Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Being Proud Of My Banana

        A few nights ago, I had a very good laugh...a loud hearty laugh. Hubby came in to consult me on a problem, as he always does. In collaboration with the United Kingdom, he is heading a drug research trial in his Emergency Department. It requires him to email his counterparts in the UK for frequent updates on the progress of the trial. That evening, he received an email from his UK consultant, requesting his help to translate some attached documents into Chinese (for the Langkawi Hospital doctors who somehow needed Chinese instructions on how to run the drug research trial).
        "How ah? How to reply Liz?" implored hubby urgently.
        It took me a few seconds to digest the entire "crisis" and then, the ludicrous request sent me into booming laughter. Hubby dearest is the least likely candidate who can successfully translate the documents into Chinese due to the fact that he cannot converse decently in any Chinese dialect, let alone read and write Mandarin. I was laughing hard, not because of hubby's limitations in Chinese, but because of the unexpected yet impossible request.
        Yes, hubby dearest is a Banana (Xiangjiao Ren). Labelling a person with the derogatory term of Banana can be very hurtful and sensitive as it mocks a person for being yellow (Chinese) on the outside but white (Westernised) on the inside.
        But hubby dearest is not ashamed of being a Banana. "Why should I be? It does not make me any less Chinese! And I should not be ashamed of something which is not my fault (referring to not having any chance to learn and speak Mandarin)!"
        This brings to mind a short YouTube video that I watched and applauded some time ago. This was one of those Alvivi videos minus the hot steamy sex scenes. In case you are wondering who Alvivi is, it's the infamous duo, Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee, who stirred the nation with their sex video. I must give Alvin Tan credit for being creative and pointblank. His video (not the sex one) on the discrimination faced by Bananas really sent the message home, loud and clear.
        Bananas should not be looked down upon, and neither should they be discriminated against. They did not ask to not speak Chinese at home. They did not ask to be sent to Malay medium schools, where Chinese is not taught. They did not choose voluntarily not to learn Chinese.
        And when you laugh at Bananas struggling to string a sentence in Chinese, stop! Reflect on how you, after 11 years of learning English in schools, speak, read and write English!

        Back to hubby's moment of "crisis", I advised him to tell Liz the truth that he cannot speak and write Chinese. Hubby nodded sagely and went out to compose the email. He returned very soon to show me the draft :
"Dear Liz,
I regret to inform you that I am unable to help you in this matter. I am a Banana, which means I am a Chinese who does not speak, read and write Chinese."

        Hubby walks with his head held high for being a Banana. And I am proud of my Banana.


  1. I am also a Banana. I tried learning Mandarin on my own but failed miserably! All forgotten now! But I do understand a little bit of Mandarin only. Lol!

    1. I can read Mandarin characters...only when they concern food! Hahahah!