February 26, 2004

from hero to zero

Circa 1991. I was riding on a motorcycle with my childhood buddy – Wai. Both of us didn’t have a license to ride back then because we were still kids. But we’d get our fathers’ motorcycles during the weekend to ride around the off traffic network of dirt roads around the village.

It was business as usual for both of us that particular weekend afternoon – we rode to the further edge of the village to perfect our wheelie skills. When we were done having our dosage of fun, we rode home through a less traveled path, but one that was frequently traveled by both of us. We were riding side by side without our helmets… doing about 60 kph, and were chatting. But when we came round a curvy stretch of the road, we suddenly met a fucking kid riding a cheap ass bicycle right in the middle of the road. At 60 kph at a curve, and the proximity of the stupid kid, it was impossible for us to brake our bikes in time. So we did what was necessary and out of reflex – we dove our bikes off the road into some bushes to avert a potential catastrophic collision.

Wai went to the left and I went to the right, and everything went blur after that. All I knew was seeing myself airborne and landed hard on the ground, and also the loud crashing sound of my father’s motorcycle. I didn’t know how it happened but, it was pretty nasty. When I got up from the fall, I noticed a few things around me,

1) my father’s bike was badly wrecked several meters away. The gear pedal was bent backwards and the brake jammed.
2) my knee was bleeding profusely.
2) Wai, was nowhere to be found, but his bike was in someone’s compound.
3) a group of villagers was advancing towards our direction.
4) the kid was unscathed, but he was wailing like somebody had just punched him in the face.

I thought my friend Wai had ran off on foot, freaked out perhaps. So I shifted my attention to my father’s bike, that looked as if it had just been ran over by a truck. I was still groggy from the crash and the first thing that crossed my mind was to fix that goddamn gear/brake, and to cover up as much as I can, or my father’s going to kill me.

I made a beeline towards a nearby house to borrow some tools – but I was instead yelled by a housewife for riding recklessly around that area. Already feeling nervous about my impending fate awaiting at home, I cussed back at that lady “Damn old cunt” and went back to my bike. That was when I heard the commotion from the advancing villagers, saying that ‘there is another guy unconscious in the bush’. I was like, “Shit, that must be Wai”. Sure enough, it was Wai. I saw a man pulling him out from the bush and carried him to a nearby clearing.

I wanted to help but, there were already a few of the villagers there helping him. I figured that I couldn’t be of much help anyway, so I decided to go off on my own – to fix my bike especially – and went back to attend the wrecked bike… made a few crude adjustments and finally managed to get that thing back on its wheels.

On my way pushing the bike out of there, I encountered some irritating housewives in pajamas jeering at me, but I ignored them – for I was too worried about the bike to give a fuck about anything else. The kid was unharmed… and that was the most important thing –> hell, that’s a hero’s mentality.

I pushed my father’s bike for about a good 200 meters, before reaching in front of a house with an old man out at the compound. I requested to borrow a hammer to work on the gear pedal from the old man, and unlike those good for nothing housewives, the kind old man obliged.

Having gotten a hammer, I started to work on the bike immediately, and while I was busy working on it, a middle aged man who resembled George Harrison suddenly approached me from nowhere and asked me a few questions:

“Are you ok boy? do you need to go to the clinic or something?”
“I’m ok thanks… but my bike’s not doing good”
“What actually happened back there?”
“We were just riding like usual… and then there’s this fucking stupid kid standing right in the middle of the road”
“And then?”
“What do you think, uncle? We avoid him lah! And crashed.”
“Oh… ok”
“That stupid kid’s parents ought be put to sleep for letting him stray on the road like this… cheeeebyee… ”
“Do you happen to see my friend? I saw him passed out back there, do you know how is he doing?”
“He got a bad gash on his forehead. Need some stitches… someone already sent him to the clinic”
“What about that kid? Is he alright?”
“Yeah… he’s doing good. Just shocked… still crying”
“Fucking kid. Not even a scratch… cry like a sissy some more”
“Do you happen to know the kid’s parents? Perhaps you can yell at them or something…”
“Errrr… I’m actually the kid’s father”

I was stunned and speechless after learning about the fact that George Harrison was the kid’s father. With a beet red blushing face, I dropped the hammer and immediately bailed the place out of sheer embarrassment. I got a great deal of scolding from my father after that… but what hurt me the most was – to become back to zero for scorning the kid’s father without the blink of an eye.

michaelooi  | flashbacks  | 

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