Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ah Chui

On the path of my life, I come across many interesting people...

photo by Alvimann
image from

Ah Chui

He is almost seventy
but tough as steel.
I look upon him
more like a friend
than the cleaner
who cleans my office.

He always wears
a long-sleeved shirt,
even on hot days
as if he is hiding something,
a scar, a tattoo.
I never ask him.

We take smoking breaks
in the hoist bays, staircases.
He tells me he had a business
in Beijing. It failed.
I did not ask if that's
the reason he came back.

One day he gives me his lighter
a carved dragon of metal.
Take it, he just said, and the
next day I did not see him again.
Sometimes there are things
best left unanswered.


“Is it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him?”

― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

Shared on Poetry Pantry #227 at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2014

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Blogger Sumana Roy said...

an enigmatic person..and so disheartening for curious readers..sad. ...

17 November, 2014 00:11  
Blogger Catie Williams-Handcock Robinson said...

sweet but moving memories.

17 November, 2014 00:19  
Blogger alan1704 said...

Life is full of unanswered question, i like how you open this up. Well Done.

17 November, 2014 00:49  
Blogger Björn Rudberg said...

I think listening and connecting to those people that are just there is something that just a few of us do.. many tend to ignore them... what a wonderful story you tell.

17 November, 2014 02:53  
Blogger Mary said...

Whew, that is quite a story. How eerie that he gave you his lighter and you never saw him again after that. One really has to wonder....... This would haunt me forever.

17 November, 2014 03:31  
Blogger Kathryn Dyche Dechairo said...

I love how this leaves us wanting to know more. I was totally involved, great imagery.

17 November, 2014 04:16  
Blogger Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh my. I wonder what happened to him. I feel for him still cleaning at close to seventy. I am the same, and it gets harder every year!

17 November, 2014 04:29  
Blogger totomai said...

loved the story. talking to strangers and being friends with them is one of better ways to learn about life.

but you are also, some questions are left unanswered and we just wonder

17 November, 2014 06:36  
Blogger Nataša Dolenc said...

somewhat bittersweet story. interesting. it's always nice to get to know the life of others.

17 November, 2014 15:06  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


an enigmatic person perhaps, but i think he was trying to live life as best as he could.


moving memories, maybe. thanks for visiting! :)


thank you! oh yes, life is full of unanswered questions. :)


i think you understand this well. most will tend to ignore them, maybe because of their social status, or there's an age gap, or they may be perceived as unfriendly. most of the time, they will open up if you just talk to them.


wow, eerie! i didn't think about that at that time, but yes, one really has to wonder. :)


thanks for the visit! ha, i like to leave the reader in suspense. :)


i would like to think he drift off to another job. He once mentioned about someone asking him to help out at the airport. yes, it's tough to be still working at 70, but he was a very fit person.


another one left in suspense. :)
no, i don't probe too deeply. he could be a debtor on the run, he could be ex triad, or he left just because there's a better paying job somewhere.


it always is. great material for your poetry. :)

17 November, 2014 23:10  
Blogger humbird said...

O, I like this poem-portrait, nice observations. Good idea to write the portraits of people, crossing our path... x

18 November, 2014 01:04  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

thank you, humbird. poem-portraits can be fun to write. :)

18 November, 2014 07:02  
Anonymous tinman said...

You are not talking about just one person, are you? It's also about the whole bunch of seniors who still need to work to survive?

18 November, 2014 07:22  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

no, i am writing about one person (didn't you see the title?), but you're quite spot on about the "whole bunch of seniors", me included. :)

18 November, 2014 22:10  
Blogger James Toma said...

Hey Dsnake, this is the type of poem that I just devour to the core. It had a lesson at the end which is very wise indeed. thank you from my end!!! more please, more.

19 November, 2014 08:03  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

heh, "devour to the core", i like that!
it's just about treating another person with respect.
thanks, James! :)

19 November, 2014 22:02  
Blogger Justin Lamb said...

There is a lot that can be imagined from such a short depiction of this guy. Both the story itself and the way you wrote it are great. Well done.

20 November, 2014 00:10  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

thanks, Justin! i wrote this in a conversational kind of tone, makes for a more 'friendly' read. :)

20 November, 2014 22:12  

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