Shirley Geok-Lin Lim

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SHORT STORY
TITLE: SHAME
Shame is a short story by Shirley Lim, depicting the Chinese culture in Malaysia. Shame talks about how women in Baba Nyonya culture must behave according to their society’s expectation. The main character in this story is Mei Sim, 6 years old girl who was stuck in her society’s culture. The story took place in the most historic country, Malacca at early independence of Malaysia. It is about Mei Sim who always been nagged by her mother because of a small mistakes. Mei Sim’s mother always told her to behave herself properly as she afraid that her relatives will talk behind and assume her to raise her daughter with no shame. For Baba and Nyonya societies, this issue was serious because they want to take care of the culture of their heritage. Mei Sim has discovered many thinga about adultery in a very young age through the conversation of her mother with Grand-aunty.

The story begins when they went to Grand-auntie’s house to celebrate the New Year party. In the house, she has explored many new things that were not supposed to be known by a young girl like her for example, they talk about how to tame Mei Sim’s father, prevent him from abandoning the family and so on. In the same house, Grand- auntie’s daughter, Siew Eng was been treated like a slave by her own mother. According to their conversation, Grand-auntie was told by a fortune teller that Siew Eng will “eat her mother’s blood”. Because of that, Grand-aunty hates Siew Eng and believes she bring bad luck to the family. Grand-aunty discriminates, abuse and tortures the daughter to do all the household chores.

Later on, Uncle Muti came to visit Grand-aunty with his son. As they were talking in the living room, Mei Sim called the boy and invited him to play with her. However, the boy keeps on staring at Mei Sim’s dress. The boy has never seen such a beautiful dress before. He told Mei Sim that his sister never wore such nice dresses. Then, Mei Sim allowed the boy to touch her...
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