LEI-TAI FOR WU WEI THIEN AND NGOW FA KOW
Early next morning Wu Wei Thien put on his kungfu dress and wore two pieces of protection mirror in front and at his back. Then we wore an outter long dress. He went with Leong Zong, Cheah Fook and Li Yuk Loon to Water and Moon Stage.
The place was crowded with people as the news of Wu Wei Thien fighting on a lei-tai with Ngow Fa Kow had been spread throughout the streets and lanes of Guangzhou. Fong How Yuk, Fong Mei Yuk and Fong Sai Yuk were there to support Wu Wei Thien.
Wu Wei Thien and the others mingled with the crowd and observed the lei-tai. They saw that on the lei-tai were colourful flags that were catching to the eyes. On both sides was a poetic couplet. (A poetic couplet was in two lines following tonal, rhythmic and other poetic rules, often hung on corresponding pillars of important buildings, like temples and associations.)
The first line of the poetic couplet read: Taking revenge for friends, righteousness rides like fists taming tigers.
The bottom line was: Clearing grudges for humanity, valour is enough to subdue dragons.
In the middle was hung a huge red banner with the words “Righteousness Rises to Heaven”. There was also a notice pasted on the lei-tai. They came near and read the notice with the following words.
“This lei-tai is erected specially against Wu Wei Thien, and not to meet heroes of the world. The rules are as follows.
- This stage is for Sifu Ngow Fa Kow to match his art with Wu Wei Thien. Other people are not permitted to ascend the lei-tai.
- Going up the lei-tai to match skills, no hidden weapons are allowed.
- Under Fists and Legs, life and death are the will of heaven. No one can use this excuse to create branches (i.e. other matters). Combatants will employ their strong points to secure victory.
Reading this, Wu Wei Thien laughed coldly a few times. He pushed aside the crowd and went to the front of the stage.
At this time, drums sounded loudly on the lei-tai. Tens of abled-body persons, accompanying a strong man came forward. This man had a fine piece of cloth tying up his hair, wore a kungfu dress, had a black slash round his wasit, wore a pair of hero’s shoes, his body was athletic, and his eyes shone with presence of mind. With his hands clasped in greeting he addressed the crowd.
“I am Ngow Fa Kow. My character is straight. I abhor evil and whenever I meet any matters that are not fair, I help those who are oppressed under force and cannot relate their suffering to let out their oppressed breadth (i.e. to help the oppressed).
“This time Wu Wei Thien many times bullied workers from Kam Loon Thong. Those who suffered from him, cannot say their suffering. Those who hear about it, their heart is painful.
“Unfortunately, there are still such evil happenings in the world. Although these happenings are not directly related to me, I heard about such oppression, and how can I just watch from a side? Thus, this lei-tai is set up to erase the suffering of the oppressed who have nowhere to complain …..”
Hearing henceforth, Wu Wei Thien was worried that the crowd might not know the truth, and hurt the reputation of Shaolin. Tapping the ground, Wu Wei Thien jumped up the stage.
“Well said, Sifu Ngow. You have memorized very well what the bosses of Kam Loon Thong had asked you to say,” exclaimed Wu Wei Thien with a cold smile.
(Although Wu Wei Thien did not learn kungfu from Ngow Fa Kow, he addressed him as “Sifu Ngow” out of courtesy. “Sifu”, which means kungfu teacher, is a polite term for somebody good at kungfu.)
Ngow Fa Kow saw that the person who came up the lei-tai was elegant, wearing a blue long dress, and thin battle shoes. His appearance was graceful, like a handsome playboy.
Ngow Fa Kow shouted, “Who are you? How dare you interrupt my speech?”
“Sifu Ngow. Can’t you recognize me? I am what you earlier said the evil of the world, Wu Wei Thien. But before combat, I wish to tell you, Sifu Ngow. My grudges with workers of the cloth-making factory is not like what some small person think, that blinking the eyes a few times and gulping some hiccups, would be considered an adversary.
“Eight years ago, without any reasons workers from the cloth-making factory murdered my father and caused my mother to commit suicide. I almost died in their hands, if not for the help of some friends. Have Sifu Ngow heard this happening before?
“Taking revenge for one’s father and mother is beyond heaven. Men are not animals, who will not take revenge. Therefore I entered the Shaolin Monastery and learned kungfu. I came back to take revenge.
“Luckily, heaven has eyes and enables me to take revenge. That is right, I killed thirteen persons. But I did not stand in the street and hit whoever I saw. It was they who came for my life with weapons. If they didn’t die, I would not have lived till today.
“Even the Magistrate of Nam Noi District sympathized with me and freed me. These are facts. I have not said a single untrue word. Please, Sifu Ngow, think carefully. Don’t be misled by other people.
“Your sifu, Foong Tou Tuck, and my sifu, Chee Seen, came from the same root. You and me are kungfu brothers. Please don’t be used by others and spoil the good relationship between us.”
As Wu Wei Thien explained with reasons, Ngow Fa Kow was alarmed. But when he thought of the down payment of the cloth-making workers, he realized that now he was now riding a tiger and could not come down (i.e. caught in a dilemma and either choice was difficult), and there was no escape route.
With a cold smile, he answered, “Who saw what happened eight years ago? Isn’t your clever mouth created it? No matter what you say, you killed thirteen persons at one time, yet you turn around and say you are right.”
“What Sifu Ngow says is not without reasons. Nevertheless, it is between me and cloth-making workers, and has nothing to do with Sifu Ngow. How can Sifu Ngow disregard our relation of the same gate (i.e. of the same kungfu school) and be used by other people, resulting in life-death combat between us. Please, Sifu Ngow, think three times (i.e. think carefully and deeply).”
Ngow Fa Kow could not listen. Wu Wei Thien persuaded with good intention, but instead Ngow Fa Kow thought that Wu Wei Thien was afraid of the lei-tai combat. Thus he scolded Wu Wei Thien was a weak person like a mouse, greedy for life and afraid of death.
Wu Wei Thien could not stand the insult. The heart in his heart rushed up to his head. He retorted, “You mention weak person like a mouse on your left, and evil person of the world on your right. No one knows whether there is reason or no reason. But it is just an angry woman scolding on the street. When a person is beguiled by money in his heart, his thought and behavior will not be normal. This is what is known as people die because of money, birds die because of food.”
Words were hidden in Wu Wei Thien’s speech (i.e. there was depth in his speech). Ngow Fa Kow’s face became crimson like a pig’s liver. The shamefulness of his brain became anger (i.e. he was very angry) and cried loudly.
“Who is an angry woman scolding on a street? If you are smart, you should apologize to the elders of the cloth-making factory, and ask monks to chant sutras for the dead, so that their souls could go to heaven. In this way, I shall give face to Chee Seen Sipak (or elder kungfu brother of one’s sifu), and spare your life. Otherwise, don’t blame me for not talking about the feelings of chosssticks (i.e. the relationship of being in the same lineage of kungfu).
Wu Wei Thien sank his face (i.e. became serious), his two eyes rounded, and said, “As it looks, I can’t avoid helping Fung Tou Tuck Sisook (i.e. the younger kungfu brother of one’s sifu) to clean the house (i.e. to clear or destroy undeserving students).
Wong Kiew Kit,
10th January 2018, Sungai Petani