Mrs Chowmein was murdered!
It was the curious vagabonds who slept in front of the widower’s abode that discovered the rivulet of blood from inside the house, dripping down to where they were sleeping.
The vagrants formed part of the late-70s communist era’s phenomenon. They had previously belonged to the bourgeoisie groups, but forfeited their money and jewellery, anyways found themselves banished from their own homes to the barren land of the New Economic Zones before later finding their way back to the city.
I learned of Mrs Chowmein’s fate after waking up early to queue for the monthly family meat ration. I was struck with disbelief, fear and overwhelming sadness, I couldn’t accept the fact that there was a murder in my neighbourhood even though I read and heard about it everyday. My mind was numb for the whole day and I couldn’t help chatting to the crowd gathered in front of Mrs Chowmein’s house.
The murderer was the 16-year-old next-door neighbor of Mrs Chowmein. He climbed over the balcony and into her house, intending to steal her jewellery. When she stumbled upon him, he panicked; fearing she would report him to the police, he cut her throat.
He was the youngest of his large family, ten strong, and they had been struggling to find work – business at his mother’s steamed rice roll stall wasn’t well. Under communism, other well-to-do families fared better by selling their own furniture and belongings to feed themselves.
In the afternoon, I witnessed my next-door Chinese bourgeoisie neighbors “deported” with beaming smiles after paying 25 taels of gold each to the government. I felt a mix of emptiness, sorrow and regret. I didn’t know if it was wise that my sister and I didn’t join them. Would their boat be sunk by the wild sea or by being packed out? Would they soon return home because everything was a big ploy by the Communists to get their money?
I later heard that the iron ship they boarded carried another two thousand five hundred passengers and reached Malaysia. After being refused onshore for two months, the family entered a refugee camp and since resettled in Toronto, Canada.
In the evening, a big group of people crowded around the house next to Mrs Chowmein’s. I was totally stunned to see a guy in his 40s being handcuffed and led away. I learned that the 14-year-old daughter of the homeowner had been pimped to the man for sex. Occupying the house of my former Chinese bourgeoisie neighbors were the Southern former underground Communist couple. I assumed their meagre salaries paid by the government must be key for their evil action? I was distressed at the unpardonable act the parents had done to their own daughter.
A middle-aged woman in heavy makeup and a sleeping gown waved and smiled to a young member of the police team then opened the door for him. I felt disgusted! She came from the North, was wife to a high-ranking Communist official who often travelled for work, and had been given a house forfeited from my previous Chinese bourgeoisie neighbours. To show off her high social status, she was often seen wandering around or out of the house during the day in her sleeping gown! Like a prison guard, all day from her balcony, she made people scared by watching what food her neighbors bought from the market, what clothes they wore and what activities they did. In return, the neighborhood watched her “determination” with respects to having different men over consistently.
It was an eventful day in my neighborhood in 1979.
Summoned to the court of conscience,
Sadly, hunger caused murder,
Sickeningly, daughter sold to paedophile,
Shamelessly, cougar committed adultery in broad daylight,
Surprisingly, the Chinese paid to be deported,
Scandalously, under Communism, my neighborhood showed its seamy face,
Sordidly, money and sex led the crimes.
by Sylvia Covizt.