postcard conversation #3: with love, from mum

— ok so i called my friend and she said: ‘go directly to DHL office, don’t let the office boy pick up the package for you!’ cannot play the fool one, this kind of thing. later the office boy kena accident on the road how? all his papers will fly everywhere and then habis lah. you won’t see your documents again, you know!

— kasihan the office boy lah. what a scenario. so you’ll call DHL tomorrow?

— ya-ya-ya. but next time, you remember that you don’t carry your passport around with you!

— mmm…

— it’s so dangerous! i told uncle Chong you carried it with you in Paris and he said, ‘waaah you mean your daughter walk around in public with her passport like that? very risky, you know!’ you see? everybody say you are crazy. i told him, ‘yalah that girl is very smart but sometimes very stupid also.’

— but you’re supposed to have your identity with you when you’re traveling anyway.

— nooooo. where got? you carry photocopy enough already. if they insist to see your original then only you tell them it’s at home and you can show if they really want proof. some more it’s not like you look like a gangster or pariah what. other people, dark-skinned, like banglas and yi-ni-lang all will kena check…

— (stifled laughter)

— …but you are student and Chinese, they will see you are harmless one! and anyway you don’t have punky hair or one hundred piercings or tattoos… (sudden pause, mentally recalling the level of visibility of  Nabokov on my hip)

— (baiting) hmm?

— (mildly irritated) anyway yalah you look very good what so nobody will check you for your passport. ok-ok-ok. i call DHL for you tomorrow. you be good ah. study hard.

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