|| Little Lu ||

What follows is not a true story, but it is definitely not fictitious. It is somewhere in between, but very common and extremely disturbing. At least to me.

Little Lu moved to Singapore from her home in Shanghai when she was still in the final year of her high school. Initially, she found the life is Singapore difficult, the lifestyle was different, the food was different, even the language was different. She had actually been mistaken for a Korean because she spoke Shanghainese and not Mandarin. But she learnt the language, the food habits, and the lifestyle. Today her colleagues assume that she is a Singaporean, while she still is a true-blue Shanghainese but she loves Singapore now. She knows it like the back of her hand and she fits right in, except when it comes to shopping for brands.

Lu has been more adjusting than her mother to the ways of Singapore. Her mother looks down upon the spending habits of the average Singaporean, and makes it a point to tell Lu regularly not to be like them. This is the reason that at the age of 25, she is the only girl in her office who does not have a single branded bag. Not even a small Coach wallet. Nothing. Zilch. And it breaks her heart.

It is the last day of June today, which means tomorrow starts Lu’s birthday month. She is excited as usual, has already planned a grand dinner on the eve of her birthday with her mother and her cousins who study at SMU. They will all go out for Japanese food and then hit KTV, where they plan to ring in her birthday. Next day, lunch with friends from work. Lu is bubbling with excitement although there is still a week to go.

Mulan is a few years older than Lu, and sits next to her at work. They usually eat their lunch together, and today Lu is telling her about her birthday plans. Mulan would love to join in for her birthday lunch and wonders what Lu wants for her birthday. Lu says she likes surprises, but secretly begins to think what would she really liked to be surprised with.

In the middle of the night when she gets up to get a drink of water, it comes to her clear as a crystal. She wants to be surprised with a bag just like Mulan’s. She gets online just that moment and checks out the price of the Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis Rosewood. But the price gives her a bigger shock than she expected. It was expensive, alright but it was only a couple of hundreds less than her monthly salary. Not possible, no.

But now she is hooked to the Louis Vuitton web site. She browses at work, she asks Mulan, she thinks about it almost all her waking hours and then, she dreams about the rosewood in her sleep. She had always wanted a designer bag but had never thought she would get it but now…

Mulan thinks that only a rich boyfriend will buy a girl an LV rosewood. Lu does not have a boyfriend, and the guy she thinks is cute works in her office, and therefore, cannot be very rich. No hope there. Asking mother would not even make sense and cousins would probably get her C.O.A.X singlet considering they are all students surviving on their parent’s money who happen to earn in renminbi.  No hope anywhere.

So her only hope is she herself. She loves the pomme d’amour, the color of dreams, so shiny, so pretty. She has to have it. She will buy herself a gift this birthday, after all who else could love her more than she herself? Sounds like a brilliant idea, she shares it with Mulan, who concurs. She even offers to go to the new Louis Vuitton flagship store after work. After all there are only three days to Lu’s birthday.

Lu thanks Mulan for her generous offer, because generous it is. Lu knows how intimidating it would be to walk into the store wearing what she wears, and carrying what she carries. She doubts any sales assistant would even pay attention to her. Mulan will carry her LV Vernis and therefore, get attention worthy of a regular customer.

On Thursday, the two girls stand in the queue for twenty minutes to enter the flagship store. Lu’s excitement has been replaced by anxiousness. She knows she cannot spend $2300 on a handbag. Definitely not. What will she do for the rest of the month? How will she travel to work, besides mother would kill her if she found out. She must downgrade to a wallet. The wallet will be cheaper.

Only $1200, as Mulan puts it when they browse trying very hard to look like regulars in there. But Lu could tell that their sales assistant could tell. She wasn’t even sure if that is what one was supposed to call that extremely sophisticated lady, dressed in shiny black with all the right accessories. She even had a Cartier on her wrist. Lu wondered how much this girl made every month, definitely more than Lu. Oh, the world was so unfair. Mulan was asking whether they had in International Wallet in pomme d’amour. Of course, they do.

While the sophisticated lady went to take one out for Mulan, Lu grabbed Mulan’s arm. No! She could not gift herself a $1200 wallet. She must downgrade further. Maybe a coin bag? Mulan seems visibly disappointed. Lu should have told her earlier if she only wanted a coin bag, but okay, it is her life. The sophisticated lady with a cartier comes back with the International Wallet in color of dreams but Lu turns away and lets Mulan do the talking.

They are left on their own for good ten minutes. Lu supposes that is what happens when you wore a Hang Ten tee shirt and ask for a measly coin bag. After they get the coin bag in the dream color, Lu feels conflicted. She is relieved she only spent $380 but at the same time, she is not as happy as she thought she would be when she bought her first branded bag. Well, technically, it is not a bag. And this brakes Lu’s heart.

Today is Lu’s birthday and Mulan insists she should use her new shiny LV zippy. But Lu cannot bring herself to take the coin bag out of its exquisite packing, the glossy ribbon with little studs on it is not supposed to be undone. It is supposed to be treasured, until…until Lu gets another branded bag or at least a wallet.

So Lu carries her Poccilini bag to her birthday dinner. Next day, during her birthday lunch, when she explains this to Mulan, she understands. For she herself had not taken her first LV bag out of the covers until she got her second one.

***

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4 Responses to “|| Little Lu ||”

  1. Ah the life of luxury consumerism. You are also on november blog month aiyo?

  2. sunshin3girl Says:

    Oh my! You read the entire post? I am so impressed. I did sign up for the Nov blog thing and will try my best to do it right, but gosh, my writing has deteriorated. 😦

  3. That is a well written story 🙂
    I wish Lulu could develop a more philosophical approach towards life. That would bring more peace to her.
    People indeed make our lives very difficult at times.

  4. I love how Lu asks all those rhetorical questions: how will I travel to work? Mother will surely find out!

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