Something to consider, in light of all the perceived hurt I have received over the course of the last two days:
Just an hour ago the doorbell rang. It was a small meek headscarved woman with a cart. Where I live you get lots of these, small boys selling brandless icecream to people in their 20s peddling Starhub cable TV.
“Keropok?” she enquired. “Crackers?” was hastily added in the light of my blank stare.
I turned back at my mother, at the dinner table silently cocking her ears. “She’s selling keropok. Don’t want right?” This she affirmed. “Nowadaysah , I don’t dare to eat all the things they sell!” I flashed an apologetic smile at the Malay lady. “Sorry, we don’t want it,” the door already half closed. She muttered something and held out her wares more enthusiastically this time, and only after I closed the door I heard a slow grating of wheels against tiles.
My mother snapped out of a reverie. “Poor thing. I think let’s give her $2 lah, but don’t take her food. Hurry up ask her to come back!” This I acquiesced. When I opened the door she was at the only other apartment on our floor, proceeding to ring the bell.
“Uh, can you please come back?” I mustered. She ran back with small but quick footsteps, already preparing a package of keropok. My mother came to the door wielding two dollars.
“Three dollars lah, please?” implored the woman, pushing the keropok toward us. “No, no, we just want to give you something, for your effort,” interposed my mother with an embarrassed smile. This bewildered the peddler, but eventually a smile spread on her lips and she thanked my mother and I profusely (in that order, for good reason) as I closed the door.
As I turned on my Macbook a while later I heard that same steady clatter of cart, on the gravel of roads.