It seems not so long ago, when I was still in my early thirties, neighbours (especially the female ones) with kids in tow walking past by me would nudge their little ones to say, “Call ko-ko”, hmm, and I was secretly and unabashedly pleased.
That went on for some time and then on one fateful morning a nice lady crossed my path and without any warning, told her little boy, “Call Uncle” !! What ? I remembered hearing all the air-raid sirens screaming around me.
Instinctively, I looked around me for some perhaps haggard-looking middle-aged guy who might had been shadowing me…nope, I was the only target for miles around. That was it ! Maintaining courtesy, I simply nodded sheepishly in despair, and quickly headed home for my mirror. “Oh mirror mirror on the wall,….,why do you need to tell it all ?”
Ok, never mind, just an occasional strand of stray grey hair and a little bit more of my forehead was showing up. Perhaps it was that cheap, “30% Extra” shampoo that I had been using.
Then, came the coup de grace ..sob sob. On my way down the lift that unforgettable day of reckoning, a gracious lady with a kid in the lift, uttered, “Call ah-pek” !! I thought there was a Richter scale 10.0, and the lift had plunged 11 storeys to the ground. It was that bad… the lady asked me, “ah-pek, you ok not, want some Axe-Brand hong yew (风油), or Tiger-Balm ?”
I could barely stagger out of the lift….. My day was ruined. I went home that evening …could not get over it, and wanted to pull out my hair…”how dare that lady call me ‘ah-pek’ ?” Then I went to look at my mirror again…..alamak, no need to pull my hair…. almost all gone already.