Tiong Bahru will forever remain in my memories. Not because of its beauty, neither because of the beautiful people who come to this sophisticated shopping mall; but because of someone I met here. As I drove past the busy traffic evading the heavy traffic police deployed on all the major round-abouts, my heart was beating fast and I knew that I was headed for something good. Whatever it was, I had no idea.
As I parked my black Mercedes Benz near the shopping mall, the sun was heating up the whole area as people moved up and down like bees. Packed to capacity, it was literally too hard to penetrate through the heavy crowd at the entrance. More and more people kept rushing up and down in a systematic manner such that I couldn’t help noticing the strange movement. The sophisticated nature of Tiong Bahru was something that caught your attention any time you came to the place. But today something was strange. I no longer saw the beauty; all I saw was more and more people moving up and down. I stood for some time transfixed to the ground wondering what it was that I was missing. It was evident that something was not well with me. I had a deep conviction that something worth being happy for was going to happen.
As I came back to my senses, I started moving towards the shopping center. Suddenly, my Samsung Galaxy rang and as I stretched out my hand to fish it out of my pockets, the vibration was too strong that I could feel it affecting my skin. It was my sister asking me whether I could pick her up from the other side of Tiong Mahru.. After dropping the call, I decided to go have some buffet from the food court since I hadn’t eaten anything from morning. As I headed towards the food court, I noticed a lady looking outside the window. I couldn’t help but wonder why the whole place looked so strange on this particular Sunday. As I entered the food court, I almost knocked down some lady as she rushed out of the food court with food still in the mouth to pick up a call. Looking at her, my heart started beating fast. I knew that something strange about this lady was really turning me on. Was she all I was waiting for the whole time? I couldn’t help but wonder. Or maybe I wished that she was all I had been waiting for. The beauty of this lady convinced me that this lady must have been created while the creator was in no hurry. All the curvatures on her body made me think that she could have been a statue sculpted by the gods.
With every detail on her body well spelled out, I was certain that she wasn’t just any lady around. What is your name? I asked her as she finished talking. She looked at me as If I had been talking in some strange language. I repeated the question once more and to my surprise, she responded accordingly. She told me that her name was June and that she had come over with her boyfriend to have some nice time. I was shocked as sweat droplets ran down my face. Disappointment was clearly written on my face as I looked at her in disbelief. Did I get her right? I was asking myself as trains of thoughts ran up and down my mind like fire burning up dried grass. Amid all the confusion, I started laughing out as if like was a cosmic joke and I had just gotten the punch line.
“What did you say?” I asked her as I tried hard to come to terms with the reality.
She made the clarification that she had come over to Tiong Bahru with her boyfriend in order to have some nice time. As we were talking, a well-built man passed by. From the way he was looking at us, I could sense that he had an issue. His long unkempt hair had made dreadlocks; not because he was a Rastafarian, but due to prolonged lack of acquaintance with a comb. Looking at his face, I couldn’t help noticing a large scar that ran from his forehead down to the lips. This scar made him look like one of those crooks in the movies. His bloodshot eyes coupled with red lips made him look like some blood-sucking reptile. What was certain was the fact that this man was not one of the most handsome.
“That’s him”, she said in an uneasy tone that told me that she was not well.
It was crystal clear that unless the sky was not blue; such a man could not be her boyfriend on a level ground. From that instance, I sought to find out how the two had become a couple. To my surprise, she told me of how the man by the name James was a billionaire and how he had demanded that she becomes his girlfriend in order for him to foot her mother’s medical bills. I was shocked at such degree of barbarism considering the fact that the era for such incidences was long gone. As she told me the whole story, I couldn’t help sympathizing with her. It was clear that given an option she could not opt to be with the man. As we talked, she made it clear that she would have wished to be with someone else if she had the money to support her ailing mother.
From that point, it was clear that financial instability was her only mistake and destiny had decided to punish her harshly for it by having her sell her beauty out to such a person. Although I didn’t have too much money, I had enough money to take care of such a beauty. I sweet-talked her into having me for a boyfriend and as the man waited patiently for her to go collect the money, we instead walked out together to some unknown and uncertain future.
As we entered into my black Mercedes Benz, I could not help but thank Tiong Bahru for bringing such a beauty my way. As the darkness fast approached, we were somewhere in the car alone in some isolated place in Tiong Bahru estate in Singapore having a ‘nice talk’ that turned out to be a lasting relationship. That was the reason I could never forget Tiong Bahru. I had even forgotten to go pick my sister that day.