The Good Life

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Tissue Seller vs Harmonica Player

"Arh.... this is a good spot." Seng talked to himself and put down his stuffs. A big plastic bag full of tissues packets. "Hope today I can make some decent business... I'm hungry lah.." he thought to himself. Seng is a 30+ "self-employed" man trying to sell tissues at a busy Bugis street. He had recently read the Newpaper about a young man begging at Orchard Road. It has brought criticism from people but the young man is unfazed. "He is my idol man," Seng thought to himself and smiled. Then from the plastic bag he took out 3 tissue packets... and started to give passer-bys a pitiful look on his face. "3 for $1..." he said in a sorrow voice.

He heard somebody playing the harmonica.. a very sweet music flooded his ears. He turned around and saw an old lady.. probably in her 70s... sitting about 5 meters away from him playing a harmonica. "Wah lau... ah mah.. trying to snatch my business ah?" Seng muttered to himself. A well to do tai-tai came along... saw the 2 of them.. and gave the old lady a $5 note. That angered Seng. When nobody seemed to be watching, he throw a series a vulgarities at the old lady. "Why don't you go another place to play with your litle toy?" Seng ended with a huff. But the old lady did not seem to hear and continue to play with her harmonica. That infuriated Seng even more.. he picked a stone from the pavement, make sure nobody was looking, and flinged it at ah mah. It struck her at her forehead... though no external wound resulted. But the old lady was emotionless and continue playing!

Seng just shook his head... could not believe what he saw. He was so angry when he saw a few gentlemen giving her money that he threw the tissue packets to the ground. He don't want to confront the ah mah... afraid of creating a commotion. Resigned.. he just sat there and do nothing. Tried as he might to shut out the music, his ears gave up and listen. It was peaceful and warming.... like there was a sad story behind the music... a story about determination, struggles, joy and sorrow. The more he listen, the more guilty he became for what he had done to her. He turned and looked at her, and felt ashamed of himself.

Seng gathered his stuffs and walked away... determined to get his life in order.


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