In the anticipation of an upcoming interview, I went to the hairdresser's recently to sort out my Wolverine locks into the more socially acceptable Andy Lau style. But I didn't just go to any hairdresser, I went to Melissa, who my family and I have trusted with our heads for a long, long time.
Of course, with Melissa any session is never to be a quiet one. She talks a lot, in fluent Malay and even more fluent Chinese. Almost safe to say that almost anything and everything is discussed (even on tips and contacts to buy and sell second hand cars). Sometimes, I feel that my trips to her shop is not just one to trim my hair, but also a trip in the past.
This time, I would learn something revealing or insightful. "Come on, let me pay for that," I insisted, when she wanted to give me a bottle of hair lotion. "Aiyah, never mind lah," she replied in Malay. "This one I give to you." "But Melissa, you're running a business." "No, it's OK lah. Your family always come here, your mother (ma-der) help me a lot. Last time my child had stroke, your mother come help wan."
I was momentarily taken aback by this. My mother, for those not in the know, is a psychiatrist, and by that definition alone, helps a lot of people. But I didn't know that she did the same for Melissa. Even more so, I didn't know that Melissa's child had a stroke.
"Yah, a long time ago," she told me when I asked further. "Many years ago. My daughter had stroke, and we went to doctor. The doctor said, maybe she's not going to be well for another two years. We thought, how can like that. Two years cannot do anything. Then your mother helped loh. She came in, and looked at my daughter. Your mother said, no need two years. She diagnosed it correctly, and gave the proper medication and what not. I tell you ah, your mother was very helpful to me wan..."
Then I had a sense of...I don't know. You know, when you find out something about someone who is close to you, when you think that you know pretty much everything there is to know about them...and along comes something to elevate them even higher in your estimation.
On the drive home, I called my mother. Again, I am not sure why. I had called her the night before, so she was a little surprised as well. But I just feel compelled, somehow, to tell her about that.
I love you, Ibu. Thanks for the hair lotion :>