When you are someone living in Singapore, you are bound to hear a lot about the island’s infamous red light district. While you will find almost no mention of it in the mainstream channels, almost everyone knows that it is there. It’s almost like an implicit knowledge that is shared over whispers and hushed tones. Geylang is like the illegitimate child of Singapore that no one dares to talk loudly about, swept under the rug when compared to the more high profile places like Marina Bay Sands, Clarke Quay, Chinatown or Sentosa. At least in the public discourse.
In a way, the lack of tendency for people to not discuss about Geylang has given the place an urban legend status, where the things you usually hear about it are myths or rumours. Like how girls would stand on the even numbered streets, trying to pull you in. However, in almost a decade that I was here, never once have I stepped foot anywhere near Geylang, as there was no reason to. Little did I expect that my first time here was because someone forced me to.
Sitting alone in the backseat of the car, I did not dare to make as much sound during the entire journey. It seemed that what Mr Chen did, cornering me in public, managed to silenced whatever opposition that I had. The feeling of helplessness was all too familiar, pulling me back to the days when I was still in school uniform, taunted and bullied for being a “sissy”. Just like those days, I lost whatever courage that I had left, afraid to stand up for myself. I was lost in those memories as Mr Chen talked to his friend in front, his cigarette smoke occasionally drifting to the back.
After what seemed like forever, the car jerked to a halt, as Mr Chen and his friend exited the car. I stayed in the backseat, just being terribly afraid, and unsure of what to do. Mr Chen shot me an annoyed look as he passed by the door. He tapped menacingly at the window, before motioning me to get down and follow him. I did all that willingly, without any sound or complaint. The thought of running away there and then came back, but by then I was no longer in control of my own body.
The car was parked under the gloomy street lamp, and the three of us walked across the street, into a dubious looking house. There were other guys too on the street, with a mixture of skimpily dressed girls. The area was just like how I imagined it to be. Seedy, wild and totally different than the Singapore that I was used to. It was an entirely different side of it.
We were brought to sit down on a couch as we entered the house, while a balding guy brought out several girls, and made them stand before us. The girls were skimpily all dressed, face laden with makeup. Mr Chen and his friend eyed the different girls hungrily, while I just sat there, afraid to even make eye contact. The entire experience was highly uncomfortable, and a part of me was screaming for me to just leave. It was something that I do not want to be part of.
“Oi, just choose lah, you sit there quietly for what?!” A rough voice startled me. It was Mr Chen, no less. Already was a girl in his arms, caressing him, while another girl sat on his friend’s lap. I felt as if the whole attention of the room was on me. My heart beat furiously, as I turned to the line of girls, and randomly pointed at one.
Mr Chen laughed, a condescending one. Perhaps he was amused with all my blunders. The girl that I pointed to walked up to me, and pulled my hand. She led me upstairs, into a simply furnished room. Only a queen sized bed stood in the middle of the room, accompanied by a wooden night stand beside it. The room was lit by a white fluorescent lamp, while a fan cooled the room.
The girl pushed me onto the bed, before proceeding to undress me and herself. Her hands playfully unbuttoned my shirt, before going down to my pants. She pulled my hands towards her clothing, and they were smooth. Satin. My mind was blank by then, unsure of what to think or react.
“Oh, shy little guy, aren’t you,” the girl said, in her thick Chinese accent. In the next room, I could hear the sound of Mr. Chong laughing, in the most perverted manner possible. I had never felt more disgusted before in my life. As the girl moved her hand to my belt, I immediately grabbed it. “Look, I don’t want to do this.” She looked at me, stunned. I had no idea what came over me as well.
She forced a coy smile, before moving her hands up my body. Her hands were soft, sensual. “Ah what’s the matter, you want some other action first?” she said as moved her lips closer to my body. Her tongue licked her lips seductively. I immediately rolled off the the bed as a reflex, and quickly stood up. A thought suddenly came into my mind.
“Look,” I said again, “I don’t understand whether this is possible, but I don’t want to do anything. Sex, I mean. I will pay you as per your rate, but I don’t want sex. Is that allowed?”
She stared at me wide eyed for a while, before letting out a giggle, visibly amused by what I had said. All men want sex, she said, unless I liked guys. She pulled herself up, and sat crossed legged on the bed, facing me. Still dressed in her lingerie, her eyes studied me, as I stood awkwardly near the door. As much as I said I did not want sex, I cannot help but feel turned on just by looking at her.
She was almost the same age as I, judging from her complexion, and she could be considered pretty by our standards. Her eyes were round and hazel in colour, the kind that could pierce deeply into your soul if they stare at you. She had small lips, cute in their own way, like those anime characters. Her hair jet black and straight, to the length of her shoulders, with bangs covering her forehead.
“I just want to talk,” I said in Chinese, my hands raised. Like I was afraid that she would come and pull me over. She gave me a curious look, with one of her eyebrows raised. I could not guess what she was thinking, as I just stood there, too afraid to move.
After thinking for a while, she shrugged. “Why not?” She patted the space beside her. “Here, sit down, and we will talk.” I walked cautiously towards her, before picking up my shirt and wearing it. She giggled softly again. When I finally sat beside her, she put her arms around me, and leaned her head on my shoulders. Like how couples usually do. And then we talked. In the most unlikely of places.