October 2013: I had two things in mind at VPL that afternoon, which was to continue working on a short story and finish reading The Mind of Mr. Soames.
Since the short story wasn’t coming along too well, I procrastinated and read 50 pages of the novel in the communal area on Level 3. Halfway through the last pages, I saw a Chinese man approaching me, saying that he’d been watching me for a while.
He must have been in his mid-fifties judging by his receding hairline, the sideburns turning gray. He was slim and somewhat weakly built and carried a rucksack.
I’m not much of a liar, though I wish I had lied to him right from the beginning. It’s a skill that you need to learn for the purpose of remaining creative. I never learned his name, though I’d like to call him Ho Li-Fuk.
Here’s the fictionalized and shortened version of our conversation depicting what a bad liar I am. At least strangers believe me. However, it doesn’t change the fact that he did catch me off guard. (Translated from Cantonese.)
Ho Li-Fuk: Do you speak Chinese?
Ho Li-Fuk (takes a seat across from me.)
You from Hong-Kong?
Me: Something like that…
Ho Li-Fuk: You either are or not. Where are your parents from?
Ho Li-Fuk: You’re from Singapore?
Me: No, I’m from Germany.
Ho Li-Fuk (looks impressed):
Germany? Interesting. So you speak German and Chinese!
Ho Li-Fuk: And English!
Me (eyes fixed on my book.):
Ho Li-Fuk: You look well educated. You must be in your mid-twenties?
Ho Li-Fuk: Wait, what’s your Chinese zodiac?
Ho Li-Fuk: So what are you doing in Canada?
Me (looking up again):
Working and travelling.
Ho Li-Fuk: Interesting. How long you here for?
Me (looking around me.):
Ho Li-Fuk: Nice! You in Vancouver for a year?
Ho Li-Fuk: You going back to Germany after?
Ho Li-Fuk: How long have you been in Canada?
Me: A couple of months.
Ho Li-Fuk: Why aren’t you staying in Vancouver?
Me: I’ve found a job elsewhere.
Ho Li-Fuk: And where’s that?
Ho Li-Fuk: What kind of job?
Ho Li-Fuk: Nice! You can easily find a job here, too.
Me: I don’t think so.
Ho Li-Fuk: Of course you can.
Me: Well, I don’t want to stay here.
Ho Li-Fuk: How come, you have a boyfriend in Toronto?
Ho Li-Fuk: Is he a white guy?
Ho Li-Fuk: I bet he is!
Me: It’s none of your business.
Ho Li-Fuk (scrutinizing me from top to bottom.):
Trust me; it’s not going to work out.
Me: Excuse me!
Ho Li-Fuk: Trust me. You’ve only been here for a couple of months. You’re rushing into things…
Ho Li-Fuk: How old is he?
Me: I think I’m done here…
Ho Li-Fuk: Is he in his thirties? Trust me; it’s not going to work.
Me (glaring at him):
Ho Li-Fuk: You need someone much older.
Me: You insinuating something?
Ho Li-Fuk. Trust me, I know about these things. It’s not going to work.
Me (shaking my head.):
Ho Li-Fuk: You’re an ox. You need someone at least 10 years older. When’s your birthday? In the winter?
Me (I drop my book.):
Ho Li-Fuk: You see? You need someone older. Someone who has lived through winter, so he’ll know how to protect you. But you’re rushing into things; it’s not going to work.
Me: Listen, you have no right to say any of these things.
Ho Li-Fuk (scanning me from top to bottom again):
Besides, why white guys? They’re all blonde and tall. Looking at you, you can’t be taller than 5″2.
Me (glaring at him again.):
Ho Li-Fuk: You should be with a Chinese guy, someone with black hair and the same skin features. But I understand, you grew up in Germany, so you must have been with Germans only…
Ho Li-Fuk: And it seems like you’re rushing from one relationship to the next, which is why it’s not going to work.
Me: Oh, really?
Ho Li-Fuk: Yes, it’s because you’re dating western guys. They don’t have the same mentality; they won’t understand you.
Me: But you do?
Ho Li-Fuk: Exactly. We’re a good match. Fate will be on our side too. What you have in Toronto is not worth it; it’s doomed to fall apart.
Ho Li-Fuk: Trust me.
Me (packing my stuff):
Ho Li-Fuk: May I have your number?
Me: I don’t think so.
Ho Li-Fuk: How about I give you mine, and you contact me when you split up?
Me: I’m done talking.
Ho Li-Fuk: Don’t you believe in fate?
Me: No, but destiny, at least there’s a choice.
Ho Li-Fuk: And what’s that?
Ho Li-Fuk: Ok, I wish you all the best; maybe fate will lead us back together one day. All the best, take care.
Me: You, too.
by P-chan (c) October 2013