On another late afternoon in 2012, I walked over to the same concrete seat to have my lunch during my one hour break. That lunch consisted of two slices of Egg & Mayonnaise sandwich with a small carton of HL milk to help me last through my late shift at the restaurant.
I loved that spot. It was nicely shaded under a tree and had the view of the Fullerton Hotel with the Cavenagh Bridge complimenting it. After having my lunch, I would continue to sit there and watch as the Bumboats passed through the Singapore River while tourists snapped away on their cameras. I liked that I knew so much more about the history of the place, that I wasn’t just some front desk girl at a club. In a way, it was my quiet time alone, away from the hustling and drama at work. I never told anyone where I was going, I didn’t think anyone would be interested or would just think that I’m crazy…
I would admire the architecture of the Fullerton from afar. It went from being a Fortress to a General Post Office into a grand monument. Maybe my life would turn out to be better too? Maybe someday, I wouldn’t have to work in this sleazy place? Maybe someday, I wouldn’t have to salvage a sandwich to last a day? And maybe, someday, I would meet someone, who can actually love me?
It was just like any other break time that sunny afternoon until a man came up to me. He was a foreigner, big built, dressed in a casual smart attire, had an oily shabby hair-do and looked like he hadn’t slept well in days. He asked in a very strong Indian accent, “Miss? Do you mind if I talk to you?”. I was wary of his behaviour and looked around. There were other people in the vicinity. So I told him cautiously, “Sure”. He sat on the other end of the concrete seat and just stared at me for a good few minutes. It felt very awkward. “I can see the last few years have been difficult for you”, he said, while still staring directly into my eyes. I tried to stay calm and eat my sandwich. From my white eye, I could see that he was still staring. Strangely, it felt like he was staring into my soul.
Just when I thought I had enough and was about to get up, he said, “You were in a relationship with someone for about ten years, am I right? He was bad to you. It was very difficult to leave him, am I right?”. At that moment, I almost choked on my sandwich. I stared right back at him. How did he know this? Who is this person? And why did he approach me? He smiled. I felt my heart beat racing. I wanted to run but something stopped me. “I can see that you have a lot of doubt in your heart. You will meet two more men in your life. Later this year, your life will change. You will eventually get married and your husband will love you very much”. I was confused and I felt my heart ache. Who was this person and why is he telling me all these?
Just then, he took out his wallet and pulled out a photo of him and his family. “Miss, this is a photo of my family in my country. We are very poor and I am making a living here reading fortune. Could you please help me?”. That was when I realised; I was being conned.
He was this big man showing me a picture, staring right at me and asking for money. I felt trapped. “How much?”, I asked. “$50”, he replied. I looked into my purse. There was really only one $50 note in it. I reluctantly passed it to him. He quickly took it and slipped it into his pocket. Then, he had the audacity to ask again, “Miss, I can tell you more. But all you have to do is pass me another $50”. I wasn’t about to fall for it again, so I said, “Sorry, I have no more money”. “Do you have money in your card?”, he was referring to my ATM card. “No”, I responded. “Please Miss, I am just making a living”, he pleaded and sounded rather frustrated. I was getting a little irritated myself, “Look, I know you need money and so do I. I gave you the last $50 I had” and proceeded to open my purse to show him, “See!”. He didn’t look convinced, stood up and left. In truth, I actually had another $50 left in my account to survive the rest of the week before my next pay. Break time was almost over so I too got up and left. I felt really lousy for the rest of the week knowing that I gave my hard earned $50 to a con man. He probably approached me because I looked really pathetic sitting there alone on a concrete slab eating a 7-11 sandwich. He probably said all that to trick me into giving him money. I should’ve known he was pulling my leg. Besides, anyone could’ve gambled and guessed that I’ve been in a bad relationship for the past ten years, right? Right?
The week passed and I got my pay. I didn’t think much of it since.
Fast forward about two months later, I left work at that restaurant. Soon, after a series of dating, I met an amazing friend who changed my life. We are now planning to get married.
I still go back to that spot – the concrete seat facing the Fullerton and Cavenagh Bridge – when I’m around the area just to remember how I had coped and hoped for my life to be restored again. I’m grateful for how things have turned out.
As for that con man, I never saw him again.
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