“Mrs Lim, you sure you want to do this?” the 40 year old Police Inspector asked, making sure if Mrs. Lim was ready to face the monster who wrecked her family and life.
“Yes, Inspector Ahmad. I’m ready. Take me to him.” she said without pausing to give any seconds thoughts. Ahmad, observed the 83 year old Chinese lady for a few seconds. She was old and frail and wore a the traditional Chinese dress that old Chinese women wear when they go out to town. She had a blue handbag and had a handkerchief on the other hand. She seemed weak and yet, despite her age and health, she was adamant to meet and face her worst nightmare.
The both of them walked silently past the dark passageways, past dingy offices that smelt of cigarette, past lots and lots of cupboards which were stacked with files and finally to a room with a big glass mirror, which held a lone Indian man. Everywhere else was dark save the fluorescence light that was illuminating the room.
The Indian man was bald and had piercings and tattoos. He sat, smoking a cigarette. Smoke spewed from his lips as he exhaled, his eyes glued to the table infront of him.
Ahmad turned towards Mrs Lim at the door and said, “You can change your mind if you want to, Mrs. Lim.”
“No Inspector. I’ve made up my mind.” Mrs Lim said as she stared at Ahmad’s chest, avoiding eye contact with him.
Ahmad sighed and then signaled a police guard nearby to open the door to let Mrs. Lim in.
The young police guard fumbled with the keys as he tried opening the door to the interrogation room. Ahmad lighted a cigarette.
“Mrs. Lim, remember, if anything happens, Omar here will be with you in the room” Ahmad pointed at the young Police guard who was still fumbling with the keys. “He’ll come to your rescue. We can hear and see everything that takes place inside. The glasses are tinted in such a way that only people from the outside can see what’s going on inside. And please, keep this to yourself. We don’t usually allow victims to meet the criminals, but your case is an exception.”
“Thank you Inspector Ahmad.” Mrs. Lim said graciously. The door clicked opened and Mrs. Lim was nodded to go inside.
As she walked into the spacious interrogation room, she felt she was in a different world altogether. The walls and ceilings were painted white and it was not like what you saw in the movies. Everything was silent and it was asthough a huge vacuum machine had sucked out the sound and air from the room.
The door closed behind her as the young Police guard followed her into the room and stood at the doorway.
She looked around and then finally her eyes set on Muthu, who was grinning ear to ear.
“Harlow Miss Lee. How are you?” He grinned as he puffed on his cigarette, oblivious to the fact that just two months ago, he mugged her point blank in the lift, stomping Mrs. Lee’s daughter who was pregnant on the stomach and ran off with RM 5000 which was in the handbag.
Despite his handcuffs, he still managed to use his hands to smoke his cigarette.
Mrs Lee stood frozen.
“It’s nice to see you again” He laughed as he stubbed the cigarette bud. “How’s your daughter doing?”
Mrs Lee sat on the chair, opposite Muthu. “She had a miscarriage”
Muthu pretended to be full of concern, “Owh! I’m so sorry Mrs. Lim. I deeply regret what has happened to her.” He laughed and lighted another cigarette. Mrs. Lim observed him. He should be in his mid twenties, still a bachelor with lots of time in his hands. He broke her attention. “So, tell me Mrs. Lim. Why have you come to see me?”
There was silence and then Mrs. Lim spoke. It was a burning question, something she wanted to know ever since they were mugged. “What made you mug us?”
Muthu stared at Mrs. Lim and then laughed. “You came all the way, just to ask me this? You’re a weird woman Mrs. Lim. And one with courage as well.”
“My daughter had a miscarriage. That RM 5000 belonged to me. I was using that to pay the education fees for my son. Why did you have to mug us?”
“Luck I guess.” Muthu coughed and then continued, “Luck. You happened to be at the right place at the right time.” He then straightened up so that he could be closer to Mrs. Lim. “It’s a dog eat dog world, Mrs. Lim. Survival to the fittest.”
“But you’re young. And although poverty could have been the reason of you mugging us, it’s not an excuse for you as you’re healthy. You’re not sick or weak like me. You’re free to find a job, gain income, start a family. Why bother the weak?”
“Mrs. Lim. You still don’t understand.” He sat, puffing on his cigarette. “I’m an impatient person. I want money and fast. Plus the thrill and joy of mugging, there’s none like it.”
“Shame on you for being this way. It’s people like you who bring the name of your parents down.”
“So you’re saying that I’m such because of my parents?”
“No.” she replied curtly.
“I blame the society for making me this way.” He puffed his cigarette.
Mrs. Lim kept silent.
“I blame it on society.” He nodded and muttered to himself, as though he was double confirming whatever he had just said.
“You should blame yourself. The culprit in the end, however how many reasons we have, is you because in the end, it was you who decided to become a thief.”
Muthu laughed. “Do you believe in God Mrs. Lim?” He asked.
“I did, until I met you.” At this, Muthu laughed even harder.
“It appears to me, you take whatever I say as a joke.” Mrs. Lim was annoyed.
Muthu stopped laughing. He watched Mrs. Lim silently as though he was planning a comeback and then said, “I admire you. You have the guts to come and see me. Tell me, why did you come?”
Mrs. Lim kept silent and a few seconds later, she looked at her trembling hands. “I… I just came to say how much I hate you.”
Tears started falling from her eyes. Her body trembled as she tried forming words with her quivering lips. “My son, he had to stop his education because we lost the money for the fees to you. My daughter, she committed suicide after the incident. She had been trying hard to get a baby, and just when everything seemed alright, God turns the tide.”
“You’re blaming God for this?” The mugger asked, amused by what he just heard.
“I blame God for creating souls like you. Infact, I envy you. You’re in jail and yet you’re happy. The irony…”
Mrs. Lim then stood up, wiped her tears with her handkerchief and then said, “It’s people like you, as you said, society, that change us forever. We become different people thanks to people like you.”
She held to the table to support herself. Muthu kept on puffing on his cigarette.
“People like you are worthless scumbags. They deserve no hope or chance. Police does nothing. So does the government. Ever wondered why the society is such? Because no one takes any action. No one seems to have the guts to change the tide. To turn the tables.”
“So what are YOU going to do about it Mrs. Lim?”
There was silence as both of them observed each other. And then Mrs. Lim broke the silence.
She swiftly took out a pistol from her handbag, shot Muthu on the head.
Muthu fell backwards silently as Omar stood frozen. Ahmad dashed into the room.
Mrs. Lim stood, he hands holding onto the table to keep her balance. Her body trembling not with fear or anger. But with tears of satisfaction.
She slowly slumped back onto her chair and cried softly as Ahmad placed the handcuffs on her hands.