The Seemingly Innocent Torn Note

Some time last week, I participated in a global exchange event with the freshmen of an all-girls high school. While introducing about Singapore, I came to tell them about the material of our currency, which is plastic, unlike in Japan where they use paper.

I recalled when I first handled the plastic notes some many years ago and realized I couldn’t fold them in half to place my bets at a game of Blackjack during Chinese New Year because the note simply opens back up since it’s plastic. At that time, I tried tearing the edges and realized they are really durable and impossible to tear. This made me decide to show the students how durable it is and before I realize I had started my attempt to tear the note, the note simply ripped into halves. I was shocked and so were the students. But the tearing was so smooth and quick, they thought I was gonna perform magic. Until I told them, “No magic. It’s an accident.” And they were roaring with laughter.

I didn’t think much of the torn note as I could just tape it back and use it when I next return to Singapore. But I posted it as a joke on Facebook recalling how, many years ago, I did the same to a Japanese note. Except then, I was actually practising a magic trick. That same day I posted the image, the ex-colleague I mentioned in the post about moving to California sent me the job descriptions of the roles they are hiring, which I thought she had forgotten because I haven’t heard from her for quite a while. She asked again if I would consider moving to California since I did once tell her I wasn’t interested. I glanced through the positions and asked about the expected salary and rental costs around Silicon Valley and told her I was open to exploring the possibility of moving. I decided to sit on it and see how things go here before making a final decision whether or not to try for the position.

A few moments later, my brother-in-law, J, commented on the picture on Facebook saying it’s a sign. I didn’t know what sign it is and thought he must be referring to 破财 (literally “torn money”; figuratively “financial loss”). After all, this is what superstitious relatives would say. But I forgot J is also a certified metaphysics consultant. Because it’s not his main job, I never thought of him as one. That night, Sis suddenly sent me a message saying, “Pay attention to your career, ok? Are you thinking of relocating?” I was surprised because last time we chatted, I told her I wasn’t going to take up the position in California since there’s something I want to do in Japan, and I had only decided to reconsider the option that day when my friend sent me the job descriptions, which I didn’t tell anyone about.

I was like, “What? Why?”

She said, “J saw the torn note. It’s a sign that if you move, it’ll break your rice bowl”
* For the benefit of the non-Chinese, “breaking the rice bowl” means “to lose one’s main source of income.”

I somehow feel like what Sis said is to be taken seriously because she has proven herself to be right so many times. Just some time ago, when my Korean teacher first heard about Sis doing fortune telling, she was so excited about it, she told me to step out of class to call Sis immediately. What kind of teacher is that? I did as told, but Sis wasn’t too interested in doing it since she wants to do more consultation work than one-off fortune telling and she declined to do a reading of my teacher’s “four pillars” or bazi. But since I called, she did a quick divination based on the events surrounding my phone call to her (never knew divination can work that way O_O), and told me all these things about my teacher I never knew. I went back into class to convey the message and was very interested to find out if what Sis said about my teacher coming from a rich family is true. I deliberately mentioned that point slowly, scanning the look on her face as she listened to it grinning and nodding along not denying it. A few weeks later, during a conversation over a casual dinner with my Korean classmates and the teacher, I nonchalantly raised the point about the teacher coming from a wealthy family again, and observed her reaction. She just smiled and didn’t deny it either.

After hearing so much from Sis, I feel like she can tell me so much more about some of the decisions I am going to make or will make in the future, and I’ve pretty much settled on passing on the chance to move to the U.S. of A. But who knows what may happen?

I only know that no one would want to read my blog about living in San Francisco. Would you?

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