Bagwani is scratching his balls. He says they are sweaty. ‘It’s a classic sign of diabetes,’ he says, as he jabs an insulin shot in his leg. ‘I really must keep off those milky teas,’ he adds. ‘But it’s in my Indian blood. Without a tea heavily laced with condensed milk, I just can’t think straight or function at all.’
I scratch my balls. They are sweaty too. “You really should get that checked out,’ he says. “Diabetes is one of the biggest killers in Malaysia. Better get it checked out just to be sure.’
I run into Raj, the political junkie who joins us at the table. He orders a tee tareh, or milky tea. He’s just informed us of the latest gossip. He’s sweating profusely and seems a prime candidate for an insulin shot. He’s carrying excessive weight and he’s always dabbing off the excessive sweat off his forehead with a handkerchief when he gets excited. ‘ISIS never attacked that bar in Kuala Lumpur.’
We nodded our heads in agreement.
‘It was a deal that went bad with a retribution grenade.’
We are following him. Even Bagwani is shaking his head left to right, an Indian nod meaning I agree with you. Raj then scoffs down five roti canai, and nearly chokes on the last one. He has a ferocious appetite and is keen to finish off his point before the roti canai finishes him off.
‘Then who do you think decided to introduce the sedition act, equivalent to the patriot act in the States? He (I suppose he means the Prime Minister) used ISIS as an excuse to have more control of his enemies. Why would ISIS be attacking a Muslim country?’ He takes a bighit of sugary tea. ‘It just doesn’t make sense.’
Baba joins the table and Raj is turning purple again from another coughing fit brought on by the sugary tea that’s gone down the wrong way. He also loves those duty free cigarettes which can’t be helping as he spits out a left lung.
I said nothing makes sense.
Raj has stopped coughing and turning purple and a brown hue has come back to his dark Tamil features. He has one more point to make. ‘And our government has agreed to help Thailand with investigations of the recent bombings.’ He stuffs some more curry down his throat, before he continues. ‘Isn’t it a bit like the blind leading the blind?’
We were all wearing dark sunglasses.
Baba is also an overweight Indian who walks with a cane and is waiting for a hip and knee replacement. He’s a former customs officer, and now retired but he’s as sharp as they come. “The sedition act was passed just before Mahathir set up his own party. You watch heads roll if the new party ever gets approval.’
I order another milky tea. I’m scratching my balls.
‘Also signs of fatigue, insomnia, feeling thirsty, excessive sweating, are all symptoms of diabetes.’ Bhagwani is trying to scare me. I suffer from all those symptoms.
Maybe I should cut back on the sugar and get a test.
Bagwani is only concerned about my well being. Raj is having another coughing fit.
Chin, another regular here, and Chinese, says we could be talking to a terrorist and wouldn’t even know until we saw his face in the newspaper. He’s worried about the kidnappings. ‘They only target the rich Chinese.’ He lights up a cigarette that hasn’t had any duty paid on and exhales a dirty black cloud.‘But luckily I don’t have a pot to piss in.’
If the police had overheard our conversation, we’d all be in jail. But I’d doubt they take us seriously.
We are a harmless bunch, really.
Malaysians have a healthy disregard for authority. No one is living in fear until they get a knock on their door. ‘They’ll never find me,’ says Bagwani. ‘Too many dogs at my temple. Malays hate dogs.’
Another good point.
I think for now, we are all safe.