Keeping It Real

I have been spending my last days of the Ox Lunar year and beginning of the Tiger Lunar year in Port Weld or Kuala Sepetang, Taiping. Nothing beats going back to hometown for Chinese New Year celebration.

As the new year was drawing near, there were many last minute preparation. Including last minute hair cut! My third aunt has been in the hair styling and dressing business for over 50 years. Apart from being a hair dresser, she’s also a matchmaker and make-up artist. She is quite well known in this small kampong, Kuala Sepetang.

Antique curlers!

I had the chance to listen to stories by my aunt of her customers, mostly elderly ladies. She told me, two days before the 30th night (last day of the Ox Year in Chinese calendar), she went to the other side of the river to help 4 old aunties in their 80s and 90s to do their hair as some of the elderly ladies could not walk, what more to take a boat to the hair salon for a hairdo. So, she took the initiative to offer her service on house calls. In fact, she has been doing this for the past few years!

It’s funny to hear that, these elderly ladies keep telling my aunt not to die before they do, as they all need to look good for Chinese new year for their grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s sad that modern salons do not take in elderly people and some even fend them off or tell them that their salons are closed whenever the elderly approach them for a hair cut.

My aunt who is in her 60s laughed so hard whenever these elderly ladies told her not to die before them. So, my aunt said, she would come to do their hair every year till she couldn’t even walk herself and she would crawl to their house to do their hair too! Haha!! It’s so damn funny! I hope these ladies are still there next year as I intend to go with my aunt and take their pictures.

This is how you roll the curlers

I have a story for this particular aunty who came on the 12th February. My aunt said, she’s the mid wife for my late grandmother when she (my grandma) was giving birth to my late uncle (who died in kidney transplant surgery in India). Imagine both my uncle and grandma had passed on and this nice little old lady is going strong till her 90s. She’s slightly deaf. After we served her a cup of kopi O and as she complained of aches in her butt whenever she sits on a plastic chair, my aunt let her sit on a cushioned chair this time. She didn’t complain this time round.

Hair sprays, gel, foam, combs, brush, for hair styling

While waiting for her hair to curl up, a deaf and mute guy who washes my aunt’s house every year came for a hair cut. My aunt said, when he was washing her house the day before, she was rather busy so she didn’t have time to cut his hair. She told him to come the next day. On how to communicate “come tomorrow” in deaf and mute language, my aunt asked him to go home to sleep by clasping both her hands together and put them to her cheek, closed her eyes and pretend to sleep, then roll her fingers to next. He understood and came the next day. My third aunt is a genius!

My third aunt only charges RM20 for perming hair for the elderly! On why didn’t she charge more since it’s Chinese new year like everybody else, she reasoned that these clients have been with her the past 50 years. Some of them have been with her since they were in their 20s till they are in their 70s and 80s now! I am humbled by her stories and learn that there are people who weigh kindred spirits and compassion more importantly than inflation and money in this small little village called Kuala Sepetang. Buddha says, “Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” I saw all three in my third aunt.

I am glad I could spend more time with my aunts this Chinese new year holiday.

6 Responses to “Keeping It Real”

  1. hcpen Says:

    Nothing beats spending time with family during CNY:-)

  2. asstha Says:

    that’s is awfully generous of your aunt… I can only imagine the joy her elderly customers feel when she provides these additional services from the heart… this story really warms my heart Gina and thank your aunt for making me see that there is still goodness and kindness in the world… n thank you for sharing this with your readers :)

  3. yuin Says:

    I think i have decided, next year if i am around, i will balik kampung to sepetang. i won’t mind serving kopi-o to the old folks too :)

  4. Gina Says:

    hcpen: Yes, it does. :D

    asstha: Thanks. I was having all these thoughts of writing this down the moment I spoke to my aunt about these lovely old ladies. It’s a small town where everybody knows everybody.

    Yuin: Haha! Balik kampong! Lucky you never come lah. Coz the place Gas Stove suggest you to rent one – very smelly! Haha!! But got new hotels now. Maybe can try Flemington or Kama Sentosa.

  5. lingzie Says:

    gina i had wanted to thank you for this story earlier last week but haven’t had the time to do it til now.

    this story really touched my heart and i just wanted to thank you for sharing it. your aunt is a true gem and definitely an inspiration!

  6. Gina Says:

    lingzie: No problem. Actually, I feel ashamed of myself coz, my third aunt has been going to the old ladies’ place for several years. My sis even went with her to visit the old ladies before to assist her and I only found out about it today! Sungguh mensiasuikan! Her stories humbled me a lot. And I can’t wait to share it with my friends and fellow readers. It’s my pleasure to share such human stories.

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