Once upon a time, there lived a widow and her son, Jack, in their small little kampung hut. They both worked hard but had very little to show for it in terms of real wealth.
This had something very much to do with Jack splurging on a car right after graduation, which immediately saddled him (and by extension, his mother) with a depreciating asset. More importantly, it made him a slave to his entry-level corporate job, with little prospect of investing his savings (he had none).
“What should we do now!” exclaimed the dismayed widow one fine day. She had exhausted her CPF and didn’t have enough money to buy fertilizer for her small plot of land, used to grow vegetables.
Jack suggested that they sell their cow, Betsy, to tide them over for a month or so. It was a short term solution but financially marginalized people have precious few options. With a heavy heart, the widow agreed.
After 7 selfies with the cow, Jack led it by the leash and finally made his way to the market.
It was then that he was approached by an old man with a stoop and nostril hairs that were desperately in need of a trim.
“Ah boy, selling your cow ah?” the old man asked.
“Wah uncle, how you know? Maybe I just take her to jalan jalan abit only mah” Jack was surprised that the old man knew his agenda.
“Eh, you don’t act cute can. You are Jackster2001 on insta right? Public profile. Simi hashtag #cowforsale #cowforcash #keepingitreal” the old man was constantly amazed at the amount of sensitive information people were posting online.
Sensing the game was up, and eager to return home to his game of Fortnight, Jack asked what was the old man’s offer.
The old man glanced furtively around to make sure no one watching, then opened his hand to show Jack what he had.
“SMLJ! Beans?” Jack was incredulous and wanted to carry on with a string of strongly worded expletives.
But before this story featured some real nasty vulgarities, the old man sought to calm the young boy down.
“Eh, you don’t judge so fast hor. These are magic beans. 3 of them, in fact. You plant them right in your garden, and tomorrow they will grow right into the sky!” explained the old man conspiratorially.
At this point, the more savvy reader would be thinking: Yeah right, cool story bro. But Jack was typical of a certain population that jumped into financial contracts and purchases they did not understand fully. (His past mistakes included an MRT bought ILP. The agent was too pretty to resist.)
“Sounds good, we have a deal then” declared Jack confidently, with the air of person that thought things through for a split second. The idea of stuff being able to reach the sky struck him as rather awesome, even if wasn’t clear if that claim could be verified.
So they both made their exchanges and Jack was soon sauntering back into the house. His mother was surprised to see him back so quickly and surmised that the boy must have gotten a great offer.
“Mother! I got something more IMBA than money for Betsy. Look at these 3 magic beans! I really tio beh pio already, machiam strike jackpot.” Jack was beaming from top to toe.
“WHAT?? JACKPOT?? MORE LIKE CLAYPOT LAH YOU STUPID SI GINA!” the widow grabbed the nearest broomstick and gave the boy a sound beating, before sending him into his room. She couldn’t believe that her cow was sold for 3 green beans and burst into tears of dispair.
Jack slammed the door to his room and flung the beans out his window in anger and disgust. “How could I have been so kum gong?” His self-reflection barely lasted 2 minutes before he caught sight of the Avengers Endgame trailer. “Oh cool, I better watch all the Marvel universe movies in sequence to prepare for this.”
And so he binged watched Antman and Captain America and Iron Man till he couldn’t stay awake. When he finally woke up, he found his room covered in darkness. The sun was shining into part of it, yet the rest of it was dark and shady.
Proceeding to his window, what Jack saw made him gasp.
“Wah piang! Heng the old man told the truth sia” thought the boy as he marvelled at a giant beanstalk that sprung out of the ground and into the clouds. (It didn’t enter Malaysian airspace as it grew vertically, just to allay the fears of our politically concerned readers)
Jack was about to climb the leaves of the beanstalk before he paused and did something uncharacteristically savvy.
“Since I could well be in mortal danger while making my way to the sky, I might as well be properly insured first” he reasoned with himself. Whipping out a tablet, he accessed the most user-friendly and hassle-free insurance site he knew.
Turning to address the readers, Jack has this sage advice to offer: Guys, don’t leave home without proper protection. Visit FWD Insurance to get your coverage in less than 5 minutes (or under 3 minutes if you click really fast).
Jack INSISTS you visit FWD Insurance to check them out.
Shameless advertising bit over, Jack planted one foot on the gigantic vine and started climbing. He climbed and climbed, and soon the farmhouse was as small as an ant as he looked down. He climbed past the clouds, and that was when he saw a huge castle in the distance.
No sooner had Jack made his way to its entrance when the door swung open. There stood a giant female ogress who rumbled out loudly, “My dear boy, why don’t you come inside to enjoy a spot of breakfast?”
Jack was instantly impressed by two things. One, he relished the thought of eating a hearty meal after all that climbing. Secondly, her flawless British accent contrasted sharply with his Singlish.
“Kumsiahamida, don’t mind if I do hor”, replied the plucky boy, determined to infuse a bit of cultural exchange.
Chuckling to herself, the ogress led Jack to a spread of crumpets, cheese, and an enormous jug of milk. The famished boy barely hesitated for a moment before digging in.
It was after his 6th mouthful of gouda that the entire castle shook violently with a rhythmic “thump, thump, thump!”. The ogress jumped up and exclaimed, “Dearie me! That would be my husband. He loves nothing more than to eat little boys for breakfast. Come quick, and jump right in here.” She pointed Jack to a large copper pot beside the stove.
And it was a stroke of luck that Jack did not ponder upon the slightly pedophilic appetite of giants these days, and barely had he leapt in the shiny pot when an ugly giant of a man walked right in.
Standing over 9 feet tall, he thundered out,” I am so hungry that I could eat 3 cows right now. What’s that I smell?”
I smell the blood of a Singlish man
Be he alive or be he dead,
I’ll have his bones to grind my bread
“Balderdash, dear. How could there ever be a pimply Singaporean boy with a bad haircut in the house? Go wash up and I will get breakfast ready for you” pacified his wife.
The giant grunted his approval and went away. Jack could hear splashing sounds in the distance that reminded him of a mid-sized waterfall. When he returned to the dining table, the giant was clutching two curious things, one under each arm.
The first was a sickly, pale looking hen and the second was a golden harp with the face of a forlorn girl on it. The sadistic mountain of a man poked the hen and commanded, “Lay!”
The hen sighed resignedly and concentrated for a moment. Out popped a golden egg onto the table, to which the giant placed it in a basket with countless other such eggs. Jack stopped breathing for that instant, greedy thoughts filling his mind.
The giant then turned his attention to the harp. “Play!” The harp began to play a gentle tune while her lovely face sang soulfully. (Jack recognized the song as an acoustic version of My Immortal by Evanescence. Spotify did a great job of uncovering such gems)
Then the giant began to nod his head and to snore until the house shook.
When he was quite sure the giant was asleep, Jack crept out of the copper pot and began to tiptoe out of the kitchen. He grabbed the sickly hen and the singing harp and began to make his exit.
But the hen gave a cackle, and the harp strummed a loud advertisement (It turns out that the giant was using the free version of Spotify) which woke the giant, and just as Jack got out of the house he heard him calling, “Wife, wife, what have you done with my white hen and my golden harp?”
Jack ran as fast as he could and the giant, realizing he had been tricked, came rushing after – away from the castle and back towards the beanstalk. When he got to the beanstalk, the giant was only twenty meters away when suddenly he saw Jack disappear. Confused, the giant peered through the clouds and saw Jack underneath climbing down for dear life. The giant stomped his foot and roared angrily.
I smell the blood of an Singlish Man,
Mai hor Limpei lia tio!!
Strange linguistic turn of events notwithstanding, the giant swung himself down onto the beanstalk with surprising agility. Jack slipped, slid and climbed down the beanstalk as quickly as he could.
As he neared the bottom, Jack called out, “Mother! Kin! Hurry, bring me an axe, bring me an axe.” And his mother came rushing out with Jack’s wood chopping axe in her hand, but when she came to the enormous beanstalk she stood stock still with fright.
Jack jumped down, got hold of the axe and began to chop away at the beanstalk. Luckily, because of all the chores he’d done over the years, he’d become quite good at chopping and it didn’t take long for him to chop through enough of the beanstalk that it began to teeter.
The giant felt the beanstalk shake and quiver so he stopped to see what was the matter. Then Jack gave one last big chop with the axe, and the beanstalk began to topple over. Then the giant fell down and broke his neck, and the beanstalk came toppling after.
The singing harp thanked Jack for rescuing her from the giant – she hated being made to sing on demand, for free. She set her sights on making an appearance on Britain’s Got Talent for the longest time.
With a bit of patience and his mother’s help, it didn’t take long for Jack to get the sickly hen back in good health and the grateful hen continued to lay a fresh golden egg every day.
Jack learnt from his previous financial mistakes and set up a lucrative business of selling golden eggs and renting out the harp for weddings. With the constant earnings, he bought Betsy back, fixed up the house and invested the remainder wisely.
He lived happily to the end of his days with his mother. Last we heard, he was in talks with his publisher about his autobiography: The magic lies with me, not with the beans.
Enjoyed this story?
Read about Part 1 in this series here: Little Red Riding Hood
Read about Part 2 in this series here: Hansel and Gretel
Read about Part 3 in this series here: Chicken Little
Read about Part 4 in this series here: Jack and the Beanstalk
Read about Part 5 in this series here: The Three Little Pigs
Read about Part 6 in this series here: Goldilocks and the three bears
Read about Part 7 in this series here: The Pied Piper of Hamelin
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