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My parents and I had just arrived at Ayer Rajah Food Centre at about 7:45pm. thinking that it would be just another night of dinner in relative peace. How wrong we were.
We had just found a table in the crowded food centre and my dad had gone off to order his dinner. All of a sudden, we heard a loud commotion coming from the middle of the centre. I couldn't see what had happened, but I heard these: dishes crashed, glasses smashed, women screamed. Almost immediately, a crowd of people started running away from the disturbance. Being curious, I wanted to see what was going on, but the stalls at the corner of the passageway blocked my view, and I'd be a fool to venture further.
And being me, I was concerned that someone would take our table and it would be a pain to find another, so I returned to it. As soon as I sat down, I saw three youths emerge from the scene. The lead youth had a small gash at the right side of his temple and blood had streamed (or was it still streaming?) down the side of his head. The other two youths seemed unhurt. They walked off in the gangster-type strut, their faces filled with anger and hate.
Following behind was another male youth, holding a Heineken bottle, which looked empty. I knew then that the fight wasn't over, but whether or not it would continue at the food centre, I didn't know at that time. I also knew that the bottle would play a bloody part. The youth looked quite angry too, as if he was looking for blood.
Another male youth followed behind. This one resembled a character from a gang movie because the right side of his shirt was covered in blood, although he himself seemed unhurt. He looked back once, but continued walking. I think he had a male companion, but I don't remember clearly. All I remember is the bloody shirt.
Then two youths appeared, one male and one female. He clutched a glass of drink that seemed like it had not been drunk from. She was on her handphone and running after him. The only word I heard from her was "kenapa", or "why" in English. From the way she ran to him, it seemed like she was either trying to calm him down or getting him as far away as possible.
Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure if she was on a phone, because there was a stallholder who resembled her and was on her handphone too. Damn, I make a lousy witness!
Whatever her efforts were, they failed. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't see what their facial or bodily expressions were because my line of vision was blocked by a pillar. But my hearing was still good, and I heard a loud crash. The male had thrown his glass on the ground. He backed away slightly so that I could see him talking loudly (shouting?) at her.
All of a sudden, Heineken-clutching male ran up and -- holy cow! -- smashed his bottle on the other male's head from behind! Now this was really a scene from a gang movie! The bottle shattered on impact, sending shards all over. Fortunately, I was seated far in enough that the shards were on the ground when they landed near me. But a few shards were just millimetres from my foot! It took me a whole second to register that I might be in the line of danger before backing as far back as possible.
I was looking down to ensure that there were no other glass shards flying at my feet. By the time I looked up, the three youths had disappeared. I assumed that they had fled before the police showed up. But the evidence of their fight -- the pieces of glass from the cup and bottle -- were strewn all over the area.
Things slowly returned to normal after this. People were still standing around, afraid to return to the scene of the fight in the middle of the food centre, but the rest of us carried on. Stallholders cooked and patrons ate and drank. My dad told me to call the police but I had not brought my phone with me. On hindsight, I wish that I did. I would've also been able to take pictures too, although given the quality of the camera, the pictures would have come out grainy.
Anyway, someone else had made the call. As we were leaving, I saw police tape cordoning off the area, and two policemen getting statements. The mess had been cleared up and patrons were eating as normal, though I'm sure they were speculating about the fight.
By the way, yes, my family did continue to have our dinner there.
This was the first time I had ever witnessed a fight, or at least the later part. Part of me was excited about the opportunity, while another part was wary about my safety and the safety of others. I entertained heroic thoughts like rushing at Heineken male in a rugby-type tackle and then slamming the daylights out of him. Must be the effect of all of the superhero movies that I've watched. But even if I were bulkier or more gung-ho (or had batarangs), I'm not sure that I would have intervened. I think it would be foolish to place oneself, especially when glass containeers are in use, in the middle of what could have erupted into a gang fight.
And I don't think that it was a gang fight anyway. Based on my understanding of today's Singaporean youths, it could've happened for any of these three reasaons:
- a disagreement,
- jilted love, or
But you know what really pissed me off about these youths? In spite of the recent bombings in London and the overall looming threat of terrorism, they still chose to fight among their own people and age group. Don't they realise that there are bigger problems out there? Or are they -- and by extension, Singaporeans -- too preoccupied with themselves?
Wake up and smell the gunpowder! People are dying out there because of something as silly as religious intolerance! We've got to stop thinking about and fighting among ourselves. There are larger issues at stake.
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