Tonight was Zen's last night before going to her first day of work at the Port Authority of Singapore (PSA). Zen, a friend of mine, has the distinction of being the world's chubbiest flesh ball, sometimes affectionately known as "The Waddler." Zen is also a hooker by profession.
I first met Zen when I was having dinner in the Geylang Area. We ended up chatting and I was impressed by her confidence. You could say I have soft spot for underdogs and we became good friends. One could say that this is part of a self-destructive 'Do-Gooder" syndrome that I sometimes have but I couldn't help admiring someone who could remain so happy, bouncy and cheerful in spite of having what you could call a pretty disgusting life.
Somehow, here was a person who had the ability to laugh at things and find pride in doing something that most of us, in our bourgoise self-absorbed life would thumb our noses at. Zen will brag to you about the fact that, "I'm not some Poly Student you can touch for FREE, I'm a HOOKER - a LORONG 16 HOOKER." It's hard to imagine her as an object of desire, more like an object of humour (think the Michillin Man) but she provided me with an insight into the strange things that "Sterile Singapore' gets turned on by. She survived on a loyal following - her customers included a few taxi drivers, a Sushi bar attendent, a coffee shop boy, two Indian IT professionals and ......a Budhist Monk.
Although I get teased by it, I think Zen is the first Singaporean girl that I've come to respect and even admire. Here is the world's chubbiest flesh ball in what could be a pretty disgusting profession. Everyday its a choice of putting up with men, who are quite often at their worst or starving. Somehow she does the job but she finds pride in it. The friends who have met her can't believe her - they wonder "Why can't she just upgrade herself and get a normal job." However, Zen has a rather crazy pride in what she does - unlike being in a normal job, she proudly announces that she is "The Queen of Lorong 16" and tells people - "Ask for Nancy - they'll know who I am."
Now she's got herself a normal job and is looking forward to a life off the street. I think I will miss her laugh in that part of the world but I believe that just as she found a way to make something for herself as a hooker, I think she'll find a niche for herself.
I believe, funnily enough that Zen's ability to find something for yourself when everyone else only sees shame and defeat to be an inspiration. Good for her and I wish I had that ability and many more people had it too.