THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 34 & 35 “Somewhere in the Jungles in Kampuchea during the Rainy Season – 4 years ago.”

Posted by inspir3d on February 20, 2005

“There is no point in radioing, they’re changed the frequencies, they’re cut us loose and don’t think for one moment, they’re going to send a rescue squad to get us out of this shit hole. It’s all gone wrong very wrong, we not even supposed to be so far up North, someone either ****ed up big time with lousy intel or we’re just expandable, trust me, otherwise we wouldn’t have the whole ****ing Vietnamese army breathing down our necks. I’ve lost half my platoon, I can’t even allow myself to think about it otherwise I’ve go all spastic, I’ve got to keep it all……..together (clamping his head with hands).Listen up this is as good as it gets, to the West we have Uncle Ho and his merry men. To the South, it’s way too far to the Thai border and to the West, we have Mr Year Zero and his killing fields, so that leaves us only one option, the North to Laos. From where we are, we about two hundred or so miles from Muang Khong, (the man stoops and draws a straight line on the ground) all we have to do is follow the Mekong upstream, from here to the Laos, she runs straight up like an arrow. Now we’ve been trained for this sort of thing, so I want you all to do it by the book, junk the No.4’s, dog tags, boots even the heavy metal, there are only nine of us left, find some civilian clothes. Split up, one man traveling by himself has about an even chance of making it through, but a group…no way…..no way in hell….. Keep the sun to your left, stay close to the river but not too close and remember when we make it back, the last one to Mutho’s Curry house picks up the bill! Good luck and I’ve see you all there!”

4 days later. He stood surrounded by the lush jungles walking the narrow earthen path – a sliver of a trail which had yet to be warmed by the rays of the morning sun. How far had he traveled? How far was there to go? He remembered passing burning villages by the side of river, sun dried bone white thatched roofs; the crinkled hands of an old woman serving him brackish water from a polished coconut shell; a burning fire in his head that would not go away, a metallic taste in the back of his throat that lingers, yet he continued walking – one foot in front of the other as if this was the only thing that really mattered. Once, he passed a village, empty of inhabitants save for a flock of black birds feasting on the remains of the dead, perhaps it might have been vultures, he was not sure, he had gone over this too many in his head to wonder why he should have preoccupied himself with such meaningless trite; but whenever it is a voice in his head whispered,

“You’re losing it, keep it together, keep it together.”

By the seventh day, he remembered vaguely the voices of brown skinned children following him along country trails, beckoning him,

“Siah praih thuen pie, siah praih thuen pie, si ku vein drangh.”

(Beggar go away, beggar go away, or I’ve stone you to death.)

He noted the slight change in the way they rolled out their words unlike Southerners stretching their vowels, he must be very close to the border now he thought, the nights were colder, Yes, he must be very close to the border now.

He took another bite of coconut flesh from his pocket, it was crawling with ants but it hardly mattered to someone who already had a ruin mouth or dribbled more than he could chew and soon he felt the familiar pain somewhere deep within his gut, it had followed him throughout his journey.

By the sixth day, when he arrived at the rivulets that constituted the turning point of the Mekong when it turned South, droplets of molten sunlight swirled in front of his eyes then slowly coalesced to form the face of a young man in a Khaki uniform who brought his face close to the beggar – before passing out completely, the beggar chuckled like a deranged man half crying and laughing, he had noticed the orange star on the crumpled cap of the soldier – it was the uniform of a Lao border guard.

darkness 2002

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Present day Singapore – A Straits Times, Life section interview with a famous Curry house proprietor article simply entitle, “The Strange Eating Habits of Singaporeans.” (to be published sometime in the near future.)

Wat dah dey! Today I want to talking about gila*1 people in this Singapura*2. You know (pointing to himself), I in this business many years already (raising up his finger knowingly), you can asking all everybody from Woodlands, Jurong and even East Coast, all knowing number one curry fish head here lah. (tapping the counter proudly).

Deh, dat one another story lah, let me tell you the story about gila people who come to eating here. I Mutho very simple one, you have money, you want to do what you want – your business lah. Yoga also can. Kamasutra of course cannot lah, (smiling and turning the inside of both palms) you want me, Mutho to kena summon is it? (slapping the reporter jokingly while offering him another papadum) that one go Mohd sultan road*3 to seeing dancing on table lah, but here in Mothu Curry house in my father time (turning to garlanded image of a man who smiled supremely) he always saying,

“Customer is first deh!”

Deh! Don’t disturbing lah!

“Ah cha enah saperdeh deh. Yena porangeh, pundek moneh!”*4 (Can’t you see I am talking to a reporter here, I talk about renewing your work permit tomorrow, can’t you see it’s a bad time, get your Southern ass back of the kitchen!)

Sorry what I talking just now? Ok, ok la, gila people (rotating his fingers round his head) who coming to my shop.

Isay, (slapping his forehead) I want to tell you this story about one psycho who coming here to eating every Friday, this fellow all the waiters here call,

“Piatiam champion No.1”*5.

This fellow coming. You know what he doing or not? He sitting down lah (pointing to a table for two), so we give the rice lah, but he saying, “somemore” so we give lah, rice free apa?*6 So he saying “somemore” until becoming mountain lah, then this psycho looking at the mountain of rice, his face like Woodbridge fellow lah*7 – then he make hole with his hand, until like volcano, then pouring sambar lah, then he hantam*8 all the rice. This psycho everyone in Serangoon road know, he champion*9. Aiyoh (slapping his forehead).

Another psycho but this fellow only come one time in one year, like national day lah wat dah (slapping his head) you don’t know is it, one time one year lah! No such thing as two national day, only one time (holding one a single finger) usually this psycho coming during rainy season lah, many people also come to makan*10 that time also, because Chinese believe when rain come, the body not so solid lah, so curry give power*11 lah (nudging and winking at the reporter).

This fellow only taking the bus (pointing to nearby bus stand outside the shop), he always carrying the bag, isay what the word deh? (clicking his fingers and looking to the ceiling) ah! Briefcase. Ayo yo briefcase that word nearly forgetting deh.

Oho. this psycho always calling first one, he stylo milo lah – gaya ada sikit, he telling what he want on telephone first (making a phone with fingers), always table for twenty one people, he also ordering curry fish head first for 21 people and he want to seeing all the makan when he enter, he don’t like to wait one.

When he coming in that time, he sit down at the table and this is the gila part lah, he telling the waiter all to giving rice lah, I say one time to him, rice I can give dah, but cold rice tasty ah? (cupping his hand to his mouth) Cold rice nice is it? But like my father saying in his time, you pay we give lah, rice free apa? No charge for rice in my restaurant! So we give this psycho what he want lah.

One time I asking this psycho, but he don’t look like psycho fellow you know, they one kind one. This fellow got standard a bit lah, gentlemen psycho lah. I asking,

“When your kaki*11 coming deh? (pointing to his gold rolex watch) very late already deh!”

This fellow just smiling any how any way he hantam lah*12 lah, sitting there (pointing to a long table at the corner) all by himself, but when I seeing longer his face, he like telling me another story deh, (leaning closer to the journalist) this psycho telling me,

“Dei Thamby*13, they are already here lah. You got no eyes to see kah?” (burst out in rapturous laughter, offering the journalist a glass of mango lassi.)

But all the table still kosong*14 food some more there lah! This kind of people also have in Singapura. Original psycho. (laughing and shaking his hands while reaching for a box of kleenex), that’s why I Mutho saying, in Singapura, got many funny people lah. You believe this story or not, that one lu punya pasal lah*14.

So you remember what I talking to you today, hello mister (leaning over the counter to overlook the note pad of the journalist.), you know how to spell the name of my restaurant or not? Mutho with a “O.”

darkness 2002

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