Friday, August 30, 2013

Living In the Era of Triad's Rule


     When I was in my secondary schooling years, somewhere in the blessed land of the Malays, school gangs were notorious.When I was in form two, about 14 years of age, I got a very personal experience of dealing with one. A Chinese classmate found a footprint or a shoe print to be more precise, on his chair. Being one of the gang, as they all were, typical hotheads and volatile. And as with any bullies, he accused, without proof, that one of my friends, the weakest one in his opinion I think, as the one who had dared to step on his chair without his rightful consent or whatever rights he thought he had.

    And being me at that time, I had to intervene in the commotion, only to be threatened instead by him and his gang. Luckily, a quick punch directly to his heart, put an abrupt end of the triad wannabe kid. My short burst of bravery even shocked the rest of his gang. Not knowing what to do, they backed down and so did I. When he recovered from his tears and short of breathe, he took a wooden stick, which was part of a broken chair and tried to hit my head with it. Unafraid, I stopped it with my bare hand. Shocked as he was for my daring action, the drama ended as fast as it came to be. It was a stalemate. Bear in mind, adrenaline rush does things to your brain and body. In the burning heat of emotion and determination, you wouldn't feel the pain and the fear. The pain did set in much, much later. That was the last time he and his gang ever tried to intimidate me and my friends.

     Two years later, another misfortune with the school triad wannabe happened again. Previously, it was with the Chinese gang, this time it was the Indian's turn. For accidentally brushing his elbow in the feeding frenzy of hungry teenage boys and girls in a canteen outmatched by the size of its occupants, I became the target of intimidation and harassment of the Indian gang. If you do know these bullies, they like to demand respect and fear from what they considered as the 'others', unfortunately, being so young at that time, conflict was inevitable. You might have questioned why didn't I go to the teachers or the cops at that time. Well, being a Malay, it is not the way of a Malay boy to tuck in his tail between his legs and bow to dominance by force. Only dogs do that.

     And being a triad member wannabe, he couldn't fight his battle without his gang. He confronted me in an old canteen. Behind him was his gang. Their sheer numbers miraculously didn't bring any fear in my heart. Instead, my heart was burning more with anger, out of the feeling of not wanting to be dominated and bullied by bullies. It was one on one. Punches were thrown and when he fell down to the floor, he stopped and rushed back to his gang. Like previously, I was alone in my teenage battle. As before, his punches hit me without any pain. I could feel them hitting me, but my mind were preoccupied with rage. With a warning still remembered by me till today, "You're dead after this", he left me and waited outside the school with more gang members. This time, reinforced by Chinese boys from a neighbouring school. I could tell by the different badge they were wearing. This time, reason played its role, I knew I couldn't beat them all alone and when I was still cycling my bicycle towards them, the brake line snapped and gave me an extra time to think.

    Running away would be considered as cowardice and risked being bullied forever, whereas, confronting them would be suicide. I was so young back then and the dilemma was overwhelming. And then it came. My solution was two Banjarese young men cycling towards me on their way to fish. I pointed at the boys waiting for me and asked them to help. The situation was clear to them. They went towards the boys without hesitation and the sheer numbers of the gang was only to mask their fear. Seeing my 'reinforcement', quickly, the gang dispersed, leaving my opponent with only several of his loyal friend. The Banjerese youths also left. 'Outnumbered' compared to me, 4 to 1, he stayed inside a shop and smoked a cigarette to cool himself down. Seeing his shaky hands and the way he smoked, made me even bolder. So I sat down and waited for him to come outside and finished what we had started earlier. Luckily, a good friend of mine, who was also my neighbour, came by and reminded me of the reality that I had forgotten at that time, what would my mother's reactions be if she found out I had a fight at school. Reason set in and I left for home. Only then, the pain from the blows manifested itself as the adrenaline rush subsided. It was dangerous and risky, but I'm glad it went down as it did. I can still reminisce it with a little smile on my face. But I'm not advising you to act as I did, what more if you're only 14 years old. Different person and circumstances would produce different outcomes. Do not be alone when confronting bullies, get your gangs around you. Your teachers, parents, friends and authorities would be your best allies when dealing with bullying gangs.

     Why am I sharing this story with you now? Well, Malaysia is being bullied these days by triads that think they have the god given right of scaring and victimising law abiding and good Malaysians. Somehow, awkwardly, it is our 'civilised' duty to be their victims and they have every right of terrorising the innocents, without being made accountable for their atrocities. They have wrongly presumed they were invincible, physically and maybe even lawfully. Maybe the powers that be, today, can learn a lesson or two from my teenage history. If not, they risk of being bullied for the rest of their lives.

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