I just got off the phone with an old friend who is suffering from dementia – so his daughter told me. He insisted that I returned him some training material that he had lent me 22 years ago. I just couldn’t get through to him, and am feeling both sad and frustrated. I am suddenly reminded of this kid in my kampong when I was around 5 or 6 years old.
In my kampong, I had a neighbour, a kid of around my age, who had Down’s Syndrome. Some of the other kids liked to tease him. But the frustrating part was that, whenever he saw me, he would poke fun of my name, by chanting (in Hokkien):
“Lor see, ji liap see. Lor see, ji liap see”. Lor see means a screw or bolt. Ji liap mean, a piece of. I don’t know what he meant by, “Ji liap see”. He must have heard it from some other kid. I felt very indignant; saying to myself; “Hey, I am the normal kid, you are not. I should be teasing you”.
But even though I was very young then, I could reason that his behaviour was probably a kind of defense mechanism. To avoid being teased, I’d better go on the attack first. And so I did not retaliate and just bore with his taunts; and avoided him.
As I grew older, and understood such things, I was really glad that I did not counter-attack whenever this kid poked fun of me.