Glimpses of Grandeur
Two days passed, and the hobos still had not begun to pack.
‘Why are you still sticking around here?’ Goondoo demanded.
‘I wait for bus fare to dropping…’
‘That will never happen, Bodo!’ screamed the old kurung-guni man. ‘You and Scam had better get packing. Go quietly, go soon!’
‘Eh, I disappear so sardenly, peeple got sure ask where I go one? How?’
‘Aiyah, just pretend that you’re moving house, you know... upgrading!’
‘Okay lah,’ said Bodo. ‘But where I finding Singspell herh? North, souf, east or west?’
‘I suggest you go to River Valley first,’ said Goondoo. ‘It’s where the half-angmoh stay. They are known as Eurasians and they’re supposed to be very wise. Alright, I’m going off to collect more information and trinkets. The next time I pass by here, I don’t want to see you around, understood? Now Bodo, your journey will be fraught with peril, so I’m giving you an alias you can use: you will be known as Mr Underbilled.’
A week after Goondoo left, Block 123 was hit with fantastic news: Bodo was selling Bimbo’s one-room flat at a bargain price! For the other hobos, who called the Void Deck home, this presented a unique chance to land real property. Much to Bodo’s dismay, his sworn enemy Lobo was the first to snap up the offer from Bodo’s housing agent.
Bodo announced that he was moving to another block of flats. He even purchased a makeshift shelter in Block 101. Scam, Mary and Poppins helped him move house in the dead of the night. Bodo wanted to avoid notice at all cost, for Goondoo had warned that many agents of the Enemy were abroad, and that they sought the One Phone.
As they tramped past a kopitiam at midnight, Bodo thought he heard some peculiar, foreign-sounding voices. From the little English that Bodo had learnt from Bimbo, he picked up the following words in their song:
Gibberish, ah! Ah Bereth!
Ah Bereth! Ah, Gibberish! …
In the dim moonlight, Bodo and his hobo companions could make out the shapes of several angmoh backpackers moving swiftly past the kopitiam.
‘Bodo!’ the last of the backpackers called.
‘How you know my name one?’ Bodo asked in an awed voice. But with the angmoh, anything was possible.
‘I’ve seen you with Bimbo before,’ replied the foreigner. ‘By the way, I am Gilded Inglorious of the House of Finnegan, and I am leader of this expedition. Most of our fair kindred have departed for the West, and we are just doing some last-minute sightseeing before joining them overseas. Yet some of our cousins still dwell in River Valley.’
Bodo tried to probe them for news of the dreaded Singspell Marketing Agents, but the angmoh could offer no decent advice.
And as quickly as they came the angmoh departed. Scam was left in a trance, so awed was he at this epiphany in the midst of the HDB heartland.