Mr Big Bully and the Farmer who lives on the hill – The Way of the Farmer

September 26, 2012

Mr Big Bully was not particularfly fond of the farmer who lived on the hill. Nonetheless the hardnosed oil palm tycoon had come to see the world slightly differently of late. He had even taken an uncharacteristic shine to the farmer. Besides considering the larger scheme of things. The farmer wasn’t such a bad candidate for his daughter. She could have done worse. Had often done worse with her last torrid liaison with that good for nothing Indonesian playboy who crashed his Ferrari into a dumpster while under the influence of cocaine. And what about that parvenu who he had to scare off, when Mr Big Bully found out that he had been forging cheques secretly under his daughter’s name – as it turned out, that loser was nothing more than a con artist masquerading as a well heeled gentlemen from a non-existent reputable family.

When Mr Big Bully considered all the shattered dreams and hard aches along with the less than suitable suitors that his one and only love Chan Sim had once hitched up with –  the 72 year old self made tycoon could do very little except look benevolently on the farmer who lived on the hill. Mr Big Bully had even began to make excuses for the farmer  – just the other day, during his regular mah jong cum private fuck session with his heavy weight buddies – when one of them mentioned that the farmer on the hill he had begun secretly snapping up more hilly land for some incomprehensible reason and if someone didn’t put an end to his nonsense – we would all find ourselves in hot soup one day. Mr Big Bully was heard recounting sardonically,

“The man is ambitious. Weren’t we all like that at his age? You can’t blame a man for wanting a piece of the action.”

Even Mr Big Bully’s regular gin gang was surprised by that unexpected retort – after all just about a year ago. Mr Big Bully had sent gangsters from his own Red Dragon Tong to poison some of the farmer’s trees in the hope of scaring him off. Now he was even making excuses for the farmer on the hill.

At age 72, the hardnosed  oil palm tycoon no longer saw the world in terms of black and white. He had long since come to terms there were always plenty of grey areas in life that often required compromises. And Mr Big Bully saw himself as a master of compromises – a merchant of convenience who simply excelled in the art of finding possibilities in a barren field of impossibilities. So even after he had disgested the detailed private investigators file that evening in his study concerning the life of the farmer who lived on the hill – he wasn’t in the least surprised that the farmer who lived on the hills had a past. Mr Big Bully realized the farmer who lived on the hill wasn’t nearly half the Mr Goody two shoes that he so often came across to others – the man may have had impeccable credentials, attended all the right universities. Worked in even all the bluest of the blue firms, aspired even to a high and respectable position as a salaried man – and now he had set his eyes on turning the wheel of life as a planter – he may have even carried himself well as a gentlemen planter in polite circles. But deep down Mr Big Bully had sensed that this man who had now been responsible for the sudden and unexpected return of his one and only love – his daughter – Chan Sim was none other than a man cut from the same cloth as himself – he had seen that same implacable hardness in the farmer’s eyes. Eyes that seemed almost to convey an indestructible willfulness that even scared him – eyes that the farmer who lived on the hill often hid behind dark glasses – neither was Mr Big Bully surprised when the local Tai Koh, had never seemed to fear anyone once mentioned in passing, “Ye kor yau, heih mor kom kan tan” – “this man is not a simple man. He has a past.” He had heard of how even the local Tong’s had since shied away from getting tangled up with the farmer even when he demanded them to harass him – as the farmer who lived on the hill had once walked into the local red dragon Tong just after his trees had been poisoned which doubled as a restaurant specializing in Peking Duck, had ordered a fish and placed a chopstick through the gills and told the waiter – ‘show this to the owner.” And how when the proprietor of the restaurant had seen this strange sight of a fish with a chopstick sticking out awkwardly from one its gills – the elders of the Red Dragon Tong had convened for tea that evening to discuss this strange turn of events – only for them to all agree that this man was certainly not a simple man. That they may even have been rash to dismiss as just another city boy who had decided fo turn the wheel of life in these parts naively without even the slightest inkling about what he’s getting in. As only a man who has walked and familiar with that other world where darkness ruled would have knowledge of the ancient language of the old country. The farmer who lived on the hill was a gangster. Not just any gangster but one who carried the bag for the venerable four houses – the man who all called, the benefactor. He may have left that life – closed that door even, walked away never looking back once, turned over even a new leaf – he may have sorrounded himself in an air of respectability and conviality – but nonetheless, the farmer who lived on the hill was a man who the Cantonese would rightly term, “Moh kom kan tan.” – “not so simple.” Such a man should never ever be taken lightly.

That day when Mr Big Bully had chanced on how his one and only love – his one pain and unalloyed joy – his only daughter had stood there like a love struck girl and ran her fingers through the farmer’s hair absentmindedly – Mr Big Bully the consummate master of compromises was prepared to even overlook all these indiscretions and much more concerning the man who lived on the hill – he was after all a merchant of convenience par excellence. A man who was even prepared to concede that the farmer who lived on the hill was indeed worthy to be his future son-in-law. Husband to his one and only love – Chan Sim.

After all, the farmer who lived on the hill had pulled off quite a remakeable and impossible feat. His one and only love Chan Sim was now home and she was even talking about settling down and that was all that really mattered to the one million hectare oil palm tycoon. With these thoughts Mr Big Bully sighed and said to himself,

“Now I just need to find out what my future son-in- law really wants for bringing me a slice of heaven…how much will it cost me…how much?….whatever the price, it would certainly we would worth the price.”


“In a stout unassuming building somewhere in the endless labyrinth of Wanchai Hong Kong – a sixth generation Hon Kuen master recounts an ancient story to his pupils – this story involves a wandering master swordsman by the name of Kueh Ling who had perfected the whispering flute cut –  who after slaying his 1,000th adversary – had resigned to live a life of peace from there on after. He had vowed to turn his back on violence, blood and grief that had colored so many of his days and instead retreat into the cloistered life of monkhood to seek peace and unity with the forces of heaven and earth. So that day Kueh Ling traded his mythical sword for a fish – an assuming fish that a fisherman had brought to him. When the fisherman asked, why had such a great swordsman decided to turn his back on the world, when he could well earn a fortune working as a hired swordsman for any of the neighboring warlords in the district. Kueh Ling did not answer. Instead the legendary swordsman inserted one of his chopsticks through the gills of the fish. The fisherman did not understand what this meant. Neither did he dare to press for an answer.

For years the retired swordsman led an unassuming life as a monk.

Many years later when a wandering monk came across a bunch of brigands in a tea house assaulting the proprietor and the daughter – the monk intervened. At first he pleaded with the brigands. But to no avail. And when one of them finally raised his sword – the monk moved like lightning and drew a sword from one of the brigands and slew them all sixteen of them within seven paces.

When the proprietor saw this he exclaimed, “You are not a monk. You are a swordsman!” And Kueh Ling took a chopstick and inserted it through the gills of a fish and walked away. Just as the travelling monk disappeared over the knoll, the proprietor of the tea house recalled the faint story of a fisherman who had once brought a valuable sword to these parts many years ago – a sword he claimed which belonged to a great swordman who had renounced his life of violence by laying down his sword in exchange for a humble fish.” 

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