AH Mong was the boy who served coffee at the worksite canteen when Hin Seng Garden was being built in the 70s. I was working temporarily as a receptionist with the show flat there, with another girl. Our job as receptionist was to take potential buyers round the house (that was when I learnt what a mezzanine floor was, conduits and cornices) and to take down their particulars if they were interested.
Off Ayer Rajah Road, it was a long way from where I was living in Serangoon Gardens. But as I started work at 10am, it wasn't too bad.
Ah Mong was very happy to have company. It probably was boring for him at the worksite. He would only be busy during breakfast and lunch when the workmen would trudge to the wooden shack for their breaks.
He was always delighted to see us. My co-worker was a very pretty girl. She was fair, slim and tall, her long hair tied into a neat bun. Ah Mong was infatuated with her.
So was the foreman. Ever morning, the foreman would come to the show flat to pour over his plans and drawings, now and then speaking decisively into his walkie-talkie. He had this air of importance each time he came to the show flat. Sometimes Ah Mong would follow him, but usually, he would come on his own, leaving his muddy boots at the door.
I had this brilliant idea to tie up his bootlaces so that his two boots were inseparable. Muttering curses as he tried to separate his boots, he pretended to scold the innocent Ah Mong, though he knew that the culprit was us. When this happened too many times, he gave up all pretence of civility and scolded us. But I pushed my friend forward and said it was her idea. He smiled happily.
So that was how their friendship started. My friend left the worksite earlier as her course in business administration had started. Ah Mong was extremely sad, and made her a last cup of coffee.
I too left the show flat after a while, to take up a new "appointment". Not too long later, I received an invitation from my friend to celebrate her birthday at her house. I went of course, and there, helping her to light up her birthday cake was the foreman.
The year after, I received an invitation to their wedding.