Chapter 5: Drunken stupor
It was 1972 and Anna’s name had become synonymous with that of Club Damansara. She was doing very well. Anna’s shows were all fully booked and she had admirers from all ages and all backgrounds. Of course, her heart only had space for Jonny. The two were madly in love. Jonny was working on promoting Anna. They planned for a tour to Ipoh, Seremban, Johor Bahru and Singapore, with Foo’s backing of course. Within a few years, they would be able to go international and it had always been Anna’s dream to make it to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo.
Jonny started to put together a travelling band for Anna, recruiting new suitable talent to match that of Anna’s. They would also need some touring staff and a new exciting wardrobe too. It was a lot of planning and a lot of work but nothing could stop those two. They were almost perfect for each other. Together, they were formidable. They shared the same passion, the same dream, the same drive and most nights, the same bed.
Betsy and Patsy were the first to know. They lived in the same house so it was no secret when they saw the two sneaking out, and saw them coming home late at night, creeping into Anna’s bedroom. Their stealth mode did not work especially when they Anna cried out in pleasure. Betsy and Patsy told a few others, and a few others told a few others, words soon reached Foo’s ears.
“Jonny, you know who Anna is related to. If you don’t care about your life anymore, I still care about my life and my business especially. Don’t shit where you eat, you bastard!” swore Foo as he slapped Jonny across the face, so hard that his sunglasses to fell onto the floor.
“I really like her and I am serious,” replied Jonny.
“I am telling you as a friend, stay away. Don’t think I don’t know about your home situation. Paper cannot wrap up a fire, Jonny. People will get hurt,” advised Foo.
“I will sort it,” said a very determined Jonny as he picked up his sunglasses and adjusted his frame.
Life was back to normal. The two could not be happier. A few months later, they started their tour. Anna enjoyed every moment of it. Her fans were increasing exponentially. She sang in Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, English and some Malay. Anna worked hard and she was determined more than ever, that she would achieve her dreams. Nothing could stop her now.
Every night, her show was full and the reciprocal clubs were very good to her. Jonny was there to look after all her needs and ensured everything ran smoothly. Ipoh and Seremban were great success. The name Anna Lee was becoming popular in Malaya. They still called it Malaya then, although officially in 1963 the states unified to form Peninsular Malaysia. They were on their tour in Johor Bahru, the southern state of Malaya, when their drummer fell ill and could not carry on. They had two more shows in Johor Bahru and one more destination on their tour to Singapore. Jonny was desperate to find a replacement. Roy came to the band as a replacement drummer. He was paid by the day, as Jonny was not too sure if he could work long term with the rest. Roy was slightly obese, in his late forties, and rather provincial. After all, the band had been hand selected by Jonny in Kuala Lumpur, a big capital city. As Jonny was desperate he didn’t have much of a choice. In terms of technical ability, Roy did play well.
It was their last show in Johor Bahru, the coastal town. Anna was putting her make-up on backstage when she heard a commotion. A lady in her mid twenties with a young boy of about two was having a row with Jonny.
“You have not been home for over a year. This is your son, do you still remember us?” asked the lady.
“I am working and this is not the place to talk. Go home!” commanded Jonny.
“I have been sending you money and you’re both living very well so don’t ruin things,” he added.
The lady pleaded with Jonny and the little boy was crying for his father. Jonny spotted Anna.
“Let me explain, Anna..”
Before anyone could say anything, the lady ran towards Anna and slapped her with all her might. She yanked and pulled her dress calling her a whore and a home-wrecker. Jonny came over to pull the lady away but it was too late. Anna’s silk dress was torn and her cheek was flushed and swollen. Anna stood there weeping quietly, she was embarrassed and ashamed, she did not dare to retaliate. She knew she was wrong.
The show must go on
That night, the atmosphere was different. Anna did force herself to go on stage with a new dress and more make-up of course. She pretended nothing had happened although deep down she was heartbroken. How could she not know that Jonny was married and had a child? Why didn’t Jonny tell her? There were a million questions she wanted to ask him. Yet, she could not bear to see him. After the show, Anna headed straight back to the quarters.
“Anna, please let me explain,” Jonny pleaded outside her room door.
Anna had already made up her mind. Although painful, she needed to cut Jonny out of her life. She could not be a home wrecker. The scene from this afternoon kept playing in her head. The little boy of about two, who was the spitting image of Jonny, how could she destroy that family and take away his father?
“It’s over. Please leave. It would be best if we do Singapore without you. Go home to your family..” Anna was very determined.
“Anna, I need you and you need me. I do love you. I am really sorry.. You need me in Singapore and we were to visit your mother together. Just let me in and I promise to make things better.”
Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She really wanted to open the door and let Jonny back into her life. How could things change so quickly in less than twelve hours? But the image of that little boy was etched into her brain now. She hardly got any sleep that night. She knew what she had to do.
She called Foo in the morning and explained that if she was to continue the tour to Singapore then Jonny had to leave. Foo immediately understood. Foo had to give in to Anna, after all it was Anna that the fans wanted to see. Anna was determined and stubborn like that. Once her mind was made up, there was no going back.
“Anna, I will give you space and I will see you in three days back in KL. I do love you and we will work things out,” promised Jonny as he left.
The pain was almost unbearable for Anna as she watched Jonny climbed into the Toyoto Carina and drove away. As soon as he was out of sight, she cried her heart out. She almost wanted to run after him and stop him, but the show had to go on and the band travelled to Singapore as planned. They only had two shows in Singapore. She tried to muster up courage and bravery, but without Jonny she was just a lifeless little dolly. That hour-long journey to Singapore felt like a day. Every minute without Jonny was like an hour. Time passed so slowly and painfully for Anna. Every ticking second felt like a stab to her heart. Jonny was her first love and her only true love, well whatever is left of the word ‘true’ from a cheating husband and a home wrecker. The conflict was like a raging storm within her.
The Singapore scar
By now, everyone knew of the gossip, within the band and the immediate supporting staff. They saw the change in Anna. Although she pretended to be strong, they could see the fragile broken soul within. Anna went to see her mother that morning as they arrived in Singapore.
“Ma..” Anna ran towards her mother to hug her. She desperately needed her mother especially after the epic saga with Jonny.
Mei was cold and awkward. She didn’t quite push Anna away but she didn’t hug her either. It was more of a friendly pat at arm’s length. Unbeknownst to Anna, Mei had just been fired from yet another housekeeper role for her gambling debt. The debtors went to her employer’s house for payment. That of course resulted in her employer’s dismissing her at that very instant.
Anna was not surprised with her mother’s reaction. After all, they had an awkward relationship and they had been apart for so many years. She could only wish that her mother could have at least hugged her that day. She needed some support and love from her mother. She didn’t know where else to go.
“Anna, I need some money,” Mei broke the awkward silence.
Anna felt used. There was a bit of a role reversal. Although she was now working, she was only fifteen. Then again, in those days, girls got married at 12 and had children as soon as they have their menstruation. So, perhaps asking your fifteen-year-old daughter for money when she was working was not so wrong after all. So Anna took out a hundred dollars (which was a lot of money in those days, it was probably more than a year’s wages for most) from her purse and gave it to her mother out of filial piety.
“Is this enough?” Anna asked.
Mei nodded with some embarrassment. Tears were welling up in Mei’s eyes. She loved Anna and had planned to spend some time with her, but her gambling addiction had once again come between them.
“Ma, I have to go. Look after yourself..” Anna could not bring herself to say anything else to her mother.
The two left with tears in their eyes and aches in their heart. There were lots of knots in their relationship from all the hurt and pain they had suffered. Something seemed to always come in between the two. It really ought not to be that difficult for a mother to show her love and care and for a daughter to love and be loved by her mother.
Anna went on stage for the first time that evening without Jonny watching her. She managed to mask her emotions, the Tequila did its courage conjuring trick too. When she sang Teresa Teng’s ‘我只在乎你’ (I only care about you), she was crying along, the audience and her fans loved it and they thought that she was really engrossed into her singing and the lyrics of that beautiful yet sorrowful song. Anna needed the applause and the acknowledgement that night. She was feeling very empty inside.
After the show, the band decided to go for supper. They asked Anna to come with, knowing how rotten she must be feeling inside. Anna gave in and went with them especially after having a bottle of Tequila on an empty stomach. They had satays, the infamous Singapore noodle and a few rounds of drinks. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor tequila, Anna was slammed. Roy volunteered to take Anna back.
Anna could hardly walk, she was staggering and clumsily, she took her stilettos off. She was so inebriated she started yelling out for Jonny. It was definitely a sight for sore eyes. She was undeniably away with the fairies. Roy held on to her and he saw his opportunity. Anna was a very attractive girl. He held on her tiny waist and pushed her onto the wall of that quiet side street. Anna was so plastered that she could not fight back. She kept calling for Jonny. He ripped her top, touched her breasts and squeezed them with pleasure. He lifted her skirt and pulled her knickers down. Anna screamed but he was a big man and she was too drunk to escape him. He forced himself onto her. She felt the whole weight of him on her as he pushed her onto a pile of rattan baskets and cardboard boxes on the side of the street. He had one hand over her mouth, the other holding one of her legs apart and he pushed himself into her. Tears were streaming out of her eyes. She was in physical pain and mental anguish. She fought with all her might but he was too strong. She could smell his sweat and feel his whole bulk as he pushed into her. His foul breath as he panted with every stride was an utter disgust to Anna. His final push as he came with pleasure was finally the end of the agonising torture for Anna. Anna could not move. She was numb with physical and emotional pain, too shocked to react. Only tears were continuously streaming out of those beautiful brown eyes. She was too weak to cry or scream. Roy zipped his trousers up and left Anna there on the side street like a ragged doll. Naked, raped and abused.
She must have laid there for a few hours, out of shock and pain. Her head was still spinning but she got up. Her top was ripped, she was staggering but now because of the pain. She was sore all over but particularly down below. She was ashamed of herself and she was very ashamed of what happened. All she wanted to do was to call Jonny to rescue her or run to her mother for comfort, but neither was possible. She got herself back to the quarters, took off all her clothes and went straight for a shower. She must have scrubbed every inch of her hundred of times to get rid of his smell, his sweat and his secretions. She let the water run down on her head to wash away the memory or so she hoped it would. In those days, being raped was not uncommon but it was often seen as the woman’s fault for tempting the man. She could not report it to anyone, especially not the authority, they would accuse her of seducing him and slut shaming would ensue. She stood under the shower shivering and shaking in fear as her mind replayed the tormented event over and over again. Anna stayed in the shower for two hours, washing away his filthiness on her, even though all her fingers were pruney. She finally stood up, fought back her tears and slapped herself, reminding herself that she needed to toughen up.
One more show to go before she heads back. She knew she had to harden herself and pretend as if nothing had happen. No one knew and Anna intended to keep it that way. Roy did not turn up for rehearsal that afternoon, much to Anna’s delight, as if there’s any delight left in that poor girl. The only good news that evening was that Roy has suddenly disappeared. Anna put her make-up on, as if it’s her mask to cover her pain, her hurt, her misery, her agony and her vulnerability. As the audience poured in, Anna sink into her role, the star, the super star who would make her mother proud. She wanted her mother to be proud. Anna got on the stage with her ‘mask’ on, sang her soul in perfect melody, the audience were blown away as they always do. The last show of the tour was a great success. Anna, despite the unthinkable agonising, dreadful events over the last few days, managed to hide her fragility, and her skills shone through. Anna was glad to leave Singapore but she wasn’t so sure of being back in Damansara Club either, mainly because of Jonny.