THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 22 “My day off with Jeannie”

Posted by inspir3d on February 19, 2005

The rain stopped in the middle of the afternoon, just when I pulled in to the rear of the Magic Bowl.Jeannie was standing by the kitchen doorway in her white dress with splashes of red roses (you remember the one I bought with the wages having fixed the clock tower, the one that reminds me of the third wife.) – she even put on a dash of lipstick. I was reminded of the promise I made sometime last week or was it the week before?

“We should try to take off one day in a week.”

Since the magic bowl started, we hardly made enough to make ends met, but in recent months, business had been brisk with some closure of highway for road works somewhere up North.

I reasoned, it was her way to celebrate our first day off.

Should you find this chapter aimless and spiritless – it’s because I trying to capture the texture of the familiar and ordinary.

Although the old man and four houses were hunting us and I was breaking into town councils, crematoriums and from time to time the magic bowl, because I can never remember to bring the keys.

I didn’t lead a James Bond sort of life, dodging bullets or for that matter jumping over gorges – that only happens in the movies – this is a real story, a genuine account and the essence of anything real lies in the repeating.

Yes, I had a pistol, but it too had seen a lot of action, somewhere in some distant past in the hands of another and like an old soldier who had seen his fill and could see no more. This vintage pistol like me, simply wanted to be left alone in some drawer, locked away sleeping undisturbed in the dark.

Here, where life moved at roughly the pace of a motorized wheelchair – unlike city life where one’s thoughts can change in the interval between two lamppost by the road side – country living imposes on one an old and weathered soul – it’s like fruit – there is no such thing as diligent fruit – it ripens lazily and gracefully.

Though from time to time like old cripples, who sometimes dreamt, they could run and jump, I too harbored the distant desire of squaring my accounts with the old man, but it was a far away island, desolate as it was impossible, so like you, him, them, they and the vast majority of humans mine was a day to day existence where I turned the same great wheel of life, where each day came and went very much like yesterday. An ordinary life stretching out like one long endlessness road, where I fixed things in the morning, cooked in the evenings and in between very little else punctuated this ordinariness, except a few sweet words and the odd kiss – but there were moments – moments when the unexpected emerged quite unexpectedly from the expected.

That afternoon when I prepared the roasted duck I bought in Manchester while Jeannie sat absent mindedly in the kitchen watching me cut the onions, garlic, vegetables though she looked distant and far, I knew she was romanticizing. It was the way, her lips parted ever so slightly, the softness of her tone as if she was reciting a poem and the slight look of indifference when her eyes closed longer than they should. During these moments, she always slid her hand around my shoulders and leaned her head against my back, while I continued doing the things that needed doing.

I know women, know them well enough to realize most of them wanted me to prolong this mood of love – where my fingers touched hers on the chopping board only to turn away, while her fingers would chase me only be chased again, till they ended clasping each other like two embracing lovers, and. Just when her eyes would look at me teasingly only to cloud over with desire and her breathe would suddenly hang, I pulled her into my arms, feeling her heart beat resonating against my body, telegraphing fear and joy into every cell in her body. Even then, the time wasn’t right.

Like I said, I liked to stretch the mood. Yes, you could say, this was my way – in the manner, a musician tensions a cord, not too tightly, it would snap and the feeling would burst like a bubble, not too loose either, otherwise Jeannie would suddenly recede back into indifference, but just the right balance of reality and illusion – brushing against her naked arms even when I placed all the dishes one by one on the table all the time looking at her while a sense of excitement swelled in her, as she waited for something to happen, her chest rising and falling like the crest of a wave just before the riot of a storm. Even then, the time was not right.

As always during these moments, I fed her, delicately and slowly, never ever eating myself. The chopsticks picking out the most succulent meat and after mixing it in the rice bowl till the consistency was just right – I brought it to her quivering lips, always in small bites, never quite enough to satisfy, yet enough for her to yearn for the next spoonful – At times, I would simply hum a tune, but that afternoon, I was simply content to look at her with the eyes of a man in love. Every spoonful like a sugar cube in hot tea, melting away in a swirl of delicious clear sweetness – and this scene would be repeated again and again till the afternoon sun receded over the valley flooding the kitchen with a soft mysterious light. From time to time, I would wipe the corner of her lips with a napkin or bring a glass of wine to her lips, flashing a smile while she simply looked away shyly – yet during those moments, I knew Jeannie could not wish for anything more. Even then, the time was not right.

After dinner, when the light had all receded giving way to partial darkness like dark honey,when I could still make out the seductive glint in her eyes, when the time was just right, no sooner or later. My hands reached between her legs parting them – her lips gleamed, she licked them moist, her body trembled as she resisted slightly – a plate fell and broke, she neither heard it or cared – she was fighting within herself trying to keep mystery at a distance, while my hands surged forward like a prow of ship across a lustrous calm ocean – parting and discovering beyond something real into the abstraction of her very essence as a woman. Soon the miraculous invaded her so completely, she simply allowed me to take the lead. Here mystery was furiously at work, unrelentingly at work, drawing her out, as she kissed me furiously again and again till a riot ensued and just when her eyes would shine with an even greater brilliance – reflecting within them a place where reality had given way to dreams, where every moment was charged with wonder – I became very still, so very still prolonging the moment, even after she whispered, “I love you, I love you with my heart”- I started it all again, surging through the night, till she eventually grew limp and succumbed to sleep..

As usual, I would carry her upstairs and lay her down, tucking her into bed – sitting in one corner, humming to her while I smoked a cigarette, till sleep took her over and when she turned as she always did to the left, I knew, it was time to for me to leave the room.

I could never sleep – though I often made excuses to Jeannie saying, I would join her later, as there was always something which needed cutting and marinating before I turned in. This was simply my way of making peace with my incurable insomnia – or maybe, just maybe, I needed to continue forging on ahead – I was after all writing our story and for the time being, I was merely sketching out the action in rough strokes, and I couldn’t afford to bog myself down. That would have forced me to stop and think, and for the moment I was only interested in forging ahead, in seeing where the pictures in my mind were going to take me. It wasn’t about control; it wasn’t even about making choices – it was all about running away from the pain.

The pain of loving, losing and now knowing the third wife was still alive – the pain of knowing no matter how I willed myself to love Jeannie, there was always a part of me that yearned to run away – that’s what bad boys do, they can’t stay loyal – they can’t love, not for long at least – and if they don’t pick up and leave, it’s not because they are reforming, it simply means they’re still despising themselves for their own inertia.

In truth, I wanted to be good – to remain with the woman who stood by me – to love her forever and this meant, following the mythical line inside me, breaking into the records office, finalizing the loose ends with the forger, defacing the pictures of Mr & Mrs Lim Teck Heng in the crematorium was my way of making sense of my senseless world – it wasn’t so much the prospects of sewing together a new life for me and Jeannie – as it was the desperate efforts of a man who had to witness himself doing all those noble things to salvage his own soul – Yes, crooked people need to play twisted games and once one acquires this bent, trust me even you can do it – in truth, I didn’t trust myself – and now that I realized the third wife was alive – I trusted myself even less, like I said, I am bad, true and true bad as they come. Neither can I help myself either, it’s a vampire thing, it’s incurable – I just need to forge on.

That evening when I made love to Jeannie – I felt like someone who had come home from a long and difficult journey, an unfortunate traveler who had returned to claim his rightful place in the world with the woman who he loved. It felt good to pin her down on the table, it felt right to be inside her again, and in the wake of the happiness that washed over me –
I was both a part of what was going on around me and cut off from it, drifting freely in my mind –it wasn’t real of course, but when a person is in pain, as long as the story goes on, reality no longer exist and all the pains of this world just disappears – I just wished it was really Jeannie who I was making love too that evening.

I just want to do the right thing – I need to forge on – yes, on.

darkness 2002

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