all generalizations are false, including this one. ~ mark twain

last night, i was at a hypermart near my house. the whole grocery shopping gig. you know. so i chanced on one of those CD – DVD – VCD shops whose economic models are delightfully questionable. nevermind. you get the drift. okay, you didn’t just read that. hah.

so they were having a special on old p.ramlee movies. to you kids that just tuned in, they are black and white films. in my opinion, the most important thing that the p.ramlee stories teach us is the importance of laughing at yourself. and i’m not talking about the lawak bodoh that so much – too much – to today’s movies glorifies. really la, the idea is not to laugh at the character, but the humar the character carries. there is a depth there. a creativity that prevails so poorly now. sure we still laugh. but today’s actors try so hard.

then again, i passed on my chance to be a movie reviewer professionally years ago. that’s right. i could have gotten paid for crapping on other people’s shot at fame. but no, i had to choose to trample over the world instead. sigh, decisions, decisions.

this is one thing i miss about europe. people there actually get my jokes. i come home and people say i mangle up the english language.

so i choose a DVD – nujum pak blalang – that’s the old malay spelling, don’t get on my case for typos pulak – and took the box to the counter to pay for it. girl at the counter was engaged in a deeply emo talk with her friend, the shop assistant. very juicy. i think her man told her brother something about her, and something about another girl in the picture and she’s been talking to the brother also and she’s feeling betrayed and her friend was deciding who she should confront first. drama melayu plays out in real life. the side effects of being surrounded by malay, indon and hindi movies all day long.

eventually, she decides that she should not let her boss down by losing a customer and scans my DVD. she looks at the title, looks at me, looks at the title, looks at me.

cina ke? suka ke cerita ni?

ya, i mumbled. she chuckles, takes my money, passes me my change, and gives me my DVD.

tak sangka ye. awak pun suka cerita p.ramlee.

have you any idea how i had to restrain myself from throwing out some kind of comeback comment out there in the kind of english that she will never be able to comprehend? don’t get the wrong idea. i was not angry. and i’m not talking about a rude kinda language.

i was amused, you see. she was not being mean. she was surprised and she honestly expressed the way she felt. i see absolutely nothing wrong with it. if anything, she learnt something about racial integration that night. that we are all the same people and we all find the same kind of thing funny.

come to think of it, i am happy that all i did was just say thanks, smiled and walked away. instead of breaking out in some nationalistic speech with the intention of sounding profound. instead of trying to define the moment with some presidential commentary. the kind where the world fades in depth of field. the kind i release a dove at the end of the speech. the kind everyone in the store breaks out into uncontrolable sobs after, and we all join hands, and sing rasa sayang after. you know. profound.

i told you, only the europeans get my brand of humour. you people are no fun.


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