You know us Malaysians and our habit of saying the word 'lah' at the end of every sentences..yes, almost everybody, and yes, in almost every sentences lah...It just sputters out from the mouth unintentionally and seems quite difficult to control. Everything, regardless or which part of speech would end with 'lah'..yes'lah', no'lah', eat'lah', sleep'lah'..go'lah', cooking'lah', out'lah', beautifu'lah', school'lah', in front of it 'lah'..and the list can go on and on and on. Count me in! I am guilty as charged as I am one of those Malaysians who would use 'lah' as if my lifeline depended on it!
And so, the story goes.., just last week, I went to the market to get some fish. I saw this beautiful and fresh sea-bream and chose three for my weeks ration. I handed it over to the fish monger and after weighing the fish, quoting me the price and my agreement to it, the fish monger asked if I wanted it to be cleaned. "Yes, please." After that, he asked again if I wanted it to be sliced. Wahey! Who would resist? After all, he was doing all the dirty job for me!
So I said, "Please..slice'lah'. Can..can.."
To which he answered, "You want me to slice, I slicing for you, if you not, I not."
I said," Slice'laaa'..into half for each fish." Flashed him a smile.
He said. " You want slice or no slice madam? I do want you want!"
I replied, "Slice'lah'. One fish into two, okay."
He then said with an irritated tone " SLICE or NO, Madam?"
I wanted to yell so hard but I kept my cool.." Slice, please! Two."
"Okay", he said, now more relaxed and there was smiling with it.
As I was waiting for my fish to be cleaned and sliced, I was replaying the whole thing back. What was so hard to understand with my instruction? It wasn't like I was giving him an explanation on something trivial..it was all very straight forward..Slicelah..Slicelah..Slicelah please..The conversation kept repeating itself, over and over again. Still, I just couldn't gather what might have been particularly difficult to fathom!
And then, it dawned on to me that my word itself was the reason for the confusion! You see, when we say 'lah', it sounds nearly like 'laa' which in Arabic means..."NO".. So while I was saying Slice'lah', it registered in his mind that I did not want it to be sliced...No wonder why he got so confused. No need to slice but I wanted it in two pieces each..Hahahah...Funny eh? Surely he must have thought that this Malayzian woman is a moron!! So, now..I have to try super hard to refrain from saying 'lah' to avoid another unnecessary confusion. Wish me luck!
There you go, another tale of my life in the UAE.