See You Sifu
After work, I went to the Chinese medical hall to buy some Chinese herbs for the weekend. After the trauma of the last few days, I thought I need some tonic to calm the nerve and fortify the senses.
At the Chinese medical hall, I gave the sifu my written order. I can't really pronounce the names of the herbs but I know what they are in Chinese script from my grandfather's old books. The sifu looked fairly impressed as some of the herbs I was asking for were not that common. He also looked helluva surprised. I could just read the thought bubble above his head:
"What's a young lady like her doing with this herbs?"
"Does she even know what to do with them?"
"Where did she get this prescription?"
When he gave me the saffron, he told me I had to soak it in hot water ... and I said I know. Then he said I have to remove it from the broth and not eat it, and again I said, I know. He was very impressed and there was a transformation in how he treated me. When I first entered the medical hall, he was kinda indifferent and disinterested. But after seeing my prescription and finding out I knew how to treat my herbs, he was suddenly all friendly and open.
You know, by now I should be used to being underestimated constantly by people who take one look at me and either consign me to bimbo status or to bitch status. But it never fails to amuse me when they have to make an almost 180 degree reversal (the other 180 degree takes time as prejudice does not go away in one day) when they realise I might know more than I let on or I am actually nicer than their bigotry would like to admit.
Anyway, the sifu asked me how I knew so much about Chinese medicine and I admitted that my knowledge is limited and mostly based from memory from what my grandfather taught me when I was a little girl. Which is all about herbology. I never learnt accupuncture from him. Just as he was beginning to teach me about accupressure points, I was sent away to school and did not really go back to visit him during hols after that. I missed those visits - I had the best fun learning Chinese medicine, how to play badminton up in the hills, flying kites and watching Chinese kungfu and Tamil movies (go figure) with him.
One of my greatest treasures is one of his books which I managed to salvage from the avaricious but clueless hands of my aunties. Although my Chinese sucks big time, I managed to translate or get translated some sections that I've carried with me all these years. The sifu was really amazed and told me I should pursue Chinese medicine and even hinted that he would be willing to teach me. Wow ... me, Dr Squint Medicine Woman! From Master Criminal to Medicine Woman ... I can just see it now ...
I think he was tempted to offer to take me on as a disciple as I could see that he was running the place all on his own. Knowing from my grandfather's example, most traditional Chinese medical doctors usually retire with no disciples as no one really wants to undertake the arduous task of learning about the millions of herbs and applications and running a medical hall; especially their own children. That's why my grandfather used to recite or teach me about the herbs ... because I was the only one out of his children and grandchildren who would listen to him.
To be honest, I would love to learn more. In a way, it brings me closer to the memory of my grandfather and fulfils this strange need I have to continue a legacy. However, to go down this path would take me from everything I have ever known and I am not sure if I am ready or will ever be ready for this. At the moment, I like my lifestyle and I can only continue to retain what little my grandfather imparted to me and perhaps pass it on a little to those who are interested.
Sorry, Grandpa. Sorry Sifu. Perhaps a decade more down the road if the path is still open to me.
Categories - Rambling Prose