Last week, marked the start of the year of the ox.
It was fireworks, revelry and feasting as the Chinese people commemorated yet another important date on their calendar. The year of the ox symbolises prosperity through hard work.
People born in the year of the ox work hard and without complaints. They believe they will achieve their goals only through hard work. For many years the Chinese just fascinated me. When I was a boy, I used to hear tales told about the Chinese. I did not know what to believe and what to discard. But for one I knew they could fly.
I grew up on a diet of movies starring some of the baddest men on the planet. Hell hath no fury like a Chinese youth who arrives home to find his family massacred by some villains. The grieving boy would go out alone in search of the killers and for the entire movie he would dispatch the villains with deadly precision. When surrounded he would let rip with some blinding combinations, which included leaping in the air to deliver a fatal kick that would put the unlucky villain to sleep forever.
So my first memory of the Chinese was of people who could fly, and whose children could kill adults in hand to hand combat. Whenever the bullies were on my case at school I would wish I could leap and strike with those flying kicks.
Later on, I started to support the baddies. Just for the heck of it. I felt I had seen too many of them lose. In vain, I searched for a movie in which the bad guys would win. I guess discovering cigarettes, drink, girls and other illegal intoxicants leads one to thinking odd thoughts and thereby finding sympathy for the losers who were always getting beaten up by teenagers or old men with long goatees.
My restless phase passed and, having found eternal peace and happiness by settling for a life of cigarettes, drink, women and illicit intoxicants, I returned to loving my Chinese heroes.
I cannot remember when exactly I sighted my first live Chinese. I certainly know there was something of a sensation when my friends and I saw our first Chinese boy. There was a lot of excitement.
With a cherubic face and sunken slits for eyes we wondered if he knew kung fu. We wanted to touch him but were wary. When he smiled and moved towards us we retreated because in the movies that’s exactly what they did before causing mayhem. They would smile and proceed to inflict grievous bodily harm. I don’t know what happened to that little Chinese boy and, with hindsight, I realised that when he moved towards us it was in a show of friendship and not hostility.
Years later, I saw grown up Chinese who looked poor and were said to work long hours without break or any need for food or water. Again, I wondered if they knew kung fu. But soon reports came through of overworked locals defeating Chinese foremen who pushed them too hard.
I was disappointed. In consolation, I told myself they had brought labourers who were not real Chinese and hence did not know kung fu. How could they be defeated by locals who never trained and could not deliver a leaping kick?
My fascination with the Chinese found revival when I heard they ate dog meat. It was said wherever they set foot, local dogs would slowly disappear. The notion of eating dogs both horrified and titillated many locals.
And before long some local macho men would go around bragging and telling everyone how tasty dog meat was. As I was still gathering the courage and strong stomach to feast on dog steak, tales came through that the Chinese also ate snakes. I was now convinced that the Chinese were just out of this world. I mean, if people can dine on dog and snake then surely they can fly and work for long hours without any need for water or food. Surely those stories about Chinese labourers suffering defeat at the hands of overworked locals were not true. No one can defeat a man who eats dog and snake.
Now I think local people and their government must start appreciating the Chinese more. I mean, I don’t like the idea of closing Chinese shops. If that happens then the bad old days when many poor locals ate Christmas in rags and bare feet would be back. The Chinese shops must stay. Anyway that is not the issue for today.
My point is that though the Chinese could be dangerous with all those kung fu skills there is much to learn from them. When the government complains that local kids are lazy and don’t work hard at school, I often wonder why they don’t ask me for a solution. I have been studying the Chinese all my life. I know what makes them tick. Everything is in the diet.
Look at our kids. They eat bread all day long. How can they not be lazy? This is the year of the ox. Everyone in this country must aspire for prosperity through hard work. The best way is to start our kids young. In my view the government should change the diet of our school kids. Without telling the parents, the government must introduce dog and snake into the school menu. The dishes must be cooked nicely so that the kids would scramble for second helpings.
I can assure you in a few years time we will be the envy of the world. We would have young men and women who work for long hours without break. We would have fearsome teenagers who fly delivering lethal kicks in defence of the country.
As parents and their government continue to dither, I have decided to start my children on a new diet of dog and snake. Inspired by the year of the ox I am also enrolling them at a local Chinese school. Tomorrow I don’t want envious parents accusing me and my children of witchcraft as they see my kids flying through the air and getting prosperous through working non stop without any need for food, water or any break!