Friday, 6 February 2015

Ang Pow Tales (Part 2) 红包故事

Ang pow packets prepared by my firm for the year of Sheep.
Two days ago was a very busy day for me – preparing for Lap Chun prayer, delegating out works during my week long absence to Hong Kong, packing and a doctor’s appointment squeeze in between. In the midst of all these, I received a phone call from a not so close and cheapskate friend asking about the red packets printed by my firm to be distributed to clients and staffs. However, something crossed my mind to ask him why do he need the red packets? To egg him, I told him I thought he is a divorcee and based on his track record as a stingy and calculative man, ang pow shouldn’t have bothered him.

“My divorce is still not final. My ex still have not signed the papers so I can’t announce it yet to the world that I am a divorcee hence I am not obliged anymore to give out ang pows,” he replied.

“The papers are ready but she is only free to sign them after Chinese New Year. You know, how I wish to settle this as soon as possible so I don’t have to give out red packets and start receiving!” he added. “Nieces and nephews will still ask from me and you know, I gave each RM2 but that is still a lot to count when you have about 20 nieces and nephews and unmarried cousins.”

I made a quick mental calculation, oh well, that is like RM 50.00 the most but for this calculative man, RM50.00 is an enormous sum. “The cost of printing these new ang pow packets is almost what you, stingy man, is going to hand out. Get it from the banks or supermarkets,” I snapped before I hang up on him. A few minutes later, I received a whatsapp message from him which read “But I like the beautiful packets that your firm prints. Those from supermarkets are so common………” It is not surprising that everyone said his skin is as thick as the Great Wall of China and I wonder why he can’t just tell everyone point blank that he is not giving any.

I always like to tell friends that money and we, the mortals have very complicated relationship, for whether too much or too little; there are always two sides of the coin to look at it. Countless of kinships, relationships and friendship make or break because of money and it take all sorts to make a world. I do have friends who continue giving out ang pow long after the dissolution of their marriage. These days, there are also plenty of unmarried friends giving out ang pows to their parents, elder relatives and even the guards at their residential compound. I’ve been practicing this too and I see it as a way to express my gratitude. The law doesn’t state that only married ones can distribute ang pows and divorcee can cease.

As I am writing this from the comfort of my room with the colorful sea of lights from the Victoria Harbor to my left, I can’t help but to think of daddy dearest and the joy of receiving his ang pow each Chinese New Year. I know I will miss the thrill of it and the same requests year after year from my siblings and me that he must increase the amount to match the inflation. I will empty its contents but keep the empty red packets, not only those from daddy but those from mom and grandma in a box inside my drawer. And I never forget which packet is from which Chinese New Year. 

Further reading: Ang Pow Tales