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The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 4 “The Evening on the steps.”

Posted by inspir3d on February 12, 2005

Jeannie Lam was 21 and though she was the only child of the Lam’s, she seemed no closer to her parents than any of the 85 workers who worked in the Mr Lam’s real estate empire.

Unlike her parents who came from the slums of Hong Kong and arrived in London during the 1950’s penniless with nothing except their straw hats and worked day and night to finally succeed in building a successful business.

Jeannie had never known this harsh side of life, instead her days as a young girl were spent running carefree in well manicured lawns in the prestigious all girls school in Malvern far away from the stench and grime of China town. Where for over 500 years English girls were trained to be prim and proper ladies – who could always be counted on to sip and not drink their tea or for that matter nibble and not chew on their crumpets.

Her parents seemed determined to mould her into the same image of the people who they had once served, respected and feared; their colonial master’s – the British upper class. However, despite their best efforts all they really managed to produce was a banana – Yes Jeannie was a 5 foot 7 inch tall banana – she was yellow skinned outside, but she was all white inside – right down to her clipped upper class English accent, Laura Ashley clothes complete with a matching Burberry handbag and an amorg* boyfriend. (* Caucasian)

I can’t say I blamed her for her choice of men, after all, even in China town she very much like a fish out of water and no self respecting Chinese man would dare to approach such an independent woman who hardly behaved like a Chinese woman – so it must have come as a great relief to the Lam’s when I propositioned them for the hand of their only child.

Naturally, everyone in Chinatown and even the Lam’s imagined that I wanted her hand because of money, but as the saying goes, “you scratch my back and I scratch yours” and fortunately Jeannie was a gigantic itch that needed much scratching and the Lam’s like the rest of the 1.8 billion Chinese belonged to– the most practical race in human history.

I moved like lightning and by the end of the week – Jeannie had all but forgotten the name of her English boy friend – and she would often be seen by my side dreamy eyed with her head often resting on my shoulder – I wish I could say more but really it was simply that uneventful, had there been a duel between me and this English boy, it would have made a better story, but there wasn’t and I cannot pretend to tell you otherwise.

One day, I simply appeared after her afternoon lectures in King’s college in my expensive Italian suit and slicked back hair. When her eyes caught mine in the crowd, she looked for a moment like someone who felt something stir inside her.

She wasn’t sure what it was, but the impression it had on her was profound. Jeannie Yu was like a moth being drawn to the naked flame of a candle. Every moment would draw her deeper and deeper into the depths of my fiery eyes – heightening her awareness, she was not simply any woman, but the only woman a man such as myself was content to look upon for the rest of all eternity.

In a while, her eyes came to rest on mine and she became quite still, like a lotus on a calm pond. The slight quivering of her lips as they began to part like the moist petals of a lotus after the rains – her eyes watery reflecting fascination and fear like a ripple in moonlit waters gave the impression of woman who was falling uncontrollably in love.

Yet I continued starring oblivious of even time, space or even the English boy at her side who must have said something like “are you coming?” Even then she hardly heard or even cared to look his way.

In a while, this English boy disappeared with the rest of the crowd, leaving only both of us standing by the steps and four body guards standing some distance away. Yet even then, I did not speak and just at the moment when she came to her senses and would be expected to turn away or say something like, “why do you look at me in this way, do you not know it is rude”. Her hands fidgeted with her necklace nervously and just when her eyes tore away and she felt the first wave of embarrassment brushing her flushed red cheeks for having allowed herself to behave in this matter before a stranger.

I moved in with the spirit of a man who was about to pluck a fruit just when it had reached it’s sweetest moment – Jeannie Yu never had a chance, it was love at first sight.

That evening in Chinatown, the body guards recounted this story to the elders one by one whispering to their masters – though they had been sent by the elders to make sure I did not violate the honor of this young girl and to keep to all the covenants of courtship. They served as the eyes and ears of the elders. Throughout the evening these old men would be seen smiling and laughing amongst themselves after hearing about the incident on the steps – one of them would latter turn to the old man and whispered mischievously,

“We are living in interesting times, are we not my friend?”

Darkness 2002

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The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London, Chapter 3 – “The Dinner”

Posted by inspir3d on February 12, 2005

There is a Chinese saying – when you walk into a trap, smile; if manage to pull this off, your enemies will be confused and abandon the prospects of trapping you.These thoughts occupied me throughout dinner. More so than ever before; Mr Kam the Jeweler who had absolutely no reason to be there, occupied the seat directly opposite me.

Judging by the way his bald shiny head reflected every revolution of the ceiling fan, he was sweating nervously. So disturb as to even shake the tea pot clumsily spilling it twice when pouring tea for the old man; who like the rest of the elders remained impassive, watching and searching for the slightest signs of weakness.

Throughout dinner, I remained quiet and hardly paid the slightest attention to Mr Kam. Always mindful I was my greatest enemy. If I allowed even a slight furrow or raised an eye brow, it would have been grounds for suspicion, so I remained as I had always been, smiling, nodding and listening attentively.

Mid way into the dinner, when the elders still had not brought up the issue of the earrings, I turned to one of the elders of the four houses sitting next to the old man.

Whispering to him in a hushed tone, I said, it was time for me to consider marriage, since I would be graduating next year and I would like to have his blessings to call on his only daughter Jeannie Lam – who I knew only casually – as a sign of my sincerity, I would like her to have this small gift as a token of my affection.

Even before finishing these words, some of the elders began to look at each other their stern expressions melting into a look of quiet understanding. Others congratulated Mr Lam turning to me,

“Good decision, a man should start a household when he is still young like a farmer who wakes up early to till the good earth. This is a wise decision.”

Looking at each other with a satisfied mix of realization and understanding, one by one they stood up and raised their cups to Mr Lam who even placed his arms around me signifying his approval,

“Next time you want to buy jewelry, you should seek some advice from my wife and not go sneaking around.”

Then turning towards Mr Kam, he continued,

“for one she would have told you not to go to that cut throat.”

This was followed by a roar of laughter and another round of toasting.

You must understand, I was no ordinary man in the eyes of these men , I was first and foremost a man of education in a room full of men who didn’t even know how to write their names in English, such a man. Even one was imperfect as I was with a half university education, was like a one eyed man in the land of the blind – and such a man was a coveted catch.

When the pearl earrings were passed from one elder to another, many didn’t pay the slightest attention to it since they were so caught up in the emotion of the moment.

All except Mr Kam who appeared to hesitate momentarily only to suddenly burst into nervous laughter- latter he would often be heard saying in the teahouses of Chinatown.

Those earrings were one of the most beautiful pieces he had ever sold in his tiny shop.

When the waiters popped their heads into the room and asked whether everything was alright, as there was such a commotion. News spread downstairs where most of the wife’s of the elders dined and soon they too joined in the celebration, offering congratulations, some of these tai’s- tai’s turning to each looking with mocking approval. One of them even mentioning,

“He is the quiet type like a hunter. You better tell your daughter to be careful of him on their first night.” Provoking another round of rapturous laughter and toasting.

Amid the laughter, smiles and chatter, the first opening tunes of Yue Liang Dia Bioao Wo De Xin began to filter through. That evening as the wife’s of the elders mingled and danced celebrating through the night – only the 3rd wife was absent – as a waiter recounted she wasn’t feeling well and retired early after hearing the good news.

Turning to my inner self that night – I wondered?

“I had survived to live another day, but at what price would I have to pay for my ransom this time?

Like a fox who breathes an air of relief after successfully eluding the dogs – it rapidly dissipates with the growing awareness tomorrow may bring more of today – I wondered whether a worst fate awaited me in my new found freedom – you see, it is easy for you to judge me, but you were simply not there – in truth, I never wanted to get married, but that night I was a desperate man and desperate people do desperate things – struggling against huge waves – amid the sea of death, I bopped up and down searching for a means to cling to life – and when a boat presented herself – I raised my arms and snatched my life back from the jaws of death – only I cared less for even where this boat would port – a desperate man doesn’t consider these things – even if the name of the boat is Jeannie Lam.”

Darkness 2002

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The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 2 “The Pearl Earrings”

Posted by inspir3d on February 12, 2005

Spending an entire month’s wage on a pair of pearl earrings was bad enough – what could be worse than this, except perhaps to spend another month’s wage, on an identical pair of pearl earrings.

That morning as I sat on the edge of my bed cupping my head, I wondered what could possibly be worse than even this.

Except perhaps having no one to give this second pair of earrings too! I should have known better, but as I often said, I had forgotten that I was my greatest enemy. I really should have known better.

Chinatown in London was a small village where everyone knew everyone, even those who did not know themselves were known by the others. The Jeweler who I purchased the first earrings from was a Shanghainese by the name of Mr. Kam who had a sparkling bald head like the many jade rings he often sold.

He would often be seen gossiping in the many teahouses in China town. Just as tailors would often seek out the suits they once worked on or cobblers at the shoes they once labored over and derive a sense of pride from their workmanship. So it was very much the nature of Mr Kam the jeweler to always seek out the stones he sold to the tai tai’s in China town, and whenever he saw them, it was like a reunion between old friends and his eyes would beam in satisfaction and he would proudly say,

“Aiyah, I know who gave you this, it came from my shop”.

That evening during the Chinese New Year celebration, the earrings I have given my mistress, had caught the eye of this talkative jeweler who often spoke his mind. Though he could never really be sure, this man would often recount to others in the tea houses how those earrings he saw that night resembled the same design and size he had sold me a few weeks ago.

When this reached the ears of some of the elders wifes, some of them began asking me who this lucky girl was. Others were even bolder, asking me whether they could take a peek at these earrings. Behind their smiling faces, I knew that as soon as their husbands would come to hear of this rumor they would not be smiling – it was a serious matter. I was swimming in treacherous waters and had I hesitated even for a moment to even clear my throat, it would have been my undoing, so. I pretended to be shy about the matter and even blushed, while secretly I worked furiously to cover my tracks.

Fortunately that week, some of the work, I did for the old man took me far up North to Manchester and on one of those trips, I stopped over in a Jeweler shop owned by a Hakka and commissioned an identical set of pearl earrings. This time, I had chosen well, this man had a mouth as tight as an oyster and though it was never ever proven, rumor had it, he was once convicted for forgery, and. If anyone knew the importance of discretion, it would have been this man who dealt with counterfeits.

He even furnished me with a back dated receipt he crumpled a few times to cover the earrings I had given my mistress, and. Though he spoke very little, when it was time to leave, this man said, it would be better if I left by the back door.

That evening on my return to London, I was summoned by some of the elders in the Triad to dinner who expressed an interest to see my gift and to enquire for who this gift was supposed to be for.

Though I was not a superstitious man that evening I visited the only temple in China town above a Pakistani provision shop and knelt before the wooden figurine of Kwang Kung. I prayed a soldiers prayer,

“protect me from evil and should I have to fight my way out, give me the strength of ten men”.

With these word, I tapped my breast pocket and the reassuring sound of the pearls rattling seemed almost to agree with my prayers – then I walking towards my appointment with death.

I wondered what manner of creature I would prefer to be reincarnated as – would it be a monkey, goat, snake, buffalo, dog, turtle, cat, elephant, horse, tiger, leopard, dolphin, gold fish, parrot, lizard, eagle, crow, sparrow etc – I was 23 years of age and never ever before was I so aware, I was my greatest enemy.

My name is Huan Guan and this is a true story, tell no one please.

Darkness 2002

The Brotherhood Press 2002. 889312002

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The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 1

Posted by inspir3d on February 12, 2005

“My mistress was the third wife of the old man who I served in the moment of my youth – she was the fairest of them all – like all women in the old man’s household, her place was set in ancient stone like the chair she occupied during her mah jong sessions with the rest of his other wife’s.

This seat which faced the East, meant she was never the first to eat and always the last to leave the table and she was expected always to pour tea for the older mistresses and remain silent unless spoken too – this was the way politics was conducted in the household of the old man – whenever the old man visited, the older mistresses would be jealous of my mistress because he only had eyes for her – so both the first and second mistress would gossip behind her back and this saddened my mistress – as she could never seem to do or say any thing right, even when she tried so very hard to please them.

In the afternoons, my mistress took long walks in the nearby park in Hampstead Heath, where I was expected to serve as her silent driver and body guard – I was always expected to stay seven paces behind her – seven paces was good, just enough room to roll, whip out my pistol and fire a shot – the old man was a triad boss in China town and had many enemies and I took my job seriously.

One afternoon during her walks, she stopped and turn towards me, in that one moment, I was struck by her tragic beauty, her eyes, mouth and almond shaped face all conspiring with the dying light transformed her into the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

In the days that followed, I found myself imagining her wind sweep hair as she looked at me mournfully, the image clung to me like seaweed never ever once leaving me and even when I dedicated myself to study, there was just enough of her to torment me – eventually she confided to me her deepest and most intimate feelings which I swore never to tell another soul – and for the first time, I realize the depths of her sorrow.

As time passed I came to relish the moment when we were together, the rustling of decaying leafs, the lingering aroma of her perfume, all these things I longed for but above all, I wished only to be with her – she always recounted to me the events of the day and I would listen to her, never once saying a word, except perhaps to nod my head to signify that I understood.

On my 23rd birthday after successfully finishing the second of my degree in Imperial College, my mistress gave me a pair of matching jade cufflinks – she swore me to secrecy and though I said, I was not in a position to accept such a valuable gift, she thrust it into my hands with a gentle smile.

Of all people, I had forgotten that which I had always reminded myself, I was my worst enemy and I accepted her gift.

In return, I bought her a set of pearl earrings – though it cost nearly a month’s wages, I knew it would make her happy and that was all that really mattered, I survived on sandwiches and instant noodles that whole month, but the thought of giving her something she would wear from time to time was enough to fill the void in me and I was the happiest man who ever lived.

That Chinese New Year, the old man celebrated with eighty eight tables – it had been a prosperous year and it was also his moment to show off his new bride to the whole of China town.

And though she sat on the main table and I was so very far away – when she saw me wearing her cuff links, she lowered her eyes and smiled shyly – though this lasted only for a moment, she was very much like a cloud being carried away with the wind as she gently touched the pearl earrings I had given her.

At age 23, I Huan Guan was like a sampan sailing into treacherous and uncharted waters.

This is my true confession, tell no one.”

Darkness 2002

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The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – The Brotherhood Press 2002. 88930/2002

Posted by inspir3d on February 12, 2005

Synopsis:

“The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster” better known as “The 4 Bit Stories” was written by Darkness when he suddenly found himself unemployed in 2002.

At its height the series enjoyed a circulation of over 30,000 subscribers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, France and Thailand.

This 40 part mini series revolves around the trials and tribulations of a 23 year old, Yu Huan Guan, who once worked as a waiter in China town, London to finance his studies in Imperial College London.

Soon his employers took an interest in him. Unlike other boys who often loitered around aimlessly and only gossiped about prostitutes. The boy was silent and came across as diligent and dependable.

The boy was gifted in Mathematics and soon this caught the attention of the elders of China town who saw great potential in grooming him and so he was taken in to the house hold of “the old man” – the triad boss.

Where he worked as a driver and body guard to the third wife whenever his services we needed. Recognizing his flair for Mathematics Huan Guan was also given the job of the money man, where he would often be known as

“the man with the briefcase who carried the money for the four houses.”

In this treacherous world of gangsters, gamblers, pimps and cut throats our Singaporean boy suddenly finds himself plunging into a dark world of intrigue and mystery – his nemesis is a thirty something femme fatale who looks abit like Maggie Cheung.

The story charts how he reconciles his desires with the prevailing danger that constantly encircles his fragile world threatening to destroy it in a moment – will he be able to run away with the third wife? – will our Hero find happiness? Or will a darker fate await them – hang on to your seats ladies and find out in the next installment of “The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster” brought to you only by the Brotherhood Press (and IS).

Posted in B'hood, Fiction | 14 Comments »

 
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