THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 24 “What the fortune cookie said one evening in the magic bowl.”

Posted by inspir3d on February 19, 2005

After communing with the dead for two months – the unremarkable Lim’s who once lived a unremarkable life in an forgettable town slowly came back to life again, bits and pieces of their life’s slipped through the letter slot all through the week – first the social security card, tax return forms complete with even a ₤ 15 rebate and finally, the passports complete with our photos.

Like a mad scientist who successfully manages to sew different body parts together – now, Mr and Mrs Lim Teck Heng had finally returned from the dead.

The experience was supernaturally sharp, even when the records officer handed me a tax return form just the other day and mentioned.

“Can you be so kind to fill this up, Mr Lim?”

It wasn’t as if he was talking to me. For a moment, I asked myself,

“Who is Mr Lim?”

Then incredibly he came alive, brimming with energy, present in the moment, a part of some eternal now that had always gone on perpetuating it’self as if he never ever passed on. Intense colors, the minutest details shining in utmost clarity. He was alive!

So much so, one evening when the door swung open with a bang and a group of Chinese men glared at me and one of them said,

“We know who you are! Dead or alive, you’re coming with us!”

I simply sniggered, clucked and replied recklessly in a half joking tone.

“Yeah, sure you do! I get this shit about once a week, you like the rest of the other 10,000 truckies ***** from Chinatown all know who I really am, don’t you? (not even bothering to turn back while busying myself with the crates) I am the benefactor, don’t you recognize me m***********? (bringing my face close to the leader who stepped back a pace in shock) the same one that everyone is looking for, north, east, south and west – yeah the one who eloped with some big shots daughter, there she is behind the counter – look! That’s the bitch.” Nodding towards Jeannie as she struggled to understand why I had suddenly behaved in such a reckless manner –while secreting herself behind the counter.

For a while they all looked at each other – while another group of Chinese customers seated along one of the benches froze, chopsticks and dumplings hanging in mid air exchanging doubtful looks – I continued stacking cabbages and from time to time, even cursed the delivery boy for being too lazy to carry them all the way to the back,

“Your mother gave birth to a turtle, you dumb lazy ****, a turtle and it ain’t even a land turtle, **** your mother! Get your ass down here and help the benefactor or he will waste you into turtle soup!” – it worked – from the corner I caught sight of the slight grin forming on one of the men and in a while the others broke out into rapturous laughter, only for one of them to remark.

“Yeah sure you are the benefactor – we believed you, really we do, if not for the fact, your face looks like one of those cabbages you’re carrying.”

The others laughed again, till even the English drivers were giving them sidelong glances from the rim of their plastic bowls.

“Really, I am the benefactor of what? The four sacks of potatoes and that woman behind the counter is the daughter of the big shot – I swear to you from the very bottom of my heart!”

“You really shouldn’t have given us such a fright stranger – he nearly choked on his dumplings (one of them pointing to a fat man who had slipped off the bench) – but I guess you get that a lot from our Chinatown boys from London telling you the same thing?”

“All the time, brother, all the time – though at sometimes, I wish I really was the benefactor.”

“Why is that?”

“That way, instead of you boys sitting there on your fat asses – all of you will be so frightened you’ve help me with some of these f******** crates! By back is killing me!”

This triggered another round of laughter, one of them even pointing at Jeannie as he continue to shake uncontrollably with bits of dumplings coming out from the corner of his gapping mouth.

“Hey, hey, hey! – Careful with that f******* floor – the benefactor wouldn’t be pleased with the way, you dishonor his honorable floor.”

This time, I even stood astride holding one of the cabbages like a pistol with my head cocked.

Again they laughed – this time one of them, even raised his hands up patting his chest as he coughed uncontrollably,

“Enough please – you’re killing us!”

In a while after finishing their dumplings, they to settled down pulling on their cigarettes – the joke having run the end of it’s course – while I continued stacking the last of the crates. As those men recounted one tale after another, one of them recounted.

“That benefactor was a real ladies man, I bet he hammered the old man’s wife, that’s why they did him nice and proper.”

“No doubt about it.” Someone said.

“How do you know?”

“Know the younger brother of the man who did him – runs a restaurant in Derby but everyone knows he is a hired gun – bad ass character. Cant recall the name, but delivered before.”

At that point Jeannie stormed out slamming the door – from where I stood, it could just about make out a muffled whimper in the kitchen.

The others looked at me to pick up the cue.

“See what you done now – you lorry drivers are all the same, not knowing when to shut your sh*t pot mouth – finish and f*** on off. I am shutting early tonight – my back is killing me and that bitch is in one of her baby moods.”

“You mean she is pregnant?”

“They’re like that when they all get big around the tummy.” Someone added.

Turning towards one of these men, I glared.

“Before you boy f*** off tell me more about the man who dun in the benefactor.”

“What’s it to you cabbage face?”

“May need his services to square some old accounts – you know what I mean?” fingering the deep scar just above my eye.

At another corner, someone crunched a fortune cookie and read out the transcript,

“This week, someone who you know is going to help color the life of a complete stranger. Remember the magic color for this week is red – bright lucky red!”

darkness 2002

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