Archive for December 11th, 2016

A Year of Living Dangerous




Jian phoned the other day, crying that if only she had kept her wish to kill herself. Things had been going badly — misfortunes tend to arrive in buckets — so her remarks are simply the restatement of a long-held desire. It is also not a threat, for I had seen her thrice at the edge of death, slicing her wrist with a butcher’s knife, downing a bottle of pesticide and tilting from the ledge of a fifth floor kitchen window.

Just two days earlier, a weekend, we were standing with our backs against the sun, trying to keep warm in a freezing park. Few things in this northern Chinese weather can be worse than this bone chilling cold. “Do you know,” she says suddenly, “chunjie is just fifty days away.”

I didn’t know. She, on the other hand, keeps tab of such things.

“You should go back to Malai-zi and see your Ma? How long has it been? Two years?” It is how they, in China, pronounce the name of this asshole country otherwise known as Malaysia.

“And you?”

Laojia.” She meant her birthplace and family home.

“Why don’t you come along. No visa now.”


“Yes, from this year on; just your passport.”

“It’s too hot.” This is an excuse, of course, which in the hanyu is known as jiekou 借口. Literally, it means ‘a mouth borrowed’ so that the truth of the matter actually sits in her own tongue and lies in her heart and which is this: No Chinese — not one yellow skin out of 1.3 billion — gives a shit for Malai-zi.

It is just a shit hole Malay country run by a gang of thieves and fraudsters who call themselves Umno and like to believe they come from some big deal land that China’s Chinese will hanker after, like so many Banglas and Indons do. If a single Chinese out of 700,000 is willing to exchange his Chinese identity card for Malaysia’s I will give up mine, along with passport, the same minute.

(China, like Malaysia, forbids and makes illegal the holding of dual citizenship. Old Horse Mahathir the Motherfucker had never like the Chinese anyway; so, a wild, stupid claim won’t hurt his anti-Najib, Umno/Bersatu style political campaign. As Umno boss, he had made not dissimilar accusations against local Chinese, mostly it is that they are unpatriotic. Count me in as another disloyal pendatang as well: I owe Malaysia nothing, not even its ugly passport and which I’d be happy to pee on.)

“It’s too cold here,” I replied. “Anyway it’s just for a few days. After Malaysia, we could go together to your laojia.”

My own work all sewn up I have a whole month free and which is well into after the Spring new year. We won’t be spending time in Hong Kong after all.

There is no heating in our bedroom, so I drew apart the curtains to let in the sun. Seven hours to go before she flies alone to Zhejiang to see Yuen-Yuen and try pull in some new modelling assignment for the Spring season. In the meantime… there’s the same old thing to tend to: Money.

She plainly refused to accept anything from me so we spent the night before quarreling over intents and purposes. Without at least 5,000 ringgit (10,000 yuan) for the lunar new year, she won’t have anything to go home with. People tended to pontificate about the virtue of being just home — as if nothing else is more important than the being of a person. If only this were true, life would be a breeze.

Jian shall be back soon and I can’t wait to wrap my arms around her and say, “You won’t die, not without my permission.”



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