A Typical Question

Today was a really draining day. I went to the toilet on the second floor right after the second last lesson ended and chanced upon my CCA junior (she’s secondary 1 by the way). She said hi, I just nodded and went into one of the available cubicles. They were still at the sink tying their hair after I was done so I just walked to the one next to them to wash my face.

Me: Why are you at this block? Isn’t the lower sec classroom block at the other end of the school compound?
Her: Oh, kita baru habis kelas PE (Oh, we just ended our PE lesson)

Her friends stared at me. “Wait what. You’re Malay?”.

I smiled.

The other asked, “ok, so your mom or your dad– which of them is Chinese?”

I laughed, “neither”.

The two of them scanned me from top to toe and then, they looked at my name tag.

“Ernie Her.. Herlynni. You’re name sounds no way near a Malay’s. Especially the second one”.

Ruqaiyah and Lisa, who were apparently in the toilet as well, laughed hysterically. Confused, they just locked their eyes on me. “Well, I have been labelled as a Filipino, a Chinese and Vietnamese and so on before this so I don’t blame you for not knowing.” I made my way back to class, leaving the both of them confused.

During lunch, I bumped into them in the canteen. Intuitively I asked, “What if I told you I’m actually Chinese?”.  I got their attention and said:

“你好,我是 Ernie。你吃午饭了吗? (Hello, I’m Ernie. Have you eaten lunch?).”

After seeing their reaction, I walked off. I have this feeling that they’ll find me again tomorrow.



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