Biker Gang Boys and Girl

Lazy me decided to sit at the "Study Corner" of the void deck while James ran. Armed with a pen and my sketch book, I continued a picture I had started drawing last Saturday at the Youth Park of a few teenagers working on their spraycan art. At the corner of my eye, I saw a bike approach - bicycle that is - and heard the voices of some boys. Ah, the neighbourhood teenager Biker gang.

"Eh, construction, cannot sit here." A voice behind me.

I turned around- smiled. A kid (maybe 14?) with a trucker cap and riding a beat up bike laughed. I went back to my drawing while more of his gang appeared.

Soon, a group of some 6-8 boys, a few on equally rusty bicylces, crowded around me.

Should I worry?

"Construction lah, cannot sit here." The kid, now beside me but still on his bicycle, repeated and smiled. "What are you doing?"

"Sitting here, drawing lah." Maybe I looked like another forlorn teenager, slacking at the void deck during the June holidays.

"Oh, what are you drawing? Can see?"

I flipped the pages of my new sketch book. Only 4 sketches so far - there wasn't much to see. "Nothing much lah, " I said apologetically.

"Wah, you artist ah?"

"No lah, just draw for fun."

By now, some of his younger buddies have taken the seat across from me. The boy directly across me (his name is Zac, I later discovered), said, "Draw me lah."

Now THAT'S something I can't refuse. He had big black ray ban glasses on, a bright yellow soccer tee, and the thickest lips ever (his upper lip a triangle). So I started drawing. He kept obediently still, stealing glances every once in a while, exclaiming, "wah, look like."

"You don't move, I draw you more handsome lah." I said.

"You draw him, let him bring the picture home show his grandma. His grandma know what he's been doing," the 14 year old laughed. There were a few more jokes about his grandma and HIS grandma and everyone else's.

"Where you go to learn?" Biker asked.

"I never learn from anywhere." Well, that's debatable, but I think he got what I meant.

"Then how you know how to draw?"

"Everyday I draw a bit. More you draw, then you learn." The ex-teacher in me decided to throw in this piece of wisdom, "like you everyday bike, you become very good lah." He didn't look convinced (I admit the analogy is somewhat flawed).

"Why you not artist?" Another asked.

"Artist cannot make money lah." I perpetuated the cliche -truth, half-truth, lie. I tore the page off and handed it to Zac. He asked that I sign it. I did, adding "next time I famous, you rich ah." I was happy, he seemed proud of how he looked in that picture.

They asked to see the sketches in detail, and stopped at the one of James - grinning - with the words "I love Natsumi Burger" across the page.

"Your boyfriend ah?" An impish boy, with the most "stick-out" ears I've seen in a long time, asked. He had a bright pick trucker cap on and the cutest smile.

"Yah." We bantered some more, laughed - I cannot remember about what. Maybe the Natsumi Burgers.

"Every night you sleep you think about him right?" Imp asked (his name is Shah, short for Isham and he wants to be a gangster)

"Of course lah, stupid." Zac added.

"Yah, every night I sleep I dream of my grandmother." It's the grandmother in-jokes again. "You my grandmother," he pointed at Zac. Yah, haha.

Imp Shah asked to be sketched to. I guessed correctly that he was the shortest boy in class. " You cute lah." I said. He didn't seem to have a problem with being called cute.

"Yah lah, he cute." His friends echoed, teased, agreed, teased, agreed.

Realising that the resemblance of the sketch to him may not be as strong, I said - "Aiyah, I think I draw wrongly."

"Nevermind!" Imp Shah said, skewing his pink cap more to the left and trying not to blink. "Nobody is perfect."

Wise words, Imp Shah. That's important to remember.

A boy next to Imp Shah (he looked no more than 10) lit up a cigarette. I heard a lighter click.

"Eh, people drawing why you smoke!" Imp Shah chided.

"Haha, draw him with the cigarette. Show his grandmother what he do!" The 14 year-old biker laughed.

"Ok huh? I draw you with a cigarette, " I gestured, my imaginary cigarette in the air.

"Eh, no." He leant forward to look.

"Draw FTPP on his T-shirt," Zac suggested (FTPP was the acronym of their school), laughed.

"Eh, don't want. Stupid school. The teacher bully me lah." Imp Shah complained. They said something I didn't understand, laughed. "F#@^ing TPP," Imp Shah revenged.

The sktech of Imp Shah almost complete, the 14 year-old Biker asked me to add a dot on his forehead. I dotted it. "Haha, not like this, not like Indian." He sits next to me. I hand the pen to him and asked him to add it in instead. "Like this. He wants to be gangster," he added three dots in a line just between the eyes of Imp Shah's portrait. Imp Shah looked pleased.

"Eh, that one behind your boyfriend ah?" Zac asked.

The crowd tensed. Big goateed James, his t-shirt drenched after his run, looked like he would have 3 dots on his forehead. They got ready to leave, asking where I lived, promising that we would catch up next time for more portraits. James joined our gathering, recognising Zac as a boy he had recently described to me as "a stylo little Malay boy carrying his sister's pink Powerpuff girl backpack - Malay boys are always so stylo, even when they are still young".

"You got a sister right?" He nodded at Zac, smiled (but I bet Zac was worried). "You carry her pink powerpuff bag right?"

"How you know ah?"

"I saw you that day." He looked amazed.

That was about the last exchange with my Biker gang friends. They were off to Blk 8, a slitty-eyed melancholic boy (the lone Chinese?) said, to meet more friends.

I wished I could have kept those sketches (though their grandmothers could have made an appreciative audience), or only if I had a camera with me. But James said he knew where the boys hung out, so we could crash their Biker gathering the next time.

Nonetheless, later than night, I snapped with my phone camera a photo of a butterfly (moth?) in the lift as a substitute souvenir (photo above). These brown and white butterflies - some as large as my entire palm - have been appearing around the block these past few weeks (last month there were caterpillars on the pavement). They linger, still - James told me this was a funereal stillness. The butterly in the lift had translucent instead of the usual white markings. It was a baby butterfly, its wing span just about an inch wide. Surely it was still too young to be making its final rest here, riding the lift up and down all 16 floors.

On hindsight, it was probably not such a great idea hanging out at the "Study Corner" of the void deck even for 10 mins. Not till they have sorted out the upgrading anyway, and removed those danger/construction signs.


Nabokov inspired photo? :-)

i had one of them in the kitchen the other day and dogs went crazy! it escaped though, unlike the poor dead bat.
ampulets said…
of course! you are right! nabokov, nah-boh-kobv.

what i still haven't figured out is what kind of butterfly it is. there's been so many of them all around...
Anonymous said…
u sure did blend in huh? :p
ampulets said…
haha, yah. my strangely "malay-accented english" which emerges often unaware, was more aptly applied that evening.
Anonymous said…
ah? r u always that good @ accents or is there a peranakan in you somewhere? cannot cannot muz ask u to demo next time :p kekeke
Anonymous said…
the moths had been talked about in tomorrow. here..
ampulets said…
Ah, mystery solved.
Though somehow, a mystery unsolved has a different flavour ;>

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