As a child, I had been taught to always wish people a “Happy Chinese New Year” whenever I met them.
So when I visited my distant relatives, I said, “Gong Xi Fa Cai” and added a ‘Hong Bao Na Lai’ as a joke without thinking twice.
Little did I know that I had made a grave mistake. My parents’ faces immediately turned sour and I felt a sharp slap across my face.
I was shocked and confused. I didn’t understand why my parents had reacted this way.
It was only after the shock subsided that I realized that they did not seemed to pleased with me ‘demanding’ for an ang bao in my greeting.
My parents had been so angry that they had slapped me. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I had let my parents down and I felt like I had failed them. I was so embarrassed that I wanted to run away and hide.
But instead, I chose to stay and face the consequences. I apologized to my distant relatives and my parents and expressed my regret for my mistake.
I had learned a valuable lesson that day – that words can be powerful and that one must always choose them carefully.
I was also reminded of the importance of respecting my elders, no matter what the situation.
It was a lesson that I would never forget. I was fortunate that my mistake had only resulted in a slap across the face.
Others were not so lucky, as they sometimes faced much worse punishments for saying the wrong thing.
But I was determined to never make the same mistake again. I made sure to always use the correct greeting for Chinese New Year and to always be mindful of my words.
Unfortunately, the experience of getting slapped by my parents still haunts me to this day. I will never forget the embarrassment and shame that I felt that day, and I will never forget the importance of choosing my words carefully.