Friday, January 16, 2009

Chapter 4

"Thank you for your time. I will take your opinion into consideration. The welfare of the coolies is our utmost concern."

Richard interrupted Tan Boon Hock rather abruptly.

Momentarily, Boon Hock was stunned, his mouth opened and closed, his language center trying frantically to translate his thoughts into English.

All this time, Richard did not look away. He stared hard into Boon Hock; He saw every involuntary movement Boon Hock was making. He saw Boon Hock's constant fidgets; He saw the big goblets of sweat making their way down Boon Hock's forehead.

He saw Boon Hock squirm at the word "coolie".

"We are done now, Mr. Tanne."

Boon Hock squirmed again. There were flashes of displeasure in Boon Hock's fat face. For a few seconds, it looked as though he would voice them.

But Boon Hock did not; he slowly got out of his chair, took one last look at Richard and made his way out. He muttered something under his breath. It was inaudible and in Chinese.

But Richard knew exactly what he had said.

He lit up another cigarette. He smoked slowly. It was lunch time and as much as he was hungry, lunch was not something he was looking forward to. He was going to eat alone, just like how he always did.

Though Richard wanted and tried desperately to be British, Richard was Chinese. No amount of Western education could change that fact. So what if his received pronunciation was so fucking perfect? He was Chinese; He was a member of a race whose language he could not speak.

Richard knew he was different. Despite the overwhelming amount of tea and crumpets flowing through his blood, his skin was yellow. They don't trust him; they talk behind his back. To his face, no one says anything. But Richard knows; he reads people.

Richard knows he only got his job because he was Chinese. As a liaison officer with the local trade unions, he met constantly with his equals. Especially then, when the governor was drafting the Chinese Protectorate, a bill in which Richard had little interest in.

Richard did not care about the rights of the local population. He could not be bothered to give a God damned flying fuck about the welfare of those motherless savages.


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This is a work of fiction, not a historical account. So, don't nitpick at the historical inaccuracies.

This is also just a rough draft and hence, unpolished.