1. She is so uncomfortable in Chinese restaurants that her 90-year-old great-uncle PC has to order her dinner for her yesterday. She was promptly punished by the Chinese gods by having said great-uncle spit into her face with bits of food while they were talking.
2. She couldn’t master using the chopsticks until well into her teenage years, where she practised with disposable chopsticks on her instant noodles in the comfort of her home, away from scornful, condescending Chinese eyes.
3. The very rare occasions when she is forced to converse in Cantonese, it is spoken in the wrong accent and intonation. Frustrated with the way she sounded, she once tried to converse with an old Chinese man in Malay and was promptly fucked off by him, “You’re Chinese and you want to speak Malay with me?! Shameful!” (said in Cantonese, of course)
4. She watches Chinese shows by reading the Malay or English subtitles. Otherwise, she cannot follow them.
Yes, she is the stereotypical banana mocked by her fellow Chinese. Yellow on the outside, white on the inside. She speaks impeccable English, but shamefully stutters speaking Cantonese. Let’s not even ask her if she knows Mandarin. One of the few phrases she can utter in Mandarin perfectly is wo pu hui cheang hua yi (I can’t speak Mandarin), to which the reply is invariably, “But you said that in Mandarin!”
Ya lah, that’s the only damn thing she can say in Mandarin, duh! Use your blain a bit.
She grew up in English, surrounded by people who speak it, write it, read it, and listen to its music. Her first utensils are the fork and spoon. The only Chinese characters she commonly comes across are the ones on her ang pow packets and the tiles of her mother’s mahjong.
All grown up now, she reads English novels, she studies English, she does everything in English. She developed an interest in Romance languages, but has not gone around to improving her Chinese-speaking skills. She wants to do a European backpack tour, and has no interest in travelling to China. She knows more about the Western culture than she does the Chinese culture. Does that sound like a person who unconsciously wants to be Caucasian? The ang moh wannabe?
Is a Chinese person defined by what he or she does that is characteristically associated with the culture of the Chinese? Speaking Chinese when conversing with her Chinese friends. Listening to Jay Chou and S. H. E. Eating bak kut teh and knowing how to order it in Chinese. Celebrating Cheng Beng.
If you’re Chinese by nature but not nurture, does that identity become hollow?
Is she a bad Chinese? Is she rejecting her roots? Is she not proud to be Chinese? Is she ashamed that she’s Chinese?
Probably, possibly, no, no.