’t be cheated by
The number of stalls selling
(pirated?) DVDs and others
Coz they all belong
To the same boss

Come Chinese New Year
A lot of din you will hear
Of children and adults alike
The young will run
While the old have their fun
With mahjong and rounds of ‘21’

But don’t you be mistaken
To think that gambling
Is a festivities thing
Because the 4D is a must
When there are:
New cars
New houses
New everything
You name it
And it’s a reason to try your luck

Eating and table manners
Is a very important part of being Chinese
Especially for those of my ah gong’s generation
“Don’t use your left hand”
“Close your mouth while you chew”
“Call your elders before you eat”
“Don’t leave the table till we’re done”

Are only a few of what I remember
Being yelled at during dinner

Meh, mah, lah
these are but a few
Of what we pepper our speech with
It doesn’t really matter
Which dialect you master
You’ll do fine with
A lot of hand gestures

You’ll be compared to a fruit
Of yellow skin and white meat
If you happen to not speak Mandarin

how can?
You Chinese wor..”

Now, this thing of belanja
Is something we use often
With selamba
But no, it’s no ice-breaker
Coz we don’t use it on strangers
It’s a way to get into good books
So belanja you must
Even if you’re down to your last sen
Otherwise you’ll be left in the dust

Chinese are good businessmen
Or so they say
And yes, perhaps I agree
Coz we can be VERY shrewd
When it comes to money
But a lot of the time
Every hard-earned penny and dime
Is gambled and drank away

You’ll see us
Everywhere and anywhere
There is a bargain
Or money to make
Songs and movies – like:

“Money, money, money”
“Money no enough”
“No money, no talk”
“Show me the money”

Infiltrate the minds
Even of those in kindergarten

It’s easy to misunderstand
A Chinese in distress
As you’ll probably hear a lot more
Foul language
Than the actual story

Many an old-timer
Will sit you down to complain
About the ills of youth today

They’ll tell stories of
Grandchildren coming home
In the middle of the night –
That is, if they do –
They’ll go on to say
That they were better before
Western influence

Then they go on to advise
Us young ‘uns to be wise
And work hard to get a degree
Not just any, though
You can only choose
From a list of careers
That potentially offer a lot of dough
It goes on without saying
Don’t do anything
That doesn’t offer stable pay

I’ve been threatened when I was young
Ghosts and spirits
Whenever I refused to behave
So it tickles me so
That we refer to westerners as gwai lo
(ghost man)

We not only believe
In the supernatural beings
We also are sensitive
To colours and numbers
Other than the well-known:
Lucky eights
Unlucky fours
Prosperous reds
Depressing blacks
There are combinations that
Cannot be ignored
Phone numbers ending with
Are likely to raise a brow
While others that come with
Will attract smiles and pats on backs

This is all
I have no more to add
Except to say, it’s not the end
If you don’t agree
In the Chinese I see
No sweat, this is, after all
Just me


3 Comments on “A ‘light’ Saturday”

  1. Wow, this one has upped the ante by it taking only a day and sail away to see the light of day whereas mine took days and days … !
    I don’t think the time matters that much. I really liked yours. 🙂

  2. Patricia says:


    I totally loved this one! Hahahaha. I am so happy Zaharan inpired your reply!!!

    Thanks for having the poem on your blog! I mean, I wouldn’t have known of its existence if it weren’t for you! 🙂

  3. huichek says:

    hi I have been directed to your blogs from one of my friend’s..I find your blog very interesting and enlightening..Totallly agree with the poem, esp the ‘fruit’ part.I myself have been subjected to such name-calling,which I find offensive…oh well,Malaysia..
    I’m glad that you find it enjoyable here. 🙂

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