Clackity-clack goes the tiles as they shuffle over the din of their gossipy Cantonese voices. After some more intermittent clacks a soft plop of the dice on the mahjong paper is heard before more clacks and the occasional vigorous thumps of tiles as they collect it from seemingly random locations of the arranged mahjong tiles to create their own cards. More clacks until someone matter-of-factly reveal their winning cards or a yelp by one of the players that’s supposed to indicate some rare winning combination has been revealed. All the while enthusiastically bitching about other mahjong kaki in humourous profanities or gravely analysing the previous round.
That’s Em and her mahjong kaki. In fact, they’re playing quietly (at the moment) in the living room presently. For the life of self, cannot fathom how mahjong can provide the seemingly infinite pleasure to these three short, curly-haired, lumpy old ladies. Isn’t it the same old thing over and over again? It’s been more than a decade am witness to this traditional Chinese game but sadly nothing must have passed through because phrases like kan kan wu and sei chek fei are about as foreign as Mongolian, familiar to self only for the fact they are constantly uttered throughout the past ten years. Obviously self’s lack of proficiency in Cantonese and apathy to gambling contributes to self’s ignorance of the game.
Not that am complaining. Besides exercise, mahjong is about Em’s only real interest in life. Every weekend she is sure to leave home after lunch (sometimes before) to get some mahjong action at a friend’s place or the mahjong table efficiently set up by half-past eleven for a session here. The more mahjong games she has, the better for the family – she wouldn’t be in a nasty mood for fear of having bad luck (such superstition, tsk) and causing her to lose while at the gambling table. Either that, or she’s just too happy at the thought of playing that she’s oblivious to little things that irritate her normally like long strands of hair on the floor (that’s self’s contribution to her daily displeasures of things that threaten to tarnish the sight of a spick and span abode) or Dee hogging the kitchen and wanting to know every single grocery item in the fridge that has not been bought by him (“What’s this ah? Whose one is this? You buy this ah?” it does get a bit tiring when it is uttered every other day). Remember there was once when self broke this ornament on the shelf and did not even receive a quiet reprimand. If it were not for mahjong Em would have hauled over the coals and self would be barbecued meat.
Indeed, life is much more peaceful and happier when there’s a mahjong session.