Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Heli Hostess



Sherry met Pierre, her knight in shining armor, after a string of heartthrobs. Before Pierre, there were Hal the Brat, Nyoman the Artist, Zul the ITM Student, Joe the Band Boy, Shid the A***H***, Paul the Piglet and Richie Rich.
Hal was her first squeeze – blonde, blue-eyed, half-Caucasian Love Child of a distant relative on her mother’s side. Hal’s mother was a short, ugly Witch who had an affair with the manager of the Raffles Hotel. Before she could pack her bags to leave her cuckolded husband, the White Man died in her arms of a heart attack. The henpecked  man almost jumped into Mac Ritchie Resevoir when he saw the fair, freckled face of the baby that he knew wasn’t his.
That whirlwind romance with Hal was in ’69, five years after Ummi left with her Drunken Mat Salleh. Just what’s with Ummi? She and her libido! Why can’t she just be a good wife to Baba?
But Hal’s hot-headedness was too much to bear. Just like the daughter in the Sound of Music, she was only fifteen going on sixteen and horror stories about Hal's mother frightened her. When Betty’s cousin from the old flats introduced her Nyoman the Artist, she dropped Hal like a hot potato.
Nyoman was on a short visit from Bali. He needed a muse and a model. Sherry needed escape from Hal. After several sittings for portraits, he asked her to leave with him to that tropical isle. She pondered on her prospects for a few days. 
Then she told him, “Mas Nyoman, I'm sure Bali is an island paradise … but I’ve to finish my studies first. I’ll visit when I’m done with my Form Five.” 
Yes, she had to complete her schooling. But he was also a Hindu, and she’d never be a Hindu, and that’s why she can’t go to Bali with him.  
After Nyoman left, she decided that fifteen is too young to go steady. She’d just have fun and have Betty tag along to house parties and double dates so she’d have an excuse not to get seriously involved. That was until Joe the vocalist of the Jay Be Blues swept her off her feet with his electric personality.
When she was at Chik Rabiah’s flat, she imagined her life with a Band Boy as a partner. She shuddered when she thought of Jude, the pretty Chinese girl who dropped out of school at sixteen when she was pregnant with Karl’s baby. A week after she delivered the baby, Sherry dragged Betty to their rented room on the first floor of a double-story terrace house near Paramount. It was like a John & Yoko sleep-in, but very basic with just a mattress, a low table and plastic shelves for clothes. Karl was sprawled on the floor and Jude was nursing the baby on the mattress. When they arrived, she yanked down her tie-dye t-shirt over her breasts and pulled her leather mini skirt to cover her thighs. She smiled weakly through her curtain of long straight hair.
When they walked out to the streets, Sherry held back her tears as she hugged Jude and said good-bye. Sherry held on to Betty’s elbow as they walked to the bus stand at Paramount. Jude crossed the road to the makan shops to buy lunch. Six weeks later, she heard that Jude had thrown in the towel, took up a job as a hostess at a lounge and gave the baby up for adoption.
Zul the ITM Student showed up just in time for Sherry to get over Joe. He studied Law and lived in the next block of flats which was turned into a student’s hostel. He was head over heels with her. And she was flattered that someone so handsome and smart, and from a well-known family in Penang, would be smitten by her. But their stars were crossed and their schedules clashed. He had to rush to his lectures and tutorials at the Jalan Othman campus and she had to hunt for jobs.
Sherry knew that Chik Rabiah had watched her string of boyfriends with disdain. Except for Zul the ITM student. But it’d be a few years before he completes his diploma program. And Chik Rabiah was impatient. She’d been to the Club with Kak Hana a few times and taken a liking to Chot, a fellow accountant at Abang Shid’s office. Since then, she’d been bugging Kak Hana to set Sherry and Chot up.
Kak Hana protested, “I really don’t know how to be a matchmaker! What if after I set them up, they don’t like each other?”
“How would you know if you haven’t tried? At least, invite him over for tea so he’ll get to know your sister better. I saw him stealing glances at her at the Club.”
But she hemmed and hawed, and hedged and dodged, and then vanished to JB for days ‘til Chik Rabiah gave up. Chik Rabiah, the help and Sherry were left to manage the big bungalow and see to Abang Shid and Baby Rara’s needs. Many, many months later, when she caught them extending their tongues to exchange sweets, she wailed and wept on Chik Rabiah’s shoulders.  
Chik Rabiah retorted, “What do you expect when you leave a man and a girl night after night together?”
“But how could she do this to me? Her own sister? How could she betray me?”
“You should have seen it coming when you kept going down back and forth, back and forth, to JB!”
“I was worried about my Baba! That was why I went down often!” She protested vehemently.  
Of course, Chik Rabiah saw through her act and knew all along that she was just using her Baba to see that scoundrel of her old flame. Just like her Ummi! Running away from boredom and sneaking around with another bugger! And now, she cried that she was the Betrayed One!
Sherry’s head spinned at the bitter truth that Abang Shid had used her as a rebound, a pawn in a ghastly game of getting even. How I could be so naïve to believe his promises to send me to London and have his child there? How could he go back on his own words? What a darn fool I made of myself!
Strung me along …. led me on … suck my youth … two years of my life down the drain!
And I’m the one who had to live through the humiliation of being accused a Harlot, a Prostitute, a Home Wrecker!
They made up and had another baby. I didn’t even get near a typing class!    
Just as well, Paul the Piglet turned up just at the right time for a vendetta in Cameron Highlands. Even if he had been a monk, and never touched me the whole time, I had to show them that I had gotten over the heartbreak.
People say, that every cloud has a silver lining. And, true enough, the sun shone after the dark clouds passed. Nuwal, the Budak Asamboi, who worked as a croupier at the casino in Genting, told me about an opening as a helicopter hostess.
“I’m sure with your figure and poise, you’ll have no problem getting the job,” she said, scrunching up her broad nose.
“I just hope that the person who interviews me thinks the same!” I giggled as I envisioned bright days ahead.
It was at the coffee house in Genting that I met Richie Rich. His real name was Richard Yap - handsome, overseas graduate with impeccable manners and immaculate dress sense, an heir to a vast fortune. But there was always a snag. As a taikor’s first born son, and the great-great-great grandson of Yap Ah Loy, the third Kapitan Cina of KL, he had to carry his family name. Hence, conversion is out of the question. I might not be a good Muslim, but I wasn’t about to abandon my faith and undergo a church wedding. Even Ummi got her Scotsman to convert, even in name. After two wonderful years together, I had to leave Richard and glue back the pieces of my broken heart.
God was on my side. Pierre Montreux – a solid, steady Frenchman, thirteen years my senior, a receding hairline and a slight paunch compensated by a stable job as the GM of a logistics company – boarded the helicopter to Genting and never took his eyes off me.
He introduced me to fine dining and champagne sipping at The Ship, Le Coq D’Or, The Grill; the Expat Community and Elite Circle at the Selangor Club, and his luxury apartment at Ukay Heights. 

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