It was easy to forget the past, but not easy to forgive someone.
Victor was still at large, and I had been praying non-stop for his manifestation, i.e. to either reply to my messages or to let me know if he was still alive. Of course, if he were dead, he won’t be able to tell me. I had no official relationship with him, and under the law had no legal right to demand his whereabouts. For all I knew he could have been married to another woman by now.
“I Miss You” – the mug from Alan Fong came to my desk. I saw it and simply brought it back to Alan and left it there. He must have accidentally put it there. After all our desks are quite close to each other.
Then at 3:30 p.m., my usual coffee from Alan arrived at my desk. I was too busy to tell him that he misplaced his mug earlier this morning. My head was buried in the negatives throughout. It was not until 5:00 p.m. that I had a chance to take a break by going to the toilet.
And I almost forgot to mention that since Jenny gave birth to her second child the baby girl, she was in a much better mood, and no longer have the time and inclination to give me her pep talk. I got a chance to leave the office before midnight. However, I was still the last one to leave.
But recently I always found it uncomfortable at a certain hour, at around 8:00 p.m. or thereabouts. I felt a presence standing behind me, it was strong and luminating. It could be due to the fact that the lights at my section was still on. The other parts of the office were in pitch darkness. I could sense the silent force moving from one desk to the other, like a hurricane.
Tonight, I felt it most strong. I quickly packed my things and booked a Grab from my iPhone and called it quits. I didn’t want to be confronted by anyone from beyond. Packing my things, I almost spilled the unfinished coffee that Alan gave me.
The night was chilly but not too cold for my liking. I took a deep breath and told myself that life was treating me well. As I stepped into the Grab car, I saw a text from none other than Victor.
“You are alive!” I quickly texted back.
“Listen, can I meet you now?” the person on the other side replied.
“It’s past midnight, …. ” I texted back, forgetting that he was the one that I had wanted to meet all the while.
“I can only meet you now,” the other side replied.
“Ok, then where?” I asked.
“Just outside Panama Cinema,” and then, “I meet you at the ticketing counter,” another text.
I was so elated I had entirely forgotten about the fact that at this hour, the ticketing counter would have dispensed all the tickets for the patrons for the midnight shows and closed.
So that I ordered the Grab driver to change destination. He drove me to the cinema and bid me goodnight, which was rather unusual. I was so happy myself that I didn’t bother about the driver.
The cinema was empty. Few people were there and in fact they were only the cleaners. I took the escalator up to the ticketing counter and I saw Li Meng Hwa there.
“Thought you weren’t coming!” he said.
“You … you are the one who texted me?!” I exclaimed.
“Who else do you think it was?” he asked.
And then at the same time he took out an ornament, a charm that I recognised so well.
“Want to bring this home?” he asked.
“I, I, I … don’t know what you mean,” I said.
“You took this from Jenny’s office door,” Li did not mince his words.
I could not deny it now. The evidence was weighing right in front of me.
“What do you plan to do? Report me? This is such a small item!” I raised my voice.
“Of course not, Lynette. This is just to tell you that we have CCTV surveillance everywhere in the office. I saw you but that I found it to be a once off affair, so I decided to ignore it.”
“And in any case, you are a good staff.” Li Meng Hwa was gentle with his words.
“Let me give you a ride home,” he said.
“Wait! Then how did you know Victor’s phone number? It was you sending the messages to me, right?” I questioned the wretched man.
“Yup, you have been sending messages to this number every day, and during office hours, so we decided to go to the telecommunications company to check on it,” Li was not afraid to disclose the facts.
“You have been spying on me!” I shouted.
“We are paying for your handphone bills, of course we should know these things,” Li was adamant.
“I am done with you! I am done with your company!” I shouted, and then I walked away, back to the streets dimly lit with lights. My footsteps were bold and loud.
This time Li grabbed hold of me again. He gripped my arm so tight that I almost screamed. Frankly speaking, Li Meng Hwa was a handsome man, if he hadn’t been with Jenny and I hadn’t overheard the conversation the other night a year ago, I would have wished him as a suitor. But now?
Late at night there seemed nothing much to do except to follow my bosses’ order. Meekly I walked with Li to his Lexus, and I climbed into the passenger seat without another word. Surprisingly he drove me back home, which was in fact disappointing.
Before I got off the car, Li threw a sentence at me, “It is him, isn’t it?”, with almost a trace of bitterness.
But where was Victor? I screwed my brains the entire night trying to decide if I should forget about Victor and move on.
The next day I did not report to the office. Neither did I do so for the next three days, and the week after that. No one contacted me and I simply disappeared from the radar of Our News Daily.
Three months later I found another job, this time with a real estate company. They hired me because I looked smart and presentable which was what an estate agent needed to possess. The salary was commission based and depended on my sales. I liked the job because of the flexible hours. Compared to Our News Daily where I had to be glued to the chair for two to three hours at a stretch, this job was cushy.
But I had a nagging feeling that Li Meng Hwa would not let go of me so easily, especially since he knew that I knew the truth about baby Elizabeth. It suddenly occurred to me that I could blackmail him. I did not need money, but I was quite thrilled at the thought that I could gain some control over the man. I still could not forgive the fact that he spied on me.
Speaking of the devil. Li Meng Hwa rang me up whilst I was attending to one of my customers at a show flat.
“Would you like to meet up with me?” he said over the phone, with a kind of earnestness that surprised me.
I sat down in front of the man who once used to be my boss. This time he had no power over me. I greeted him politely and asked him why he had decided to meet me after such a long time. Of course I didn’t remember handing in a second letter of resignation.
“I have a favour to ask of you,” Li came straight to the point.
“Huh? I am surprised, Mr Li,” I said, almost wanting to make fun of him. “You know Jenny, and her little daughter …?” he began, somewhat tentatively.
“Yes, her daughter Elizabeth,” I said.
“Jenny had refused to allow me to see her,” Li said.
“Her? You mean Elizabeth?” I asked.
“Precisely! And you know that she is my daughter,” Li put it across.
“What is the problem? I thought you wanted me to hide it?” I queried; a bit surprised.
“Yes, and no.” Li looked quite upset now.
“Jenny had promised me that she would resign from Our News Daily and marry me once the divorce with her husband is finalised,” The man was about to cry.
“Then?” I asked.
“Nothing has happened so far, it’s been almost a year since Elizabeth was born,”
I see the picture now. This man wants me to go to court to swear that Elizabeth was his child.
“Why do you think that Jenny refused to marry you?” I probed. He ought to tell me if he wanted me to help him.
“Her husband came into a large sum of money by way of inheritance,” Li explained.
“No way, I am not going to wreck someone else’s marriage.” I said, firmly.
“If I remember correctly, Jenny wasn’t very nice to you before,” Li tried to instigate me.
“No way, and goodbye!” This is the second time I walked away from the good-looking man.
And I couldn’t say that I was not disappointed.
But I was also afraid at the same time. Now that Li was certain that I knew about the secret – the fatherhood of Elizabeth, would he hire an assassin to kill me?