The Singapore Connection – Chapter 9

 

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Fei Hong’s resurrection

Stanley had been hiking daily since his arrival on the coast but hadn’t complemented this with balanced meals and adequate rest at the cheap motel. He was feeling weak as he struggled with who to see to help his mind heal. He turned to cross over the road to one of the restaurants he occasionally ate at and gasped in surprise. There was his Jade again and this time she didn’t turn and disappear into the crowd. She stood there watching him and he slowly found his legs moving in that direction. He shook as he approached. Were the Buddhists right after all in their belief in ghosts and why did ghosts have flesh rather than the vapor he’d always imagined. He stopped a few feet from her shaking and tried to find his voice.

“Jade!” He finally croaked. Then a blackness engulfed him.

When the blackness disappeared, and his eyes began to focus he realized he was on a bed in an unfamiliar room. It was not a hospital. How did he get here? What was that pleasant smell coming from another room reminiscent of Singapore? A head appeared around the doorway to check on him and the dream woman entered the room. She was bare footed dressed in white shorts and a tank top with a picture of palm trees on an island.

“You’re heavy, I had to get help bringing you across the road and up to the apartment.”

“Jade?”

“This has gone far enough! Don’t call me that again. You will call me Lanfen. Do you feel well enough to take a shower? You’re sweaty and I want these sheets removed and clean ones there before I’ll enter that bed again. You’ve been acting very foolishly, and I’ve been sent by the family to see if you can be rehabilitated or whether they need to be realistic and consider you died with Jade and the baby. What were you thinking? We grieve together as a family and you have blocked us out in your selfish private grief”

Stanley gaped at her in shock and suddenly realized he was only dressed in his underwear. Where are my clothes!” He demanded.

“I threw them out! There are new clothes according to your old clothes measurements from shops downstairs left in the bathroom. She pointed to the attached bathroom. Shower and put those new clothes on and then we will eat on the balcony looking out over the ocean. Be ready in ten minutes. We’ll talk then and I’ll see if my week here has been wasted or not.”

Stanley still reeling from shock moved toward the bathroom feeling uncomfortable being exposed in his underwear to his sister in law. He closed the door and began to shave quickly with the electric shaver sitting on the counter. It looked familiar. He suddenly realized it was the one he used at his motel. One surprise after another. How had she got that from his motel room, then he remembered the key with his motel name and number had been in his shorts. He stepped into the shower and was tempted to luxuriate there for a while as he washed hair and body. She’d said ten minutes. He rinsed off and looked for a towel. The door opened and Lanfen handed him a towel. “You forgot to take the towel from the bottom of the bed!”

Stanley took the towel and held it in front of him. “Please go, I’m not dressed sister in law.” She shrugged and went back to finalize their meal.

Stanley inspected the clean underwear shirt and shorts and found they were his size. Why was he surprised? This was typical Chinese attention to the little details.

He emerged feeling refreshed though still had a headache. Probably needed a good meal. He made his way through the apartment inspecting it for the first time and found the balcony where Lanfen sat waiting for him. She indicated his favourite food spread out on the balcony table. “We will eat, I will talk, and you will answer questions. Afterward you can ask questions. Now eat!”

She picked up chopsticks and began to delicately explore her food piece by piece. He watched the grace and speed of her movements and thought of Jade. Apart from the slight difference in voice they were identical in thinking and movement. He felt a sudden surge of identity with her. They were family.

He turned to speak, and she held up her hand to stop him sternly. “I said I will speak, and you will answer!” She finished her food with a flourish and turned to face him.

“What is your name?” Stanley looked at her in amazement. “Stanley!”

“I see, then who is this Fei Hong named on the office you used to occupy. Is this Stanley an impostor usurping his position in my Uncle’s workplace? The family placed that sign on the entrance door to that office as it expressed our hopes for a bright future in the name of our respected famous martial arts teacher of antiquity and you accepted that wish and with it the position it occupied. They were proud to invite him into their work environment as a further representative of the family. Who is the impostor? What is your name and think carefully!”

Tears came to Stanley’s eyes as he understood the implications of that question. Chinese were loyal to family and supportive of each other in good and bad times. He realized he was not worthy of their expressed confidence, but they were patiently reaching out to him to make him aware of just how magnanimous they’d been in embracing him as a family member. He knew their family name went back to antiquity and they could trace their lineage and the exact location where the family history in stone was located and began. They’d make pilgrimages to that site to honor the noble traits handed down to them despite local wars, foreign wars, occupation, droughts and floods over the millennia. He by way of contrast could trace his lineage only back to the middle ages.

Stanley nodded in acknowledgment of just how his selfish private grieving had affected the family. “My name is Fei Hong!” He said it confidently and with conviction. If Jade were watching from somewhere then she’d have been sad at his decisions these past six months and his separation from her family.

Lanfen was gripped with emotion but kept it in check. She was doing this for her sister and her family. She spoke more gently now.

“Does Fei Hong know how his absence has seriously impacted the family? Respected Uncle Wong Hui has developed serious health issues as a result of overwork and the people in the Washington Office are inquiring if they should be thinking of another principal at the office and he go into retirement. He’d accepted you as his son in the absence of an heir and feels your absence and even though he’s not expressed that we can tell. This branch of the Wong family has been favored with daughters but not boys in birth. Some of your clients are reconsidering offers from rival consultants. Young Uncle needs help with some of the contacts you made with him in Europe and is struggling. I put aside my work in Shanghai to come and help with the family investments management, but my training is in law. What is Fei Hong doing here on a holiday when the family needs help? Please answer me!”

Stanley felt wretched when it was put to him that way. His grieving alone had been selfish and non-productive for the family interests. He looked at Lanfen and felt a strong connection to her. “Thank you sister in law for allowing me to see myself. I have done foolishly and need to seek the forgiveness of my family. Thank you!”

Lanfen’s stern look was replaced with a look of compassion and she nodded happily. This morning she’d almost been ready to give up on him, but she’d not failed the family. “Yes, you will wind up your stay here and accompany me back to Singapore very soon. I will inform them of your wise decision but there is one more thing you need to agree to before we return. We will talk about that tomorrow as we do a final tour of this beautiful area you obviously love very much.”

“Where are we going tomorrow and what time will you be picking me up in the morning at the motel if you have a car?”

Lanfen smiled. “No more motel, it is not representative of our family at all and I’m surprised you stayed there. I returned the key and paid the bill. Your personal items are in a drawer along with the wallet I took from your pocket before throwing away the clothes you were wearing, and those clothes stored at the motel. They belonged to one called Stanley and you are Fei Hong.”

“Where are my clothes from the motel then?”

“All gone, we will go to the shops downstairs and you will buy new clothes representative of our family in a little while but only after I’m satisfied you are well enough. Today we will go to the marine exhibition and spend time there and then eat at the wharf watching boats come and go. I also want to see the Crocodile Hunter’s Australia Zoo as I believe it is worth spending the day there. But tomorrow we will go to the mountains and enjoy the view over the ocean from the heights of those mountains. Mountains have special significance to our family. I’m anxious to eat at this café which looks out over the coast.” She pointed to a brochure and Stanley picked it up to examine it.

“I’ve been there with Jade. It’s beautiful up there and Jade loved it on our honeymoon. We even stayed there at a guest accommodation for a few days.”

“I know, she told me and sent me pictures. I want to retrace her steps here as much as possible and need you to show me all those places.”

“Which room do I stay in. I can’t remember seeing another bedroom, but I know there’s a huge lounge that could be comfortable.”

Lanfen looked surprised. “You sleep in the same bed on right side, but you will not touch me I’m your sister in law.”

Stanley looked at her, it was now his turn to be surprised. He felt extremely uncomfortable to be in this predicament but didn’t protest. He’d be honorable, it was the family way.

To be continued.

© Copyright 2020 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved

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