THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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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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