‘MISS! MISS! EH, ARE YOU DEAF?’
Startled, Sarah hadn’t noticed that the lady had come up next to her.
‘Oh, sorry. I didn’t notice you here,’ Sarah replied, turning around to face her.
The woman, whose voice had intimidated her earlier, was shorter than her by two heads and slouched. Even under the dim light, Sarah could see the fine lines around her mouth, eyes and forehead. Her puffy cheeks were drooped, forming a permanent frown. Except for the hint of red on her lips and cheeks, the lady looked rather plain.
A typical stay-at-home aunty would be how Sarah would have described her to her best friend.
Her body, if Sarah was remembering correctly, was what her nutritionist would have described as ‘pear shaped’ – a heavy midsection supported on thin legs.
From her vantage point, Sarah could see the almost one inch long white hair growing out from her scalp, revealing an overdue dye job.
Behind where the lady stood was a red, two-piece curtain that appeared to divide where they were and what was behind it.
‘Blind is it? I have been standing here for five minutes, shouting into your ears. You want me to lose my voice?’
‘Oh – um, I – I – I’m sorry. I -‘
Sarah didn’t know why she had not heard the shouts. But before she could even think of a good explanation, the fortune teller cuts her off with a huff.
‘Never mind, never mind. Don’t waste my time any further. Come inside now,’ the lady says before turning around to walk back to the section that was hitherto concealed from Sarah through the red curtains.
As she does, Sarah hears her mumbling complaints in Hokkien.
Good for nothing young people. They think the whole wide world is waiting for them. Just waiting for them. How entitled. I remember when I was young, I never did this to my elders. They whack you nicely then you know! Life’s too good these days. Too easy…
Sarah tuned out.
Are all Hokkien aunties like this? she wondered. Even her own mother had a habit of dragging millennial down the drain.
As if they were perfect when they were young, she used to think. If we had a time machine…
As she takes her turn to walk past the red curtains, a sense of eagerness builds up in Sarah.
What might be behind such that the fortune teller needed to conceal it first? she wondered.
She had seen movies about Chinese fortune tellers before, but until today, she had never seen one herself.
She never believed in them.
In the movies, going to a famed fortune teller carried an air of mystery and intrigue.
And why shouldn’t it? You were getting to know something about the world only Gods knew.
She pushes the curtains away.
Here goes nothing.