فصل 08

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فصل 08

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Party time

During the break at school next day, I noticed Ka Ting with his friend Chee Lick talking excitedly to Jessica and Wendy. Wendy was obviously Ka Ting’s girlfriend from the way she looked at him. Jessica kept glancing at me. Was it really possible that she was interested in me?

Now I look back on it, I guess I was incredibly innocent for my age. I mean, all the books about teenage boys say how their minds are completely full of s@x. But I can honestly say I never thought about s@x all that much. Well maybe I did, but it wasn’t tied to someone real. It was all in the imagination. Of course, when boys get together, they talk a lot about it, but I think most of it is just talk. It’s all about wanting to impress your friends with how adult you are, how much you know and how far you’ve gone with your girlfriend. That sort of thing. I knew about all the technical stuff - how babies were made and all that - but it all seemed very vague and unconnected to me. I mean, of course I’d wondered what it would be like when it happened, but nothing definite. Things were changing for me though. First of all, I’d seen Dad with Veena, which had certainly shaken up my awareness of s@x. And now, I had to admit that I felt that Jessica was really something special, and that maybe…

She was tall like me but the most impressive things about her were her hair (jet-black and hanging almost to her waist), her figure and her eyes. Her eyes were classic Chinese eyes that sparkled when she smiled. And now she was smiling - smiling at me! She stopped me on the way out of school that afternoon and turned her amazing smile on me. I felt as if the world had suddenly stopped turning…

‘Wendy says you might come on Saturday,’ she said. ‘I hope you can. We’re all going to Pop Inn for the disco and then back to my place. It’s my seventeenth birthday. Please come. I’d really love you to.’ She smiled again and walked away. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

Somehow, I managed to talk Mum into letting me go to the party. ‘But I want you home by midnight,’ she said, ‘and I want to know where you’re going. Make sure you give me their telephone number. I don’t want you running about the city on a Saturday night. You hear me?’

Pop Inn was over in Bangsar in a street full of restaurants and bars and discos. Bangsar is one of the centres of nightlife in Kuala Lumpur. It’s always bursting with life, especially at night. Foreigners like to go there too so there’s always an interesting crowd. We’d arranged to meet outside Pop Inn at eight thirty but I was there early. I felt so nervous and excited. I was looking into a shop window when I felt a hand touch my arm. It was Jessica.

‘You’re early,’ she said. ‘That’s nice. Let’s go for a coffee before the others arrive.’

We found a table in a nearby coffee bar and sat with our drinks. I think she was almost as nervous as me but she didn’t show it. ‘How does it feel to be seventeen?’ I asked.

‘I’ll tell you that later,’ she said. ‘I was born at two in the morning. You can ask me again then.’ I didn’t dare tell her I would have to be home by twelve.

‘Oh, I brought you a card, and a small present.’ I gave her the card, and the box with the thin silver necklace I’d bought the day before down in Pasar Seni, the old covered market in Chinatown.

‘Oh, it’s lovely,’ Jessica said. ‘Can you put it on for me? I want to wear it right now.’ She bent her head towards me and I awkwardly fastened the chain around her neck. My hands were trembling, and I could smell her perfume as she shook her long hair back. ‘There. How do I look,’ she said.

‘Like a princess,’ I said. It was a pretty silly thing to say, but I honestly did think she looked wonderful.

‘Do you really mean that? It’s sweet of you. Oh, look, there are the others,’ she said. ‘Let’s go.’

There were six of us - Ka Ting and Wendy, Chee Lick and his girlfriend Ruby, and the two of us. I noticed a sign outside Pop Inn that said ‘No admittance for under-18s’, but somehow Ka Ting got us all through the door. Inside, the whole place seemed to be shaking to the sound of the music. Bright lights were flashing on and off and we were already in the mood for a party by the time we’d found ourselves a corner table. Ka Ting ordered some drinks from the waitress. Goodness knows what they were, but they tasted fine, sweet and with a strange aftertaste.

‘Let’s dance,’ said Jessica, and there was no way I could refuse, even though I’d never been to a disco before. In fact, you didn’t seem to need to know how to dance. The floor was so crowded that it didn’t seem to matter what you did. Everyone was just shaking their hips and shoulders and waving their hands in the air. Jessica looked great in her tight T-shirt and short miniskirt. We danced and danced for ages, then went back to our table. The others were still dancing. We were both out of breath. Jessica leant towards me and whispered in my ear.

‘Isn’t this great? I’ve wanted to dance with you for such a long time.’ Suddenly Jessica kissed me - it was a kiss like I’d never had before. It set my whole body on fire. I felt completely carried away by the music, the dancing and her kiss. I found I was kissing her back, and holding her close to me - things I’d only dreamt of doing with her before.

‘Hey! What’s all this then?’ It was Ka Ting and the others coming back at just the wrong moment. I felt embarrassed and a bit annoyed too. ‘There’s no hurry, you two. We’ve got the whole night ahead.’ I suddenly came back down to earth. I had to be home by midnight. How could I do that when Jessica obviously had other plans for us?

I glanced at my mobile phone - it was already ten thirty. There was one missed call. Mum was already checking up on me even though it was still ages before midnight. She was behaving like a mother hen with its chick - understandable but irritating. What could I do? I could call her later, and she would insist on me coming straight home. Or I could pretend I hadn’t received her call. That wouldn’t work with her! Maybe there was another way. What if I asked Jessica’s mum to call home for me when we arrived there?

Meantime, Ka Ting was ordering more drinks. He liked to show off like that. The place was bursting with dancers now and the noise was incredible. I could feel the heavy rhythm of the music pumping inside my body like a giant heartbeat. ‘Here. Have another drink,’ said Ka Ting, ‘and try one of these. They’ll give you more energy.’ He passed around some small white pills. Everyone else seemed happy to take them, so I swallowed mine too. I didn’t want to look silly in front of these cool new friends. Jessica took my hand again.

‘Come on. Let’s dance some more.’ How could I resist? This time the DJ had put on a slow record. I took Jessica in my arms, and felt her pressing against me as we danced. It was like a dream. She whispered again in my ear, ‘I feel so good with you…’

‘Me too…’ I murmured. We danced for what seemed like hours, then walked back to the table.

I started to feel really good. The lights suddenly shone brighter and the music was even better. I felt slightly dizzy and light-headed, but everything and everyone seemed to be perfect. I’d never felt so good before. And with Jessica beside me, holding my hand, I felt like a king. The whole world was floating like a brightly coloured dream. I felt as if I could do anything I wanted and I would succeed. I was in heaven…

The next thing I remembered was getting into Ka Ting’s big white car and driving away. It was a tight fit for the six of us, but I didn’t complain when Jessica had to sit on my knees. My impression of the journey was a succession of flashing lights from the street, and kisses with Jessica. I felt as if I was walking on air when we got out in front of a big house in Ampang. ‘Here we are,’ she said. ‘Welcome to my place.’

We all went inside. I’d never seen a house as big as this one. Not even Ka Choon’s. It was magnificent. But then I started to panic. The time. It was already twelve thirty! Mum would be getting very angry.

As I stood there wondering what to do, Jessica took me by the hand and introduced me to a woman who looked a lot like her. Not her mother, surely? She was far too young. ‘This is my sister, Jane,’ she said. ‘She’s responsible for everything till tomorrow. My parents have gone to Penang for the weekend. They’re not here much anyway, so Jane’s the one who’s responsible most of the time.’

‘Hi,’ said Jane, with a warm smile. ‘You’re Chee Seng, right? I had a call from a lady a little while ago. She seemed a bit anxious about you. I told her you’d be here soon and not to worry. Maybe you should call her.’

I went to a side room and dialled our home number. But the person who picked up the phone was not Mum. For a moment I was confused, then I recognised Auntie Swee Eng’s voice. ‘Hello, Chee Seng,’ she said. ‘I’ve been worrying about you. Your mum said you were due back by midnight.’

‘But where’s Mum,’ I asked, suddenly feeling worried. ‘What’s going on? Why isn’t she there? Has something happened?’ My mind was still spinning from all the excitement of the evening, but I suddenly felt a cold finger of fear down the back of my neck.

‘Nothing for you to worry about,’ said Auntie Swee Eng, in a reassuring voice. ‘She had to leave for Melaka unexpectedly. Your Aunt Mei Ling is in hospital again. Mum will be back tomorrow evening. She asked me to take over. I think you’re in luck!’ I could picture her smiling as she said that. ‘Now, I know you should be back home by now. But just let me speak to that nice lady again, will you?’

I called Jane from the next room and handed her the phone. She made a sign for me to leave. As I went out, I heard her saying, ‘Oh, hello again. No, no trouble. Everything’s fine. They’re having fun. It’s Jessica’s birthday so… No, no. We’ll make sure he gets back safely. There’s plenty of room here…’ A few minutes later she called me and handed me back the phone. ‘It’s OK,’ she whispered.

‘Hello? Chee Seng? Now listen to me. Your mother would probably kill me if she ever found out, but that lady sounds fine. And I know you’re having fun, so you can stay. You’re only young once. They’ll send you back in the car tomorrow when you get up. But don’t come back too late! Your mum is certain to call me to check on you. So… enjoy yourself. I’m off to bed. Goodnight.’

Was I dreaming? My problem had been solved as if by magic, and the night was still young. I floated back to join the others, my head still spinning, and my feet hardly touching the ground. Jessica’s sister Jane had disappeared, leaving us to ourselves.

‘OK, guys, let’s party,’ said Ka Ting. Jessica put on some music, and turned down the lights. ‘If anyone needs anything to drink, or snacks, the kitchen’s over there,’ she said. We all started dancing again, all around the room, and outside on the terrace overlooking the swimming pool.

After a while, Jessica took my hand and whispered, ‘Come with me. I want to show you something.’ We left the room and she led me upstairs and through a door. It was dark but we didn’t need light. She pulled me to her and we started kissing again. ‘This is my room,’ she murmured. ‘Let’s make ourselves comfortable, soon I’ll be seventeen…’ I could hardly believe what was happening, but it was wonderful and I followed Jessica’s lead, without any thoughts about where it might take us…

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