Granny consults a tabib cina in Seremban for traditional Chinese medicine. The place did not house any mysterious medical apparatuses nor yellowing bell jars containing exotic specimens, though it could have been so 30 years ago, given that the space was very fitted for that sort of stylised aesthetic.
The tabib man feels her pulse with his fingers on her wrist for a long while.
As a person interested in examining spaces, I took a self-initiated tour through the colonial shoplot by politely asking for the restroom.
I passed a deep passageway with a few sunlit staircases and dim storage rooms packed tighly with dark glass bottles containing the liquid equivalent of things that were picked, stripped, dug out – or possibly killed in China. I went up an L-shaped staircase with cement stairs and tried to peep into the upper floor… the movement of a shy Indonesian maid stunned me for a moment. She disappeared with a mop, smiling. What was missing was the creaking sounds of my feet on antiquated wood.
* * *
I sat waiting at the entrance looking at one of the men prepare a cocktail for granny. He reminded me of Felix from the back… a meatier version with a balding crown. With so many similar bottles printed with such small characters, it was delightful to see him pick specific ones so easily, as if he knows the exact coordinate of each ingredient – bark, root, herb, seahorse – like the back of his hand. It was a therapeutic movement. That splash of blue was rather cute too.