Monday, June 25, 2007

The Evil Eye

I've had a series of accidents lately. The latest was tumbling down the stairs and hurting myself (ouch) so it's difficult to drive. In fact, as I write this, am still in JB recuperating.

Now in the West, I'd probably get a thwack upside my head and told to be more careful. In the mysterious East, however, it's another matter. One accident, maybe two, could be because I am clumsy.

But four in the course of a month, well, that's another matter. It's obvious I am experiencing the inclement influence of the Evil Eye. Who's evil eyeing me? Well, that depends. Relatives. Acquaintances. Strangers. Assorted ill wishers, so to speak.

But the latest of the series is of course the fortune teller with the specs and long white beard.

Picture this: It's a balmy afternoon. I'm sitting in the air conditioned inner sanctum of our mechanic (no, not Phuah Chu Kang, but the car servicing mechanic whose name I don't know) reading my book. Mummy insists on sitting on an uncomfortable chair outside, right in front of the car being serviced, because she doesn't trust no workman, she wants to see EXACTLY what he's doing.

So there I am flipping pages when I hear voices. Mums is talking to someone. I see a benevolent looking charlatan chatting her up: "You are a very good lady. I can tell from your face. A very good lady. Your luck will change. Good luck is coming to you, coming to you."

I hiss. Indrawn breath. Mums was a teacher. Surely she will not be taken in by this. But Mums is preening herself, at being called "very good lady". Oh dear. He gives her the usual patter - luck, good, very good person, evil influences to be removed soon.

Then Mums calls me out to meet benevolent charlatan. As I emerge, benevolent charlatan bends a kindly eye at my glowering visage. He realises that he's not gonna get spare change from me. So shifts his attention once more to where it will be most profitable.

He writes something on a piece of paper. RM30, RM50 and RM100. Asks Mum to pick which one she would prefer. At this point her answering smile becomes rather strained. She realises that the benevolent stranger did not just come up to talk to her because she had "good lady" written all over her face. She wonders what to do.

"What is the money for?"

"So I'll pray for you...for good luck."

(See the thing with these people is that you're not supposed to engage with them. When they come up and speak to you, turn away, and ignore them. Say you're not interested. Over and over. Until they leave. The moment you engage, or answer, you're done for)

Mums doesn't know what to do. (I should have intervened here and told the guy we were not interested. Instead I went back to the little room in disgust and continued reading my book)

I hear Mum calling me. She says the benevolent charlatan has offered to do a "reading" for me. For free. (Mum has kindly informed him that I am broke). "No thanks," I growl. And scowl. Distinctly.

"Nolar, no charge, come Jenny."

"I SAID NO THANK YOU!!!!!"

The man does character sketch anyway. "Yes, yes, your daughter is also a good woman. But her mouth, sometimes, not good."

Fuck you, asshole!

Anyway, he pockets the 30 bucks and leaves. I go out and try to get Mum to come in to the comfortable room. But no, she wants to stay watch the car. I tell her the guy was a conman. She says, no, he guessed a number she thought of.

(Have you ever played this game? Think of a number from 1 to 9. Thought of it? Fine, now multiply it by 9. Done that? OK now add the two numbers in the result and see what you come up with. Done that? OK now you minus 5 from the number. And the answer is (drumroll please!) 4. Am I psychic or what?)

Anyway, she was embarrassed. She hadn't expected the guy to ask for money. His preamble didn't seem to suggest that he had stopped to talk to her, merely to ask for money. He really didn't seem the beggar type. He wasn't. He was the benevolent charlatan type.

In case you didn't know, we Malaysians tend to be confrontation avoiders. If in an unpleasant situation, we prefer not to engage in an ugly confrontation to get out of it. So we pay up. If you get us to the point where it's pay up or risk ugliness.

Anyway, who should stroll up not 20 minutes later but another (less) benevolent charlatan. Who went into the same preamble. Mums looked at him with some surprise. Surely they didn't think that even she was dumb enough to be gulled twice.

"I already spoke to one of your group," she said rather sternly.

The guy who owned the mechanic shop went: "Auntie please go in, your daughter is calling you."

Second charlatan made tracks to hawker centre across the street where he went from table to table. The guys there knew how to handle him. They simply waved him off. I was glad second charlatan came along. It disabused Mum of whatever lingering belief she may have had in first charlatan.

That night, I tumbled down the stairs.

Mum, in between administering Deep Heat, comfort and soothing clucks told me I should not have been angry with the fortune teller. Obvious that I had attracted the Evil Eye.

I sighed.

Mum's the word.

6 comments:

Jackie said...

Okay, I'm laughing so hard I keep hitting the mystery key that makes my comment disappear! This is hilarious. And 'mums the word' just capped it, Jenn! You are too funny. Thanks for the belly laugh, I needed it.

Jenn said...

Gee thanks Jackie. I didn't even realise this one was funny. :)

jacky said...

we should never let her live this down!!!!!!
Are you feeling better now?

Jenn said...

Much. I think sleeping is all the medicine I need. Oso can you be quiet about fortune teller ah? If not Mum will thump me upside my head for telling. (Although I told Julie too, hehe)

goldennib said...

When I used to read Tarot when my daughter was young for some extra cash, one of the things I got alot were women who had just been to gypsies down the street who told them their children were cursed and the gypsies would take the curses away for a price. First I would try to explain there was no curse, then I would just remove the curse (for free.)

So, tell your Mum that I have just done the evil eye counter curse and you are cleared of all bad vibes.

Jenn said...

Gee thanks Ness. I feel better already! ;)