Leng Keong looked up to his older brother, Leng Ti. He thought that his
brother was the smartest and coolest boy in town. He had heard so much about
his adventures with his friends. He felt green with envy whenever he saw his
brother going out with them. Many times, he had wished that he could be one
of them. So one day, when Leng Ti and his friends asked him to go with them
to their hideout under the bridge, he was ecstatic.
However, while they
were on the way there, Leng Ti and his friends kept talking about `Project
A'. Leng Keong felt odd but he was afraid of being branded as stupid so he
did not ask them what 'Project A' was. Besides, he didn't want Leng Ti to
send him home.
When they reached the bridge, Leng Ti's friend, Raju, asked him to keep
watch while they squatted under the bridge. Then, Raju whipped out a pack of
cigarettes while another friend brought out a lighter. Soon, they all began
Leng Keong stood rooted to the ground, too stunned to move. His brother,
the boy his parents were so proud of and whom he had worshipped, was puffing
away. This was the very thing their parents had warned them about. In fact,
his father had given them a whole lecture on the dangers of smoking just
last week. Leng Ti had sat there so innocently and promised him that he
would not smoke. Leng Keong felt so disgusted with his brother. Suddenly, he
Finally, one of the boys came over to his post and gave him a cigarette.
"I don't think... I don't want to do this..." he murmured. As soon as he
said that, everyone looked at him and started laughing at him. 'You are such
a baby! Eh, Leng Ti brought a baby!" Everyone laughed.
Determined to prove them wrong, Leng Keong lit the cigarette and began to
smoke. It was really awful. He kept coughing and could hardly breathe. The
taste was disgusting but he kept on puffing. Leng Ti came over and took it
away from him. Leng Keong could not look into his eyes. He was afraid Leng
Ti would be able to read his fears and disgust.
Just then, someone yelled: "Hey, look!" There was a small fire on the
left side of the bridge. Someone had not stubbed out his cigarette properly
and it had started a small fire in a patch of grass. Leng Ti and his friends
sauntered over slowly, thinking that it was just a small fire. They had a
competition to see who could trample out the flames first.
They shoved and pushed each other as they stamped on each other's feet,
giggling and laughing. But the fire grew bigger and started spreading
quickly to the other side. Panicking, they took off their shirts and tried
to beat out the fire. The boys threw their drinking water on the fire, but
to no avail. The fire became uncontrollable and soon, it spread quickly.
When the boys realised that they had caused a major disaster, they ran
helter-skelter. Leng Ti grabbed Leng Keong and ran all the way home. He
asked Leng Keong to swear that he would never tell their parents. Leng Keong
was terrified and hoped that someone had seen the flames and called the fire
At dinner, the boys were strangely quiet. Their father told them that
there was a fire near the bridge. He blamed it on the dry weather.
Fortunately, someone had spotted the fire and the fire was put out before it
reached the houses. After dinner, Leng Ti even offered to wash the dishes,
something he rarely did. Leng Keong escaped into the sanctuary of his room
and heaved a sigh of relief. Their parents did not suspect anything but to
this day, the brothers have never had another cigarette in their lives
because of what happened that day.