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Blue Triangle

True & Blue


Love Stories Of Chinatown

Andrew Yip

Unbridled passion, shady deals in high circles. Read about


Singapore’s Chinatown in the Fifties in its original pulsating
ambience. Take time to gaze into the private lives of people
you would least expect to find in this part of Singapore.

ISBN 981-04-980-4
Blue Triangle
True & Blue
ISBN 981-04-9800-4

About the Author

The author is a psychologist and educationist. He was educated in Edinburgh, Malaysia, Singapore
and in Pennsylvania. Holder of a Master Degree in Education and an Honors Degree, and a
specialist in Advanced Psychology, Counseling and Guidance, Geography, Economics and Real
Estate, he had held various academic and professional appointments. He had worked as a
psychologist in a Scottish clinic, head of guidance and counseling department, chief education
officer and a director of various educational institutions.

About the Book

This book is a fictional account of life and love, written in a lively and entertaining manner, based
on actual happenings. In the novel, the author takes us to Singapore's Chinatown in the Fifties and
other faraway places in the United Kingdom and China, covering a time span of over forty years
and portraying in detail some of the changes that have taken place. It reveals a plethora of intimate
reflections and powerful anecdotes on such themes as love, sex, drama, intrigues and
disillusionment. It also gives an insight into the intricacies of human nature and the strength and
stability of family and social relationships as well as their inherent frailty and fragility. These
human characteristics taken together with acquired social behavior and even such controversial
subjects like love and marriage, as well as inter-racial and illicit sex have been examined
dispassionately through the professional eyes of a psychologist and counselor, often in a mock-
serious tone.

This plot touches on all dimensions of life - human nature, the human mind, personal-social
relationships, sex, love, marriage, politics, and business, relating to situations and locations
spanning several continents. It is appealing to both young and old and written in such a way that it
is both informative and entertaining. Above all, it gives an insight into the complexities of human
nature and the unfathomable human mind and its awesome power, and provides psychological,
educational and even religious guidance in a very subtle and non-intrusive way.

All the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,
is purely coincidental.

Blue Triangle
“You don’t have to say Sorry”
Jia Ming and Peng Mun cycled all the way from Chinatown to the Tiger Swimming Club
at Pasir Panjang. For both young cyclists, this was a serious challenge. Winning the race
meant more than just winning fifty dollars. It meant winning the respect of their girl
friends. Both of them also rode motorcycles and blazed the trail around the countryside,
the fashion of those days for youngsters. However, they both thought that pedaling a
bicycle for long distances posed a real challenge, a real test of grit and endurance.

Chinatown in 1950

Jia Ming’s girl friend, Swee Leng was excited to see the new Raleigh bike just delivered
to Jia Ming’s house at 47 Kreta Ayer Road. In front of a number of friends, she said, “I’m
sure with this bike, Jia Ming could ride faster than Peng Mun.” Peng Mun was well
known as a strong athlete and cyclist. Just a simple remark, but it led to a challenge,
something that gave both riders an adrenaline rush. Jia Ming was pumping up the tyres.
The remark made him pump up and let the rhythm hit off to bust the pump and almost
jumped up. He blurted out, “What can I say to make you feel how I feel? Uhh, I’ll let the
bike fly and ride with Peng Mun to the Tiger Swimming Club tomorrow.”
Kreta Ayer Road, c 1950s
Picture Title: Braving the Rain

No surprise. Jia Ming won the race. Peng Mun was smiling most coolly as he handed fifty
dollars to Jia Ming at the entrance of the swimming club. The two boys locked their bikes
against the lamp posts. Then they bought two entry tickets and ran into the changing
rooms.

Jia Ming lost no time to get a good workout at the chlorinated pool. He put on goggles to
prevent eye irritation and plunged into the pool at the deep end. Peng Mun followed him
doing the front crawl like Jia Ming. Both swam 10 laps at a fast pace, showing off their
skills and techniques, moving forward confidently.

After they completed their 10 laps, both climbed out of the pool and sat on the poolside
deck chairs. The two boys talked about school work for several minutes. Their
conversations turned to the girls they both loved. Jia Ming was all praise for Swee Leng.
“She is an angel, you know. I like to listen to her singing. She got a great voice. She took
part in various talentime contests and earned high praise from the judges. She really got
talents, excellent pitch control, probably destined to be a singer.” Peng Mun nodded
attentively, but his eyes were riveted on something in the pool.

“Jia Ming, look. Somebody dived into the water from the diving board, but never came
out. Look there. He appears to be still under the water. Let’s dive down and see whether
someone is still there.” Peng Mun spoke excitedly, gesticulating to Jia Ming to follow him.

The two boys dived into the pool, and to their amazement, they found a body at the deep
end of the diving pool. It was floating face down at the bottom of the pool. The boys
pulled up the body. At that point, the life guards came around to give the man artificial
respiration. The man was saved. The two boys became instant heroes in the Club.

When Jia Ming returned to his one-room apartment at Kreta Ayer Road, he got lots of
praises from everybody. His apartment was in Chinatown at the Blue Triangle.

For Jia Ming, the Blue Triangle was a wonderland. Its location is the part of Chinatown
bounded by Kreta Ayer Road, Keong Saik Road and Neil Road. The soul of Chinatown
was there. It was full of mystery and shrouded with intrigues and the unknown. To the
Chinese, the colour ‘red’ stands for Good Fortune; the colour blue stands for Wisdom. In
biblical interpretations, the colour ‘blue’ stands for “God” or “Godliness”. Maybe, it’s pure
coincidence. There are now a few Christian bookrooms and gift shops there in the Blue
Triangle.

Jia Ming’s dad played music in a Chinese Orchestra in the Tamfa Cultural Club there. He
played the violin, and sometimes the yang-qin (dulcimer). Jia Ming remembered with
fascination, how his father could make music from hammering two bamboo sticks upon
some 170 strings across a trapezoidal board. Jia Ming loved to accompany his Dad to the
club. He liked to listen to the sweet voices of Pipa girls as they sang with the Orchestra.

The Lady with a Pipa


At night, the rows of old shop-houses along Keong Saik Road appeared dull and lifeless, if
not for the flickering lights of red lanterns found here and there at a distance. It was about
eight o’clock in the evening. Jia Ming was still standing along the five-foot ways watching
the Pipa girls as they arrived. Now and then, he could see a few men walking by, faces
flushed with liquor, walking unsteadily along the five-foot ways and disappeared into a
narrow ground floor staircase entrance that led to the upper floors of the shop-houses. As
the rickshaws arrived, the Blue Triangle was immediately transformed into a land of
mystery, sensuality and beauty with Pipa girls, their cheong-sam attire and musical
instruments as perpetual symbols of romance and fascinations in Chinatown. Whether
foreigners or locals, they will be teleported by the Pipa girls to discover the depths of the
exotic wonders of Chinatown, amidst the sounds of classical music, and experience Pipa
tranquility playing the Pipa or sometimes the Chinese flute.

The glittering lamps and shimmering lights of the Rickshaws created an air of festivity in
this part of Chinatown. Mystery, Sensuality and Beauty – these are some of the
astonishing elements of the Pipa dream.

The Lady with a Pipa


In a rickshaw I once saw -
A lute player or just geisha,
Or soothing melodies – passion raw.

Yet, what is it will remain – the long elusive sight


Of the Lady and the Pipa she played,
Or melodies that thrilled till the morn of light;
Except within me a delusive dream has stayed.

I never knew but one whose heart could really feel,


And here she lies on a hillock by the stream,
Beneath the blossom her beauty and charm conceal.
All is waste – all just an empty Pipa dream.

(Lady with a Pipa – a poem by Andrew Yip)

Jia Ming made a sudden decision to have a closer look at the Tamfa Club at Keong Saik
Road. He knew his Dad is there, practising music with a Chinese Orchestra. So, he
found himself in a hall full of people. He glanced around to look for a familiar face, but
found none. For a moment, he panicked, as he did not really know what to do. He put
down his school bag, and sat down near the wall.

No sooner had he sat down, he heard a loud yell above his head. A brawny, big-boned,
burly fellow shouted some Cantonese expletive at him, and told him to move away. Jia
Ming spluttered apologetically and jerked himself up and was about to walk away. Just
then, a pretty Pipa girl came towards him. The girl was gorgeous. Her face was snow
white. Her lips were painted red. Jia Ming knew that girls used colouring papers to make
their lips blood red. She looked so alluring in her tight fitting cheong-sam which was the
evening attire in those days. Jia Ming told her he was looking for his Dad. The Pipa girl,
Ah Mui, then took him to the inner hall.

“Come upstairs,” she said, “see how the men gamble here. The Orchestra is further
inside.”

Jia Ming, quietly followed Ah Mui. There were lots of gambling tables. There were several
men and some pretty ladies around each table. Some men were smoking opium at a
corner. Smoke filled the air. Nobody seemed to be bothered by the presence of a young
boy who watched everything in rapt attention.

Opium Smokers

Ah Mui brought Jia Ming to a small hall at the back of the house. Jia Ming could hear the
sweet alluring melody of the Orchestra. Something about the occasion made him feel a
sense of joy and excitement. Just the thought that his father was playing the violin,
listening to beautiful Chinese classical music in Chinatown, and a host of other things, was
enough to cause his emotions, unpredictable and raw, to run wild.
A Chinese Orchestra

For several minutes, he stood at the entrance to the hall with the Pipa girl, spell-bound,
and he felt a sense of remorse mixed with some regret and guilt in thinking that everything
within a cultural club in Chinatown in the Blue Triangle was filth and squalor. As he
listened to the Orchestra playing and heard beautiful voices singing Cantonese opera
songs, he could not help but be prompted to ask himself the question, “Why can’t we have
more music and songs in Chinatown?”

But Jia Ming’s great love was not music and songs. His mind was tuned to the motor-
bike. In the Fifties, the sound of a single’s exhaust always brought excitement to the
young. It was the Golden Age of Motorcycles for Singapore. British bikes – BSA,
Triumph, AJS, Matchless, Norton, Velocette – had invaded roads and race tracks,
previously dominated by Harley-Davidson and Indian. Jia Ming had a Norton bike. He
bought the two wheeler with his own money, earned through giving private tuition in
Chinatown. He blazed trails in the open land at Holland Road and Katong.

Kreta Ayer Road in Chinatown

In Chinatown, he rode around slowly – always from Kreta Ayer Road, through Keong
Saik Road, Neil Road, and then back to Kreta Ayer Road, making a few circles.
Occasionally, he stopped by the roadside to clean the bike or polish it. Sometimes, he
rode in the early morning, even when there was a drizzle. The morning mist put a layer of
moisture on the chrome. Jia Ming would wipe the dew off the seat with a rag, tickle the
carb and mount the bike. Using the compression release, he would kick the piston through
until it was on compression stroke and kick it without the compression release, maybe
once, maybe more, until it fired. The exhaust was crisp, sharp with a bark as he cracked
the throttle.
Swee Leng perhaps fell in love with Jia Ming because of the way he handled the
motorbike. She got a sense of thrill whenever he took her on a Wild Ride. Jia Ming was a
quiet person, somewhat mild and gentle in behavior and mannerism, but he could get a
little wild and dare devilish on his bike sometimes. She loved sitting up close to him on the
bike. She loved the power of the bike rumbling her body.

Swee Leng’s family occupied a room adjacent to Jia Ming’s room where he stayed with his
brothers and sisters. The rooms were on the third floor of a block of flats built by the SIT
(acronym for the Singapore Improvement Trusts). Jia Ming’s room faced the main road,
whereas Swee Leng’s room faced the Hill Top at the rear.

Jia Ming was alone studying in his room. Someone knocked on the door. He opened the
room door.

“Hello,” the voice was soft and seductive, and somewhat apologetic. “I’m waiting for my
mother to come home. Could I use your window to look out for her? She is rather late
coming home today”

“Why sure! Come in, “ Jia Ming replied.

Soon, they stood together at the window, watching the cars going by and people walking
slowly along the five-foot ways below. It was a cool day, and they enjoyed doing just that
for a long while, without uttering a single word. But after a while, they became more
aware of their closeness.

Jia Ming unconsciously brushed his arms against hers. For both teenagers, this was a
moment of magic. There was a sort of magnetism or electricity going through their young
bodies, as they both felt the warmth of a gentle touch. Neither dared to move a single
muscle. Neither said a word. Such was the picture of pure innocence, as the first glow of
love began to show. Perhaps this was a moment of magic for two of them, both young and
innocent. Perhaps, this was young love, sweet, innocent and pure.

Shouts of “Leng”, where the hell are you?” startled the teenagers and brought Jia Ming
and Swee Leng back to earth from their dream world. Leng’s mother shouted angrily, as
she walked around the place outside, looking for her daughter. When she saw Swee Leng
in Jia Ming’s room, she asked Leng to return to her room, and in a low , but stern and
firm voice, told her not to mix around with boys from this poor neighbourhood.

Leng’s mother, Siew Koo, as everyone called her, was a tall gaunt woman in her fifties.
She had white hair and a solemn, non-smiling deadpan face. She became a widow during
the war as her husband was killed fighting the Japanese. After that, she had to work
extremely hard as a tailor to bring up three young daughters and a son, with strict
discipline, constant admonishment and a stubborn will that was close to unreasonableness.
But she really cared for the family. She thought highly of her daughters, as they were
beautiful, talented and very intelligent. She thought no young men in Chinatown were
good enough for them. But she loved Swee Leng and her main concern was the fact that
she was just a teenager. To her, the idea of young loves was not only idiotic and
nonsensical, but harmful or desirable, to say the least.

Young love is often a mixture of sweetness and bitterness. All love stories involving
young people invariably have their complications, because life is indeed a roller coaster
ride with its ups and downs, twists and turns, thrills and spills. And it is not a short ride on
a roller coaster. It is in reality a journey in life. In this instance, the love story involving Jia
Ming and Swee Leng was influenced by the environmental conditions within the cluster of
government flats. The scenario was unique; the location unusual. In a sense, it was an
idiotic story of a young love blossoming in a crowded government apartment block in
Chinatown with many families living closely together immediately after the Second World
War.

Here, on the third level of the block, there were six families, with three families sharing a
toilet, a bath and a kitchen, and an open area slightly bigger than a large bedroom to be
shared by all the six families for recreation.

As in all love stories, complications could crop up. In this instance, complications set in
because another pretty face was found in one of the other families, and she also liked Jia
Ming . Her name is San. Because of San, there were frequent instances of
misunderstanding and sometimes arguments. Often in his quiet way, Jia Ming firmly
protested his innocence. But the flashes of fire and the spreading fumes of suspicions and
distrust could not be extinguished in such a facile manner. Swee Leng was tortured by the
agonizing pangs of jealousy and misunderstandings, and became insanely angry and almost
suffocating in despair, accompanied by a sense of hopelessness and loss. It was not
dissimilar to the tortured cry of Othello when he feared that he would be losing
Desdemona:

"I rather be a toad


And live upon the vapor of a dungeon,
Than keep a corner in the thing I love,
For other's uses."

(Othello III, iii. 270)

Such was the depth of emotions in Swee Leng, as she decided to nip the problem in the
bud. She decided to confront San. In a voice tinged with sadness, and gulping down the
tears streaming from her dark brown eyes, she said “Sorry, I love Jia Ming so much. I
cannot live without him. “ She also confided that Jia Ming loved her.

San's reply was one of indifference, “You don’t have to say Sorry.” Although her heart
already had a soft spot for Jia Ming; but she was magnanimous and added " It's okay, do
not worry your head over this, as there is nothing between Jia Ming and me." She could
have said: 'Let the better girl win.' Or? 'Let destiny decide'. Or? Say nothing. Anyhow,
Swee Leng was somewhat comforted, and she thanked San for that assurance.

But, for Swee Leng, this was not the end of the problem. Jia Ming's friends noticed how
dejected he looked, and started to introduce him new girl friends. This made Swee Leng
more depressed.

Things came to ahead when Siew Koo found out about the daughter's love affair with Jia
Ming. She showed her displeasure by shouting and yelling at the top of her voice, “Jia
Ming is not fit enough for you, Swee Leng. I would rather cut you into pieces, than allow
this love affair to go on. I want you to marry somebody rich, not just to marry into a
shopkeeper's family.”

Swee Leng's response was to cry and said she wanted to die. Her tears did not move the
mother even a little. She added with a caustic comment, ' I do not want any of you girls to
befriend Jia Ming's family.'

Several years passed. Jia Ming steered clear of Swee Leng to avoid trouble with Siew
Koo. He moved into the college hostel and concentrated on his studies. He passed every
examination with distinction and graduated with honours. Frequently, he communicated
with Swee Leng, still pledging his love for her. Both still held on to the unchanging love
that had blossomed in their hearts.

There comes a time in everybody’s life that they may learn that love can be real and
unchanging. True love is unyielding. It never alters nor bends with the remover to remove.
It should never falter just because of parental objection, unless the reasons are compelling.
True love is constant. It is not a matter of the whims and fancies of people who wield
authority in your life.

To everyone at the engineering workshop at 47, Kreta Ayer Road, it began as an ordinary
Monday morning. Kim Ming, working there part-tme, started the day slowly, chatting
with some of the mechanics. His friend, Ah Chai was drinking coffee at the kitchen. The
first sign of disturbance came at 10 am when Jia Ming’s brother dashed in to use the
telephone. Something horrible had happened. Kim Ming heard some loud moaning noises.
He rushed into a room, and found his father cradling his young sister, Mei. He looked
closer and found her foaming in the mouth. Everyone was standing there, watching the
dying girl writhing and turning in pain, with tears streaming down their faces.

After a while, an ambulance came and took her to the hospital. A few hours later, she was
pronounced dead. She had left a suicide note indicating that her boy friend had forsaken
her. She had chosen to die for unrequited love. It was in this note that she recorded the
specifics of her anguish, tears and fears. She spelt out details of her desperation,
loneliness, sleeplessness, and pangs of heartaches and pain and moments of despair. No
one, near and dear to her, had known her suffering, sorrows and affliction. No one knew
about her love affair, or the name of her boy friend. Mei had been reticent. She kept
everything to herself.

Ah Mei’s suicide had a profound impact on Siew Koo. For the first time, she realized what
love meant to those in love, and concomitantly, the fragility of the human mind. She began
to reflect deeply about Swee Leng’s love affair. She knew it was no passing fancy. She
knew she had been deeply hurt and was treated for depression. She understood now her
daughter’s insomnia, loss of appetite, loss of weight and constant hiding at home in
seclusion. She decided to give the couple a chance to be together.

Siew Khoo made a deliberate move in the following month. She approached Lin, the
mother of Jia Ming, to indicate her interest in participating in the Seven Sisters Festival
celebration organised at Kreta Ayer Road by Lin.

The Festival falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of each year, and was
celebrated in Chinatown in a grand style. The Festival has its origin in Chinese folklore
dating back more than 1,500 years. The legend, features a weaver maid (with six older
sisters), who led a lonely life working at her loom throughout the year. Her father, the
Heavenly Emperor, felt sorry for her and allowed her to marry a cow herder from across
the Milky Way. After the wedding, she neglected her weaving duties and the Emperor
ordered her to return home and visit her husband only once a year - on the seventh day of
the seventh moon. The celebrations centre on religious rites and feature needlework
competitions. As part of the worship, young women make offerings to the night sky and
the two stars that represent the cow herder and the maid. They usually present fruit and
burn joss sticks and incense in the open air, chiefly on rooftops, in backyards and gardens
or at back lanes.

For Jia Ming, there was a great deal of activity at his mother’s shop house, since his
mother operated a Seven Sister Club with contributions from the Majies staying there.
Members would receive roast pork and other valuables on that day and gathered for
dinner at the premises. At the back lane of the shop house, Lin would hang on the wall a
big Seven Sisters Plate. Below this was an altar for prayers, displaying roast pork and
other things used as offerings to the seven fairy maidens.

( Picture showing Hair-combing, a ritual to stay single by two Majes in Chinatown )


The shop house was packed with visitors. There were tears in Jia Ming’s eyes, as the
smoke from the burning of incense and joss sticks, irritated his tear glands. His ears were
bombarded by noises everywhere – people chatting and laughing loudly, and some Taoist
priests chanting away prayers incomprehensible to him. And there were clang-clang
sounds of gongs and tock-tock beats accompanying the prayers.

It was a cacophony orchestrated by his mother to celebrate the Seven Sisters Festival with
her club members. Jia Ming could have walked away for peace and quiet, but he stood
there. He was glued on the spot when his eyes were riveted on the face of Swee Leng .
Siew Koo had brought her to the celebration. No words were spoken. They just stared at
each other. But Lin was quick to notice his son staring at Swee Leng, and asked them to
help prepare the altar at the rear of the shop house. It was the first occasion for the two
young people to do things together, but it was the beginning of a partnership that
stretched over decades.

With so many activities during the evening, naturally large groups of young girls in their
beautiful samfu flocked the streets of Chinatown to watch the display of the Seven Sisters
Plate everywhere. Some of these were very imaginatively designed in three dimensions,
and with offerings like jade bangles and other valuable items attached to them. The streets
were packed with people. The boys like Jia Ming and Peng Mun also spent the entire
evening watching the street hawkers and the celebrations, as well as the maidens who
thronged the streets. It was indeed great fun. At midnight when things became quieter, the
boys would sit on wooden benches at the Hilltop in Chinatown to gaze at the moon and
the twin stars in the night sky that represented the fairy maiden and the cow herder.

Six months’ later, Jia Mng married Swee Leng. The marriage ceremony was traditional,
and held at his home at Kreta Ayer Road.

The Wedding Ceremony started off with both bride and groom dressing up for the
occasion. At dawn, Jia Ming put on a long gown, red shoes and a red silk sash with a silk
ball on his chest. Then he knelt at the ancestral altar, and put on a cap decorated with
cypress leaves on his head to declare his adulthood and his family responsibility.

At her home, Swee Leng also started dressing up at dawn. She took a bath in water
infused with various grapefruits. She then put on new clothes and a pair of red shoes. A
woman helped her to comb her hair in the style of a married woman. Then her head was
covered with a red silk veil with tassels or bead strings that hung from the phoenix crown.
She then waited for the bridegroom to escort her to his home. Gathered in the house were
a number of bride’s aides or da jin jie whose duties included dressing up the bride and
helping with her make-up. Some of the Majies who were experienced in marriage rites
were chosen for this role. The bride’s aides were expected to be quite vocal and articulate
in saying auspicious things during and after the wedding ceremony. On this day, the family
made red and white glutinous rice balls or tangyuan using glutinous rice flour, and offered
them to the bride’s aides as a customary gesture of thanks.
A red sedan chair was used to carry the bride. On her way to the sedan chair, the bride was
shielded with a red parasol. Someone also threw rice at the sedan chair, at the back of
which hung a sieve and a metallic mirror that were believed to protect he bride from Jia
Ming came later with some escorts and musicians playing all the way to Swee Leng’s
home. At the doorstep of Swee Leng’s house, he found the entrance blocked by the
bridesmaids and other ladies. They gave him a difficult time, including asking him to sing a
song, before he was allowed to meet the bride. He also had to give them red packets with
money.
evil. Then came the firecrackers to drive away evil spirits, as Lin sat on the sedan chair.

On reaching Jia Ming’s home, firecrackers were again set off. She stepped on a red mat
before entering the house. At the threshold, she had to step over a flaming stove. Then the
bride and bridegroom were led to the family altar where they bowed to Heaven, Earth, the
family ancestors and Jia Ming’s mother in that order. After that, they bowed to each other,
and then they were led to the bridal chamber.

In the evening there was a grand feast for the relatives and friends. At the dinner, the
couple had to toast to the guests to pay their thanks. There was some good-natured
ragging of both bride and bridegroom after the wedding feast, but such bridal ragging was
well handled by the experienced majies, who were paid about a hundred dollars each for
their services.

Love and marriage could just be simple like this. But it could be complicated as
experienced by many couples in modern society. The complications young people face
nowadays manifest in the intricate patterns of social relationships inherent in modern
culture. Depending on perceived roles and individual expectations, life is no longer the
same, no longer simple or carefree; the moment marriage is contemplated or realized.

The sad fact is no longer surprising – love and marriage may not always go together like
horse and carriage once the honeymoon is over and social relationships are frail and fragile
at whatever level. It’s easy to kid ourselves that this won’t happen if there is commitment
in marriage. Two persons in matrimony must love and respect one another. A simple rule!
But this is easier said than done. There’s bound to be problems and irritations in the river
of life. The husband cannot expect the wife who may be working always to remain the
gentle and sweet, ever smiling sedate darling of his heart. Even if she remains a housewife,
there is bound to be situations and problems at home that could upset her equanimity or
composure. When that happens, the husband feels that he has to face a barrage of
complaints every time he returns from a hard day’s work at the office.

Take a different scenario in which the wife expects her man to be an instant success in life.
After all, she is human and she lives in an “instant” get-rich-quick society with “instant
tea,” “instant noodle,” and so many “instant buttons” and the likes of them. She also lives
in an “affluent” society, where roadside plants are watered with “effluent” water. Naturally,
she expects to have a good life with the five capital “C’s” and she wants to keep up with
the Jones’s. But the husband is just a simple guy. He may not be rich or getting richer. He
may not be dynamic or charismatic. He may not even be doing well in the office or factory.

Shed a tear for this average working man. Warfare and deadly battles in the steaming
human jungles calls for shock troops in super shape. Making millions calls for rare gifts of
business acumen and shrewdness, keen business strategy, sweat, guts and sometimes tears,
an unbending will and indomitable courage and determination, and what God sometimes
does not provide, ample financial reserves and capital. Check this out. This applies to
Jimmy Brown, but it applies to any honest average working man as well.

Shed a tear for Jimmy Brown


Poor Jimmy is no more
For what he thought was H20
Was H2SO4

So, it is not surprising that the average working man feels unhappy at home when he faces
a daily dose of complaints from his wife. He may choose to keep quiet. If he opens his
mouth, every word he utters could meet with a sharp retort, often laced with poisonous
belittlement, ridicule and scorn.

The River of Life is a River of No Return

In the river of life, there is bound to be constant attrition, corrasion or erosion along its
narrow winding course. There is bound to be rapids or sharp falls and a great deal of
sedimentation. There may be confluence with other lives, as the river meanders along
joined by other tributaries, and one might just get confused or lost, because in this river of
no return, there are few guiding lights. Much depends on how strong are the riverbanks
and what forms the bedrock of the river valley. How things will turn out with love and
marriage in modern life depends on the bedrock of character of the individuals involved.

EPILOGUE

Jia Ming and Swee Leng lived happily together, both overseas and in Singapore where they resided in a
bungalow house in a quiet suburban area. A distinguished civil servant, he rose to the rank of Director of a
government institute. His wife became a Matron in a local hospital. He had a son and three daughters
working overseas. His elder daughter became a University Professor. Another served in the United
Nations. Soon after his retirement, Jia Ming died in Singapore after a prolonged illness.

Disclaimer

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents
are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Blue Triangle Love
( Feelings )
“Siew Wing,” an old lady shouted. “Please attend to the customer outside.

Siew Wing obeyed his mother’s yell immediately. He quickly placed his text book down on
his desk, tidied his shirt a little and dashed out of his room. He then stood behind the
Service Counter ready to serve customers.

Siew Wing’s mother seemed to be busy talking to one of her many tenants staying in a
shophouse in the Blue Triangle in Chinatown. The Blue Triangle was well known in
Singapore as a red light district at Keong Saik Road in Singapore. Siew Wing’s mother
rented out several rooms to various families. She also operated a café and a gift shop
using the front portion of the three-storeyed shophouse. Siew Wing spent his time in the
shophouse helping his mother to serve customers in the café whenever he was not
required to attend University classes.

The customer turned out to be a beautiful Eurasian girl staying at Keong Saik Road. Siew
Wing was astonished to find such a beauty in the slums of Chinatown. His face turned red
when she started talking to him.

“Hi, you are new here. I came to this café before but only the Auntie was in the café. You
must be someone she just hired for the job.”
Siew Wing laughed and explained that he was the son of Auntie Lin.

The beautiful girl giggled and asked him for his name. She mentioned that her name was
“Megan”. To his surprise, Megan asked whether he had a girl friend, and whether he
would like to hang out sometime.

Siew Wing was shocked, and became a little dazed. Then he started to act goofy and
began to talk glibly about many things including school work. He ended up volunteering
to teach Megan how to ride a bicycle.

Riding a bike in a basket ball court in Outram School nearby was a novel experience to
Megan. “This is so good;” she screamed.
Siew Wing thought it could not be real. Teaching such a beauty to ride a bike was indeed
a new thing to him. He was quite shy in the company of girls, and here he was holding the
handle bar and touching Megan’s arms, helping her to keep her balance on the bicycle seat.
He felt the thrills as they touched each other and their gaze met. It was so innocent, but it
was the beginning of feelings.

A few days later, they met again – this time in his study. “I miss you, “ Megan spoke
hesitatingly.

'I miss you too,' was the reply.

Siew Wing gently took Megan in his arms. He then held her face with his hands, and gazed
at her fondly, and whispered, 'Megan, Megan.' For a moment, both appeared to be in
another world. They just looked at each other and not a word was uttered between them
for several minutes. Unable to control himself, Siew Wing gently brushed her sweet lips
with his fingers. He could sense the soft quivering of Megan's face, as he began to touch
her face with his hands, ever so softly, and thrilled to feel the smoothness of her skin and
the soft fragrance of her body. He was overawed by touch of her warm body against his.
He moved his head forward and with his lips he touched her softly on the side of her face.
He heard her moan and sigh almost imperceptibly, but there was no resistance or recoil.
He became bolder and shifted his lips closer to the side of her face nearer to her mouth
and stopped there, lingering a little and shifting his lips on her face, a little closer to her
mouth. Still holding his breath and with his heart beating loudly, he made a sudden jerk to
touch her lips with his own. This was his first kiss with a girl. He was curious in his heart
as to what this would do to him, or to Megan. He just pressed his lips against her, not
moving or shifting at all, just touching and feeling the ecstasy of this close contact with the
opposite sex.

It was as if time stood still. Two young lovers, both with no prior experience of any
sexual contact, just stood there, holding each other in the arms, with lips touching and not
daring to make any other move, nor create any motion. Megan appeared to be either more
experienced or daring. She suddenly started to part her lips slightly to allow his tongue to
touch her lips slightly. He sensed the warmth of her breath and the heat of her tongue, and
the world seemed to whirl around him. He held her more tightly, and gently touched her
hair. He breathed in deeply to savour the fragrance that seemed to envelop him. Then
Megan rested her head on his right shoulder, as they clung to each other. Siew Wing
kissed her again and again, this time, murmuring her name, 'Megan, Megan' all the time as
he kissed. Then Megan disengaged herself after a short pause, and said, 'Wing, I got to
leave. Mum is coming back soon.' With these words, she left the room.

Siew Wing never had the chance to kiss Megan again. Soon his world was in turmoil, as
Megan's mother refused to allow her to go out with boys in the neighbourhood. Megan
just left a short note to tell Siew Wing that she was sorry she could not carry on with her
friendship with him. She said that it was quite clear that this would be hopeless from the
beginning. Siew Wing was devastated. He just stayed in the room alone, nursing his
wounded pride and feeling depressed.

Siew Wing then began to spend more time serving in the cafe. Sometimes, he talked to
people walking along the sheltered five-foot way. One day, a young woman, who drove
around in a black British car, an expensive modern Mayflower, came into the cafe to
purchase some drinks for her two children. She was a very beautiful lady, stylishly dressed
and appeared to be rich. In Siew Wing's mind, anybody who drove a new car around in
this neighbourhood must be rich. She was very friendly and chatted with Siew Wing for a
long time, asking him about his studies and many personal questions, such as the girl
friends that he might have, and the type of girls he would like. From this encounter, Siew
Wing began to notice Kim whenever she drove around to buy things from the shop. One
day, Siew Wing was asked to accompany Kim to collect some goods from another shop.
This became the first of many car rides Siew Wing had with Kim. For Siew Wing, it was
quite a thrill to ride in a new car, and with such a beautiful driver and companion. He
enjoyed talking to her, and came to know that she was divorced from the husband for
three years, and she worked as a Manager with an advertising firm. He was still quite
depressed over what he regarded as unrequited love with Megan. Kim and her flashy car
provided the distraction that had a soothing effect on him. Siew Wing's mother did not
notice that gradually a friendship had developed between her nineteen-year-old son and
Kim, a divorced woman who was much more matured.

Kim was very direct in her approach. Just a few days later, she asked Siew Wing to
accompany her to the cinema. 'I am going to give you a treat, ' she said. 'You have not
been to the new cinema, called Odeon. Let’s go and see the show featuring Doris Day.”

Soon, they were inside the cinema, watching a musical show. Siew Wing felt thrilled, being
so close to this beautiful lady who was tall and slender, and appeared to be so
sophisticated with her stylish hair-do, her face so beautifully carved and enhanced with
expensive make-up. Siew Wing felt a great sense of pride to be with her. He could not
concentrate on the cinema screen. He seemed to have forgotten all about Megan. All he
admired in life seemed to be next to him. He gazed and gazed at Kim, watching her every
move, watching the sparkle in her big brown eyes, watching her sweet lips and her kind
gentle face. In his heart, there was a strange craving for warmth and affection, and he
hungered to be with Kim. In his mind, there was deep admiration for a lady so full of
confidence and charm. He knew he was lucky to be with her, and he could feel the envying
eyes on her wherever she walked. As they were watching the show, once in a while she
touched his hands while talking to him. Unconsciously, he drew close to her and became
intoxicated with the smell of her perfume, and her warm breath as she began to talk to him
so close to his face.

'Kim, are you feeling cold?' he asked, as he stretched out his hand to touch hers. He was
no expert in making any overtures to a lady. He asked the question purely to break the ice.
Her closeness numbed his senses. In the darkness, he just felt a little lonesome, and wanted
to touch her hands.

Quite surprisingly, Kim responded without answering his question, and held his left hand
with both her hands. She held it, and began to stroke it gently, as she turned to smile at
him, flashing him a cheery grin and a long and steady gaze that for a moment puzzled him.
But he liked her gaze, and the warmth of her hands. He sought her right hand, and began
to hold her palm and squeeze it, taking it slowly to his side, and placing it on his left thigh.
Kim, like the goddess of love, stroked his thigh a few times, perhaps just to assure the
young man that she liked him enough to touch him. But Siew Wing became aroused. His
mind was in a whirl as he touched her body. Kim was not dressed in skirts, but wore a
sort of slacks made of satin material. Siew Wing seemed to be able to feel her smooth skin
beneath the thin smooth slacks. Kim rested her hand on his and pressed his hand against
her abdomen, as if to prevent it from moving, but yet giving the impression that she would
not want it to be taken away. Siew Wing was too scared to make any move. They just
remained in this position for a long time, until Kim whispered into his ears, 'Not here,
please. After the show, we go to my place." Siew Wing only half understood what she
said, and moved his hand away. He remained seated without saying any word and was
quite motionless until the show was over.

It was around midnight when the Mayflower reached Kim's apartment at Grange Road.
Her apartment was on the topmost floor of a condominium building. They took the lift and
reached the apartment. As they entered the apartment, the lights were switched on. The
lights revealed the expensive décor of the flat. There were several rooms, all beautifully
furnished. The ceiling and walls were tastefully decorated. The furniture pieces according
to Kim were purchased from Diethelm, known to sell expensive quality furniture. There
were glittering chandeliers and wall lights, giving an ambience that was breath-taking to
Siew Wing.

After dimming the hall light and switching on the TV, Kim asked Siew Wing to take some
beer from the refrigerator to the living room. They then drank beer and indulged in some
small talk as they watched television. They were sitting closer and closer together. Siew
Wing's heart was pounding, feeling the warmth of Kim's presence and the fragrance of her
body that filled the air. He glanced at Kim. She gave the impression that she was absorbed
in the televised show, unaware of his presence. His lips were dry and his face became
flushed and warm. His eyes were glued not to the screen, but to the side of Kim's face.

Drawing closer to Siew Wing, she said, 'Come on, let us drink some more beer.' Noticing
that he appeared nervous, she put down the glasses and pulled his face towards hers, and
gave him a small kiss on his face. This seemed to have a magnetic effect on him.
Immediately, he leaned forward, cupped her face in his hands, and kissed her lips. He
pressed his lips hard on hers, and she responded passionately. He was in a state of
delirium, tasting every delicious moment of this long kiss.
Prompted by Kim's response, Siew Wing began to kiss Kim behind her ears and then
pressed his lips against her neck. Kim sighed and then said that this tickled her, but she
held him tight against her, holding him with one hand by the neck and another pressing
him down towards her, as she leaned back and lay down on the sofa. For a few minutes,
he concentrated on kissing Kim on the neck, and then her lips, and moved again towards
her ears and her neck. Then unable to restrain himself, he rested his head on her bosom
and gave the excuse, 'Kim, I feel so close to you. I want to listen to your heart.' Kim held
him tight, and pressed his face to her breasts, directing his face to touch one breast and
then the other. This went on for several minutes. Both started to murmur inaudible sounds.
Hands grasped tightly to one another. Legs straightened and bent in meaningless motions.
Siew Wing then stroked her body. He felt elated and thrilled every time this caused Kim to
jerk her slender body and shook her head with her eyes either completely closed or gazing
blankly at him.

He had never seen or heard of a woman's passion before. In his cloistered life as a student
and under the strict discipline of his mother, Siew Wing had never known any passionate
lovemaking, or even simple lovemaking. He always thought of love being letter-writing,
exchange of love notes, holding hands or perhaps a little singing expressive of love. That's
all. But this was happening to him with Kim. Raw sex. Raw passion. There was no guise,
no pretence, no holding back at every turn. Kim was there, ready to give anything he
wanted, everything that he was bold enough to take. It was as though this beautiful lady
was prepared to surrender herself to him - completely without any reservations or
conditions, without even any simple discussion of friendship or love or future plans, or
even what each other wanted. Such was the deep passion that engulfed these two young
people in a moment of love for each other.

As they kissed each other in the dim light, they appeared to be more aroused. Siew Wing
then gently carried Kim to her bedroom. There as she lay on the double bed with eyes
closed, she was a picture of great beauty. When he touched her, she trembled and her body
twisted and turned in convulsive movements. She continued to breathe heavily, stretching
her hands to touch Siew Wing. He gazed unbelievingly at her beautiful face that matched
that of any model or film star. He bent down and kissed her lips passionately, and put his
hand into her blouse to touch her. Every touch produced a deep moan from Kim whose
eyes remained closed all the time.

As he touched her, she moaned and murmured in low soft tones. She seemed to be in
frenzy. She pulled at him, clutched his hands and legs, and occasionally lifted her legs and
kicked his body She was frantically holding on to him making him do wonderful things to
her, calling him and stroking his head as though she was nursing her baby child. As he
kissed her again, he found her quivering, as she writhed and turned each time his fingers
touched her. He stared at her beauty in disbelief. Blood was rushing through his veins and
his heart was throbbing, as she touched his chest. He had never been touched by a woman
before. He had never even felt such smooth satin cloth worn by a woman before. Although
he was nineteen, he was unlike many of his friends who had intimate encounters with their
girls, and some even boasted about their exploits. Siew Wing's preoccupation with books
left him in this innocent state. He was at this point of time taking in all the extracurricular
lessons involving women at one go.
When Kim undressed, he gazed intently as each square inch of her intimate flesh was
exposed in the dim light. He touched her flesh lightly, unable to resist. His head began to
throb furiously and his eyes were slightly blurred as sweat poured down his face. Like a
man desperately clutching some branches of trees to prevent himself from falling, he
clutched her lower body as it became exposed to his gaze. Kim screamed with delight as
he did so, and her legs started to move about in convulsive motions, sometimes closing her
thighs to grip his hand tightly, afraid he would let go at any time. His fingers instinctively
touched her sensitive areas. As he noticed her body opening itself like a flower to his gaze,
he became dazed and imagined he was in a heavenly place.

Kim could not wait any longer, as she writhed and swayed her body, rubbing her nude
body against his, and touching him with her soft cool fingers. She found him to be a
complete novice. For the first time, she opened her eyes and stared at his maleness and the
handsome face and began to guide his every move, apologizing for her shame as she
grabbed at him. As they melted together as one, as they twisted and turned in rapture, she
sighed and moaned, and caressed him, crying out to him with endearing words. Siew Wing
also responded vigorously and shouted as though he was far away, and was lost in a sea of
love. As calm prevailed, they just held on to each other, not moving a single muscle for a
while. Even the calm was a novel experience to him. It was a strange sensation like the
whole world was swinging round and round him, while he remained motionless and
exhausted. At times, he felt like being sucked by the air into a deep and dark cavern in one
swift motion and feeling suddenly the moist warmth enveloping his lower body, as he lay
still and thrilled.

They lay there still in their nakedness, holding tightly to each other. Siew Wing kissed Kim
again and again. He felt he was in love with this older woman and began to think about
many things about his past, present and future. He did not utter a single word to Kim as
she lay in his arms drowsily. Overnight, he had become a man, no longer a boy despised by
his neighbours, no longer an object of pity, depressed because of unrequited love and
disturbed because he felt he was ditched by a girl whose family thought that he was not
good enough to be a lover to her. This sort of self-pride could be a double-edged sword. It
is good to have pride in oneself, instead of indulging in self-pity, but within Siew Wing's
heart, the seed of his own destruction was also planted as he became complacent and
over-confident in dealing with the many women in his later life. Even after this
extraordinary episode with Kim, and still holding her naked body against his own, his heart
was still not cleansed of some bitterness about Megan and her mother who refused to let
her daughter befriend him. His mind also began to swim with all sorts of thoughts about
Kim's family and her former husband. He thought of many things, mostly about himself
and his studies, and how to place Kim in his life, how to keep his love for Kim from his
mother and also about the change in himself, but after a while, he soon fell asleep as
weariness overcame him after the long and tiring lovemaking session.

He awoke the next morning when a little boy tried to pull the pillow from under his head.
He noticed that Kim was already in the kitchen, preparing breakfast. He felt a little
uncomfortable to find himself naked under the blanket, which Kim placed on him. He put
on his pants, and went into the bathroom. There he brushed his teeth and washed his face.

At breakfast, Kim was wearing a tee shirt and a pair of shorts. She was a picture of youth
and vigor. Her radiant smile blended well with the soft morning sunlight that peered
through the windowpanes. She was full of the joie de vivre, and that morning, she was
filled with joy and happiness. She hummed a tune cheerfully as she walked around the
apartment getting things organized. She darted back and forth from the kitchen to the
living room and then entered the bedrooms. She was busy as a bee, joyfully doing
housework like a seasoned housewife.

Somehow, she looked different from the gay sophisticated lady of the previous evenings
when she was bedecked with jewellery and wearing cosmetics and lipsticks like a lady of
leisure. Siew Wing stood up to watch her every move, enchanted to see the natural beauty
of his newfound love without any adornment or any make-up. She acted very naturally
towards him. Not a blush was seen on her face, but just a bright cheery smile as she cast
loving glances at him. He felt the same electrifying effect of her presence as he walked
towards her and felt her closeness. He touched her lovingly, softly cupping her breasts
under the tee shirt without a bra. His heart went throbbing again as he whispered,
"Darling, I love you very much." He spoke these words in all sincerity and earnestness,
reassuring himself at the same time that he would pledge undying love for someone who
made him proud of himself and gave him a passionate love, which completely devoured
him. He felt the majesty of such love - complete and unconditional - just giving and asking
nothing in return.

Siew Wing was conscious of his own lowly status, financially or even academically, as he
was still a struggling university student. He was lucky even to be a university student.
Most young men in Chinatown all just became clerks upon leaving the secondary schools.
Here he was with the most beautiful lady he had ever seen and enjoying breakfast and
staying with her in this luxurious apartment. He was literally on top of the world that
morning.

For Siew Wing, this was to be the dawn of a new life. He would leave the university hostel
to stay with Kim, and study at the apartment when he did not have to attend lectures at the
university. Kim would fetch the two children home after her work in her advertising office
in the evening.

Evening came. Siew Wing waited for Kim to return. He had the sound of keys and saw the
doorknob of the main door turning. Kim greeted him smilingly. She took the children to
their room to change their clothes. She then entered her bedroom where Siew Wing was
reading, and closed the door behind her. She removed her clothes slowly and teasingly. He
watched her, enchanted by her beauty and the grace of her movements. He stood up and
hugged her, holding her tightly and kissed her. She was only wearing a pair of panties and
her breasts were exposed when they embraced each other. Then the telephone rang in the
living room. She disengaged herself to dress up in her tee shirt and shorts and left the
room to answer the call.

They had dinner early and then watched TV. After watching for half and hour, they
returned to the bedroom. Kim took a shower, singing sweetly as she bathed. She came out
of the bathroom naked and put on a white night gown, which appeared to be translucent.
When she finished with her face cleaning, application of creams and lotions and combing
her hair, it was already quite late. They made love. This time, he took the initiative. He
removed her nightgown, kissing her at the same time. They touched each other softly as
their flame of passion rose, leading them to another climax, and sweet surrender to each
other.

For several months, Kim felt really happy to have the love and devotion of Siew Wing.
The love between them gave her tremendous strength and courage. She was cheerful
every morning, and always went to work with a great deal of vigor. She encouraged Siew
Wing in every way to concentrate on his studies, and he was doing quite well. However,
the age disparity between the two sometimes bothered her. She occasionally wondered
how long the relationship would last. "What if some younger woman comes along?" she
would muse. 'What happens in five years' time, in ten years' time?' she asked herself. Deep
down in her heart, she carried a sense of insecurity.

One day, she confronted Siew Wing with the question, 'How are the girls in the university?
Did you meet anyone pretty and interesting?'

Siew Wing was emphatic in his reply and said 'I only have eyes for you. So I did not notice
anything about the girls there.' He then asked her, 'do you meet many young men in your
daily work in the advertising office?' She mumbled to give a negative reply. He laughed
and cradled her in his arms, kissing her lips at the same time as though he was assuring her
of his love.

Kim smiled and whispered to him, 'Do not leave me, sweet heart.'

The following month, Siew Wing had his vacations. Kim took a few days' off from work
to be with him. Both of them decided to drive to Malaysia to spend a few days at the
Cameron Highlands. They started driving from six in the morning. They stopped at a few
small towns for food and refreshment and finally they reached this hill resort around six in
the evening. They checked into a small hotel, booked a room. It was a beautiful room. The
view was stupendous. Just below from the 8 th storey balcony, one could see a big kidney
shaped swimming pool where many hotel guests were frolicking. Looking further, one
could discern several flower gardens with an array of blooms of glorious colours. The
greenery with patches of colours merged with the horizon and the hills at a distance. After
enjoy the breath-taking view from the hotel room balcony, they drew the curtains and
started to undress and bathe together. Taking a bath together was almost a daily ritual for
Siew Wing and Kim. They enjoyed soaping each other's body. This gave them a sense of
penetrating intimacy. The soaped and rinsed and did this again and again, giggling and
laughing as they took turns to go under the warm water shower.

They then made love. Hands that knew what would please the other partner gently
touched and pressed. They gazed lovingly at one another and then their eyes closed. Each
person was lost in a whirl of sensual delight, feeling, touching and exploring, sometimes
uttering words to urge each other on, in a symphony of sounds and movements. At last,
their bodies joined and limbs sang in unison. Words that were endearing before were
replaced with hoarse sounds from the throat as though they came from their inner souls.
Hands that stroked gently, now clutched and grasped in spasms, and legs kicked and
moved in stiff jerky motions as though they were suddenly whipped and occasionally
pulled apart strongly in one direction and then another. Then came stillness. Weary bodies
needed rest and sleep. Still they clung to one another in deep slumber.

They rested for several hours and dressed up for dinner at the Grille Room. It was a
candle light dinner. The atmosphere was most romantic. They drank some white wine and
enjoyed a steak dinner, sharing their innermost thoughts all the time. Siew Wing spoke at
length about the research he had to do to qualify for the final year and about the lecturers.
He asked Kim about work in advertising. Kim mentioned that the advertising line was
most lucrative because sales depended on successfully advertising and marketing. Siew
Wing asked, 'I learnt from my lecturers that market segmentation was most important and
this had to be done by the firm before embarking on any advertising campaign. Do you
think this approach would be the best?'

'It all depends on the company, ' Kim replied, 'not everyone plans things in the same way.
Anyway, let us not talk shop here. Let go down to the dance floor.' Siew Wing escorted
her to the side of the dance floor, and they started waltzing together. He felt a little put off,
because every time he brought up subjects relating to Kim's work, she always remained
very tight-lipped. Perhaps, she had to maintain client confidentiality in her work, he
thought.

When the vacation tour was over, Siew Wing plunged deep into his studies. He hardly
noticed the numerous occasions when Kim came back very late in the evening without the
children, as she had explained that she had to meet some clients in the evening. Siew Wing
still met his friends, Timothy and Kwang Meng, and they would drive around town,
sometimes visiting friends and sometimes they spent time in Kwang Meng's flat at Keong
Saik Road.

One evening after the three friends had a few rounds of beer, Kwang Meng invited his
friends to go to his place, and he said rather enthusiastically, 'Come to my place, I have
something to show you guys.'

Both Timothy and Siew Wing became rather curious, and they replied in a chorus, 'Why
not? Let's go.' They settled the coffee shop bill and went into Kwang Meng's car and
reached Keong Saik Road around ten in the evening. As they walked up the wooden
staircase leading to Kwang Meng's third storey old flat, they noticed that unlike previous
evenings when they were there, the staircases were no longer pitched dark like before.
Now the stairs were lit up with beautiful lanterns. In reply to Timothy's question whether
they were invited to look at the lantern lights, Kwang Meng laughed and said, "Yes, this is
quite a change, isn't it? But come up for some more drinks."

They had a few more beers in the hall. With a grin, Kwang Meng quietly told his friends to
follow him to his room. He said in a quiet tone, 'Close the door, please. Come over here,
while I switch the lights off.' In the dark room, Kwang Meng pointed to some shimmering
lights emitting from the cracks of the old wooden floorboards. They did not have to take
turns to peep through, because there were several cracks on the bedroom floor. Siew
Wing's heart was throbbing as he peeped at the couple having sex on a bed on the floor
below.

Although he had watched dozens of porn shows with Kim, this was the first time he saw
live sex. When Kwang Meng told him that a new brothel was set up on the second storey
flat below, he felt a sense of disgust. To Siew Wing, sex and love were inextricably bound.
The sex act and its foreplay had special meanings to him. They had become something
very private and intimate, almost like a sacred ritual lifting him up spiritually to heavenly
bliss with angelic voices praising his manhood. That women would sell their pretty bodies
for money was something distasteful in his eyes. That evening when he returned home, he
told Kim what he saw and his feeling of disgust. Kim remained quite reticent. Siew Wing
quickly dropped the topic, afraid that he might have offended her, having given her such
lurid details about the incident.

A few weeks later, Siew Wing told his mother about his relationship with Kim. He did not
get any scolding, but his mother was critical about his unequal love relationships and
unequal maturity. She also said that she knew about Kim going around with him. She
asked him to be careful and discreet. . "That lady is too old for you," she said. She added
that Kim had a house at Keong Saik Road, and she was making money a lot of money
there. She was quite sarcastic and hinted coolly that Kim might be the owner of a lucrative
brothel there. He became puzzled but he did not say a word.

Siew Wing's delayed reaction was due to anguish in his heart, and the suspicions that had
been aroused. He realized that Kim had been rather vague about her job in the advertising
office and the clients she kept meeting so many evenings a week. He knew she was well
off. Owning another house at Keong Saik Street should not be taken to mean that she was
making money illegally. In fact, he came to the conclusion that Kim was working a trifle
too hard. "I hope people do not think that I am sponging on her," he mused.

When he reached Kim's apartment, it was already dark. Kim had not returned from work;
so he went into the study and started going over his lecture notes. After studying for about
an hour, he switched on the TV and immersed himself in a Chinese drama of unrequited
love and tragic deaths. He did not realize when Kim slipped behind him and put her arms
around his neck, kissing the side of his face gently.

Siew Wing did not ask Kim anything about her work or about her property at Keong Saik
Road that evening, Kim was talking most of the time about her immediate need to make a
trip with Siew Wing to Kuala Lumpur, some two hundred and fifty miles away to collect
some money from somebody. Siew Wing made it clear that he had to attend lectures every
day and it would not be possible for him to make the trip. The matter was left at that, but
Kim was quite displeased.

During the week of Kim's absence from home, Siew Wing was confused and slightly
depressed. He felt the need to confront Kim about her work. He thought of the worst
scenario - that he would have to leave her if she was found operating a brothel at Keong
Saik Road. Yes, he would ask her where she got all the money - to buy houses, drive a
posh car and go around collecting money. He recalled the sarcastic remarks made by his
mother about Kim, insinuating that she was a woman of doubtful repute and probably
operating a brothel.
A person cannot be isolated from his thoughts and emotions. If the mind is fed with all
sorts of doubts, worries and discouragement, it becomes overcharged as a regulating
mechanism and it affects the body. Siew Wing's state of mind was reflected in these words:

"Between the acting of a dreadful thing and the first motion,


All our interim is like a phantasma or a hideous dream;
The mortal and the mortal instrument are then in counsel,
And the state of a man,
Like to the state of a little kingdom,
Suffers then from the nature of an insurrection."

(Shakespeare)

Siew Wing could not concentrate on his studies. His mind was in turmoil. He might have
to leave Kim, but he still pined for her. That love was no passing fancy. It was a love that
had transcended the bounds of reason and the social norms of age differences.

It was a harrowing time. The week without seeing Kim was a week of mental torture,
magnified by mistrust, skepticism, doubt, as well as negative caution. Influenced by Lin's
words, his minded was bombarded by suspicion and despair. A mind filled with suspicion,
looks for something not said, something held back, something hidden. It makes light of
logic, common sense and reason. The suspicion in him spread like bush fires that kept
burning, consuming the sweet memories he had for Kim and the love that still warmed his
lonely heart. He had let his imagination run wild. It played tricks on him, transporting him
to a room inside Kim's apartment at Keong Saik Road. It was full of lovely maidens. Kim
appeared to be the person in control. As he wanted to leave her, Kim pleaded with him
tearfully, 'Siew Wing, pick any of these virgins. I don't mind it. Enjoy yourself tonight. But
don't leave me.'

He knew the absurdity of these images, but he also realized that he was ignorant about
many things in Kim's life and work. Swamped by feelings of self-pity and dismay, he
convinced himself that "ignorance is not bliss." His mind was besieged with fleeting images
of a tearful Kim, explaining that what he thought of her was untrue, but he refused to
budge. He was possessed with a heightened sense of self-righteousness, and treated every
plea, every explanation with disdain and arrogance. Yes, he would confront her when she
returned from her Kuala Lumpur trip.

Next day, he received a short note from Kim. She said she missed him. Everything was
fine. She managed to collect the money that people owed her, and she would be returning
home in a day's time.

Siew Wing waited. Two days passed and still Kim had not returned. On the third day, he
called the hotel where Kim stayed and was told she had checked out two days ago. He
made several telephone calls to newspapers and police stations in Malaysia, but could not
obtain any news about Kim or about her car. He suddenly felt cold sweat covering his
face, as he began to wonder what happened to Kim. Knowing how dangerous the
Malaysian roads were, he thought of the worst that she might have met with a car
accident. He blamed himself for not accompanying her to go to Malaysia. It would have
made a difference, he thought. All the bad things he had conjured up in his mind about
Kim seemed to have evaporated. How unfair it was to accuse her of being involved in a
loathsome trade, just because she owned a property at Keong Saik Road. Just because
there were a few brothels there, one should not condemn all the good people that lived in
the Blue Triangle. In the triangle of life, there were bound to be conflicts between people.
Why should he listen to anyone slandering his beloved, who had treated him so well, and
given him so much love and encouragement? He was full of remorse and started to cry and
pray aloud for her safe return.

Siew Wing's prayers were answered a few hours later. As Siew Wing waited outside the
apartment block, staring blankly at every car that passed by, he suddenly noticed the
Mayflower. It was her laughter that transformed his heart as she related how she lost her
way while driving home. Her joie-de-vivre and the sunshine of her smile turned a black
day into a day of heavenly bliss for him. He quietly thanked God for his mercies, bringing
back the love of his life to him. Later, he found out that Kim was indeed the owner of a
property at the Blue Triangle, but she had rented out the premises to someone, using it as
a social club. So early in his life, Siew Wing had already learnt the hate and envy that any
love triangle could engender. He also learnt the lesson that love and trust were separable.

InvisibleTriangle of Love
'One Day When We Were Young'
The sky was grey. It was a cold morning, and the breeze was sweeping away the fallen leaves on
the footpath outside my dormitory room. Only to be heard from a distance were the voices of some
university students. The dawn was breaking fast, and soon other students waiting for their
breakfast would fill the pathway leading to the dining hall. Kit took a last look at his diary and
notebook. He switched off the lights and the wall fan, and walked out of his hostel room.

Looking away from the windows of the hostel rooms, he realized that tears had welled in his eyes.
He thought about his brothers and sisters in Chinatown, and the time he played hopscotch along the
back lanes of Chinatown with his elder brother. Lines were drawn with white chalk on the ground,
and they could spend hours just hopping along the area. From the back of the house, his mother
used to watch the children and on occasions she waved at them while she was doing the laundry or
hanging clothes to dry on bamboo poles placed outside the shop-house. It was such a joy to stay
in Chinatown.

Perhaps it was a coincidence that Kit stayed in the same room as Stephen and Kok Wah. Both Kit
and Stephen were from Chinatown, one from Chinatown in Singapore, the other from Malaysia.
Stephen told everyone he was a poor smart boy from Malaysia. Kok Wah on the other hand came
from a rich family. Imagine, two poor Chinatown boys studying in the University of Malaya in
Singapore. One clear thought flashed in Kit’s mind, and he told himself, “No school bells rang
here. No teacher or school prefect to discipline us. I am now in the university. I must do well, and
work hard to survive. Here in this university. The Law of the Jungle applies – Survival of the
Fittest.”

Dinnertime came. The dining hall was crowded with students. Medical students like Kok Wah in
their white coats always arrived late, as they had to work outside the university. As first year
medical students had to spend time in the mortuary or hospital, they always carried a peculiar
hospital smell with them. This made dining difficult for some people. Medical students often hid
their anxieties beneath a mask of boisterous behavior and bombastic talks. The simple truth was
that they could be axed very easily by the end of their first year, if found unfit for medical studies.
The failure rate was astonishingly high. Amidst the din of dining and the clatter of dishes and the
yell to the dining room helpers for more rice, or vegetables, or this and that, there were occasional
laughs when medical students played pranks by displaying body parts, such as little fingers, which
were cut out from corpses. Arts students like Kit and Stephen merely regarded this type of behavior
as distasteful and unethical. But the medical students got a kick out of the fear they found in the
eyes of the observers from the Arts stream, who were their targets of such abuse.

But apart from these pranks and the din and prattle in the dining room and sometimes the common
rooms, every student really had to swot. The first year was the year the university authorities really
slaughtered everyone. It was really a case of “survival of the fittest”. Everyone had to mug.
Everyday, after a quick dinner and a shower, students all rushed to get a place in the Library so as
to study in air-conditioned comfort and to find the reference books they needed.

The three students sharing the same hostel room were perhaps the best of the best in their
respective medical and Arts streams. They studied steadily throughout, spending most of their time
in their own room, unless they had to attend lectures and to do work outside of the university
compounds. Both Kok Wah and Stephen were tall, smart and handsome. Both are helpful to weaker
students, and always ready and willing to coach them, if asked to do so. They remained good
friends but even in their room, they seldom talked to each other, as both were quite absorbed in
their own work.

Kit and Stephen studied well together as both were in the Arts Faculty. Naturally, they helped each
other. Kit would borrow books or lecture notes and essays from Stephen. Kit obviously knew how
to take short cuts to obtain excellence in studies. Stephen was brilliant in his studies, but he was
not a mugger. He had a crystal clear mind, one that could analyze any complicated problem with
great ease, and he often expounded new theories, new ideas as though he was already a full-blown
professor. He stood tall and confident. Anyone would feel extremely small when talking with him
about any subject. If you talked to him about his course subjects, he would just blow you apart if
you were maintaining a different standpoint. Such was the arrogance of the man, the poor smart
boy from Malaysia.

Three brilliant scholars of different social backgrounds were thrown together in a time web of
academic pursuits. All of them were strong willed individuals, quite capable to steer along the road
of life to reach high peaks of achievements, and perhaps reach an elevated level of happiness. Do
they represent a triangle of hope, or a triangle of conflict and despair? - That’s the question you can
answer as the story begins to unfold. Maybe, they do not represent anything, but each in his own
way spun off other life triangles in different scenarios involving other people as well. Life is never
easy. Life is often unexpected. It brings in conflicts where you least expect, and this may lead to a
train of problems and difficulties, and sometime anguish, despair. Or it may bring in joy and peace,
fresh hope and a renewed commitment to life.

It is best to look at Life’s inevitable changes like a roller-coaster ride, which you have to take
whether you like it or not. You can close your eyes tight and let fear overwhelm you, or you can
face up to each turn, each twist and each fall, overcome your fear and anxiety, take things as a
challenge, and exult in the thrills and spills.”

Now face life boldly. Get on your own “roller coaster ride” or your life’s journey along a long road,
which has many a winding turn. Reflect on your heartaches and pain. Bear it with the attitude of
"gratitude” to God that there is still hope and a chance to rebuild your life. Even if the heartaches
and pain bring you to profound depths of anguish, remember it is that anguishing point that you
either submit yourself to meet the challenges, learn the lessons of life, developing your resolve and
maturity of character; or give up the struggle, give up hope, and become frustrated and despairing,
and end up embittered, drown by self-pity, smothered by self-will.

After both Kwok Wah and Kit completed their first year examinations, they remained in the hostel,
waiting for their results. It was at this time that Kwok Wah invited Kit to his birthday party to be
held at his mother's house. This lavish evening party turned out to be an evening of enchantment
for him. The function was held at an old colonial bungalow at Pasir Panjang, near the seaside. With
sea air blowing and with the shimmering moonlight reflected on the water surface, the garden at the
back of the bungalow was a picture of enchantment. Kit stood there, away from the noise of the
party inside the bungalow, and enjoyed himself gazing at the boats and the glittering lights on the
water surface, and listening to the sound of the waves as they lapped on the rocks and the sea
walls. He then noticed another figure near a lamppost. He could see her face quite clearly with the
soft lights of the street lamps shining on it. He had never seen a beautiful face like hers, embodying
everything he had ever dreamed about in a girl. Hers was the epitome of classical beauty, a blend
of simplicity, sweetness, innocence, softness and kindness. It was a face of simple natural beauty
with every feature in its perfection. Her round eyes sparkled like stars in the sky. When she looked
at you, her eyes seemed to exude gladness and love. Her nose accentuated the slightly sultry smile
in her face without any make-up. Her skin was smooth and of fair complexion Her dark brown
eyes and the smooth lines of her lips attracted him as he stared at her in awe. Her hair was tied
with a blue ribbon showing a ponytail, which swayed with the wind. She wore a blue dress with
blue shoes to match, and she appeared tall and slender. What made Kit spell bound was her bosom,
which looked full and sexy. This coupled with the grace and style of her walk, had completely
melted Kit who could not believe his eyes. She looked Chinese, and yet there was something
different in the Chinese feature. Perhaps, she was Eurasian, he thought.

Haltingly, Kit introduced himself as Kwok Wah's room-mate in the university. When Kit mentioned
this, she was somewhat amused. He soon found out that her name was Tracy and she was Kwok
Wah's cousin, and that she was a Secondary Four student. The sweetness of her voice matched her
exquisite beauty, "No, I am not Eurasian," she articulated slowly and sweetly. "As a matter of fact,
my mother who is a Principal of a school, is Chinese, but my father is an Arab," she added. Kit
listened attentively with his face looking down. It was as if he was getting an important point in his
studies from the lecturer. His face looked serious. With a trembling voice, he asked about her
school and enquired about her home. He found out that she had a very young brother, and the
family stayed in a Government bungalow in a far and remote area at Yio Chu Kang. Before long,
they exchanged addresses and telephone numbers, and agreed to correspond with each other. At
that time, keeping pen pals was an "in-thing" with young people. It was quite natural for these two
young persons to agree to write to one another. In the course of the evening, Kit was able to have a
few dances with Tracy. He was so thrilled to be able to hold her in his arms while they danced and
chatted away.
Kit had little chance to see Kwok Wah during this period, and did not have the opportunity to tell
him about his desire to correspond with Tracy. After completing the examinations, medical students
had to work in hospitals for practical training. Kwok Wah thus spent time away from the hostel
room in the day, and he returned to his mother's house to sleep at night. Before long, Kwok Wah
shifted out of the hostel to stay at a hostel closer to the Hospital to which he had been assigned. He
seemed to have lost touch with both Tracy and Kit, so engrossed was he with his medical studies
and hospital training.

Kit now stayed in the hostel with Stephen as his only room-mate. Both were dissimilar in
temperament and personality. While Stephen was an extrovert, Kit appeared to be introverted.
Stephen was really a nice person but occasionally he was ostensibly arrogant and proud. In
contrast, Kit was somewhat quiet and reticent. Despite their difference in personality and make-up,
both were good friends and helped each other in studies and other needs. Kit soon developed the
habit of writing letters to Tracy, whenever he felt tired of reading books. He thought of Tracy as a
soul mate to whom he poured out all his emotions and thoughts as he struggled to maintain his
position as a top Arts student in the university. After a lengthy period of correspondence, he longed
to see her again. He asked Tracy to be allowed to see her on a Saturday afternoon, and she
obtained her mother's permission to let them meet at her house. He borrowed a motorbike and
started to ride all the way from the hostel to Yio Chu Kang.

It took Kit a long time to reach Tracy's house. He had to go round the housing estate and looked
around to do a search, because the small country road leading to the estate was poorly constructed
and had numerous turns, some leading to one or two houses, and some were dead-ends. To make it
worse, the houses were not numbered in a regular pattern. Eventually, he found the house, an old
dark coloured single storied bungalow whose walls were lined with very old fair-faced bricks with
a very large garden. He parked the motorcycle outside the house, and pressed the doorbell. Tracy
opened the door, and smilingly ushered him in. Her younger brother, about seven years old, also
greeted him with a naughty grin. Kit was also introduced to the parents who asked him to make
himself at home. They then retired to their rooms after a brief conversation with him.

It was a happy day for both Kit and Tracy. Both were young and innocent. Tracy seen by Kit in the
day was still the picture of angelic charms and simple natural beauty in its perfection. Her every
movement, every gesture appeared to him to be the embodiment of grace and poetry in motion.
There was so much unexpressed kindness and compassion in her in everything she said as Kit
listened attentively. He knew her well enough, reading about her innermost thoughts, about her
fears and her joy. Even when he read her letters, he cried when she expressed sorrow and fear when
a man was found hung by his neck on a tree in one of the houses nearby. He was completely in tune
with her every emotion, and shared with her his own inner feelings and thoughts.

Now after months of writing to each other, some prose, some poetry, something profound,
something trivial, they met. Words seemed to be superfluous as they gazed into each other's eyes.
So much had been conveyed in signed letters to each other. So intimate had been their words
preserved in letters which they kept close to their pillows, but in their innocence not a word of love
and affection, not even a hint of these, had been expressed in their letters, as each could not be sure
of what the letter writing between two young souls of the opposite sex, would lead to. The only
emotion, always constant and sure, was the longing and sometimes disappointment, each felt while
waiting for letters to come. Could love have bloomed in such a platonic state as feelings were
conveyed in paper and ink? Without expressing a single word and somewhat awkwardly, they
extended a hand to each other as they walked together around the garden. Heads bowed and hearts
beating fast, their hands held tightly to each other. Kit felt the softness and gentleness of her warm
hand, which seemed to echo the gentle heart behind every word and the rich compassion and
kindness in words and phrases that haunted him day and night. It seemed to him that this was a
moment of truth, a moment when physical reality matched the mental pictures and vibrations he
had felt about her. Words were vain when hearts sang out in a duet of delirious joy of being
together in physical closeness, when hearts and bodies were then in tune and rhythm in a natural
symphony of life unknown to all except the innocent.

Kit and Tracy were trapped by feelings for each other, which were still unexpressed. The emotions
they felt were raw and wild, but tightly bound and controlled by reason, logic and conventions.
Why did they still gaze fondly at each other all the time? Why were their hands still seeking each
other's warmth and the sweet sensations of touch and contact? They sat down on a garden bench
and talked endlessly about some of the things they had written to each other. Then darkness began
to surround them. Kit could still look fondly at Tracy's beautiful face, bathed in the soft
shimmering lights of the night sky. Apart from hearing each other's pounding hearts and whispering
words, they could listen to the delightful steady rhythmic chirps of birds contrasting with the sharp
peek-peek sounds of crickets echoing in the air. They sat there for hours. They did not even notice
that time had eluded them, until Tracy's brother who conveyed the message from her mum
disturbed them that dinner was ready.

It was a splendid dinner. Tracy's mum was a good cook. Kit was able to answer most of the queries
from her parents and managed to parry away some. He was frank when he talked about his humble
background but Tracy's parents did not seem to mind. The only cogent point made by the parents
was the reminder that Tracy was still very young and she had to spend a lot of time preparing for
her Secondary Four examinations. However, it was clear that he would be welcomed to visit her on
a regular basis. Kit's happiness on that day was complete.

The following day, Kit's spirit was high as he attended lectures in Economics. After the class, he
proceeded to the cafeteria to meet new students, an arrangement made by the Students' Union. As a
second year student, he was considered a senior amongst the freshies. He found time talking to
some of them who needed advice and help. A few girls were introduced to him. There were so many
pretty ones - Moira, Ivy, Sally - he could not remember all of their names. After an exchange of
pleasantries, he left the group. He did not have much interest now in meeting girls, even pretty
ones. He whispered softly as though he was talking to Tracy, 'Tracy, I only have eyes for you.'
These words encapsulated the attitude and feelings of Kit.

Although he realized that love or affection between Tracy and him had not even taken roots, there
was no room in his heart for another pretty face. His feelings for Tracy were pristine - love in its
purest form. He never had a single crude thought about her - never dared to imagine anything
indecent or lewd - never anything sexual, not even sensual. In fact, he even placed an impossible
restriction on himself that he would not even kiss her unless he was sure that the love between them
would bloom and become real. Idealistic thinking! But he treated it seriously. It was a sort of
protection that Tracy never asked for nor desired, but Kit cared only for Tracy to be left untouched
even by himself as a fulfillment of his own conception of her purity and perfection. He had heard
numerous "kiss-and-tell" stories from medical students and stories of immorality amongst female
students during the first year at the university. He wanted his relationship with Tracy to grow
naturally as a pure blending of heart and soul. Perhaps, he was to some extent influenced by his
study of Literature, particularly, poetry. Whether this is a case of youthful idealism or sheer
stupidity, it is not for us to judge. Life is never simple; it is often unpredictable. And love often
takes a tortuous course. Whether it lasts or not will depend not only on the bedrock of character, as
the river of life flows inexorably on, but on how cause and effect relationships are handled at every
turn and every fall and the attrition that will certainly take place.

Kit visited Tracy regularly on weekends. Their feelings for each other remained strong. They
enjoyed sitting together. They talked on and on, shared ideas and exchanged information. Kit would
coach her in her studies. They watched TV and listened to music. Sometimes they walked round the
neighbourhood and went shopping for things. Their relationships remained at that level. Kit
probably wanted it that way, since Tracy was still in school.

But maybe there was progress. Tracy had started calling Kit once or twice a week to talk to him.
Kit also called her once in a while. They still wrote to each other regularly like before, although
much of what they had written was already mentioned in their weekly calls.

In his hostel room, Kit confided a little to Stephen about his love for Tracy. To his surprise one day,
Stephen showed him a letter. Kit could recognize the handwriting on the envelope as that of Tracy.
The letter was addressed to Kwok Wah, and Stephen said that it was found behind the drawers of
his desk, which was used by Kwok Wah, the previous year. Stephen said that he had read the letter,
but had not shown this to Kit before, as it would upset him. He felt that he should read the letter
now, so that he could re-assess his own position before he got hurt. In a matter of fact tone, he said,
"Why must you fall in love when you are struggling with your university studies? I always stay
away from women, because they cause trouble. I have always told you that life in the university is
a matter of survival of the fittest - the law of the jungle applies! How are you excel in your studies
if you are caught in a love triangle. Worse still, you get caught in an invisible triangle of love."

Half listening to Stephen's tirade and reprimand, Kit snatched the letter from Stephen's hand, and
began to read the letter. His heart was throbbing. He had no time to think about the scruples of
reading Tracy's letter to his cousin. The tone of Stephen and the remarks he made shocked him
completely. He opened the letter and in the dim light of the hostel room, he peered at the words in
Tracy's handwriting, which he knew so well and loved so much. The very first line shocked him.
Literally, his eyeballs popped out. In the salutation, Tracy had written, 'My dearest darling.' There
were tears in Kit's eyes. He could not see. He began to sob in front of Stephen who remained cool
and collected.

Stephen felt sorry for Kit and tried to comfort him. He said, 'Look at the date of the letter. It was
dated January, last year. It was before you met Tracy.'

Kit looked up and dried his tears. Stephen's words were cold comfort. Still he could not
comprehend the implications of what he had told him. Mechanically, he looked for the date stated
in the letter, and found that it was just as what Stephen said. 'So, Tracy and Kwok Wah are not just
cousins, they are lovers,' he mumbled to himself.

'Right!' said Stephen. 'Do not get too upset and let it affect your studies. Ask Tracy whether she
wants you. The better man wins. It is as simple as that. You are an intelligent guy. There are plenty
of fishes in the sea. Never get devastated over things like love and romance. The main thing is to do
well in your studies. Girls will come to you,' " it sounds like a lecture from Stephen who always
appeared detached and slightly arrogant when he spoke. Kit knew he meant well, and said what he
had to say as a friend. He was grateful to Stephen and he thanked him for his advice.

After he had calmed himself down, Kit remarked, 'No wonder our relationships were always in
doldrums. I got involved in a love triangle without realizing it. However, there could not be any
deceit on Tracy's part. I have always thought of Kwok Wah as the cousin, and have never asked her
anything about her relationships with others. She is so young and innocent. It is unthinkable to
raise any doubt about her past relationships.'

At this juncture, Kit was in the crossroads and did not realize it. His attitude hardened. Kwok Wah
was his friend, a close friend. He could not allow himself to steer into the path of a loving
relationship, especially when love was expressed explicitly in Tracy's salutation to Kwok Wah. Kit
wanted to be noble. He would drop out of the race. He would concentrate on his studies and moved
on. There was some bitterness and a great deal of pain in his heart. He could not blame Tracy. He
could only blame himself. In any case, he comforted himself by saying that perhaps he was not
even sure about his own feelings. 'Yes, that's it. Love has not even started in its budding stage,' he
thought. He forgot about the hours he spent in penning the letters, the touch of Tracy's warm
hands, the unspoken words and the loving glances they exchanged. These meant something. These
little something should have given him courage to battle on. He had two alternatives - to battle on
and win his heart's desire, or to bow out gracefully and keep his friendship with Kwok Wah. There
were two different roads for Kit to take. Which of these roads would he take? Robert Frost's poem
sums up succinctly the dilemma faced by Kit:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,


And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,


And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay


In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh


Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

(Robert Frost)

Kit heard the usual yell from the hostel common room, 'Phone call for Kit.' He knew it was a call
from Tracy. He decided to ignore it. He felt the pain in his heart, ignoring a call from someone he
loved. He told himself he could not go on chasing Kwok Wah's girl without his knowledge. He felt
very hurt but reproached himself for betraying Kwok Wah's friendship. Rightly or wrongly, he felt
that he should have let him know about his interest in Tracy before he left the Dunearn Road
Hostel. Despite being in such a distraught state, good sense still prevailed. He decided to visit
Tracy the following weekend to thrash things out.

The visit was fixed on a Saturday evening. For Kit, the few days and nights after he had ignored
Tracy's phone call were anguishing moments for him. He felt the stinging thorns of pain in his
heart. The hurt he felt was mixed with a sense of self-pity and a tinge of remorse and self-reproach.
These emotions were raw and wild and intermixed with months of longing and dreaming about
Tracy. He set forth to see Tracy with a heavy heart.

He reached her house. Tracy greeted him with the usual expression of great joy. She was a picture
of innocence. Her friendliness and warmth made him somewhat uncomfortable and tongue-tied.
'Why is it I couldn't get you on the phone the last few evenings?' she asked casually.

Kit fumbled for words and made some excuse that he was doing some work elsewhere. This was
probably the first time he lied to her. As Tracy held his hand and stroke it, he felt even more
awkward. For someone known to be eloquent in speech, he found himself in a situation where
words failed him. He had rehearsed the lines a few hundred times and he knew those lines were
poor and could be offensive. Then suddenly he blurted out, 'Do you still see Kwok Wah nowadays?'
he asked. He chided himself in his mind immediately, 'Of course, she does. After all, she is her
cousin!'

Tracy was taken aback for a moment, but she regained her composure and replied, 'Kwok Wah
seldom sees me. He is always busy mugging. Why do you ask?'

Kit could not dodge the question. With all the weight of nagging doubts in his mind and with raging
feelings, which were suppressed in his heart, he came straight to the point, and replied, 'I know you
and Kwok Wah have been more than cousins before. I just do not like to go between both of you
like an intruder.' As Tracy remained silent, he added, 'I cherish the friendship I have with Kwok
Wah for many years.' Kit wanted to say some more, but Tracy pressed her fingers against his lips
and stopped him. She appeared to be tearful, but still looked squarely into his eyes.

'I thought I was in love with Kwok Wah, until I met you. I have become quite confused because I
feel I love you, too. I am still young, perhaps in time I will be able to tell whom to love,' she spoke
candidly.

Kit felt somewhat relieved to hear her frank expression of love. His heart melted when he noticed
the tears streaming from her eyes. Awkwardly he told her he was sorry for upsetting her. She
replied softly, 'In love, you don't have to say sorry!'

Kit then explained that he really did not have any right to question her. He squeezed her hand
gently, expressing his love for her. He kissed her cheeks awkwardly, and walked away.

Kit thought he knew where he stood from that moment on. The trouble with him was his misplaced
idealism and loyalty to a friend. His friendship or love with Tracy was now placed at arm's length.
He even reiterated to Stephen his original conviction that he would not indulge in any kissing or
other forms of love making until Tracy was sure of whom to give her love. This appeared to be a
slight distortion of his own idealism. He also made the mistake of thinking that he would not betray
Kwok Wah by stealing his girl. Actually, after what he had already done, there was no way for him
to keep his friendship with Kwok Wah. In time, Kwok Wah would know everything; and it was
obvious that Tracy had to tell him. Human relationships at whatever levels are fragile in a love
triangle situation. Kit should realize that in any event Kwok Wah would be upset as "heaven knows
no fury" like a man scorned too. His concern about his friendship and loyalty to Kwok Wah was,
therefore, totally misplaced. Kit's attitude and behavior from this point on, served only to bring
more tears into Tracy's eyes and create tension and misery to himself. In this instance, "the road not
taken" was actually the road that leads to happiness for Kit. In Kit's mind, there was no doubt that
a love triangle did exist.

Time, like a river, flows relentlessly on. Its course could be meandering, leading us to calm waters,
or tortuous, setting us adrift in a sea of confusion. In this river of life, its normal steady course
stretches from a source with clean clear mountain water to its river mouth, the alluvial delta and
the sea beyond - going through as in life, the stages of youth or torrent, maturity and senility. Its
bedrock is our character. The degree of erosion or attrition and other effects depend on our other
attributes and relationships embedded in the substance those riverbanks and embankments are
made of. There will be gorges, rapids, pollution, dilution and sedimentation during its course. There
will be confluence with other lives and tributaries as one's life is branched out. But then it is a river
of no return, and along its course, there are few guiding lights.

The moving finger of time writes, and having writ, it moves on. Yes, no pious hope or matchless
wits can change even a single 'period' that this moving finger has penned. There is finality as the
ink dries. Times does not use a computer or a word processor. There is no 'cut and paste,' no
'delete', no 'un-do' or 're-set.' Time also does not use any conventional type of video recording. You
can view what life has recorded in perspective. You can hark back to the past. But you cannot auto-
rewind your life. Nor is time like the computer CD Re-writable. It records but does not allow any
part of life to be re-written.

If time is the author of our life, the story it unfolds is a masterpiece of plots, sub-plots,
characterization and details. Phrases are chosen and turned. Words are specially selected to
dovetail into the precise meaning or description the author requires. It is written in synchronization
of our every thought and action. And it writes on and on, even recording our every pause for
reflection and every impulsive act that changes the plot. It is as if the author in a single stroke of
the pen, synchronizes observation, reflection and writing

For Kit, life is never the same, after he has chosen the path that took him away from being closer to
the person he had loved. True, it was good that he became more engrossed in his studies, and
instead of being 'berserk' as Tracy described him; he took the pain of self-inflicted wounds
stoically, and worked hard to prepare for his Honors Degree examinations. Few letters were written
between them and even fewer visits. Kit had not forgotten Tracy, far from it. He felt depressed at
times but maintained his mental equilibrium. If the problem was analyzed intellectually, one could
ask, 'For what purpose are you doing this?' But then reason and logic are not always in the
vocabulary of love, and sometimes even of life, when young minds suffer from the stinging swords
of conflicts. Two hearts should have come closer together as they become more physically and
mentally attracted to each other. But this sometimes might not happen.

Time was away, and Kit was left alone in a quiet hostel room, and life was no longer the same.
Even in the crowded common room, he felt a sense of emptiness. But then time is illusory. As the
days passed, Kit was under the delusion that he was doing the noble thing. He wanted to move on
to achieve scholastic excellence. At least, he realized that the story of life was never complete and
that it was never a closed chapter. It always depends on something yet to come in the future. It
takes perspective to recognize a second chance that comes along. It takes moral courage, humility
of spirit and tranquility of mind and soul to take a big leap forward into the future, having learnt
the lessons of the past which might have something already depleted or dead, and having the right
perspective of present reality. This effort is by no means easy, because the future is often a blurred
vision, the past is full of memories of things done or undone and of regrets and pains and the
present for us is often tenuous and uncelebrated, as we were pre-occupied in our minds and hearts
with the rigors of passage of time.
Then something unusual happened in the hostel. There was a spread of hepatitis in the hostel. A
large number of students became ill. Kit was one of them. After several weeks of rest in a
depressed state, typical for hepatitis patients, Kit recovered. While he was recuperating from this
illness, he had written several letters to Tracy. The letters and the words of comfort in the replies
should have lifted him out of the deep, dark and deadly pit of hopelessness and despair. But a few
words in Tracy's letters cast more shadows instead. In one letter, Tracy wrote: 'Are you sure you
got hepatitis, Kit? You could have died.' These are matter of fact words or expressions. But to Kit,
they showed Tracy to be unsympathetic or callous. It was unfortunate that an event, which could
have brought them together, became another stinging thorn in Kit's life. He was unable to see the
light the shone too dimly between the cracks to allow him to re-build the relationship with Tracy.
He remained mesmerized in the looming shadows of self-pity, unable to see things that happened to
him in perspective and to clear the cobwebs of the past, and thus limped along the long and
difficult road of life with only a blurred vision of the future. Yes, time is illusory and sometimes it
plays tricks on people. In the words of Wulfing von Rohr, "Time is a dance, a flickering gesture of
the mind, a curving, arching orchestration of the soul."

In the loneliness of a hostel room, two friends talked about life, love and luxury. Stephen dominated
the conversation. He chided his friend, Kit for moaning and groaning about his unhappiness about
love, and being indecisive. 'If you love her so much, go and see her and apologize for whatever
wrongs you have done. Take the bull by the horn. Get a grip on yourself, instead of behaving like a
moon-struck person. You are finishing your studies soon, and I know you will do well. You can
afford to pick and choose when you do well in life, and can afford to give girls the luxury most of
them want. You should snap out of this depressive mood,' he pontificated. He was not being thick
or insensitive. In fact, he listened patiently to Kit and tuned into his thoughts and feelings, and gave
what he seriously believed were caring words - only he appeared to be somewhat bombastic. 'As
for me,' he continued, 'I always hold the view that not all rich girls are fat and ugly. I will find one
in due course who is beautiful, intelligent and rich.' These few words summed up his attitude
towards the opposite sex. He also did not have eyes for any of the girls he found in the college.
They did not meet the pre-requisite conditions he had laid down in such a calculating and detached
manner.

Soon, the university days were over. Kit pursued further studies at the university and worked part
time in a publications firm. Stephen worked as an administrator with a local statutory board.

Stephen made friends easily. His job afforded him the opportunity of meeting many rich and
famous people in the Asia Pacific region. He traveled widely. He spent a few months in New York
and a few months in London. Occasionally, he had to travel to India and to Malaysia. Kit met him
one day in London when he had to travel further to Edinburgh to do research work for a few
months.

'Come here, Kit, let me introduce you to Lulu, 'he said. 'This chap, Kit, was together with me in the
university, sharing a room. We have not seen each other for a long time,' turning to Lulu he added.
Lulu was a picture of elegance and looked as pretty as any model.

They had lunch together and shared some information about what their friends were doing. Stephen
explained that he was on a business trip to London. He was going steady with Lulu for a few years.
'You know, Lulu is Senator Mok's only daughter, and she is pursuing a course in Linguistics at the
University of London,' he said. Kit had heard about Senator Mok, the Malaysian rubber magnate
who was one of the founding pillars of a political party in Malaysia. Kit was impressed, and patted
Stephen on the shoulders.
After the encounter with Stephen, Kit took the night train to Edinburgh. It was drizzling when he
reached Edinburgh in the early morning. The train stopped at Waverley Station. At the station gate,
he as greeted by two students who were sent to fetch him to the university.

'Hello, I am Roy and this is Jean, ' spoke the towering brawny young man with a broad friendly
grin. He spoke with a heavy Scottish accent, rolling his "r's " It was still drizzling when they met.
Roy's clothes were all wet. Tiny drops of water dripped down from his golden hair to the face.
They shook hands. Kit could feel Roy's great strength as he gripped his hand tightly. Jean was a
pretty girl with light brown hair and blue eyes. She smiled sweetly and asked Kit whether he was
tired after the long train ride. She also spoke in an accent difficult for Kit to hear the words. He
laughed, shaking off his embarrassment, and said he would get used to it soon enough.

Edinburgh is the second largest city in Scotland, situated between the southern shore of the Firth of
Forth and the Pentland Hills. Roy was driving an old Morris Station wagon. Jean, sitting next to
him in the front seat, became a tour guide. The car passed Princes Street, which was lined by rows
and rows of chain departmental stores on the north side, giving open views of the spectacular
Edinburgh Castle on the other side. There were so many buildings of classical architecture, from
the severe to the ornate. Jean then pointed out to him the Scott Monument, named after the famous
Scottish novelist and historian, Sir Walter Scott. The Monument looked like a Nineteenth Century
Space Rocket, but was unique in classical design. Jean asked Roy to stop a little while as they
approached the Edinburgh Castle. Jean pointed out that the Castle was on top of a hill about 440
feet above sea level. It gave a spectacular view of the city. They drove to the top and saw the
Palace of Holyrood, which was used as a royal residence. Jean mentioned that the Castle contained
the famous Scottish Crown Jewels, properly known as the 'Honor of Scotland.' It also contained
the famous 'Stone of Destiny.' Looking in the other direction, they could see the Royal Mile with
five streets connecting the beautiful Castle Esplanade to the Palace of Holyrood. Jean pointed out
Castle Hill, and said Kit could find a number of Chinese restaurants there. She also drew attention
to a few streets near the University - High Street, Canongate, Lawnmarket and Abbey Strand.

A short drive down High Street and Cannongate, then they were at Cowgate, Drummond Street
into a few winding streets and they reached the Pleasance where the university hostel and some
university buildings were located. They then took a short walk along the Pleasance, which were
paved with cobbled stones. Kit nearly twisted his ankles as he walked.
The sky was dark and gloomy even in the early morning as the drizzle continued. Kit felt the chill
of the wind and the stings of tiny drops of cold rainwater on his bare arms and his face. He soon
reached the National Institute of Industrial Psychology. The building looked like a historical relic.
It was a three-storied building. The walls were covered with moss with a darkish mixture and gray
and brown colours. The floorboards were made of wood. As Kit walked over them, there was a
creaking sound. One the second floor, he met Professor Hicks, his supervisor. The Professor
greeted him warmly and later pointed to a wooden shelf and asked him to get a form to fill his
particulars. 'Yes, please fill up the 'f'orum', which is required by the university.' Kit was puzzled a
little when he heard the word 'form' sounding like 'forum'. He just smiled to himself. Professor
Hicks then gave him a long discourse on the history of the Institute and outlined briefly the
research work Kit was supposed to do. Kit was given a room to do his work.

He rented an apartment at London Street. He was told there were several buses he could take from
London Street to the University. Alternatively, he could take a long walk to the Pleasance. The
apartment was at the basement level of a three-storied house with its own entrance.

He enjoyed staying there because the place was quiet, and he could do his own cooking - cooking
Chinese food. With a Chinese grocery shop nearby, he could get all the meat and vegetables he
needed, plus all sorts of spices, sauce and Asian food ingredients that one could find in the
Chinatowns in London or Manchester.
( East End of Princess Street )

After each day's work, he would take a slow walk home. He walked along the Princes Street, a very
long road, lined with up-market type of departmental stores where he could enjoy window-
shopping. Most shops featured typically Scottish items - the brightly coloured kilts and jackets, the
tartan trousers, and the Sporran - these were typical items for the Scottish Highland dress. There
were also on display beautiful woolens, rugs, bag pipes and Scottish sterling silver jewelry items.
The displays were quite an eye full. At the end of Princess Street, he found a Kentucky Fried
Chicken outlet and some smaller grocery stores. The view on the other side of the road was also
spectacular. He could see the Edinburgh Castle and the Scott Monument and a public park. Then
he walked down Leith Walk, which was lined with pubs and restaurants. He usually walked very
slowly because the sidewalk was not smooth and he had to walk down a steep slope. Once in a
while he met a few drunks walking up the sidewalk and looking at him strangely. A few rude ones
sometimes shouted expletives at him. He remembered one shouting at him, 'Chin-chin, go back to
China.' Kit was never perturbed by drunks. He just ignored them. It was just a short walk down
Leith Walk. He then turned into Broughton Street to reach London Street and home.

Kit was given a great deal of freedom to do his own thing. As a research fellow, he regarded
himself more as a student than as a faculty member. Soon Kit found himself completely immersed
in the social life of the students after he settled down in his apartment at London Road. He became
quite popular with members of the China Institute where he met many Chinese friends. He met
Robert Liu who was studying for a PhD in Engineering at the University. Other than Kit and
Robert and another half a dozen people, most of the members just could not speak Chinese -
whether Mandarin or any Chinese dialect. Kit made friends with some Chinese people from
Trinidad and the Malta. Chinese was completely foreign to them as a language. Because Kit was
fluent in Mandarin, he soon became a leading member of the China Institute and gained some
popularity.

Friday evenings were regarded as special to the students. Some students would spend at least two
days making preparations for the Friday socials from the middle of the week. They would talk
about the Friday socials for another two days after the function. It was such a hot social item that it
invariably attracted Kit's attention. He decided to attend a Friday social with Robert Liu. 'Do you
know how to dance, Kit?' Kit replied in the affirmative. 'That's easy! If you are not a wall flower,
then just pick any pretty face and do what comes naturally,' he added. A broad grin and a chuckle
followed.

Life took a turn for Kit from that moment on. With some apprehension, Kit followed Robert to the
Friday social evening. Robert made a beeline for the bar counter. He ordered a few beers and
brought them to Kit who sat down by a table. Robert appeared to be a doyen of non-academic
social excellence. He glided from one end of the hall to another with a sort of theatrical flourish.
Now and then, he talked to groups of students with familiar ease. Kit stared at his friend's charisma
and sterling performance with admiration. Obviously, this rich kid from Malaysia had cultivated a
great deal of social skills and developed consummate charm and social grace, while pursuing his
Higher Degree over a somewhat prolonged but leisurely period of eight long years, and having
spent his father's hard earned money lavishly in various Scottish universities. But he was just the
right guy destiny had picked to lead Kit astray.

'Meet our pretty Highlander lassies from the medical faculty, Kit, ' he yelled from ten yards away,
dragging two charming girls towards Kit's table. He brought along a large bottle of brandy. 'This is
Kit, our Professor in psychological studies from China,' he introduced Kit to the two tall and
slender interns in jest. 'And we have here right after a strenuous and tiring day's work at Royal
Infirmary giving their tender loving care to some children, two pretty angels in gorgeous human
forms.' Kit noticed that these two Scottish girls were exceedingly beautiful. They did not wear any
make-up, but still looked a cut above all the other female students there. After the introduction and
the exchange of pleasantries, the four of them sat down on a sofa with the two girls in the middle.
Kit was immediately attracted to Margie Thompson, the smaller of the pair. The taller girl was
introduced as Sally McKinnon. Both were second year Medical students. Marge was from a
farming community in the Scottish Highlands. Her gentle and demure nature and her soft and polite
mannerism and speech were a reflection of her suburban background. Sally was from Glasgow, an
industrial city and she was very much a city lassie.

Marge's beauty in simplicity and ethereal charm reminded Kit of the sweetness of Tracy. Even with
the use of superlatives, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to compare Marge and Tracy. Marge
was a Scottish beauty who exudes not just charm and grace but the youthfulness, vigor and joie-de-
vivre nurtured in the fresh mountain air of the Scottish Highland. Tracy, on the other hand, was
more than just a classical Asian beauty with a flawless complexion and an angelic face, but was a
quintessence of the pristine elegance of the Chinese female form and facial features and the alluring
and mysterious sweetness and sensuality of the best of Arabic feminism.

Sitting close to Marge, watching the sparkles in her blue eyes, the soft line of her beautifully
curved lips, the pinkish glow of her cheeks and the enchanting swerve of her long soft hair, Kit
became mesmerized. Marge was sitting on Kit's right. She looked at Kit's handsome features and
the smoothness of his complexion and was intrigued. She also marvelled at his eloquence in
English, the profundity of some of his arguments and the interesting views expressed. She had
never met a Chinese youth face to face. She had seen Chinese workers in Chinese restaurants
before, but they always looked so coarse, and they often shouted at one another for no rhyme or
reason. This quiet, pleasant and polite young man with an oriental mystical charm attracted her,
and she was drawn to him.

She continued to ply him with endless questions about his country and life in the East. She
expressed deep curiosity and interest in things Chinese. To her, Kit is the epitome of Asian culture
and tradition. She said that her life in Scotland had been too cloistered, and wished she could see
what she described as the other side of the world. She teased him with the words, "East is East and
West is West, and never the twain shall meet. Till now?"

Kit quipped, remembering the words from an English poem, and added, 'Till we come before God's
great judgment seat?' Then they laughed and shifted closer to each other and playfully hugged each
other. Kit was amused. Inspired, he recited the poem that he had written before, matching Marge's
reference to East and West:

"As far as the East is from the West,


So far those tearless eyes did fail to see
Somewhere, a heart that wanted rest,
Still yearns for love to lead a love to be

Ages and ages hence, when West meets East,


Fade those heartaches, away those anguish
Yet knowing how faith brings hope at least
To quell the blustering storm in souls that languish

Love knows no time, space, nor any human test,


As heart binds heart in eternal bliss, and feast
Those longings - no vain hope, for love at best
So West is not West, East not East."

Kit stood up and invited Marge to dance with him saying, 'May I have the honor of this dance?'
Marge smiled and leaned against him, holding his hand. They went to a corner of the dance floor
still holding hands; then they clung on to each other, moving their feet to the rhythm of a slow
waltz. A girl vocalist sang sweetly the words of 'Changing Partners.' Kit and Marge danced on and
on, enjoying every moment of the warmth of their bodies held intimately together. Both hearts were
throbbing as they moved in rhythm with the music. Their visions were blurred as their faces
merged and lips touched each other's face, taking turns to convey warm feelings in this way.
Drowsily, Marge placed her head on Kit's shoulders and started singing to him. Kit responded by
stroking her soft hair ever so gently, and whispered, 'Marge, Marge.' The words seemed to have
stirred the innermost needs of Marge, and she turned to face him, staring in wonder at him with a
long loving gaze and she whispered, "Kiss me."

Kit at this point was full of Marge. Memories of Tracy had momentarily faded. Few years ago, he
made a promise to himself that he would kiss Tracy only if he was sure of his own love for her and
he expected that Tracy would reciprocate his love for her. This promise appeared to have
completely vaporized from his heart this special evening. The music, the drinks, the captivating
beauty of Marge, the enchantment of the moment - all these led to a longing flaming kiss fanned by
a burning desire and a heart hungry for love and affection. For Kit, it was the culmination of years
of self-deprivation of love and self-enforced denial of his physical needs. As they drank deep the
love expressed in their first kiss, their souls and hearts seemed to have cried out with inexplicable
thrill and exhilaration intermixed with a sense of awe and wonder at the new experience.

As the band played, 'Some enchanted evening, ' they danced on with their lips still riveted together
and tongues exploring each other's. The lyrics of the song, 'Some enchanted evening, when you find
your true love, when you feel her call you across a crowded room,' became real and personal to
them. Love bloomed even before they could exchange telephone numbers. It was sudden and
unexpected. It was odd too - East meeting with West or vice versa. But it was a real and
compelling experience.

So absorbed were they in each other's arms that they did not realize that Robert had slipped away
with Sally. Kit and Marge sat down for a short while to finish up the drinks, and decided to take a
walk down Chambers Street to look for a pub. It was chilly to walk in the open on a cold and
blustery evening. Even though both of them wore thick woolen coats, the cold breeze made them
shiver and they had to hug each other for warmth. After a few more drinks in a pub, Kit proposed
to Marge to take a bus to his apartment at London Street. 'We could watch TV or listen to music
there,' Kit said. Marge readily agreed, to Kit's surprise and delight. She also felt that it was too
early to go back to her dormitory at the Pleasance. In any case, she added that Sally might not be
in, as she occasionally stayed elsewhere on Friday evenings.

As they entered the Basement apartment, it was pitch dark and it was so quiet that you could hear a
pin drop. They closed the door, switched on the electric heaters, took off their coats, and sat down
to listen to music and some songs. Kit brought out some liquor. They drank to each other's good
health and chatted as they watched a movie. Marge made it clear that she was not a girl of easy
virtue. She had never been to a man's flat before. Her parents were conservative people. Her father
was a schoolteacher. Her mother was housewife. She had two sisters and a brother and they were
all students.

Clinging closely to Kit, she was frank and admitted that it must be love at first sight for her. She
asked him to promise not to leave her. They kissed as they lied down together on the big sofa. Both
of them appeared to be innocent and inexperienced. Marge kissed him hungrily, holding him tightly
and putting her hands inside his shirt to stroke his chest. She told Kit she had never kissed a man
passionately before. Day in and day out in the hospitals, she had seen human bodies - some dead
used for her dissection work; some sickly and disfigured. She had heard from Sally and other girl
friends about the joy of lovemaking but had never allowed any of the Scottish boys to touch her.
Most of them were quite rough and they indulged in kiss-and-tell to booster their own conception of
manhood. Unwittingly, there was hunger for sexual experience building up within her heart without
her knowing.

Their heads were whirling and turning. They were dizzy due to the drinks, and the thrill they felt
for each other in the privacy of Kit's home. She was in high spirit - singing and laughing as she
removed her woolen pullover, exposing the seductive curvature of her body beneath a thin blouse
and bra. She just could not believe her eyes as she gazed at Kit's bare body - so strong, so smooth
and warm. She put her hands to stroke his neck and his face, and then she started licking his ears,
tickling him but giving him a delightful sensation. He looked at her slender body and her small
waist, and noticed that she was beautiful beyond belief. He worshipped her gorgeous body and
gazed in disbelief at the sight of her nakedness. Hers was the supreme expression of exquisite
sensuality and beauty. But Marge was also curious to see every inch of his exposed flesh. So intent
was her gaze that Kit almost convinced himself that she was examining him out of medical interest.
'Yes, I have seen the bare bodies of many Scots, working in the field or playing games, but never a
handsome Chinese gentleman,' she quipped. They laughed as she continued to stroke his body. It
was so relaxing. It was so beautiful - the music, the drinks, their intimate whispers to each other,
the gentle strokes of love and affection, the warmth of their hands touching and feeling gingerly and
timidly, and the scent of Marge filling the cool air in the room. There was excitement as their hearts
were throbbing at racing speed.

The air was filled with the exultation of love in all simplicity. It has power to impel the young
hearts to give their love to each other in reciprocity, giving it in words, unspoken thoughts, glances,
gestures, facial and bodily expressions, and sounds sometimes in whispers, in murmurs or with a
lisp and occasionally in moods and rhythm totally inaudible and incomprehensible. Such is the
poetry of love. To poets, it is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. It is beyond man's mind to fathom
its magic and its eternal qualities, and to some people, its significance in destiny. It is too easy for
the uninitiated, the unloved, the dullard, the prosaic and the sanctimonious to put sinful labels on
such expressions of simple loving hearts. Napoleon the Great inscribed these words in the hearts of
France, "Honi soit qui mal y pence." Find out what these French words mean.

The prelude of this evening of love was not over, as Kit felt the intoxication of Marge's warm body
against his. He abandoned his passive stance. He kissed each side of the smooth face of Marge. She
responded with a murmur and a giggle, expressing her delight, and pressed his head closer to her.
He kissed her again passionately on the mouth, touching, exploring and murmuring words of love.
Words were vain when they were drawn into the whirlpool of animal passion - sucking in every
sensation like ravening animals going for their prey. Kit kissed her chin and her neck, giving new
sensations that were pulsating and titillating to her. As his lips touched her below her neck, he
unbuttoned her blouse exposing her bra, and continued to kiss her body. In a frenzy of passionate
desire, she pulled his face to her body moving it closer to her breasts. She freed her bra and her
open blouse. In ritualistic style, she offered her bare breasts holding them with her two hands to
him, yielding in sweet surrender as a gesture of her love. As he kissed her full bosom, sweat poured
his face as he gazed in wonder the beauty of her womanhood. He stared with amazement at her
young slender body and her firm breasts with heart pounding. His mind began to wonder whether
what was happening was real or illusory.

As he undressed her, she asked him to be gentle as this was her first experience. He touched her
slender legs and kissed her flat abdomen. She moaned and cried out in exhilaration. Her hands held
his waist tightly as he entered her. Screams of passion and pain echoed in the room, merging with
the soft stereo music. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she was filled strongly and passionately. It
was a moment of fulfillment for her, She did not expect love to enter her life so suddenly and in
such a wonderful way. She became a woman with an attitude of gratitude to God. She was gratified
to have an experience, which quenched her yearnings for womanhood and which purified all her
thoughts about intimacy and the human physique. There was no shame. Shame to her was for the
fornicators and the unfaithful in marriage and love. She knew she would always love and cherish
the man who brought ecstasy and fulfillment to her humdrum existence. To Kit, the experience
meant a lifetime of commitment to someone he deeply loved. Months and years of depression over
an unhappy relationship, of suppression of his own emotional needs and inner sex urges, and of
feeling incomplete and inferior in manhood, were driven away in one fell swoop by destiny.

Destiny took him to London for a symposium related to his studies. For several days, he was in
closed doors discussions and meetings. He took copious notes and attended all the talks on relevant
topics with experts from many countries. He still found time after the third day to visit the
Chinatown, so as to take meals in a Chinese restaurant at Gerard Street. He took the underground
to reach there, stopping at Leicester Square and then took a short walk to Gerard Street. After his
meal, he walked around Soho, and surprisingly he bumped into Kwok Wah. When old friends met
in such a place like London, they talked for hours. Kit came to know that the good doctor came to
London to attend a medical conference. He laughed and remarked that everyone came to London
nowadays. This place was like a meeting place of the whole world. Whether deliberately or
otherwise, Kwok Wah never talked about Tracy. Out of curiosity, he asked the doctor, 'How is
Tracy?' Just three words. This raised the temperature of London. 'Come on, he said, you think I do
not know that you have been dating her, ' he spoke with an air of indifference.

'Yes, ' Kit replied, 'But I have given her up long time ago, to make a clear passage for you!'

Kwok Wah was not impressed by the 'noble gesture' to which Kit referred and said with a sneer, ' I
am married to someone else now. I could not love Tracy. I could not love someone who could be
easily swayed. No second hand stuff for me,' he said with some bitterness.

Kit did not want to pursue with the talk about Tracy, noting his friend's bitterness and the tinge of
sadness in his eyes. He felt that his 'noble gesture' of leaving Tracy to Kwok Wah was all an
exercise in futility, and he felt somewhat hurt and angry. It also dawned on him that he had caused
Tracy a great deal of pain. But he said nothing, parted company with Kwok Wah in London as
good friends.

Around 6.30 in the evening, he made a telephone call to Stephen who now had a small apartment at
Queensway, above a Chinese restaurant. Stephen was working as a Regional Director for his
Statutory Board and was based in London. Stephen was surprised to receive his call. 'Yes, by all
means come here now. I'll wait for you. Have dinner here,' he said enthusiastically.

Kit took a cab and reached Stephen's apartment at around seven in the evening. and walked up the
stairs. A beautiful French girl greeted him as he reached the second floor apartment. 'Comment
allez-vous, Monsieur?' she asked. ' I am Deidre. Are you Kit?' she added in English but speaking
with a typical continental accent.

'Yes, glad to meet you, Deidre,' Kit said with a slight hesitation. He was caught a little surprised by
the words she spoke in French.

Then Stephen came out of his bedroom. They shook hands warmly. Stephen was jovial as he
introduced Deidre to Kit again, and he pointed to another pretty girl and said, 'Meet Sabina, she's
Italian.' He then spoke to Kit in Mandarin. He said the two girls looked after him. Deidre did the
cooking, while Sabina did the cleaning and housekeeping. He said they got along just fine. No
fighting, no quarrels. The girls worked in the daytime in some departmental stores and stayed in his
apartment for free. They also made some contributions to he housekeeping expenses, he added. Kit
bowed to Stephen and said, ' You are putting your knowledge of Economics to good practical use.
You are a genius!' He said in jest, 'You may be indifferent to indifference curves now, but obviously
you are not indifferent to curves.' They laughed loudly, as they looked at the two girls who
appeared to be somewhat puzzled by the men's laughter.

Stephen told Kit that he was posted to work in America for two years based in Baltimore, near
Washington. He had broken off from Lulu when he went there, due to some objections from her
family and personal conflicts with her. He said he met Kit's friend, Timothy, in America. Timothy
was working for the Singapore Telephone Board as a Deputy Manager, and was undergoing
training in the States. He said he made the mistake of introducing Madeline to him, and he lost "the
love of his life" to him.

'Madeline,' Kit asked, ' You mean you met another girl there?'

Kit was shaking his head as his friend narrated his story of his lost love. How could anyone take
the girl away from this tall, clever, successful and handsome man? Yet, it happened. The surprise
element in his story was the fact that Madeline was intelligent and pretty, but from a poor
background. How could Stephen fall for a girl who was not beautiful, intelligent and rich - after all
the lectures Kit had been given by him to become a millionaire without tears? He always thought of
this confident man as a cold, calculating person who would not care a hoot about any girl who was
not born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

A chill from the London air ran down his spine as Kit listened to that story. It was just unthinkable
to hear Stephen talk about being in love - and with Madeline? And now, he still pined for her in the
company of two gorgeous continental ladies, in London. Kit felt that the whole thing was hilarious.
Probably this story he heard that evening was the literary masterpiece of a lunatic. But right now,
he was looking at his friend afresh with a quizzical smile, listening to his sad tale, narrated with the
help of several bottles of liquor. The air was filled with a hint of melancholy, as he described in
words, which could well be chiseled in marble over many tombs of love. The irony was the fact
that here was a man who set out to conquer the world, but unable to resist the temptation of falling
in love for the sake of love. And yet having fallen in love, he found it arbitrarily and unilaterally
terminated by the one true love he had found, and his loss involved such an insipid fellow like
Timothy from Singapore's own Chinatown. Yes, it was unbelievable that Stephen still felt the pangs
of hopelessness, after the rocks of his confidence and charm stopped falling, and dusts began to
settle down.

Kit thought about his own lost love. He realized he had wronged Tracy. Yes, Destiny is no respecter
of persons. No one can avoid making foolish mistakes. You're not. I am not. Sometimes, mistakes
are made because of misplaced idealism. Sometimes, it is because your mind is influenced by
savage assaults of selfishness and greed or even lusts, or subtle suggestions of misconstrued ideas
and shallow thinking. There is a constant battle within you, as your mind is being bombarded by all
sorts of ideas, all sorts of creeds and credos, and fads and fetishes of modern culture. And beware,
the satanic power in this world never gives up …it never runs out of ideas. Bolt your front door
and it'll rattle at the bedroom window, crawl into the living room through the TV screen, or wink at
you out of a magazine in the den.

'How did you meet, Madeline?' Kit asked. He was still curious about his friend and wondered
whether he really fell in love with Madeline, a girl from Malaysia with a humble background.

'I met her in a hospital in Baltimore where I was treated for a bout of diarrhea, ' he replied.
'Madeline was working there as a nurse. I was surprised to see a Chinese nurse in an American
hospital. She took good care of me. I found out that she was from Negri Sembilan, near my
hometown in Malaysia. We talked a lot. She sneaked into my hospital room whenever she could
find the opportunity. She was most attractive, and was so warm and kind. I think I truly fall for her.
When I left the hospital, I invited her out, and we became good friends.'

The details of what had happened to them in the chilly winter at Baltimore were fuzzy. Stephen
took Madeline to his apartment at East Baltimore Street regularly. East Baltimore Street was well
known in the States as "the Block." It was a place full of clip joints, striptease bars, nightclubs and
restaurants and diners with bare-top waitresses. Both of them enjoyed the nightlife there,
particularly watching live performances and soon Madeline and Stephen developed a lifestyle of
hedonistic culture. Every weekend for them was for fun and laughter. Shows and sex became their
weekly diet. Stephen never enjoyed life more. He had found a perfect partner in Madeline, who
wanted to live life to the full. Stephen would feel lost without her. They would travel together all
over the States when they could get leave. Stephen never wanted anything more out of life, except
to be with Madeline. They had talked about marriage when Madeline returned to Malaysia after
her contract.

But what made her fall out of love and "changed partners". Stephen explained that they had
quarreled once in a while. She also thought that he was arrogant and bad-tempered. In contrast,
Timothy to her was a picture of a fine gentleman - considerate, attentive, well mannered and
reliable. He spoke softly and appeared to be very loving and nice. Yes, the word "nice"
encompassed everything - nice looking, nice car, nice job, and so on, ad infinitum. So, the great guy
lost out. "The Block" lost its attraction to him and he moved back to London. That was the long
and the short of his brief encounter with "true love."

On his part, Kit briefly informed Stephen about his meeting with Kwok Wah in London. He spoke
defensively about his relationship with Tracy and his newfound love with Marge. Stephen told him
that he also met Kwok Wah in London. He told Kit to his surprise that Kwok Wah had informed
him that Tracy had married another doctor, David Lim or Fat-so, as some students used to call
him. In fact, Kit remembered that David had asked him about his relationship with Tracy, and he
had replied curtly that Tracy was Kwok Wah's girl. He had never paid attention to David, because
he looked so overly nourished, not realizing that he could be another contender for Tracy's hands.
He also recalled a remark made by Tracy; "My mom had said that I would lose both nice boys if I
carry on with them as mere friends."

After his visit to Stephen in Queensway, Kit stayed a few more days in London before returning to
Scotland. He was in deep thoughts. He could not help thinking about Tracy, but now it appeared
that his relationship with her was like waters that had already flowed under the bridges.
Unconsciously, he reflected on the words from the poem, "The Road Not Taken."

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --


I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

As he packed his things in the hotel room, he wondered where he should go first. He still had a
number of days left before he was due to start work in Edinburgh. Images and thoughts swamped
his mind. He felt a sense of remorse over the way he had mishandled his relationship with Tracy.
What he had done or failed to do appeared to be reek of irresponsibility or naivety. 'Should I go
back to Edinburgh now, or spend a little more time alone to think about his past, present and
future?' he asked himself. He checked the British Railway Guide and for a moment he thought
perhaps he should go over to the Paddington Station to take the Thames Train for Oxford, Reading
and Stratford-on-Avon. He had been to Stratford-on-Avon before and had a memorable visit to the
birthplace of William Shakespeare. After debating with himself for a while, he decided to go back
to Edinburgh straight away. He boarded a cab for the Victoria Station. Yes, he would return to
Edinburgh, as the mists that clouded his mind cleared a little. He called Marge from the Station,
and asked her to meet him at the Waverley Station.

As the train came to a halt at the Station, he saw Marge from the window, waving happily and
smiling at him from the Platform. She was wearing a red woolen sweater and slacks, and had a
tartan scarf around her neck. The chilly blustery wind played tricks with her long hair. Kit noticed
that she was not even wearing a coat or gloves to keep her warm. He quickly alighted from the
train and hugged her tenderly. He took off his own coat to shield Marge from the gale and the cold
of the drizzle. He removed a sweater from his bag and put it on to cover himself. They walked
briskly along the slippery walkway leading to a bus stand. They soon reached London Street and
home. With Marge by his side, he soon forgot, at least for the moment, the trauma of his London
experience.

Once they were inside the apartment at London Street, they sat together close to the electric heater.
For Marge, the room always gave her a sense of warmth and intimacy. This was the place she gave
Kit all her love. She loved everything in it, notwithstanding the untidiness of his desk and the
cluttered state of some corners where Kit just stacked up some of his belongings. She helped him to
tidy up a little, switched on the music and began to lie down on the sofa. Kit sat besides her,
caressing her back. He took up some newspapers and appeared to be absorbed in reading.

Marge then asked him about his London trip. He put down the papers and briefly gave her an
account of his London experience. She laughed when she heard about Stephen's foreign girls
serving him like a King in his apartment at Queensway. Kit left out completely any reference to
Tracy, for fear that this would produce some misunderstanding.

Marge cuddled closer to Kit. She kissed him passionately, and said, "I miss you, darling." Kit
responded by touching her face and stroking her long flowing hair, kissing her ears and then her
white neck. The beautiful dimples on her face attracted him and he kissed her there again and again
with a sense of abandon. They then embraced each other, caressing and touching each other
intimately as they did so. They then lay on the bed and made love. After that, they relaxed and fell
asleep.

A few weeks after his return to Edinburgh, Kit took Marge to an expensive Chinese restaurant
along Castle Road. As they entered the restaurant, they were greeted by a Chinese waitress who
handed Marge a rose. 'How sweet! How very nice!' she exclaimed.

As they dined, Kit gazed into the beautiful brown eyes of Marge lovingly. He held her left hand,
and proposed to her, saying, 'Marge, now that my studies are over, I want to settle down. Will you
marry me, Marge? I love you.'

'Yes, yes, darling,' she said without hesitation. 'You'll be working, but I will still be carrying on with
my medical studies. Will things work out this way?'

Kit replied, 'Surely, things will work out fine for us. As long as we love each other and we are
determined to make the marriage a success, there will be lots of happiness for our future lives
together.'

A few weeks later, they registered their marriage in Edinburgh, and settled down there. For Kit,
past memories of Tracy had been buried in his sub-conscious. He was determined to move on in
life to seek new happiness with Marge. He felt that life was too short for him to be involved in any
love triangle. He had to be true to Marge for the rest of his life, to uphold his sense of self-worth
and self-respect.