Category Archives: Esplanade Chee

EC – Chapter 7

“Brother.” Stamford muttered matter-of-factly as I entered my bedroom. He was in his diapers, and he was drooling on the parquet in my room. Judging by the fixed smile on his large round face, he was obviously anticipating to have some fun with me today. I ignored him, unpacking my school textbooks onto my table for my nightly revision. It was troublesome enough that I had to babysit this mongoloid until my fitness instructor came, but today, the instructor could only make it at 5pm, instead of his usual timeslot of 4pm. I checked my Rolex – it was only 2pm. I went to Stamford and bent down, forcing a smile at him.

“Okay, dearest Stamford. What shall we be doing for today?” I stared into his cold blank eyes, hoping to terrify him into dying. If only I were that lucky. Stamford suddenly noticed me, smiled, and said, “Brother!” I forced myself to nod. Do not spank the retarded kid, I willed myself. Do not spank the retarded kid.

Mother had instructed me to bring him out for a walk in our garden, ‘get him to know the beautiful flora of the world’, she had said. Personally, I didn’t think that it would help Stamford one bit, but I would do anything to please Mother. I hastily dressed him in something, got Yati to clean up the drool in my room, and we set off.

My house is situated in Bukit Timah, one of those houses with attached enormous swimming pool, rooms and price tag. I didn’t swim much, but I loved the backyard. It was a mini-garden, one that Mother had spent a considerable amount of time working on after she had quit her job. There were many flowers, and I remembered an afternoon many years ago, where I had spent a few hours with Mother, who showed me all the flowers she had planted. The next day, I consulted Encyclopedia Britannica and memorised the common and scientific names of all the plants there.

I dragged Stamford over to a bunch of flowering orchids. He was, for some reason, staring blankly at my posterior, so I drew his attention to the flowers. I would start my lesson with these, then. You see, I hated Stamford, but I knew that he might have a chance at being normal. Who knew, maybe we’d finally have one less retarded kid, one more normal brother in my family. I had previously showed him these flowers a long time ago, to no effect. Yet I knew I had to keep trying.

“Flower. This is a Flower,” I enunciated clearly, pointing at the orchid. Stamford showed no signs of enlightenment, or of being alive at all. I shook him in frustration. “Flow-er. Flower.”

Stamford stirred. He stared at the object of my attention, and he blinked. “Orchid!”

I gasped, before patting him on the back heartily. This boy had hope yet. I brought him to another flower, and then another, and he named them all with aplomb, and he no longer spoke with a stutter. I began to wonder if any of the maids had fed him something.

“Master Esplanade?” Wati called from inside the house. “Your fitness instructor is here, sir.” I nodded in recognition, and brought Stamford back to his room – he even looked me in the eye and said, “Good afternoon, brother,” before shuffling off to his room. Therefore, I was beaming as I walked into my bedroom.

Mr Tan was already waiting inside the room. He nodded at me. We would start the marathon now.

“A hundred IQ questions in thirty minutes,” he beckoned at the IQ assessment book already lying on my table. “Your time starts now.”

EC – Chapter 6

The handsome teenage boy – if I recall correctly, a popular Kids Central artiste named Zack or something. I had often heard my shallow female classmates enthusing and drooling over his photo – smiled lustfully, and exchanged an inviting look with an equally good-looking female, who closed her eyes, puckered her lips. Zack puckered his lips in kind, and moved in on her –

But an enormous red “X” appeared on the screen, and a small cartoonish sheepdog appeared on the screen. It looked affronted – as affronted as a cartoon figure could look, anyway – and crossed its forelegs. “Tip Number Six: When you are below the age of 21, do not exchange kisses with anyone of the opposite gender…” The said sheepdog proceeded to dismiss pre-marital kissing as an utterly immoral and shameless act. Like it was my fault anyway.

Yes, this was my punishment. The form teacher had apprehended us in her office, and I had remained tight-lipped as Elaine proudly made up stories about our “blossoming relationship”. According to Elaine, we had met up with each other outside school countless times, and even kissed twelve times. I suppose the gormless Elaine thought that kissing was physically the peak of a relationship, and I had not the moxie to tell her otherwise – she had enough immoral ideas in that porky head of hers, as it were. The form teacher, as soft-hearted as the first day we had met her, decided not to punish us, but let us watch three hours of sex education videos in the library, in separate rooms. I’d rather she had made us write lines, or give her an apple (I would have asked the family to send her a hamper of apples if she had requested for it, such was my desperation) or other menial tasks. The sex education videos were torture, especially the ‘new syllabus’. In an attempt at making these videos appeal to primary school children, the videomakers had introduced Celibate Colly, the sheepdog, who now took the place of the narrator in reciting moral values. Celibate Colly had an irritating droning dog-like voice which reminded me of Elaine, and it had a painful grimace on at times, making me wonder if it had previously been neutered. Thus, after the three hours, I stumbled out of Library Activities Room 3, glad to have survived.

Elaine was already outside my room, waiting for me. “Perhaps the female videos were shorter,” she said, trying to make conversation with the selfsame classmate whose modesty she had just outraged.

“Shut up.” I was past niceties with this girl. I cast a sideway glance on her bulky shadow, and every inch of the normally rational me was itching to kill her, or worse. I was thinking about my massive ant farm at home. I heard Elaine hated ants. I would invite her to my house one day.

“I’m sorry, Essy! I didn’t mean – didn’t know -” she dribbled as fast as she could, which wasn’t very fast. “I mean, the teacher asked and I was nervous -”

“Go tell our teacher that we’re both done with the videos. I’ve got to go home and look after Stamford, pronto.”

This was true, for although there were always two servants at home catering to Stamford’s every whim and fancy, Mother had instructed me to take care of “Stamford-sweetie” this afternoon. I doubted even all three of us would be able to handle him.

I never talk about my family if I can avoid it. On the whole, my family seems pretty normal, two rich parents and this brilliant student (pardon this lapse of modesty), and I don’t do much to correct this impression. As a result, few people know that I have a brother.

*

I was born early in 1992, when my parents were in their late forties, by then satisfied enough with their respective careers to consider making a family. I was, fortunately, a boy, and my parents had initially intended to stop at me, especially as I showed signs of prodigy after the age of one, which meant that I would be more than capable of carrying over the family business from my father. They left nothing to chance. After my mother gave birth to me, they stopped having sexual intercourse.

However, their resolve was broken down on Valentine’s Day, 1994, as my mother likes to recount to me. I was then two, in the care of an aunt whom I can’t remember. My parents had gone and attended some function, and must have reached home hot and drunk, because two months to that day, my mother declared herself pregnant in front of a stunned husband.

The lesson was most probably learnt from that day on, because no more Valentine nights were spent in such a wild and unrestrained manner, and thus I had no more new siblings. But the damage was done – Stamford Chee Cheng Ji would forever remain a testament to that wild Valentine’s night that my parents had spent in 1994.

Stamford was nothing like me, and my parents could see that. While I had spent the better part of my childhood reading encyclopedias, Stamford would sit on the ground, staring blankly in front of him. I started stringing coherent sentences together when I was two and a half. Stamford started talking at seven, and to this day he speaks with a stutter and using simple words, if at all. Father began to give up any hope of Stamford running the company with me in the future, and I could see he was sorely ashamed of his younger son. And that must be why he never bothered to have any more children. He probably didn’t dare trying for another child when he realised that Stamford was ‘intellectually disabled’.

There was no love lost between Stamford and I. I never did like another person competing for my parents’ affections, and when I found out that he wasn’t even worthy of their attention, I started hating him. Stamford always respected me, regarded me as his good clever brother, the way he looked up to me, but I would have none of it. Mother, the only person in the family who still regarded Stamford highly, could see this hatred I had, and, in a desperate bid to mend the relationship, ordered that I go home today to babysit Stamford, hoping that I would ‘find the loveable side’ of Stamford through this experience.

Loveable side, my foot. I knew I was going to have trouble. And I knew just who the trouble would be.

EC – Chapter 5

PG-rated: Not for the weak at heart. 

For some reason or other, Pin De was made Assistant Monitor instead of me. It didn’t matter, anyway. I wouldn’t have settled for anything less than the top position in class, and besides, these small leadership positions won’t count for much. Conrad will see, in future, how he won the battle but lost the war to me. Afterall, he was a Chinese PRC, and will be ostracized and spat on. My mother says that Chinese PRCs are smelly and carry diseases, and should be exterminated from Singapore.

But, while Conrad was irritating, he was nowhere near the most irritating person in class. At least he didn’t drool on my shoulders.

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EC – Chapter 4

We were to do our very first group project, due two weeks after. The teacher arranged for us to work in our groups, which meant that I had to work with the two Elaine-like girls, the two Pokemon-fans and Conrad.

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EC – Chapter 3

In Term One Week Two, the form teacher, who had long gotten over her shock, and now upheld a semblance of control over the class (owing to the fact that she became submissive and withdrawn after the first day, only calling out instructions that agreed with everyone), called the class for a meeting. She called it a meeting. In truth, it was just a casual gathering around her table.

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EC – Chapter 2

We were arranged according to index number. I was “E”, so I was register number 10, paired up with this fat ugly girl called Elaine Ma Po Lin who was cross-eyed and had dried dribble down her shirt. I stared at her with disdain. How could someone like her get into the GEP? Continue reading

EC – Chapter 1

“So, the moral of the story is, if you try hard, you can become a hero!” the teacher smiled at everyone, and snapped the large picture book close, placing it on the floor.

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