1. The Portfolio
9 o’clock in the morning, I was smartly dressed in a decent business suit, sitting upright in the office, waiting for a phone call. By waiting, I most surely do not mean that a certain phone call addressed to me was expected, to put it more correctly, I rather mean I was waiting for a phone call to terminate.
Madam was on the phone in the next room.
This Madam was my employer, Chinese, about 60 years of age, in possession of a forcible personality, one of which a Roman Emperor would be associated with. When she used the telephonic device to communicate her message, she would exert her volume to the extreme to insure that the entire construction trembled, lest her fellow conversationalist should fail the lecture. I had always been of the idea that architecture in the Kingdom was among the most solid in the world, and out of all the solid elements, its doors, due to the abundance of the Southeast Asian rosewood. However, that was until they met Madam, whose voice resembled that of a Master of Foxhounds in the English hunting game. In the joyous history of the sport, a Master of Foxhounds’ success was largely dependent upon the penetrating nature of his bellows, which in their mighty gravity directed all blood-thirsty hounds to their evasive target, the red fox. Some average Masters of Foxhounds had the coverage of 100 yards forward, others had 100 yards sideways, the very excellent of the trade might have 100 yards by diameter. But if you let Madam get hold of the device, she covered the whole meadow, penetrating the blood and soul of every living being within range, rabbits, birds, boars and, of course, foxes, saving the trouble for hounds, in fact, the prey was so undiscriminating that the hounds themselves fell into victims. At the end of which, the horizon returned to its primitive tranquillity, not a dust in limbo.
Such, was the might of Madam’s bellows.
As a man of wisdom, I knew only too well to close the door behind me, just as you would when the atomic bomb dropped and let the bomb do its devastation, after which you then would open it cordially to face the debris.
I waited, with the letter of resignation of portfolio on my desk.
It was rather exciting in retrospection of the fact that I, over the years, had acquired more experience in being dismissed than handing in the notice, to be precise, only the former. In my short-lived professional career, as serious fellows nowadays so call it, I first worked as an intern in a Korea foreign trade office and was sent down after a month for being “too honest with customers”; and secondly, in an interview with the omnipotent Samsung, dismissed by a board of elderly gentlemen even prior to employment for holding a “frivolous attitude”. It often occurred to me that if one’s resume was credited with dismissal events, I should triumph unrivalled.
Provided with a background as such, and to do the self justice, I was at this point determined to wade the inexperienced waters.
Madam, deeming herself the sole judicious headquarters for order-issuing and refusing any information in-put, dominated all occasions of convening to which she was a participant. She lived a majestic but lonesome life, in which aspect, utterly opposing to her fellow Roman Emperors.
The gentleman, once her consort, was said by some to have been divorced, and by others to have been run over by an omnibus, out of the two, I tend to believe the latter, which, for a man in his position, seemed the sensible cause to pursue.