Friday, January 23, 2009

Chapter 5

This contempt that Richard had for the local population was mutual. The Chinese did not see him as one of them. To them, he was a deflector; a snake. Despite corresponding constantly with the locals, he had zero Chinese friends; he was permanently an outsider; a regular "banana", yellow on the outside and white on the inside.

That was exactly what Boon Hock had called him.

When he was younger, Richard might have been agitated, he might even have struck Boon Hock. But twenty years of hearing the same thing does wonders in dulling one's temper.

Sometimes, he did not even mind that label anymore.

Richard got up walked to the door. At the edge of it, he lit up another cigarette before walking out and towards the canteen.

He liked smoking while walking. As a child he was socially awkward and extremely self-conscious. In the presence of other people, he would suddenly become aware of his entire body. Where should he place his hands while seating? How about standing? How wide should he open his legs? How often should he shift his gaze?

His movements were awkward and unnatural. As a result, he had few acquaintances and even less friends.

He hated walking past people. Under the perceived stares of the crowd, his strides open to scrutiny, he felt naked and exposed. He would feel very self aware. All thoughts of his would be focused on his bodily movements, like how big a stride to take or how to swing his arms.

Maybe he should just keep them in his pockets and not swing at all.

But cigarettes changed all that. The elevating euphoria of tobacco made him forget himself. A stick in his hand was like a royal decree; he felt empowered and larger-than-life. Like all the cigarette welding heroes of films and real life, he was invincible.


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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.