“Teacher! In front of elementary school, you buy candy!” She waves her lollipop at me. In front of the elementary school, a man with a jalopy of a cotton candy machine is winding whispy white sugar around wooden chopsticks for 500 won. (After the initial shock of seeing white cotton candy, though why shouldn’t it be, I have come to prefer its simple purity.)
Was the machine built onto a vehicle? I can’t remember, there were many distractions.
The wind tries to take the candy right off the stick and students want treating. Fortunately, I only have 1000 won. A little boy comes up behind me and says ‘Ajumma, who are you?’ I am slightly appalled. I am not an ajumma. My students explain for me, ‘she’s a foreigner’ and ‘you have to speak English.’ ‘What’s her name?’ he wants to know.
I wave goodbye to him and begin to walk home. He runs after me–“Ajumma!” I turn and say sharply “I am not an ajumma! I am not married.” Really for my own benefit.
I pause to control my candy and contemplate how to explain that I don’t want him to call me, effectively, ‘old lady,’ when I can’t even communicate the obvious fact that I don’t speak Korean. The whole time I am considering my options, he is standing in front of me saying ‘what?’ every five seconds, ‘What?’
My students say “Just go,” so I leave.