Chapter 3

Suddenly Raman heard a voice. It was a parrot fortune teller (Kili Josyar) and he smiled at him and asked him to know his today’s fortune from his parrot. Although he has never done such things he accepted the offer without thinking much. It might be this wonderful environment which made him to accept this he thought. The parrot fortune teller mixed his cards and muttered something to his parrot. The parrot started searching a card in its own way and Raman thought that it took endless time. Why was he in such a hurry? he thought! Finally the voice of the fortune teller woke him up. He laughed with his whole face and told Raman that he had come here really to meet his fortune.

“My fortune, what do you mean by that?” Raman asked the parrot fortune teller.
“My parrot tells that you are about to meet the woman of your life here in Singapore, “was the fortune teller’s reply.
Raman laughed heartily and told the fortune teller that he had no idea because he has never thought in these lines - love, marriage, children and family. The parrot fortune teller answered him with his shining eyes that he was right.
“He who thinks about this always has no chance mostly in life and only the lucky one gets the opportunity and you belong to this group”, he said.
“This is your way to earn your bread and you have told this, but could you tell me where to find her?” he asked the fortune teller with a smile.
Fortune teller become serious muttered something to him then saw his parrot and the card once again and was silent for two minutes. Raman wanted to move on and go.
The voice of fortune teller stopped him, “Go to Sri Mariamman Temple in China Town and there you can find her. I want to give you one advice”, he muttered.
Raman looked at him curiously.
“Do not miss this chance”, were the final words of the parrot fortune teller.

For a moment Raman thought that everything was a dream and his mind did not believe what had happened. He had no problem to look at a beautiful girl without any evil designs. He was a person who believed that a girl or woman should not even be seduced in the mind. Such was his high moral standards. Now the thought or need to look a girl or a young woman with different eyes confused him. But something from inside him told that he should go to the China Town to see the Sri Mariamman Temple. What Sri Mariamman has planned for him he was curious to know.

Raman took the train and reached China town. He sat on a bench and started reading about the China Town. The history of China Town started around 1821 when the first Chinese arrived from Xiamen, Fujian province in China. They were all men and settled in the South of Singapore River which is known today as Telok Ayer. The local name of China Town is Niu Che Shui which means Bullock Cart Water. This name came because each one had to collect drinking water from the wells in Ann Siang Hill and Spring Street using bullock carts. Raman closed his eyes and the whole scene ran before his eyes and mentally he reached the 1820s. He read further about the China Town.

In China town lived others also and this secular nature of Singapore attracted him very much. Sri Mariamman Temple and the Jamae Mosque along South Bridge Road and the Al Abrar Mosque along Telok Ayer Street were the wonderful witness to this racially harmonious religious atmosphere in China Town. It was everywhere the same in Singapore told his inner voice. He took a Chinese cycle rickshaw and went to the South Bridge Road.

Raman stood in front of 244 South Bridge Road and saw the Sri Mariamman Temple for several minutes. It is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple built in Dravidian style in the downtown of China Town district of Singapore. Raman had seen several temples in Tamil Nadu and could see the most outstanding feature of the temple, its impressive entrance tower (gopuram). It was built with six tiers of sculptures of Hindu deities, several other figures and wonderful ornamental decorations. When he entered the temple, on his right he saw the sculpture of Lord Muruga and on the left the sculpture of Lord Krishna flanking the gopuram. He felt the vibrations and he was also filled with unexplainable joy. The different colours of the gopuram geared up his imaginations. His mind told him he would be seeing the woman wearing a blue sari. He tried to give an imaginary face and body to his thoughts but he was not in a position to think more about that. Was she somewhere here, he thought and at the same time he scolded himself because he started to believe the existence of this unknown woman in a blue sari.

It was around 1 p.m. and he did not feel hungry and decided to wait for this unknown woman. It was 5 p.m. when he saw a woman with a blue sari entering the temple. He could not see her face from where he was standing and decided to follow her. There were many people in the temple and it was easy for him to follow her. It was only 3 metres between them but there were many persons in between. He could see her gentle walk and her elegant movements, but there was no chance to see her face. Suddenly she stood as if something was pressing her back and turned her head back. It was only few seconds but his eyes photocopied her face. She was beautiful, but in her eyes he saw sadness he thought. When he wanted to follow her, alas! She was not there. He became nervous and tried to search around. But no luck, she was just not there. He was confused. Was it just imagination after all that? He returned to his hotel, had no mood to eat and could not even sleep. It was a sleepless night for him and next day morning he wanted to see the parrot fortune teller in Little India.

Raman was tired in the next morning, thought of lazing around in the bed a little longer without any aim. But he became ready quickly, had no interest to take breakfast. He only drank a cup of coffee and made his way to Little India. He wanted to talk to the parrot fortune teller, but he was no where to be seen. He remembered the words of the fortune teller, “Go to Sri Mariamman Temple, there you will see your princess”. He was in panic when he thought he might miss her totally and took a taxi and reached Sri Mariamman Temple.

It was a warm day in China town, people were moving here and there, he could see many Indians and persons from all other races there, but nobody was wearing a blue sari nor had any of them those beautiful but sad eyes.
“If I see her I will not follow her, I will not wait, but I will talk to her immediately”, he said to himself. Every minute of wait there seemed as long as many days, he felt. He even had the doubt whether he was the same Raman who came to Singapore two days back. He was waiting there more than 7 hours and very tired without breakfast and lunch. What I saw yesterday was only a Phantom he thought. He wanted to go back to his hotel but at the same time thought that she might come and if he went back to the hotel he would miss her. He was very much disappointed and slowly started to hate himself because his current fixation of meeting the beauty in the blue sari. At the same time he wondered also how much he could suffer from the thoughts of that unknown woman.

Finally she came. That young woman – but in a different blue sari -came. She was slim, elegant, walking like a gazelle and walked past him with her beautiful face, but sad eyes. She might come up above my shoulder, he thought. Her hair was long and he has never seen such a beautiful young woman in his life. He was now neither hungry, nor tired but only wanted to talk to her. With five big steps he reached her and with a BIG SMILE IN HIS FACE, he said, “Hi, how are you?”
She stopped walking and replied, “Hello, what do you want?”
“I am new from India and want to talk to you”, he said.
“I am also new here”, she replied him with her big eyes.
“It’s wonderful and we can see Singapore together”, he suggested.
“Why are you looking so tired?” she asked.
“How long are you here?” he asked.
“Two weeks, I have seen almost everything, I find this temple is wonderful and coming here daily”, she replied.
“With a blue sari everyday?” he smiled.
“How long are you here?” she asked.
“Three days”, he replied, “I haven’t seen anything”, he smiled.
She looked at him with her beautiful eyes and he could see the lines in her forehead.
“What is wrong with you? What are you doing here? Why are you so tired? Are you sick?” she asked him and her face was serious now.
“I was waiting for you from yesterday midday and had no time to eat”, he murmured slowly. He could see the surprise in her eyes and she was quiet for a minute. He was also silent, his nerves were completely down and he could feel his tiredness.
“Why can’t we sit somewhere in a café and talk”, he said to her.
“I have no objection, there is a café very near here and we can go there”, she answered him and started walking. He followed her silently; they walked for 5 minutes without talking anything and he thought it was like 5 years for him. They entered the café and she selected a place from where they could see the road.
“What do you want to eat?” she asked him.
“I will have a big ice cream, I am very hungry”, he replied slowly.
“I will have a cup of coffee”, she told and they ordered. While they waited for the ice cream and coffee he started to think about what would happen. He wanted to say everything to her and thought she might think that he was mad. She looked in his eyes deeply, asked herself why he was waiting for her and she had no idea who he was. She thought that he was a stranger, but she would like to sit with him to drink her coffee; would like to hear his story. She had also no explanations why she was giving such importance to this young man whose name she did not even know.

Raman ate his ice cream quickly and she was noticing him very keenly. After he finished eating his ice cream he asked her whether she thought that he was mad or some of his screws were loose.
“Why did you wait for me? I don’t know who you are”, she said.
“I’m Raman from Chennai, India and I’m here for a week before I start working in three weeks. This Singapore tour is a gift from my uncle who is living in Hamburg, Germany. I was not interested in a package tour and so I came on my own here” he told.
“You have not answered my question”, she told, “If you are not telling me the reason for your waiting I will get up and go out”.
“If I tell you the reason you will surely think that I am mad”, Raman replied.
“Whether you are mad or not, is not my problem, but I want to know the reason. If you are not willing to talk to me I have to go now”, she said and made herself ready to get up. “I don’t want to waste my time, everybody has problems”, she told. He saw the sadness in her eyes once again.

“Who are you? What is your name? What are you doing here?” he wanted to know.
“You won’t get any answer from me because it is your turn to talk, be frank, moreover, I don’t want to repeat my questions”, she told, “In one way or other we all are mad and so what I think about you is not important here”.
He looked at her and knew that she was going to leave him if he did not start speaking.

“It is a big story and listen to it carefully”, he said.
They ordered two more cups of coffee and she was eagerly waiting for his story.
“Stories or dreams I like them very much and I hope yours will be interesting”, she smiled, “In 30 minutes I must go; my parents will be waiting for me”.
“Are you a native of Singapore”, before he could finish his sentence she asked him to stop talking unnecessarily and she got up and walked away.

Raman threw some dollars for the bill and ran behind her and shouted, “Come, I will tell you everything”.
She turned at him with a generous smile, “That sounds good”, she told. They walked further and he was not sure how to begin and end. She was restless and she wanted to know everything immediately. In this respect all the women were same she thought. They entered in a park and it was full of people and sat in a corner. She showed him her ear and told that she is prepared to hear his story. Everything in her was beautiful, but I must be careful, he thought.

Raman started from his uncle’s gift, one week holiday in Singapore and his decision not to take a package tour because he liked his freedom in this tour. He laughed and told that he was right. If he could have come with a group he could never take so much time to find her. She enjoyed his laugh and thought that he was very handsome. He was surely more than 10 cm taller than her and she remembered all her conversations with her friends about young men. He was tired but she would find out why, she was very much convinced. He told slowly what happened in Little India and all about the parrot fortune teller. She was listening very carefully; every word of his was saved in her head very clearly. Did she come all the way from Madurai to Singapore to meet this young, handsome and interesting man, she thought?

He finished by saying slowly, “that is how he came to wait for her in the Sri Mariamman Temple”. Her eyes were closed and it seemed that she was trying to digest this unexpected happening. He looked at her charming face deeply and waited.
“Come and we will go to Little India and search the parrot fortune teller once again,” said she and stopped a taxi. She asked the taxi driver to go to Sri Veeramakaliamman temple and both were sitting silent. In Little India he showed her the place where he met the parrot fortune teller. They walked the whole area with the hope of meeting him. She asked some of the shops, but nobody has seen him for the past two days. Finally she suggested that they could go to her house and meet her parents and he might get good food from her mother.

He looked at her with a smile and said, “That means you are from here”.
She laughed and told, “Yes, I am here for the last 14 days and I will stay here also another 5 days more. I am sad because I have to leave alone to India and my parents will stay back here”.
“Why can’t you stay here with your parents and Singapore is wonderful”, he said.
“I would like to finish my masters in Madurai and after that I could think of doing MBA here and that is the reason why I am sad. I love my parents and I am the only daughter. They are also sad but don’t want to show because they know that in this case I suffer more”, she said. “The rest you can ask them, come, we will go”, with these words she got up and went to the taxi stand.