A Chinese saying goes like this,” If not fated, you are strangers when you meet. If fated, a thousand li is not too far to travel.”
“Hi Phoenix, you sound depressed,” Henry messaged on BosomPal. “Are you OK? We have our own will to decide our own life.”
“Sure,” the reply came the next day. “I just got over some botched business deal and some personal matters.”
“What can I do for you, sweetie?”
“Sure? I rescue damsels in distress is one of my hobbies.”
“No kidding? Are you a psychologist?”
“Actually I sell items online.”
“Books, art and craft, home and fashion items, used items, new items –”
In wry humour, he added,” And Heart.”
“Fashion accessories? she asked.
“Ya….,” Henry typed. “Those, too.”
“Do you export these items?”
“Sure. Where are you?”
“Sarawak. You want to come here?”
“Oh – that’s far. But – I’ll pluck the moon and the stars in the sky for you.”
“You are an interesting guy,” remarked Phoenix,”Be careful – I may fall in love with you.I may can rape you.”
It was an adult jest. There is no limit to the exchange of words in an adult world despite the risk an online dating page. But Jane is a divorcee whose style of conversation changed with her status.
In July 2008, Henry met Jane at Jalan Datuk Abang Abdul Rahim. She was not alone because she was meeting a stranger for the first time.
Mary was also there with two reasons unrelated to the purpose of the visit:
Curiosity: who is her sister’s suitor? (“Come on, lah – he’s not a suitor, sis – please – it’s business ,” Jane had tried to convince her)
Her husband worked in Kuching and she was here to give her female companionship.
“ Hi sweetie,” Henry whatsapped,” Where are you?”
“ Clearing the customs, dear. Is the hotel arranged?”
“Sure. Two rooms. M Hotel – one for both you, sisters. One for me.”
”Unless you share the room with me?” teased Henry.
“If you are not a wolf. Or buaya. Once, I shared a room for the girls and boys during a teens camp. As kids, I slept with my brothers because there was only one room in the house. Are those new to you?”
About an hour later, Jane got herself the Malaysian SIM card: “Sorry to keep you waiting. We waited quite a while for our luggage. What are you wearing?”
And so on – the common waiting and anticipatory messages of the lost tourist/ blind date swept the air.
A while later, Henry noted: Your sister can share your room. It’s going to be raining with lots of thunder.”
“Well…. nobody is forcing you to share the same room with me. Btw: I’m not diseased, you know,” she texted quickly
A puritan, this guy? : Jane asked, with an angry thought.
“No lah,” replied Henry,”I thought that you sisters want to be together.”
Outside the customs check point, it was all smiles as Mary subtly pushed her towards the on-coming good-looking guy, suggestively hugging the air towards herself.
“Take care,” she whispered, “You’ve got a catch.”
“Hi Henry,” replied Jane as she stretched for the welcome handshake. “I’m Jane and this is my sister, Mary…..Mary – this is my client whom I talked to you about. He wants to introduce me to a new business and make me rich.”
“Ya, “rich” – you can say that,” Henry laughed, “The jewelleries and costume accessories I will show you are of good quality. Only the rich deserve them…..”
“Be surprised at the affordability, though. We’re honest. We’ve a proper plan for growth.
“It’s online marketing – can you imagine if we just get a market one percent of for both the population of Malaysia and China? We talk quality and affordability….with an affordable price tag.
“To us, the business is just like a relationship. You don’t go for one-night stand. It’s about THE long term love affair.”
Early next morning, Henry knocked on their door.
“How is your sleep last night?” he asked.
“ Well – we chat till 5 am talking about you. Are you a full time businessman? How long in business…….Do you have any girlfriend?” That was the loquacious Mary.
“My sister is in love with you,” Jane joked.
They went to Kampung Gersik, had kek lapis, visited the Fort Margherita, dined and took pictures at the Sarawak Museum. Then, Fate intervened when it started to rain. It was when they decided to spend the evening in Henry’s room, watching TV, snacking and making small talk.
Soon it was past midnight.
“Gosh,” Mary suddenly screamed, “The rain is coming into the room.”
As she ran to the windows, she slipped and fell into the arms of Henry. Her blouse was wet and she dreaded the embarrassment of exposure.
“I’ll take a bath and change,” she blushed.
The silence became oppressive.
So she asked: “Can you tell me more about your business?”
“I sell jewelleries for 20 years now. I inherited it from my father, who died in the embrace of my Mom, the second wife. My dad’s other two wives didn’t get anything. Don’t ask me why.
“I research into diamonds and pearls and the market for precious stones, gold and costume jewelleries.
“Recently, I made an important discovery. For a business to be profitable, there’s something we must know very well and do extensive research on. It is the breaking and the surging point.
“Do know what it is?”
“Quality of the product? Integrity? A good business plan?”
“No,” Henry declared.
Women, he believed. Know the heart of the woman. Without the patronage of women, the sales world stop. The love of women conquers all things, etc. And Henry laughed at his own monologue. Women’s love.
It was two hours since Mary left the room.
“I’m a bit tired. I will lie down? Tell me about yourself, please.”
They could talk all night.
Towards the wee hours, Henry suggested: “Do you like a massage? I’m good at it.”
“Sure,” Jane said.
They slept together that night.
In September 2013, little Xiaobao was born, much too late for a marriage. Henry only wanted to stay in Singapore because it was a first world country where internet activity is vibrant. He wanted to be a permanent resident. And having a child in the family were sure ways to achieve what he wanted.
“My friends say that Xiaobao looks like you,” Jane told him.
But Henry snickered. Something inside him was simmering and gurgling like magma for five years already. He remembered vividly that fateful night in Kuching. How Jane had bared her soul to him. Wiped her tears off his shoulders, whimpering at the injustice inflicted on her before and after divorce. Till they met.
Then he yelled and became incoherent.
“Look here: they say Xiaobao is good-liking like his father. Aren’t you proud?”
“Well – I’m proud, should I not be?” His voice was awful coming from a deep hurt and despair. Seemingly, a sorrow nobody can understand.
“Let me tell you what is good news,” he suggested, ”I closed a major contract today. A million dollar one.”
“That’s good. I’ve more clients and sales for our business than you. But this time, you make it big. Can we go out to celebrate?”
“Nah – I’m tired,” he expurgated.
“How about tomorrow?”
No reply as he turned himself restlessly on the bed. Jane had become his greatest enemy for reasons he could not comprehend or prove.
“I’m done. It’s surely the end,” Jane had expressed on BossomPal.” Nothing is getting right. I lost a client and a bf. I hate to think he is also a customer. I’ll die.”
Henry found that message one week later.
“Hi Phoenix, you sound depressed… We have our own will to decide our own life.”
If there needed to be a reason for that passionate night at M Hotel, it was because he accepted Jane.
“ Do you mind about a woman’s past?” she had asked.
“The past makes us stronger. It is a springboard to greater heights,” said Henry
“ When my father died, I was like a lost ship without rudders…Then, I married an abusive man who was also a drunkard.
“I never did anything done right after that. My life was getting from one mess to another.”
“How about your son, Ben?”
“ I was raped.”
Jane believed in honesty.
Two months later, they had their solemnisation at the Registry of Marriage with a small party of four people – together with Mary and another friend whom they met outside the entrance that day.
Henry did not sleep.
He stared blankly at the ceiling. Then he realised that he wanted to meet this special client who was a young, single professional lady – young but wild.
“This a good chance to strike gold,” Henry teased himself,” Divorce is not for men – because it means defeat.”
If not fated, you are strangers when you meet. If fated, a thousand li is not too far to travel…..
Story by: Hubert Du
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