The Newsletter 54 Summer 2010

$#@% mak!: the oil in the multicultural machine

Yeoh Seng Guan

Scene 1: A middle-aged Malay male walks out of my local barber shop run by a Tamil-Hindu proprietor. A few seconds later, he returns and points indignantly at hair stubbles on his chin that had somehow escaped the barber’s blade. Before the bemused barber could react, he storms out dramatically and utters, ‘pundik!’ (Tamil for vagina).

Scene 2: A few months later, I am at my local car accessories shop to purchase a button battery for my car keys. The Chinese male attending to me is not sure about something and he consults the shop manager, a young Malay woman. In response to his query, she punctuates her sentence with ‘Soh hai! (Cantonese for stupid vagina).

Scene 3: I am working late into the night on a document that is due early the next day. I am tired and am not in an inspired mood given the last minute nature of the request. Suddenly, the computer screen turns pitch black, losing the hard intellectual labour of the last one hour. I raise my hands in exasperation with the expletive ‘fuck!’ exploding out of my mouth.

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