Chapter 14 : Casino Affair
In my desperation to return to Kinshasa, our office members in Point Noire helped me a lot to arrange a ticket for me.. In fact, I was already broke from that bloody robbery in the club and at the military base. The best they could do was to get me a ticket to Cameroon first, a short transit and then only to Kinshasa. I ran a bad luck again in Cameroon.. after 7 hours of transit, the airline authority said “flight to Kinshasa has to be cancelled” I was speechless as I was really furious.. At least they were kind enough to refund cash for the cancelled flight. There.. I was so desperate looking for other options to get back into Kinshasa.. The cash they refunded me was just enough for me to buy a ticket to Gabon.. a country further up north. I was told that it was only from there that I could possibly get AirAfrik airline.. which still goes to Kinshasa.. Other airlines didn’t dare to go in as rumours had it that there would soon be riots in Kinshasa.. I had no choice but to take the route to Gabon. In the flight.. I was so afraid coz I had less than USD 20 left in my pocket.. I was just praying to God to give direction to me.. Once I reached Gabon, I had to find my own way how to buy a ticket.. back to Kinshasa.. I was hoping that the bank in Gabon would allow me to take out some cash from my credit card. That was the only hope that I had.. It was not possible in Cameroon…
As I had not much cash with me.. the only place I could stay was in a hotel.. which usually accept credit card. The first thing I did when I reached Gabon was to look for a bank.. There.. my dissappointment continued.. they didn’t accept MasterCard.. only VISA Card.. I really screwed up this time.. I felt really tired already and off I went to a first hotel.. I got the same news.. “We only accept VISA Sir”.. Then suddenly I remembered!! When I was in Kinshasa, I went to The Inter Continental Hotel for a drink and they accepted my mastercard!! I grabbed a taxi and asked the driver if there was any Inter Continental Hotel there.. and he said “yes”. So, off I went to the hotel.. Yep, they accepted my card.. what a relief.. at least I could stay in a safe place rather than on the street..
Upon checking in, I immediately called up the headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.. explaining my situation.. and asking them to bank in money into my account urgently as I needed to purchase a ticket back to Kinshasa and that, the credit in my card might not be enough.. Unfortunately I received a very “sick” remark : “How could you be in trouble when you are staying in a 5 star hotel..?” followed by laughters.. I hung up the phone!! And I couldn’t stand it anymore ….this time I was really really sad.. alone in my room.. then I counted the cash in my pocket.. I only had 2 Dollars left.. the rest had been spent on airport tax and taxis.. The only person left was my mum.. I was so reluctant to inform her about my situation.. but I had to.. I picked up the phone and started dailing home.. I tried not to reveal so much.. coz I didn’t want her to worry about me.. “Mum, please bank in RM xx,xxx for me.. I don;t have enough money to spend here.. please do it now..” Eventhough she banked in some 5 figures amount, it was little compared to dollars.. the conversion was USD 1 = RM 2.50 at that time.. So, basically I just received USD 2,500 which was enough for me to get by..
I stayed in my room 1 whole day.. I didn’t go out from my room.. didn’t eat anything either.. as I had lost all my appetite and hope.. The next day I called my mum again.. and thank God she had done the favour for me.. I felt like I was alive again.. I rushed down to the reception.. hoping that they would allow me to get some cash out of my card.. I tried to do the same trick like when I was at Point Noire.. This time The room rate was USD200 per night, so I was hoping to raise USD 400 so that I could buy the ticket, which cost USD200. So, I said to the receptionist “Can you swipe my card for 4 days.. and refund me some cash.. coz I will only stay for 2 days..?” And the receptionist answered me “No Sir, we can’t do that!! I’m Sorry”
In life, we all learnt that when we are in trouble, we may not hear what we want to hear.. right?
This time.. I had the money.. but I couldn’t take it out.. not from the bank.. and certainly not from the reception.. I just walked around the lobby area.. wandering around didn’t know what to do.. I wished to go back the next day.. as there was a flight to Kinshasa.. Then, I saw a sign which said “Casino” . In Islam, it is illegal to gamble.. but I was so desperate to survive.. Hmmmm.. At that time I was wondering.. and I remembered last time when I went to a Casino with a friend in Australia.. It was just for a fun visit.. I put a 20 cent coin.. and a lot of cash came out from the machine.. may be I could get the same luck again!! So, I went inside the casino.. yes! I saw the jackpot machine.. I went to the cashier and changed the only 2 dollars that I had to 10 pieces of coins.. I put in the coin one by one… until finished.. within less than 1 minute.. I just lost all the money.. I didn’t have a single cent with me now!!
So, I went out.. feeling so desperate.. then I heard someone singing.. I approached the singing direction.. Oh I see.. There was a Karaoke pub.. I went in.. I just sat there.. listening to people singing.. and hoping for miracle to happen to me.. By the way, Gabon used to be a French colony.. so, all the songs sung by the people were french songs.. Feeling quite bored.. I took the song list and went through it.. I saw Bee Gees songs list.. I selected a song called “words”.. I thought I wanted to cheer up myself by singing.. So, when my turn came.. the bartender gave me the microphone.. and I started to sing :
“Smile.. an everlasting smile.. a smile can bring you near to me.. don’t ever let me found you gone.. coz that would bring the tears.. to me.. this world.. has lost its glory.. let’s start a brand new story now.. my love… right now.. there’ll be no other time.. and i can show you how… my love…
talk.. an everlasting word.. and dedicate them all.. to me.. and i.. will give you all my life.. i’m here if you should call… to me.. you think.. that i don’t even mean.. a single word i say…. it’s only words.. and words are all i have… to take my heart away…
la la la la…. la la la la…
it’s only words… and words are all i have… to take my heart… a…..way………….”
May be because I was so sad.. I didn’t care much who were around me.. as I was really singing it for me.. I was shocked after I finished singing.. there were applause everywhere.. There was a table about 6 to 7 people nearby.. who then called me to join them. They thought I was French, and that I could sing English with good pronunciation… I guess it works the same for English speaking countries.. If we hear someone sings french.. perhaps we could be impressed too.. So, we sat together.. had great chats.. and we ordered more drinks.. They were all businessmen.. Suddenly I realised that this was my chance to get some cash.. coz when the bill arrived later, everyone would have to pay cash.. and I could pay the bill for the table by my credit card.. and instead.. take the cash paid by others!! Yes Yes!! So, I ordered more drinks for everyone.. and I made sure that we talked more.. and ordered more.. All along the way, I was praying that they would be paying cash.. and not by credit card.. Thank God, as the bill arrived, everyone took their cash out.. the bill was split to 8 including me.. each one had to pay about USD 30… After they all had put in their money.. about USD 200 plus.. then I said, “Ok, I’ll take all the cash and I’ll pay the bill using my credit card..” I had just over USD 200 now.. and that would be sufficient to buy my ticket back to Kinshasa.. The next day, I packed up and left for Kinshasa.. Good bye Gabon.. It was a lovely trip after all..
To be continued.. DjRay