14.12.05

Little Dragon Girl, we meet again!

I was 18 when I first met her, and have not seen her since. It was right after I finished my A-levels and while waiting to leave for the UK, I indulged in one of my secret aspirations - to be a salesgirl.

Then, my classmate G and I found a job that paid $40 a day. We were to sell fake flowers at a temporary bazaar at Orchard Road.

Every morning for a month, we would set up stall outside Orchard Emerald mall. We had to drag at least 30 one metre tall ceramic vases from a storeroom, and displayed the stock of plastic or cloth orchids, roses, tulips, lilies, peonies and other flowers we didn't know the names of. And for the rest of the day, G and I would stand by the cash register or assist customers with choosing and packing their fleurs en plastique. But between the lunch hour and the busy evenings, we were mostly free. So G and I would read, take turns to wander into the shopping malls, and best of all, chit chat with the other folks running the makeshift stalls around ours.

There was a gentle couple who sold their own pottery works. They made me a set of 4 tea cups which went with me to the UK, 2 of which have survived the perils of the university student's room.

And then there was the Auntie, who was also referred to jokingly as the Xiao Long Nu, literally Little Dragon Girl (aka Huang Rong, a character from Louis Cha or JinYong's famous martial arts novel 射雕英雄传, Legend of the Condor Heroes. She was the pretty, talented, rebellious and mischievous daughter of Dong Xie - Evil East - who fell in love with the highly-skilled but straight-as-an-arrow hero, Guo Jing).

Barbara Yung, who played the Huang Rong character in the 1985 Hong Kong TVB dramatisation of the book. Hers was one of the most well-loved portrayal of Huang Rong. When she killed herself soon after the series was aired, I was 11 or 12 and I remember my then best friend cried upon hearing the news.

True to her nickname, she sold Dragon Beard Candy at her stall. (I'm having to do lots of cultural translation here! Basically this is a malt sugar chunk that is "pulled" - as in the process of making noodles - so many times it ends up as feathery fine strands. These strands are then used to wrap crushed peanuts, and end up looking like bite-sized silk cocoons. Yum.). Her cart was painted red with a mock jade-green Chinese tiled roof. Her "uniform, a red, chinese-collar blouse matched the cart and her lipstick. A petite woman, she wore her hair in a bun with those long sideburns plastered down the side of her face, Chinese-opera style. I think her eyebrows are tatooed ones.

She was maybe 30, or 40. Then again, she could have been much older than that. Maybe her indeterminate age came from being so closely associated with those celestial fire-breathing creatures.

G and I would chat with her during our tea break. The content of our exchanges I no longer remember. But I remember that we were always cheerful. Those happy days of youth and invincibility!

So you can imagine my joy when I spotted her at the new Food Republic (the new 50s-themed foodcourt at Wisma Atria)! She laughed because I flattered her by saying how she has not changed (technically not flattery, since it is true). In fact, she was wearing the same red chinese-coloured blouse, the same red lipstick, and fluffy red rubber-band thing that held her hair up.


Lovely spymaster J stood at a distance and snapped a rapid series of photographs of our brief exchange that evening. J made the photographs into a short clip for your viewing pleasure! Click here if you can't view it in this window.

You can't see her clearly in the video - but oh memory, it is best you are hazy! I'm finishing up a drawing of her from what i do remember and will maybe post that later too.

3 comments:

L said...

mmm... what a nice feeling you must have felt.

ampulets said...

yah! although the exchange was very short, it was a happy one. I took away a packet of the ting-ting sweet she was selling. Speaking of that sweet, it tastes pretty foul. Never liked it, even when I was a kid and an old man sold it on the walkway of the shophouses outside my school. They used to wrap it in paper. 5 little chips off the block for 10cents. Only for the desperate. :P

l of l&g said...

hmmm! i was one of the desperate.
it was really for the sweet tooth i had then, and the fun of paying a few cents and watching the ting-ting-ting being chipped off the block for the tiny me.

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