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A Journey Backwards : Ask away

【明報專訊】One quiet Sunday afternoon, I was snug in my couch re-encountering Harry Potter and his quidditch team. All was peaceful until dad and mom started shuffling things across the room. Before long, I was surrounded by a random pile of books, some mosquito nets, a box of figs and a yoga mat. Completely bewildered, I had to take my eyes off Hogwarts for a while.

"What are these about?" I asked.

The question opened up an avalanche of answers. Apparently, the retired couple has decided to self-study Japanese — a language they thought would be handy for travelling. The household was attacked by two big mosquitoes earlier in the week — probably a result of prolonged rain. In addition to mosquito nets, mom picked up some figs from the supermarket's weekly sale and got a yoga mat from some lucky draw. She has since been trying to stretch her back pain away.

"You have missed so much under your nose, because you care only about work!" they complained. It occurred to me that all the shuffling was really about nudging me of my negligence.

Of course, I would argue that their complaints had no grounds. Mom's back pain is a known fact in the family. The weekly sale is my parents' weekly go-to. Having seen post-its with Japanese phrases everywhere in the living room, it doesn't take a genius to figure out someone is learning a new language. Living under the same roof allows you to notice by observation, rather than asking for every detail.

However, I resisted the urge to talk back. We are all a little more insecure and a lot more egotistic than we want to believe. The simple act of asking and listening allows someone to express themselves freely and be reassured that they are cared about. The rapport built is unsurmountable.

Don't believe me? Check out Mandy Len Catron's 36 questions that claim to make strangers fall in love. It's just the same old trick in a fancy disguise.

I have since had a random bag of questions to throw at my parents whenever we have a moment together. The trick has kept everyone very happy.

■Writer's Profile

Mona C. has a strong appetite

for stories. Feed her enough.

Email: monafpchu@gmail.com

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