Two Unsung Chinatown Heroes

The Mad Chopper:

Background : The writer’s family lived at No. 67 Pagoda Street and next door at No. 65  was a coffee shop on the ground floor. On the lst storey was a seamen’s “kongsi/ quarters”, a sort of short term accommodation for seamen who were either waiting for their next assignment or were unemployed. It was operated by a mother and daughter team. The mother was known to all the neighbours as “Ah Mo” which in the Sihap dialect, means Auntie. She was the master tenant for the whole of the floor and set aside two rooms at  the front portion to operate what is like a service apartment as we know in nowadays. Ah Mo and her daughter will provide house-keeping service and seamen could come and hire bed spaces on a daily or short term basis.

One evening in the 1960’s .

The time was about 5 pm. It was raining very heavily. Pagoda Street was very prone to flooding. Soon the drains were swelling with flood water. The five-footway then came under ankle deep flood water.  Suddenly a man appeared out of nowhere brandishing a chopper in each hand. He was unkempt and had blood-shot eyes.  Blood was dripping from his arm. There was a fiery look in his eyes.  Everyone ran away from him. He seemed to know where he was going to. He bounded up the stairs of No. 65. Its  wooden door was closed.  He banged loudly at the door. There was some loud but inaudible talking between Ah Mo and the man. He then started chopping at the wooden door. Ah Mo and her daughter were heard crying and screaming for help. The chopping continued. Each harder and louder than the last.

Nobody dared to do anything. Nobody seemed to know what to do.  The coffee shop owner ran to call the Police. It seemed like hours had past yet Police had not arrived. The cries and screams of Ah Mo and her daughter continued. They begged for mercy from the mad chopper. He could be heard shouting in a torrent of inaudible Sihap words. Then the sound of a door being slammed shut was heard from the rear of the premises . The coffee shop owner took a peek at the upstairs from the air-well. He reported that  Ah  Mo and her daughter had barricaded themselves inside the rear toilet- still crying and screaming for help and mercy.  Meanwhile the chopping continued relentleslys. Suddenly the front wooden door was pushed opened. The mad chopper had slashed his way in. Some heavy foot steps were heard. Very soon the mad chopper was heard chopping  at the flimsy toilet door where Ah Mo and her daughter had barricaded themselves inside.

Down at the five-footway was some commotion. Two brothers, Munk Kai (Scar Face) and Sam Pah (Farm Guy) living at the lst storey of No.63, appeared. Each was holding a sturdy wood stool. They rushed up the stairs of No. 65.  Some loud shouts and screams were heard. Suddenly to the relief and surprise of everyone, Ah Mo and her daughter scrambled down the stairs, unhurt. Still trembling from fear and drenched in sweat and crying  tears, they reported that Munk Kai and Sam Pah fought with the Mad Chopper. Somehow when the Mad Chopper slashed at them with his choppers, the choppers got stuck in the wood of the stools.  Having disarmed the Mad Chopper the brothers told Ah Mo and her daughter to make their escape. The two brothers then pinned the Mad Chopper down on the floor. Everyone cheered and clapped.

Just then the Police arrived. The officers went up and brought the Mad Chopper down in handcuffs. Munk Kai and Sam Pah followed behind each with a chopper and a damaged wooden stool in hand. Ah Mo and her daughter thanked the two brothers profusely. There was a thunderous roar and loud clapping.

As quietly as they came, Munk Kai and Sam Pah left the scene just as quietly back to their home  a few doors away. Unsung heroes of Chinatown. They probably saved Ah Mo and her daughter from certain grisly death in the hand of the Mad Chopper.

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