He was not sure if he could really do it again. He had defied them once, and to
even contemplate doing so again sent shivers of fear up and down his spine. But
they would be there, waiting as they did every other day, except that it would
be with a terrible vengeance this time. After all, Weng had actually had the
audacity to report the gang's attempts to
extort money from him to the teachers. Weng hugged his bag closer to him, trying
to ride out the hours after school when the gang would congregate outside the
school gates. He knew that escape would not be easy now.
Weng had grown up
with the gang's activities all around him. They were always extorting
'protection' money from the hawkers and terrorizing the neighborhood children
into joining them. Gang clashes with other groups were also a common sight. Yet,
his puny and unimpressive frame had always escaped the notice of the gang until
this year when he became the only person holding out against the gang. Everyone
else he knew had capitulated to the gang's
When they had approached him for two dollars per week, Weng was determined
not to give in. He did not believe that the school authorities were ineffective
against the gang. With great courage, he told the teachers what was happening
and they duly reported the matter to the police. But when the police came, none
of the other students dared to come forward to corroborate Weng's story. Without
their input, there was little the police could do. In the end, they stopped
their investigations and the teachers merely told him that they would keep a
lookout for his safety.
Weng knew that this was their way of trying to gloss over their
ineptitude. He was well aware that he had
become the target of the gang now, and that each day they waited at the school
gates for him to appear after school. Yet, each time he had been lucky for they
got tired of waiting fruitlessly for him and left. But such luck would run out,
Weng knew. He only hoped that when the time came, his legs would carry him to
safety. Even then, he did not see himself as being that unfortunate.
Suddenly, Weng felt a hand on him. He turned around to see the teacher
looking at him suspiciously. She questioned him as to why he had not gone home,
so Weng told her that he needed to avoid the gang. With a smile that carried
doubts about his concerns, the teacher gently nudged him in the direction of the
school gate. Left with no choice, Weng crept out of the school gate.
He did not manage to complete his tenth step when he felt a blow from a blunt
object on his head. The vulgarities shouted out at him by the gang and their
relentless raining of blows on him all merged to become one great experience of
pain, as he slowly sank down onto the ground.