'Tis The Season To Be Paiseh

The Lunar New Year: A season for merry-making, food-gorging and asking embarrassing questions.
Source credit: Calvin Teo.
The Chinese New Year is a season for wearing bright red clothes and asking questions that can cause faces to flame. Concerned relatives have been asking about my age, whether I'm dating and when I plan to be married. One even offered to set up a blind date for me.

I tried lying to a few that I had just broken up with a non-existent girlfriend and was nursing an unspeakable pain. It wasn't very sensitive to ask me such questions, I exclaimed. Naturally, no one believed in the lies I spun.

It may be a good idea to escape to a neighbouring country next year - perhaps the sunny islands in Indonesia? - to avoid the ceaseless stream of questions about when I plan to contribute to the nation by reproducing my genetic copies.

On an unrelated note, my 5th and 7th aunts were chatting with me about the lucrative nature of being a private tutor when I committed a faux pas.

I was sharing a story about tutoring the daughter from a wealthy family. They are rich, very much so, with a seaside condominium, a Sentosa bungalow and two shophouses. Paintings that cost around 400,000 USD hang against their living room walls.

Despite all their money, they are a unhappy family. The mum would often complain about her womanising husband to me, her daughter's private tutor. The poor girl would be so intensely embarrassed, to have the family's troubles aired in front of a stranger.

Once, there was a screaming marathon between the husband and wife, with the latter threatening divorce. The tuition proceeded with my student and I pretending that we couldn't hear the ruckus one wall away.

Wealth, cliched as it may sound, doesn't promise a carefree life enfolded in the warmth of loved ones.

My two aunts were rather quiet. It was then that I realised it was a poor context to share that particular experience.

One aunt was the second wife. She had, in all fairness, been a mistress and caused a divorce herself.

Another has a lived-in mistress sharing the household, living with her husband and her, now.

The Chinese New Year festivities are opportunities for family members to meet, catch up and cause one another endless embarrassment. We really should be more tactful about what we say.