Friday, 15 October 2004

While waiting to cross the road to get to the food court near my workplace, I turn to talk to my colleague. Turns out she was already looking at a spot just behind me, with a look of bewilderment on her face.

I turn to see what she's looking at, and took an involuntary jump back. The face of a grinning old grandma was mere inches away from mine. I stared at her in shock while she still stood there, holding an umbrella, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"It's so sunny, come under my shade," she said in Mandarin.

I nodded at her dumbly.

"What are you so afraid of? Did you think I was a guy?" she continued, drawing closer to me. "Now, if you were in Indonesia, where I'm from, you would have a lot to worry about. But it's so safe here. I walk around by myself late at night and I feel perfectly safe! There's nothing to be afraid of!"

My colleague, a much warmer and friendlier person than I am, responded with, "Yeah, you're right. It's is very safe here."

I simply continued staring, trying to smile politely.

"Actually, I'm afraid to cross this road alone. I was wanting some company," she admitted, firmly placing a tight grip around my wrist.

Now, grandma reaches only up to my shoulders, her hands therefore having a shorter distance away from the ground than I do. Suddenly, not only did I feel circulation being cut off from my hand, I find myself standing as if I have a severe back problem that required me to stand with one shoulder higher than the other.

"By the way, how old do you think I look?" she continued, never wavering in her grip.

Thoughts raced through my head:

If I say she's older than she is, I would piss her off and she probably would detach my hand from my arm within seconds.

If I say she's younger than she is, I may be so far off target that she would think I was being cheeky and would still detach my hand from my arm within seconds.

I turn to my colleague with a pleading look in my eyes.

"63," she guessed.

She smugly shakes her head and says, "No, I'm 71," and then goes on to rave and rant about this product that she was using that provided her with such a "youthful radiance".

Meanwhile, I am simply hoping that the traffic would clear within the next few heartbeats so that I am free of her iron grip and the uncomfortable stance I was in. Not mentioning the fact that I probably looked rather weird standing the way I did.

Suddenly, in her eagerness, she loosens her grip to gesticulate something or other. And at a beautiful coincidence, there was a break in the traffic. Quick as lightning, my hand moved to her back as we swiftly crossed the road to my freedom.

I can only thank God that it didn't occur to her to have lunch with us.

What is up with me and strange grandmas? At least this one isn't as vicious or long-term as the last one.

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