THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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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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