Plantation Cycling Tales – The Madam of Tanah Merah Estate – Part 9

January 31, 2013

tyr06478This morning as I was just about to continue my journey to Kampung Jerneh. A white Mercedes pulled up unexpectedly into the porch of the headman – apparently, news of a visiting landowner from the East has reached the largest landowner in these parts. And from what I understand, the landowner of Tanah Merah Estate has kindly extended me an invitation to tea.

Since I did not wish to cause offence. I told the driver to wait while I changed into my bush jacket. In an hour I found myself sitting at the back of a Mercedes as it made it’s way gingerly through the twilight of the mid afternoon plantation roads that opened up to a handsome Victorian Straits plantation house.

When I stepped out, a tall woman who sat at the verandah lowered her book, took off her sunglasses, stood up and looked at me. She was so extraordinarily beautiful that I nearly lost my footing – as all the while I had expected to meet a male landowner.

As the plantation madam looked on from the shade. I had an idea that,she might perhaps be looking right through me and was instead examining the muddy condition of the car. If there was a flaw in the car, I knew she’d would find. I fancied that if she chose so, she could even make the car and driver explode by just looking at both of them.

I managed a sheepish smile at her and cursed under my breathe for failing to enquiring further about the landowner – I could have done better. Much better. I could have brought flowers….a box of chocolates etc etc –  just as I felt my own smile turning into a worried grimace, she smiledback ever so slightly and that just gave me enough courage to put some spring into my steps as I walked up to her and kissed her hand.

From this distance I had an opportunity to observe her closer and had decided, she must be the most astonishingly beautiful and inaccessible woman I had ever seen – like a shark infested bejewelled island lost in the middle of the Pacific. She simply looked like a woman who spoke to no one. Who needed to look at no one. Who was simply complete as she sat with her book radiating her beauty quietly like a flower on a calm lake. 

An aristocratic type, I thought to myself. Yes definitely old money. In my business everyone belongs to a type. That’s my way of getting a handle on people.

Despite the stunning beauty of the plantation madam of Tanah Merah estate, I reckoned she was much older than she looked. Possibly even early forties. As she poured me tea and led me through the ancient polished dark teak floored house with it’s pristine colonial cake like fascade. I could even smell her heady perfume. I thought then – she is the fire of the soul –  the dark lady, the only true begetter. She is the secret wrapped up in a delightful enigma.

I found myself having to kick myself for good measure – as I reminded myself, I am here on a mission and it’s best to keep my already complicated life. As uncomplicated as humanly possible.

As we walked through the old plantation mansion – her carriage was regal, befitting women of her class and pedigree – even the way she talked suggested that her voice could topple empires and bring them down with a breathe. Indeed, her body was a work of art that even showed through her carnation Cheong sam.

It needed nothing except itself. It was smitten by its own passion. The sort of beauty that can even turn a man into stone with just one look.

Soon I found myself looking at her for a very long time and asking myself – what does the plantation ma’am want from me. Maybe she suspects my designs! – I have after all been telling so many lies lately. So many that I can hardly remember the intricate details of other smaller lies which were needed to support the grande lie – that I would be transporting my palm oil bunches through these part in June. Suddenly I found myself struggling with the growing awareness of being walled in. As the dark lady before me continued to stare at me with her soulful searching eyes.

I wondered to myself, what is she searching for? What does she see? I must know.

It was then, that I noticed a violin sitting on the mantle. I suddenly felt strangely at ease – I knew then, there was nothing to fear.

Darkness 2013 

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