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Friday, January 25, 2019

The Batik Auntie

When no one is looking, I wear batik dresses at home. They don't cost much, are loose and being cotton, they wick perspiration very well indeed. I get a lot of wear out of each batik dress before they turn into rags. Every year, I buy a new lot from the Batik Auntie at Chong Pang market. 

This year, I realised what a formidable sales woman hides behind that innocent old lady face. Her hair is all white and wrinkles criss cross every inch of her face. I am guessing that she is near 70 years already. One forgets when one sees a sweet old gal, that she has had a lifetime of experience to draw from, and this one... man... this one!

My favourite batik kaftans were not in stock. Whyyyyyy? I love kaftans but apparently, they are no longer fashionable among aunties who shop at the wet market. What is now in fashion is the mermaid dress. This is a dress with a sort of flared skirt around the knee.

I asked how much. It was $15.90. I was taken aback. I am so used to paying $10 a piece for my favourite batik kaftans. I shook my head and walked away but I really really needed new batik sleepwear so I walked back again, determined to find a cheaper pattern. I found something at $12.90 each and proceeded to pick the colours and the prints I liked.

She began in earnest her sales pitch. Out came a chart with all 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. She asked me which animal I am. Then, she picked out the colours auspicious for me.

- "I don't bluff you one lah... If the dress don't look nice on you, I won't sell you ok. These colours bring you luck and make you look good. I tell you ah... the mermaid pattern is good to buy. It looks so feminine and good design is good design. You have to pay more for good design, but it is worth it!"

I protested feebly...

- "I am wearing it to sleep. I don't need it to be the latest design."

She responded with a flounce...

- "Oi... don't say that you can wear anyhow to sleep ok. Nowadays ah... outside there ah... got women come in all tastes one ok. Got sweet and sour and bitter. You are married right? You have competition! Go to sleep also must wear something nice."

I was writhing internally with laughter. I wanted to tell her that at my age, nothing I wear is going to make me look enticing and I needed to count on my husband's moral rectitude and sense of honour to keep him faithful. However, I did not know how to say all that in Chinese so I nodded my head and smiled.

In the end, she half bullied and half cajoled me to buy 3 dresses at $15.90 and 3 dresses at $12.90. Sigh! Things are becoming more and more expensive these days. I remember buying such dresses at $4/piece before.

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