people's republic of desire

Annie Wang

Lulu's mother wants her daughter to give her a daily update on her boyfriends. If Lulu has a date, she wants to know everything in detail so she can comment. Her mother's opinions have often nagged Lulu. If she doesn't have a date, her mother will sigh and say things such as: 'Why are you so unattractive? Something must be wrong with your character. You are too strong.' This hurts Lulu.

As her mother continually whines about her being so picky in choosing a husband, or her ending up an old maid, Lulu can only joke lightly: 'Mum, the later I get married, the better my man will be.'

Lulu's mother married at 25, an age that was considered late. She wants Lulu to get married so that both of them can have emotional and financial security. Yet when Lulu falls for someone, her mother says she's being stupid. 'Other girls all use their brains,' Lulu's mother says. 'Only a stupid girl like you will give her heart and her body so quickly. When I was young, I never let boys get me so easily.'

When Lulu doesn't like some man she has met, her mother will say things such as: 'You're already 30-something. You'd be undesirable in my time. You're lucky to have some man who would like to go out with you.'

Lulu is distressed by her mother's interference in her love life, but she manages to contain her anger. She never explodes until this event.

One day, Lulu's mother is especially unhappy when Lulu makes negative comments about a man named Ching, whom her mother likes.

Lulu's mother thinks Ching will make a good son-in-law because, apart from having a good job, he is polite and honest. Plus, Ching's affection for Lulu is obvious. So when Ching calls later that day when Lulu is out, her mother picks up the phone and chats with him.

Ching asks for Lulu's e-mail address. Her mother says she doesn't have one and perhaps Ching could set one up for her. After Ching gets an e-mail account for Lulu, he calls. Once again, it's Lulu's mother who picks up the phone. Ching asks her to pass on the instructions to Lulu about how to send e-mails. Her mother doesn't forward the information to Lulu.

Instead, she pretends to be Lulu and sends affectionate e-mails to Ching.

Lulu's mother, a fast learner, even picks up things such as chatting via MSN Messenger, as well as sending text messages from Lulu's cell phone.

Ching is overjoyed by the warm and emotional e-mails he receives from Lulu. Three months later, on Lulu's birthday, he proposes by sending her a diamond ring. He e-mails Lulu that he will tell her mother that he is going to marry her.

After she reads the e-mail, Lulu's mother realises she has to tell Lulu about the correspondence between her and Ching, and that she continued it for her daughter's welfare. But Lulu gets very angry when she hears what her mother has done.

'I'm going out tonight!' Lulu yells. 'After writing to him for so long, you must know how to deal with him. You don't really need me.' Lulu leaves angrily. Ching comes with bags of gifts at 6pm.

Not seeing Lulu, he is confused. Lulu's mother has made up a story that it's Lulu's friend who has been writing on Lulu's behalf, not Lulu. Her friend thought the correspondence would create a chance for Ching and Lulu to get to know each other better, but found out later that Lulu was too stubborn to change, the mother says.

After hearing the story, Ching is not as hurt as Lulu's mother expected. Instead, he says to her: 'Auntie, help me find her friend. She has written to me with such beautiful words. She seems to understand me so well that I'd rather date her than Lulu!'