On New Year’s Day, in the middle of a rather long queue for the Emirates check-in counter at the Charles De Gulle Airport, I was called a “chinetoque“. And it didn’t even come from a born-bred French but a visitor. (The give-away was the fact that she spoke English and people around her age in France don’t usually speak English. It is very rare.)
It all started with a lot of pushing.
Not from me but from a rather stocky middle aged African lady with a little girl of about ten next to her and three large bags. (Yes, I knew she was of African ethnicity and perhaps origin not just because of her skin colour but from her accent and the way she dressed.) With her trolley, she started pushing at me and I mean, seriously pushing. I couldn’t move in front because Nil was attempting to shove his jacket in his bag (on the trolley) and the couple in front were just several steps ahead of us.
Beneath my breath, I whispered to Nil, “She’s pushing me.” He looked at the lady with his angry face and got even more pissed when he caught her pushing the trolley again. So he said something in French, an equivalent of the following:
“Can you stop pushing? You aren’t going to move anymore faster.”
The woman stopped and stared at him right in the face, quiet for several moments. Nil turned around and continued hastily shoving his stuff in, making sure to wrap two bottles of wine properly. It was then that Crazy Woman (as I will call her) started ranting and raving at the top of her voice in a mix of French and English. I could barely catch what she was saying except for the following:
“(French part here) How…you talk…my husband is around. (English part here) I don’t give a fuck what you think. You can go to hell for all I care.”
On and on she went and all the while, people around us were staring. I rolled my eyes and started talking in Cantonese and a bit of Malay, telling Nil to let her continue talking…no, more like screaming at the top of her voice. Her husband came, catching sight of the commotion and it was then Nil explained what happened. The man turned to Crazy Woman and told her to shut up. The moment he walked off, Crazy Woman started again and this time, halfway through, I caught something along the lines of “chi-something-something” and I looked at Nil. He looked PISSED as in P.I.S.S.E.D. Nil called the husband over and told the man what she said. The hubby turned to Crazy Woman, scolded her a few times and finally told her to shut up. And she did.
(She also pulled this extremely long face until she reached the check-in counter where she started grumbling about me and Nil to the check-in staff. They did laugh at her after she left and oh, she had 45 kgs of stuff to check in – for one person, man! Unfortunately for me, we were on the same flight to Dubai and at the gate, I caught sight of her complaining again to someone else. She did the same thing onboard the flight too. ~_~ )
Anyway, what was it she said that got Nil off his rockers?
She called me a chinetoque and then, shot the word “racist” in French at Nil.
This coming from a black woman and right in front of her daughter. AIYO. I mean, sure you want to rush forward, okay, fine but is it necessary to shoot racial slurs and labels at people? Especially those that don’t make sense and when you’re the crazy one at fault. Calling a man in an interracial relationship racist after you shot a racial slur at his girlfriend.
I wasn’t terribly offended by the labelling (just at the irony and stupidity of the bloody situation); Nil surmised that it was probably because I couldn’t understand exactly what she said. Whatever it may be, I just find it more saddening and sorry to have to see a coloured woman throw another racial slur at someone else who is equally different in terms of skin colour and facial features. I thought that with the history of black people having to put up with racial slurs and tensions as much as Asians that the likelyhood of us clashing would be little; that they would understand what it feels like to be different in this world.
Apparently, I was wrong.