We had dinner at our coffee shop because it was late, it was a long day, and I wanted something soupy.
Well, I didn’t managed to get something soupy, but it was still a long day (a good day, but a long day), and I was hungry and preparing dinner from scratch would take too long and I wasn’t in the mood for leftovers (which we had a lot of).
So we sat in the coffee shop after placing our order for food, and also for drinks. And then the tze char stall lady came by to lay the table (which consists of her placing some condiments and some utensils on the table), and was duly attracted by the cuteness of Z. So she came around to fuss and coo at Z.
Then the Thai food stall proprietress passed by after serving some other table’s order, and went, “so cuuuuute! How old is she?”
“14 months,” we replied.
“Wah! So pretty your dress!” she cooed.
Z was in a faux “cheong sum” outfit. (She’s a toddler. She can’t wear a real cheong sum!)
She was unaffected by all the cooing from the two ladies.
Then the drinks came and the man also cooed at Z.
Then another lady (PL thinks she might be the cleaning lady) sat at the next table to pass encouraging comments as PL tried to feed Z.
This was all quite contrary to Singaporean “reserve” and respect for privacy!
And yes, a part of me was a little irked by it all. Not irked enough to be driven to tell everyone to just buzz off and leave us alone. Not even irked enough to feel that need rise to a level I needed to actively restrain it.
But it was there. A little irksome feeling. We just wanna be left alone to our dinner.
But it was balanced off by a greater sense of amusement or… “love” perhaps? That was also balanced off by my natural cynicism that these people were just attracted by “cute”. So how reliable or enduring is that?
BUT… it all starts from cute, doesn’t it?
So you find someone, “cute” and are attracted to her (or him), and then affection grows, and turns into love and admiration, and then a lasting relationship.
As Z grows up in this neighbourhood, these may be the “aunties” and “uncles” who watch her grow up, and are the people in this new kampung.
They may know her as a cute toddler, than see her grow up to a pre-school child, and then a primary school kid, and then secondary, and then a young lady. And they may not exactly be family, but they would be neighbours.
If the people in the coffee shop do not move away, or the coffee shop does not change hands, and old stalls are lost and new stalls take over.
That is perhaps how modern life with its constant changes takes its toll on us. The loss of enduring relationships that needs time and stability to grow.