This morning while driving back home from the mini mart, I saw a young lad. He was stout, short and had small eyes. I wondered if this would how John look like now. Each time I see a young man of that built and looks, my mind would go back in time to the early 90s, back to the time when I rented a room at Taman Rainbow, Jalan Ipoh from a woman whom I called Madam Yap. She had a son who was only 8 years old when I first rented her room. Her son's name is John.
I will never forget the day when I moved into Madam Yap's house. John raced upstairs just as I was carrying my belongings up. He stood at the highest step of the stairs and stretched out his hands across the space of the stairs landing, blocking me from going up. My landlady chided him and he moved aside. Several days later, he tried to be funny with me. He touched his birdie and smiled cheekily at me. Then he moved his hands forward and made gestures like he wanted to fondle me. I was aghast and told his mother but his tidak-apa attitude mother ignored me!
My landlady was a mistress. Her man was a "Latuk" (Datuk - but my landlady pronounced it as Latuk) and wealthy timber tycoon trading in East Malaysia. My room-mate Cheng Cheng and I always wondered how she could be someone's mistress with those looks and dressing! She looked no where near a mistress. To anyone, she was just an ordinary looking 'ah soh' in the market who was in her mid forties. She did not bother much about her appearance and frumpy dressing. But a man is not so much hooked to a woman by her looks but by how "willing and good" she is in the room! That's what one of my male colleagues told me once.
John used to sleep in the same room with his mother. One time Cheng Cheng and I overheard John saying this to his mother in Mandarin - "mummy, can you let me touch your breasts please"!! He was pleading his mother but his tidak-apa mother just remained silent.
Each time my landlady's man came for a visit (once a month), John would be sent out of the house to cycle on his bicycle. My landlady and her man would be in the bedroom for an hour or two. After her man saw me once, my landlady instructed me not to come out of my room if 'John's father' (that is what she called her man) was here. She also instructed me not to wear shorts as John's father was ogling at me! She was just insecured, fearing that her man would leave her for me. Oh puh-lease! They knew then that I had a boyfriend.
Madam Yap installed a lock to the house phone but some how, my then boyfriend (hubs now) managed to dial out muahahaha!
Each time Madam Yap went out, my roomies and I would open our landlady's photo album cabinet to look at her photos. That was our cheap thrill - to discreetly go through our evil landlady's albums and have a good laugh. Her photos told many stories. We saw many cut-out photos of Madam Yap where the other half were missing. We surmised that the other part was her ex-husband. She has an elder son from her estranged husband. We also deduced that Madam Yap was once a 'bar girl' (the term used for GRO in the sixties and seventies) from all the photos. And we figured that she managed to catch this 'big water fish' timber tycoon from the bar.
Oh yes, she also had double eyelid surgery done on her eyelids, which she proudly told us.
I have not seen Madam Yap or John for 18 years. I always wonder how John would look like now. Is he married with kids? Did he go to university? Or is he still a lazy slob who only liked to watch TV? I guess that he would still look stout, fair and clumsy as he never did any sports throughout the 5 years I stayed there. And he would be in his mid thirties now. Most of all, I am curious to know how Madam Yap is doing now. I used to send her festive cards for many years until I got married and got too busy with my own family. She would have been in her late sixties now. I wonder if she is still with this timber tycoon. And I wonder if she still lives in Jalan Ipoh. I would love to meet up with her one day. I even dream of her all the time. Yes, I kind of miss her despite her flaws and her muddled background. After all, I lived with her for 5 years. And I miss my room mate, Cheng Cheng and my other housemate, Jeannie too. I wonder if Cheng Cheng is still in London or back in Malaysia.
... to be continued.