Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mr. Kim

Who is Mr. Kim? Well, I was wondering about that when he came into my class and sat next to me. The explanation given was that he wanted to see things. Weird. What were the things to see inside of the class room during a session? Perhaps he wanted to see whether the teacher followed their teaching manual to the letter. Therefore, I thought he might be one of the native speakers. Part owner/teacher.

Fortunately, I wasn’t one of those who get nervous around strangers or self-conscious when being put on the spot. So, after looking at him for a few seconds I just continued what I’d been doing. But he came in when I just got to the most difficult part. Reading.

Despite being blessed with a relatively cooperative brain and having more than enough talent for languages it was my first day in that Korean class. And we just finished learning all the consonants and vowels two minutes before he came in.

Learning Korean characters is piece of cake compares to Chinese characters or even Japanese characters. I remembered the first time I learnt Chinese it felt like a sheer torture. But, no matter how simple it is, it’s my first day! Reading was very slow for I had to think from time to time to remember how to read a particular character.

Finally, I decided to stop embarrassing myself. Stop my reading. And looked at him.

Mr. Kim: How long have you been studying?
My teacher (with wonder and excitement): Just over an hour this is her first day!
Mr. Kim: How old are you?

That was supposed to be my clue that things were going to get weirder. My brain refused to cooperate. It took me a while to collect how old I really am. What normal guy asks a woman how old she is? Just like that?

Me: I’m very old.
Mr. Kim: How old?
Me: Much older than you I think.
Mr. Kim: How old?
Well, so I told him.
Mr. Kim: So am I.
Me: But you don’t look that old. You look like you’re just about twenty or twenty something.
Mr. Kim: Well, it’s because of the cap. If I take it off you’ll see that I no longer have hair.

Weird and crazy he might be but the guy does have a sense of humor. And, now that he knew my age which obviously he considered as too old for him. He switched to my teacher.

Mr. Kim: How old are you?
When she told him her age. This is what he said:
Mr. Kim: Do you have a boy friend? Would you like to be my wife? But you have to take you headscarf off if you do.

I hadn't yet developed any particular feelings towards the girl who taught me as we just met. But she gained my respect and instant liking with the way she reacted and responded to what he said. With a smile on her face she calmly said this:

My teacher: You wouldn’t like me with my headscarf off. Just like you I wear this to hide the fact that I don’t have hair either.

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