Hearing my voice from my quotes

When I was in Year 6 in the south of Malaysia aged 12, it was a tradition that school leavers would write their mottos to one another in a little notebook. Everyone would buy at least a notebook for the teachers and friends to write messages in. Shops were full of pretty leavers’ notebooks for boys and girls to buy, and most of the notebooks had cute adorable Japanese cartoons on the cover with beautiful embellishments.

"There are foxy women in the sky."

“There are foxy women in the sky.”

Teachers would write words of encouragement such as “Remember to continue learning, ” or a famous slogan from Chairman Mao, “Work hard and make progress everyday.”

However, we precocious 12-year-olds would write something more profound and abstract. We dished out mottos and quotes that we considered smart. The popular rhyming quotes in Chinese that I received from my 12-year-old friends included:

  • “There are foxy women in the sky; there are jinxs in the earth. Please be aware who your friends are!”
  • “A dragon gives birth to a dragon; a phoenix gives birth to a phoenix; the son of a mouse will dig a hole!”
  • “A mountain will fall; water will flow away; you had better rely on yourself!”

At home, my father’s most powerful saying is: “Do you know? The amount of salt I have eaten is more than the rice you have eaten.” Let me explain. In the Chinese culture, a salt-eating man always regards himself to be more experienced and superior, and he is the authority. When a child hears the comparison of Salt and Rice from an adult, if he is smart, he would instinctively keep his mouth shut.

Quotes that echo a familiar voice

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I reviewed my posts written in the last two months, and was astonished to hear my voice in some quotes that summarised the essence of my posts. Some were sparks of the moment. I would explore these quotes in the future.

In Not a narcissistic outsider:

  • I don’t expect the world to change for my left-handed ‘needs’.
  • It is important not to fall into the narcissistic trap of self-indulgence.
  • Being a left-hander is not a gift.

In Making mistakes:

  • I had to re-learn my driving. I had to un-do all the bad habits.
  • Do not drop the plate.

In Born as an outsider:

  • I see the world as an outsider. This is my filtered lens.

In An age with relative freedom:

  • Freedom always comes with a price. Freedom is relative.

In Oriental and western views on postnatal confinement:

  • one-month pig-like existence.

In Blogging in English: Who am I?:

  • I’m trying to better myself.
  • I’m a toddler.

In Pondering Freedom of Speech during Ramadan:

  • What if freedom of speech only exists in an utopian world?

In Copyright violation: are you a victim?:

  • Everyone has the potential of making the same careless mistake — not out of malice, ignorance, stupidity or laziness, but out of mental exhaustion and heavy workload.

In Do you remember the victims’ names in Asiana plane crash?:

  • “Fulfilling dreams’, ‘grace’, and ‘lush’.
  • Racism and prejudice never die.
  • We’ll challenge them, and always rise above them.

In Can spinach make you strong like Popeye? Blogging about mistakes:

  • My whole world collapsed as I found out the truth about spinach.
  • Would half-true constitute a mistake?

In Do sex, age and race matter?:

  • “Mr Brave, please help me!”
  • Unconsciously, I had thought a woman in distress should be rescued by a man.

In Share your fear:

  • A gifted child.

This post was inspired by Blog Exercises: Collect Your Quotes by Lorelle VanFossen. You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

My Related Posts:

In reverse chronological order since I started my Blog Exercises on 

5 thoughts on “Hearing my voice from my quotes

  1. ShimonZ

    When your father said, “I have eaten more salt than you have eaten rice,” what he meant was this: A person eats a few grains of salt with a dish of rice. You’re new to the world. He has much experience. And so, even the amount of salt he has eaten is more than all the rice you have eaten.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Thank you Shimon. You’re absolutely right — I only did the literal translation, and you transferred the message beautifully.

      You can imagine the contrast and the sentiment — my father compared the amount of the salt he has taken with all his dishes with the staple food, rice. Such a vibrant comparison. I’ve heard another common phrase used by some adults too: “I’ve crossed more bridges than you do!”

      I’m wondering in your culture, when someone (especially an adult) tries to show that “I’m better than you; I know more than you”, what would you say? Any common idioms?

      Thank you for keeping me thinking.

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