When I was driving past Walmart in Piscataway yesterday, I thought to myself, “why don’t I go in to ask them when I will be eligible for the booster shot? Probably in a month?” So I went in and asked one of the pharmacists. She immediately said, “yes.” I told her I would come in one of these days to get the shot then, but somehow I felt that she didn’t want me to leave–she wanted me to get the shot right there and get over with it. I didn’t know why I felt this way since she said the exact opposite, “yes, please come in between 9:30AM and 11:30AM.” She didn’t say anything about what I should do, or it’s better doing it this than that. Nothing like that at all, but somehow I sensed it. Is this telepathy?
How could people know what other people want without explicit verbal communication? I mean between people who know each other well, a lot can probably be assumed; many mutual understandings and misunderstandings exist. However between strangers, like me and the pharmacist, one can sense the other person’s wishes too. There must be some non-verbal cue somewhere. For example, she probably paused when she said something, which made me realize that she didn’t wish me to do what she was talking about, but rather she wished me to do the opposite. No doubt she did that subconsciously while I sensed it subconsciously too.
So I decided to stay and get the shot. There’s a form to be filled up, and the lady next to me lent me her pen. When I was checking “No” to all the health problems–there are ten to twenty of them–the lady went to the window. I distinctly heard the pharmacist asked her for her birthday and I heard her answer. She’s quite young, but she looked twenty years older than her age. How come? I suddenly felt so bad for her and for all the women I know, even including a couple of emotionally withdrawn relatives of mine who I really dislike. It could be a bad pregnancy, a demanding job, a juggle between family and work, her child’s illness that requires extra attention from her, a bad relationship or several bad relationships. The list of possible pitfalls to a woman’s life is very long. Thanks to modern medicine, the list is shortened; before modern medicine, the list is endless. She must have suffered a great deal, but I will never know her story.
When I was in primary school, my best friend L’s mom was very young. She married very early and was only in her early thirties. However she worked so hard that she looked like she’s in her fifties. And she never stopped working for a minute. Whenever she paused, she was scolding somebody. Actually she often mixed some humor in her scolding. “Last One, if you don’t stop playing with that, I’m going to stuff you into the cookie jar.” Last One’s her son.
My friend L was the first born and she had to cook the family dinner every day after school, which considerably cut down on our play time, for which I often complained but was never listened to. L has two younger sisters, H and M. The three girls were obviously not enough for the family’s lineage. So L’s mom prayed and prayed and finally, Last One was born. Completely fed up with all the labor she had to perform, L’s mom promptly named the son “Last One” just to show her distaste to the social custom. Of course she’s only allowed to give a nickname. And now I’ve completely forgotten Last One’s formal name.
Despite L’s mother’s constant scolding, the children like her. She’s very intelligent and very fair–even if she lived in a very conservative environment that often led her awry, and even if she has only one son, she maintained her fairness towards all children. Some women are just wonderful despite their environment. She never attended one day beyond primary school, but she’s so wise and so full of life, better than those who have a decade of schooling more than her. Somehow there were non-verbal cues there that make people love her wisdom and her personality. Even if on the surface, she’s scolding, people knew her sweetness underneath. I could feel those non-verbal cues even if she looked bad tempered every time I met her–she’s a wonderful human being.