I reported on the delayed train in Kuala Lipis on my cycling trip back to Kota Bharu. To kill time, I struck a lot of conversation with the lady in charge of the goods for despatch at the railway station. I need to pay RM4.30 for the transport of my bike to Bertam.
She was also from Kelantan, but speaks pretty good English herself. I told her I was also from Kelantan but had made Subang Jaya my home. I don't know why, but I also told her my mother lives with me, occasionally. That information somehow triggered some sadness in her. She said she "lost" her mother early and therefore don't know her. Her father had died.
She had 3 kids, 2 boys and 1 daughter. Nur Aelish is her daughter, a Std 5 girl. Back in Kota Bharu when her daughter was ready for kindergarten, the only kindergarten near her place was a Chinese kindergarten. She enrolled Aelish. Aelish frequently asked her what the teacher was saying. She told the daughter, "I can explain the English, but I don't understand Chinese."
The daughter decided then, that that was the language she wanted to learn. Amidst certain resentments from some members of the family, the mother persisted.
Aelish dropped in to the office in the afternoon after school. The mother introduced her to me. The mother said she liked to dress like a boy. Kept her hair short, wore pants and t-shirts. Hmm...sounds familiar to me!
I found her a very bright student. She certainly knew what she wanted to be when I popped her that question.
When I told her I didn't learn Chinese, her spontaneous remark was, "Pak Cik belajar Tamil kah" and she laughed heartily, with a scornful look and embarrasment of the mother. She must have supported her witty remark from my "burnt" look.
When I asked her what she liked to eat, she said
Does she know that this Indian Pak Cik don't like sayur? Aishay man...you terror lah Aelish.
I managed to ask her to tell me a story in Chinese. She obliged me with a story about a crocodile. The story is about....er....well....its about.....hmm...let me see............
"WHY DON'T YOU ASK HER?"
And when the train arrived, I said bye bye to Dr Aelish. I hope to live long enough to ask for some aspirins from her.