The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 6 “The Stone Bridge”
Posted by inspir3d on February 15, 2005
Summer brought a hot oppressing heat wave from the continent. Even the oldest amongst the elders in Chinatown, who had seen the coming and passing of more seasons than they cared to remember, remarked;
“Aiyah, it’s so hot these days, it reminds me of the old country in summer”.
That afternoon the 1st wife after sweating like a pig all week, suggested a picnic beside the only lake in Hyde Park gardens along with the other wife’s and a few of her relatives. Her sinseh* had remarked, the sight of cool waters would hopefully:
“Restore her health and balance her ying*” (*life force)
By mid afternoon when the sun hung high, all the old man’s wife’s either gathered beneath the shade of a sprawling oak or simply dozed off like piglets on one of the many rattan chairs lining the shaded side of the lake.
All except, the third wife who always seemed content to wander off by herself picking wild flowers along the water’s edge.
From the distance, I could just make out her figure, in her white cotton dress with bright red carnation prints. From time to time, when she bent down to either pick a daisy or one of those dainty wildflowers, a warm breeze would part her helm to reveal a slight peek of her inner tights. At other times, when she bent over, the fullness of her breast would seem to almost froth and spill over her plunging neckline – you may say, I shouldn’t really derive so much pleasure from all this, but what can I say except I was terribly bored that afternoon. Besides, I was a man and she was a woman.
Like a prisoner who peers out of his window and imagines what lies beyond the distance of faraway hills – I had grown accustomed to such little pleasures life offered, one of them was watching the third wife from the relative safety of the distance.
By this time she was somewhere along the stone Victorian bridge. It would be no exaggeration to say something must have caught her attention in the dark swirling waters of the lake in the curious way she came to a sudden halt and leaned over the balustrade.
Standing so very still with only the wind billowing the loose strands of her hair, her calmness which was all so evident a while ago appeared almost to dissolve with every passing moment.
She seemed transfixed even drawn by some compelling inexplicable force in the waters .Then suddenly without warning she seemed almost to tense her body raising herself higher as if preparing to throw herself over the railings.
This sight so unnerved me –I stood up and ran towards the direction of the bridge. For some reason which I do not even know today, I cannot explain why I simply didn’t shout and instead ran towards her in the clumsy way that I did, tripping and falling even once when I jumped over a freshly painted green wooden picket fence, though I hardly even felt the fall or realized my summer suit had been stained bright green.
Startled by the sound of my frantic foot steps on the irregular stones of the bridge – she held herself erect and looked at me with her large eyes – When I saw her betraying hardly a tremor of nervousness and radiating the full force of her womanly beauty. I realized the completeness of my mistake. All at once I felt unsettled and foolish as she began to look at me, as if she knew why I had acted in the way I did.
“why do you run as if you think – I were about to jump, silly boy” her voice trailing off in mocking jest as she gestured for my arm to steady her on the irregular stone steps.
She had adopted a suitably pleasant voice confirming my mistake further but there was hardly a trace of condescension in her tone. Yet when she slipped slightly and I steadied her on the side where I had managed to stain my coat – only to soil her dress with a long green unsightly stain.
“Silly, it will wash off”
At that moment, a single wisp of hair slipped over her clear white cheek, and out of a finely drawn corner of her eye a smile flashed a spark of black fire as she drew me to the railings.
“I want you to see something boy”
Leaning over the stone bridge, she threw the bunch of wildflowers into the dark waters. As they began spreading out from one point like a dazzling burst of fireworks only to disappear into the oblivion of the dark waters – I couldn’t help feeling, I was looking at my own hopes burning up like some flickering candle bursting alight with a sudden flash only to be extinguished forever – I felt sad.
“Isn’t it beautiful boy?”
“yes, it’s only….”
“I just wish it could last forever”
As I turned to her, I saw in those dark eyes a seductive glint that seemed to secretly agree with me, it would be three long days before I saw her again in the garden party.
(Authors Comment based on readers questions: Many of you have asked me, why I can’t just get a normal job like a waiter, mechanic , security guard or technician to fund my studies in the UK –
I simply want you all to know this, no one in his right mind aspires to be a gangster – that only happens in the movies, in real life, fate has a way of conspiring against man.
We lead our life’s only to be ruled by accidents – like the Cantonese say, “Mah seh, lok teh hangh” – horse dies, man must walk – someday, I will share with you how a simple Singaporean boy like myself suddenly found himself walking down this windy path, it is not as if it was planned, one thing leads to another and the next thing you know, your lose a bit of yourself with every step you take, till even your life simply doesn’t belong to even you and you wonder whether you really had anything resembling a choice – it could just have easily happened to you – I will share this confession with you one day – one day.)
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