Madam Tiong wore a bedraggled cloth living at a dilapidated house, not far from the town. It was used to be a home. That was more than 10 years ago. People said Madam Tiong was mentally-challenged, others who knew her said she had always been like this. The house, which she lived was abandoned. There was nothing but a mattress, few dirty clothes, few pails, some cooking utensils, a fire place for cooking, if she cooked. She did not live alone; she had a companion. A white dog, without any given name. Cute and tiny female dog. She did very well in protecting her owner though. She barked at strangers, but she knew the bad from good. She belonged inside the house.
There was not much in the house. The door was not locked and it was never locked. The door was made of a rusty zinc roof. The stairs were so steep that it could actually be a ladder than a staircase. The way to the house was to climb up; same thing to go down. Wooden floor could have seen better days. Somebody must had steal those woods because some parts of the floor were missing.
Upon entering the house, on the right what used to be a kitchen and a dining room, now filled with all kinds of junks. Rusty and broken pots, a stove somewhere, plastics, poops. Part of the walls were already gone. Up there was a leaking roof. There was a toilet bowl just in front of the entrance door. Squatting one. Not the kind of the bowl with water and flush in it. This bowl has a hole that looked straight the grass below. It was not front door after all, it was a bathroom. The floor looked like it was about to collapse anytime. There were pictures of her ancestors towards the end of the house. Could hardly believe the empty space was a living room before. Inside her bedroom, there were some instant noodles, can food, biscuits, eggs, rice and many other things. All donated. There on her bedroom wall, just behind the door was her wedding picture.
Oh yes, she was a married woman. Her husband got sick a year ago and died. The house was in fact her husband’s. Her husband used to work odd jobs and was a lazy man. The neighbours knew the couple very well and nobody liked them. They used to steal chicken and vegetables from the neighbours. Now that the husband had died, they looked on her with pity. Every day, they allowed her to help harvest their vegetables; in return, she received free meals. It was a good bargain for her.
Madam Tiong was rather a mysterious woman. Long time ago, she was a wealthy woman, as people said. They said she was married twice and had two children of her own. One she gave up for adoption and one she threw him at the river. The baby drowned. Nobody knew why she did that, and the family rejected her ever since. Nobody knew the authenticity of the story, but people could say anything and believe anything these days.
Madam Tiong lived without water and electricity supply, but she loved to stay there nevertheless. She did not mind taking her bath at the drain and the body smelled as if she needed a bath real bad. No, she did not want to go to homes. She was scared of being bullied. She said she was being bullied before and she did not want that to happen anymore….