A brief encounter

“Are you Japanese?”

I raised my eyes from the book I was reading and looked at her, an aged woman with thin, grey hair and deep lines on her face. Her light-blue eyes looked kind and curious.

“Oh no, I am of Chinese origin but I have been living here since I was 16.” I replied, smiling and stretching my body from this wonderfully comfortable sofa.

“Oh I see, you know I have recently been to a conference about Japan, a country that fascinates me immensely.” I saw a sparkle in her eyes.

She turned her eyes to the boys who were sitting on a couch in the corner of the bookshop.

“Are they your boys?” she wondered.

I nodded to her. The boys were absorbed in their books.

“They look just like you; you know I am not fond of mixed-race. I think people should marry those who are of the same race as themselves.”

I didn’t expect remarks of this kind and felt slightly puzzled.

“Your boys look delightful, they are pure-blood.” She carried on.

“Oh thank you.” I said quietly, sensing the glance from my elder son. There was neither harm nor sarcasm in her voice. She simply had absolute faith in what she claimed.

“Your viewpoint is not welcomed in our bookshop.” The sudden appearance of the bookshop assistant surprised me, and the old lady.

“Oh what? We certainly have no right to say anything at all these days, I suppose.” She cast a quick glance at the bookshop assistant and then turned her eyes to me, as if she were expecting a response, or a confirmation, from me.

“Not comments of this kind, I am afraid.” The shop assistant, a young woman in her twenties, replied calmly. Her blond curls fell lightly on the shoulders, her blue eyes showed no sign of hesitation.

The sparkle in the eyes of the elderly lady disappeared. “Well, that must be the case,” she said lamely.

“Please take my seat, and we are about to leave”. I made sure my voice was soft and my smile gentle. She nodded mutely and sat down.

I paid for the books at the counter and turned around. The elderly lady sank down onto the three-seater sofa covered with sharp yellow fabric. She seemed lost in thought.

Author: Isabelle

Content writer / editor & Language advisor

45 thoughts on “A brief encounter”

  1. It is so odd how, at times, we fail to encapsulate these infinitesimally scant nuances of human experience. Although I obviously do not condone her statement, your account of her inspires that she truly meant no harm, she was just dislodged, stuck inhabiting a world that she no longer had space in, grasping for any amount of interaction that would prove vivid and effusing, and failing to do so, almost as if she spoke a language shrouded to anyone else.

    I can’t help but feel overwrought with a dense feeling of loss. We might live long enough to find ourselves effaced from reality, and that prospect hurts.

    We can just do the best we can.
    Your writing is beautiful, Isabelle.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks so much for taking time to read and sharing your thoughts and reflections with me. It wasn’t an expected conversation and it did make me think and reflect on certain opinions in our society. However, I think most people are broad-minded and welcome changes. Thanks so much for your compliment on my writing! I appreciate it deeply.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Coming from a country where ‘pure blood’ is an issue, I’m very happy people like this bookshop assistant exist.

    And yet, I can’t help but feel sorry for the lady. Her world is changing.

    As always, you make me think and feel.
    Much love, B.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was a rather unexpected conversation, and I didn’t quite know how to respond to her comment at that moment. This encounter made me reflect on something that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

      Thanks Basilike, for sharing your thoughts with me. Always a great pleasure to hear from you and have a chat. Take care. With love, Isabelle

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Your beautiful post is a classic scene that at once opens up a conversation about issues that pervade our modern society: discrimination ( whether race or gender or sexuality or status), freedom of expression, what they are, how far is too far, and how fluid that line is. I love the post, Isabelle ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, Vera. Your words made me think – yes how fluid that line is. It was a unusual experience, which I think I’ll remember for a very long time. I hope you’re well. Take care. Much love, Isabelle ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. No comments on who’s wrong or right coz that’s another conversation all-together! 😉

    But I would have certainly felt a little offended/taken aback if my kids were judged/evaluated/assessed basis their race (and its originality) rather than their demeanor/behavior/etiquette.
    PS – There is a very thin line between being offensive and being just inquisitive – and people have to realize that someone’s comfort might be another person’s displeasure!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. First of all, thanks so much Richa, for sharing your thoughts with me! I resonate with your reflections. I must admit that I was taken aback/slightly offended when the comments were passed on to me. I didn’t quite know how to respond. After a while, I realised that those comments, which were based on subjective point of view, meant no harm nor offence. But as you said, there’s really a fine line between being offensive and being inquisitive. Thank you for your understanding and comment. Appreciate it a lot! 💜

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking time to read this piece and passing me your thoughtful comment. It might be the way life is, we encounter different people with different opinions. I’m sure she meant no harm. Have a lovely weekend. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been there- when I used to travel out of state. A little bit of curiosity/how they were raised/ignorance is what I gathered and as you did, I’d smile and politely said what I did and walk away chuckling to myself. She was changed that day- you all were. Thanks for sharing!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Bernice, for sharing your experiences and thoughts with me. The second last line you said – She was changed that day – you all were. I didn’t get it the first time I read the comment, now I got it. Yes, you’re right. It was this very moment of change for her, and for me. Take care. Catch up soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Isabelle, I’ve just come back to tell you that I love your style: the white top and dress you have on in this photo is gorgeous. As are those in other pictures. I think we share the same tastes ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s so good to hear that you share my tastes, Vera. I feel comfortable in loose dresses made of cotton or linen. Most of my dresses are beach-friendly. I love the feeling of wandering around in a light loose dress, thinking my strange thoughts or recalling the past. Thanks for passing me this thoughtful comment, which has brightened my Sunday. Deeply appreciated. Much love ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I love dresses in linen or cotton — especially if they are white, for when the weather is warm. In the winter months, like most Melburnians, I find myself wrapped up in black or grey. You are a beautiful and delicate soul, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s just the way life is. We encounter different people with different opinions. We can’t avoid it but we can make reflections, and even learn some life lessons from certain encounters. Thanks for adding your comment to this post. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You slowly yet beautifully drew a picture in my mind with you carefull and thorough description of the old lady and the store assistant. Enjoyed very much reading this post. Proud of you too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thanks, dear Ping, for your thoughtful comment! I made an attempt to capture a moment which put me to deep thoughts. I’m glad that you liked this piece. It means a lot.


  8. To ban people is not the right thing to do except when they are violent. To speak with them and asking them why they think that sort of stuff is better because you can explain to them why they are wrong. Mixed people become stronger than the ones who don’t do it. In Europe, which country can say they are not mixed people? The nobles, why they were weaker and weaker? The new princes and princesses are marrying not noble people, mingling with others, to become stronger.

    I know this old woman’s comments were hard but saying to her: “shut up!” –Even in a polite way– is not the right way to act. Instead, speaking with them and trying to make them know, through examples, that they are wrong it is much more productive because they will go home thinking about it and maybe they could change a bit their point of view.
    Democracy is the word land, not the ban land. More and more people don’t dare to speak because of these attitudes, but when the polls arrive they society is surprised about the results. Trump and people like him are the results of these “shut up!” and the political correctness language. Only knowing what people think and speaking with them, we can try to change their mind. It is not easy but democracy, from my point of view, means that.

    Isabelle, I love your posts. They are wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Antonio, for taking time to read this post and sending me your insightful comment! Yes, a discussion can be a good way to get to know or gain a deeper understanding of people’s different attitudes and opinions. Knowing the reasons behind a particular opinion or perception is likely to make room for openness for a subject that may be considered controversial.
      Thanks again for your comment! Appreciate a lot. Isabelle


      1. I am Spanish and got married to a girl, my wife, who is french-Italian, so my daughter is Spanish-French-Italian. She got married to an Irish guy who is Scottish-Irish. So, my granddaughter is Spanish, French, Italian, Irish-Scottish. And she is beautiful as any everyone’s granddaughter is.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. You can’t fault her… she’s from another time and a different way. Thinking from her post of view, as shocking as her question was to you was as shocking as this world has become to her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have a good point. Rather than getting upset or offended by people’s different opinions, we should perhaps make an effort to understand the reasons behind them. Thanks for the comment. Appreciate a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Gosh, Isabelle. I am just as stunned reading this as I was when You told me the story. It’s such a very odd encounter. You did a beautiful job of relaying it here….objectively as could be…just telling it simply and letting it sit there….ugh. Your final observation of her looking fragile and small on the couch left me feeling compassionate for her, almost as if she were a child who had simply spoken her mind. You have such a beautiful gentleness about You and it shines brightly here. I’m sorry that happened but love that You are sharing it here. Sending such huge hugs Your way!!! Thank You. ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful words, dear Katy. It was an unusual experience that had an impact on my perception of our society. I wanted to share it without having any opinions involved. The readers should be given the opportunity to interpret it freely.
      I hope your New Year celebration was a good one. Can’t wait to catch up in 2020… Love and hugs ❤️🎈✨


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