The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 23 “The Third Wife and The Fortune Teller.”
Posted by inspir3d on February 19, 2005
Sometimes while she sat all by herself in the evenings before the dresser she thought for hours at a time about him. A whole year had passed since he disappeared and she felt almost like a ghost haunting the familiar faces who made up her little world, the endless mah jong games, juicy gossips and of course the small dramas that were always unfolding in the old man’s household.In the course of a year, she had allowed her consciousness to slip away, downstream, with the current, towards the swiftly disappearing past. That’s where she preferred to be.
In this secret place in her mind, where she would look at herself in the mirror from time to time and say,
“The boy will return. He can’t help himself.”
What after all did the present have to do with her? She wondered whispering to herself,
“He is alive….I can feel it in my bones.”
It was as if, he were a planet so far away as to be imperceptible, moving in a wholly different orbit, unseen and silent to all, except her, emitting an perfect light, a light that gave her life. A light which kept her from dropping to the ground and being crushed like a maple leaf in autumn – the third wife basked under this strange light, a light which came from a distant past.
She had even allowed him to intrude upon her days, coloring them – by recapturing the broken threads of their past – during these moments she remembered his touch, his sloppy kiss and the way he trailed his stubble chin across her neck.
Above all she remembered his eyes and the way they undressed her, revealing and searching – she knew that there was undeniable happiness to be found there and from time to time, she smiled all to herself and said to the woman in the dresser.
“The boy is never far from me.”
“Do you hear me? He will take me away from this god forsaken hell.”
Whenever she said these words, woman in the mirror often replied with the look of a woman who had successfully recaptured the feeling of radiant joy.
One evening after listlessly wandering along the malls in Oxford Circus – the third wife knocked on the door of the great oracle, just off Leicester square in Old Crompton street.
The oracle who was somewhere in her nineties was a renowned fortune teller favored by the rich and famous in the Chinese community for her uncanny abilities to unlock the mysteries of destiny. The many photos on her mantle sported famous actors, actresses, business figures and even politicians, like Jacky Chan, Jet Li, Gong Li, Stanley Ho and some even said in hushed tones, Lee Kuan Yew.
The door with a faded pak kuah opened up to an austere sitting room with only a table and chairs.
It was dimly lit, the oracle didn’t need light, she was one of those who honed their senses in the spiritual domain and saw the world entirely with the X-ray powers of the third eye. Here light was as useful as a comb was to a bald man. All she needed was to feel her way across the wide chasm of time and space by rubbing her skeleton hands on the palms of her clients – there hidden beneath the folds and lines, she would trace out the invisible threads of fate.
“Give me you hand child (the oracle dipped her head as she ran her pincher like fingers along the third wife’s palms.)…….mmmh……..so much suffering…..yet so much pleasure…..mmmh.”
“I want to…” (the third wife, leaned forward)
“Silence, there are no questions here…… only answers shhhhhhh.”
“Do you see him?……”
“Yes, yes. I see a boy, he is climbing and he limps a little, but yes, it is him. Your lines are stitched along his lines…….that is karma……. Yes, I see the boy. He is a feisty one………. hard one to catch, like a wise fox. (the oracle emitted a faint mocking laugh.)
Slipped passed them many a time he has….. and now he’s busying raising the dead (her face straining as if attempting to peer into some deep cavity, then releasing the furrow, she smiled and then nodded her head knowingly.)
The boy wants to cross the great ocean to the east….in a metal bird…that’s why he needs to commune with the dead.”
“America…..” (the third wife’s eyes widening.)
Shhhhhhh but wait there is something else…..no, someone else with him…..he is not alone. (looking down again, she peered deeply this time, from time to time shaking her head.)
“What is it? Tell me………..is it good or bad?” The third wife implored.
“Calm child, be calm, wait……….. I sense great danger, I see a gun. I see him sitting all by himself a man in turmoil smoking with thoughts so dark, I can see no further beyond his darkness.”
“Tell me will we be together? I need to know!”
“Hush child, there is much in this boys mind that is difficult to read………the boy dreams of a life far away from here….…….I see what he sees in his minds eye. But wait, he is not alone……….there is a woman with him to this new place in his heart. Yes, I see her now…………she has her back to me, she wearing pearl earrings and a crème dress with red flowers. (nodding her head and opening her eyes and closing them again, she continued.)
“No I can’t see her face, it growing fainter and fainter.”
“Yes, he told me about his dreams, the boy wants to take me away. He………..” (the third wife pressing her palms towards the old woman.)
“Shhhhhhh…….there’s one more thing, I see………… he is planning to return.”
That afternoon as the third wife stepped out into a muggy afternoon. The sky for the very first time after such a very long time appeared strangely spacious and the summer clouds immaculately white. She was elated to the point of trembling with these refreshing thoughts of his impending return.
“It’s destiny. I shall await my fate – he will return to take me away!”
That same evening when the daughter of the oracle massaged the old woman’s foot, she heard her mother muttering.
“Run boy, run like the wind – the wolfs are coming for you. They are coming.”
At precisely that moment when the oracle murmured these words – a cabbage lorry belonging to the Kowloon trading Emporium in London Chinatown – driven by a Chinese driver pulled into the magic bowl – as he lit his crooked cigarette and joined a knot of other Chinese driver by the side for a smoke, he peered into the take away and turned wide eyed to his burly friends.
“What’s it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
“I know that chap. I swear it, I know him. That’s the benefactor who carries the money for the four houses.”
“You mean the one who ran away with the Lam girl?” another replied while peering along with the rest into the magic bowl.
“There’s a prize on his head, there is – a big prize!”
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