Reluctant Addition

A grandmother and granddaughter pair waited outside the gate to the preschool. It was early and not open yet, although pedestrians marched by a few paces away on their way to the train station.

Grandma bowed low, leaning in to the girl’s face, a posture commonly adopted by adults trying to elicit a child’s attention. The girl fidgeted and avoided eye contact, remaining at arm’s length.

Not in a raised voice, but firmly, Grandma was reciting in Chinese what sounded like a sequence of simple additions: “2+9 is 11, 2+10 is 12, …”

Realising an early morning math class was taking place, I gave my mind a mental pinch mid-conclusion, and joined the impatient trickle of pedestrians towards the train, and work.