Adnan sounded so sure of himself that I was beginning to believe him.
After all, he was an ardent fan of gangster movies and should know how they
operated. Anyway, I was at my wits' end and could think of no better idea. I
resolved to take his advice about getting a street gang to resolve the problem
with Ah Tong's gang. When the latter had come up to me to extort money, I
had foolishly said "no". That was the beginning of all my problems.
Every day in school, I would see members of the gang everywhere I
went. They would stare at me with meaningful nods and gestures, silently
intimidating me into complying with their demand for protection fee. I
thought it was ludicrous that I had to pay them to protect me from them! So I
resisted them until the day I came back to class from recess to find my bag and
books missing. After a frantic search, I found them soaked through in the dirty
drain outside the school. I knew then that they meant business.
I had then gone to Adnan for advice. He was a good friend, always full of
ideas. His advice was that we were unlikely to convince the gang of anything.
Only another gang could talk the same "language" as them. I decided to heed
his advice and approached the Dragon Scar gang for help. Their leader, Seng
Poh, was a familiar figure in the neighborhood. He was always
about and everyone who had heard of his reputation gave him a wide berth.
I almost trembled when I sputtered out my request. To my surprise, he was
congenial and even patted me on my back to reassure me of his help. I felt so
elated. Adrian was right!
Soon after, the two gangs really did meet and Ah Tong's group agreed to
back off. I was floating on air for the next two weeks, proud about being able
remain untouched by the gang. But my problems were only just starting. Seng
Poh's gang soon came to me to demand payment for their "services." They
claimed that it had taken quite a bit of effort on their part to warn Ah Tong's
group and therefore, they should be compensated accordingly. To my horror,
what they asked for was three times what I was initially extorted for.
I had no choice. I realized how foolish it was to think that gangs would be so
kind as to help me. In the end, I paid up, content to be left alone finally.