WORDS TO BEGUILE A ROUGH WARRIOR
The next day, Cheong Harng Ming, Chan Tuck Ming and Pak On Fook visited Ngow Fa Kow’s kungfu school. They praised the valour and courage of Ngow Fa Kow, and said that his martial ability was extra-ordinary.
Ngow Fa Kow was a rough person. The flower of his heart blossomed (i.e. he was very happy), like meeting intimate friends.
Cheong Harng Ming requested Ngow Fa Kow’s help to subdue Wu Wei Thien to erase the insult on cloth-making workers. He proposed three thousand pieces of silver as a token of thanks.
Ngow Fa Kow was moved. Without thinking, he agreed.
Cheong Harng Ming was very happy. He presented two thousand pieces of silver as down-payment. After some initial refusal, Ngow Fa Kow finally accepted.
The next day, Ngow Fa Kow was invited to Kam Loon Thong, or the Hall of Fine Cloth, the Association for Cloth-Making Workers. All members, including the chief executive officers of both the eastern and the western factories, wore their best dresses to attend the gathering. All present invited Ngow Fa Kow to sit at the seat of honour, and everyone paid respect to him.
Ngow Fa Kow had not seen such a grand ceremony before. He said, “All elders, please don’t be so courteous. I, Ngow Fa Kow, is a martial man, and do not know any culture. As you are so courteous, it makes me uncomfortable sitting or standing. If you have any advice, please tell me directly.”
Chan Tuck Ming stood up and said, “Sifu’s words show that you are a real hero. I shall follow your words instead of being courteous.” So, once again, he requested Ngow Fa Kow to kill Wu Wei Thien.
(Although Chan Tuck Ming did not learn kungfu from Ngow Fa Kow, he addressed Ngow Fa Kow as “sifu”, which means one’s kungfu teacher, because of courtesy.)
Ngow Fa Kow replied, “Killing Wu Wei Thien is as easy as turning my hand. But the rules of the country are serious. I do not want to risk my life for Wu Wei Thien. Do you have any good suggestions?”
The members of the association were alarmed. Many of them said, “Sifu Ngow, please do not worry. We shall be responsible for killing Wu Wei Thien. If Sifu is still uncertain, we can all sign our names, and let Sifu keep the record.”
Pak On Fook waved his hand and announced, “Why should we go to all this trouble? Don’t you all know that if someone kills a person, he may face a death sentence. But if a lei-tai is set up for combat, it is different. We can set up a lei-tai and let Sifu Ngow “sit on the stage” (i.e. be the challenger of the lei-tai), and invite Wu Wei Thien to the lei-tai. When Wu Wei Thien is killed, life and death depend on fate. Fists and legs have no mercy. No one can blame anyone.”
Ngow Fa Kow was silent for awhile. Then he nodded his head to agree.
Everyone said it was an excellent idea. All present celebrated with food and wine.
During the celebration, Pak On Fook, Chan Tuck Ming and others talked about Wu Wei Thien using his kungfu to bully the weak, and was not a great man, and he forced those who did not know kungfu to fight him. How could that be real kungfu? If he had real kungfu, he would find someone capable for a test.
Hearing this, Ngow Fa Kow was angry, and his eyes rounded.
Chan Tuck Ming saw this and knew Ngow Fa Kow was moved. He thought to himself, “This fellow is a rough martial man. Why not I use words to move him further so that he will employ all his strength to help us.”
So he stood up, first toasted to Ngow Fa Kow, then said, “Wu Wei Thein depends on his art and walks diagonally (i.e. disregards others usually without any reasons). He injured our workers and killed many people. Those killed by him did not know kungfu. Thus he could intentionally demonstrate his wrong valour. He said that eight years ago he had grudges with some of our workers. This time he came back to take revenge. His words can be used to bluff children. But anyone with brains can see weaknesses in his reasoning. Please ponder. Those who died under his hands were not those whom he had grudges with. Even if there were grudges, there were only a few workers. But in one breath he injured many and killed thirteen people.
“Sifu Ngow’s intelligence is extraordinary. Even if I did mention it, you will surely know. Those who died, died in vain. There were also countless workers injured. Blood split over the street and rocks. Such a terrible scene is unparallel in the world. Sifu won’t have difficulty visualizing it. The dead is already dead, and they cannot return to life, but there is a criminal for any crime, and a debtor for any debt. I regret that I have not learnt kungfu, otherwise even if my body is broken and my bones crashed, what is there to regret if I ‘let some energy out of the mouth of the dead’?” (i.e. avenge the dead). As he spoke, he continuously sighed.
Ngow Fa Kow was about to speak. Pak On Fook, who sat on the right side of Ngow Fa Kow, pretended to be mysterious and said, “Sifu Ngow may not have heard it but in the streets there is a saying that Wu Wei Thien could defeat any one in Gaungdong and he was invincible!”
Ngow Fa Kow’s nature was slow and rough. How could he know that all these words were meant to beguile him? His energy rushed up like fighting a bull. Banging a table, he stood up and said, “All elders, you don’t need to worry. I shall certainly kill Wu Wei Thien this small rascal who does not know how high is heaven and how thick is earth to avenge the dead and also for myself ‘to let up a stream of energy from my mouth’ (i.e. to release myself)”.
Wong Kiew Kit,
10th January 2018, Sungai Petani