The alluring scent from the room aroused my curiosity. I had never been inquisitive about a fragrance since my Form Six days when the boys in my class clamoured and rushed to the rust-encrusted British Green iron-framed windows to gawk at the girl they called ‘Charlie’. She was so nicknamed simply because one of boys discovered that was the brand of perfume she wore. To this day, I still wonder if she was aware of the disturbance she caused in my class, the frequent disruptions to what our Chemistry teacher was blabbing about very likely resulted in my first red ‘F’ for a test I sat for the following week. I followed the scent into a room. They were two exotic-looking women who were most likely sirens posing for an artist. I immediately thought of Norman Lindsay, the Australian artist famous for his sensual paintings of well-endowed nude female models. The taller one caught my attention first. Inexplicably, my head turned to the right and my eyes, which normally would scan everything in a new place first and be prepared for any surprises, (as taught by John le Carré) just zeroed in towards her. Fair and nubile, her ballerina-like posture and sophistication showed her class. Glamorous and radiant were two words that rang loudly in my mind. (Virginal and sexy were the other two words, but I would hate to divulge that). She wore her lacy silk wimple without draping around her neck and chin, purposefully exposing a deep dark cleavage. I have seen enough Playboy centrefolds to know that a cleavage of that depth can only mean the most perfect curves that hug a pair of close-set full and soft breasts. No, I never had to resort to buying Playboy magazines. My first boss in Adelaide ran a litho laminated packaging business but in 1987, he embarked on paper-recycling and started a short-run box factory in South Australia. As his accountant, I was also responsible for the finances of those two new operations. Stupidly, I proved myself to be super efficient, and therefore missed out on a pay rise. The only fringe benefit for me was the weekly discarded magazines that the men casually dropped on my lap. They mistakenly assumed such magazines would interest me.
The tall lady had a kind sweet face which showed a shyness as if she was not accustomed to see a man appear in front of her. I apologised for the sudden intrusion but my voice did not attract her to look at me. She simply flashed a shy smile, her full lips did not part to reveal her gums and her eyes remained shy. The ripeness and fullness of the persimmons she was carrying, I gathered, were supposed to represent the sweetness and roundness of her breasts. I was later reprimanded by The Mrs for such an absurd interpretation of the imagery. Persimmons simply symbolises good luck and longevity, nothing about lust and sex! It is fair to assume The Mrs was unimpressed with me again. Immediately in front of the siren sat a pot draped in a blue cloth with an old Chinese symbol that meant longevity. Later, I discovered that the pot contained the most exquisite soup fit for royalty. It is named ‘Buddha Jumps Over The Wall’ because the shark fin soup is so delicious that even Buddha would succumb to its temptation. She has to be the empress, I deduced.
Next to the empress must be a princess. She appeared arrogant to me. Head raised to the sky, her nose in the air – she exuded an air of arrogance and superiority, too uppity for me to bother with. She wore a neck piece of blue sapphire and white gold. Her matching blouse was a rather finely woven fabric with the most exquisite inlaid pattern of blue and white. She wouldn’t know it then, but before the week was out, her blouse would have shrunk drastically by more than half to reveal a very lissome frame. She was carrying a red chain of money coins but I knew from their style of dressing that they do not belong to the current era, and therefore those coins could not be Bitcoins. I excitedly told The Mrs, expecting to impress her but she scoffed at me. She told me Bitcoins are not real coins, and they certainly do not jingle and jangle. Although it was true that I could not hear the chink or the clink of the coins, I did not mishear the sounds of the oud wafting in the background. Yes, the oud with its 11 strings. The music that was playing in the room as I stared at the two beautiful women in front of me told me they must be Middle-Eastern. I was wrong, of course. There were ouds in China too. The music I heard was pentatonic and rather mellifluous, the sounds formed a perfect harmony with the picture in front of me. The floral scent in their room soothed my senses. It reminded me of the uplifting fragrance of the delicately perfumed L’Occitane Rose body cream – its floral and rather feminine scent never fails to please me. Just as I was entranced by the captivating scent, I caught a stench of blood and bone intruding the open window in my own living room, courtesy of a wayward wind from the rear garden. Just like that, I was immediately brought back to my present surroundings. A lot had changed since I first cast my eyes on the two women. A week later, I visited them again. So much had changed so fast that I feared for their well-being. Will the empress still be pleasant and pretty? Or has she become haughty, cold and old? Rather than a virginal Eve in the garden of Eden, is she edentulous instead? Does she still own the healthy red full lips or have they turned into a thin line of dried grey skin? Is her face still smooth and fair? It would be sad if that too has been ravaged by the cruelty of time. Would I see wrinkled lines and deep etched scars shirred onto her well-proportioned heart-shaped face? Will liver spots have marred her bare arms and have those slender and porcelain-smooth limbs turned into thin sticks of excessively loose blotchy wrinkled dry skin and bone?
The painting I described above is the first commission work The Mrs accepted. Her patron is Daniel Wong, the owner of Empress Restaurant whose only request was that the painting, which will be hung in his bedroom, must have “beautiful women”. The work is a fine piece of art which tells a story of riches and beauty yet somehow, something is very wrong. The dilapidated walls show major cracks and holes, a clear sign of disrepair that hints that all is not as it seems; their world is literally falling apart and the neglect an indication of their imminent fall from grace. Perhaps, it is the story of life. It is never perfect, even for a royal family. Meghan Markle can surely attest to that. The Mrs took over 30 days to complete her work. Although a “working day” for a retiree is no longer 8 hours, the total amount of time and effort she spent on this is a lot. This week, she started having regrets about parting with her masterpiece as the handover to her patron looms. I suggested it would be nifty to NFT it. She jumped on my suggestion and I think, for once in her life, she did not think I was stupid anymore. “NFT it?” she asked. “Yes, NFT it,” I replied and surprised her with a smile. It dawned on me that the scowl that I wear on my face could be the reason why people around me think poorly of me. My lips are not accustomed to turn upwards and my fierce beady eyes hide my solicitude for people. “We will tokenise your painting,” I continued. By making the file of her painting into a non-fungible token, she will own it on a blockchain, i.e. it will be stored in a distributed digital ledger as an asset that can be sold and resold and which cannot be replicated. “Nifty, right?” you will still own the rights to its digital form, even though the physical painting is sold. It is not just art and music that can be tokenised. In the future, it is very likely that almost anything will be converted to NFT. Anything that the owner does not want to be copied will become an NFT, e.g. the title deed to our house or a page of verified news by a journalist. It can be a certificate of authentication of your Adidas shoes or Hermès bag or a proof of our membership to a football club. A token of Manchester United will allow the holder to special rights to the football club such as voting rights of the next season’s jersey design or an entitlement to special event tickets. These rights will confer value to the owner, and therefore can be sold and resold. The excitement of this revolution of the internet is not unfounded. People call it the Internet of Value or Web 3.0 where the decentralised blockchain technology will deliver exponential growth to not just our world but also to virtual worlds or metaverses. Today I learned that accounting firms PricewaterhouseCoopers and Prager Metis have bought virtual land and the latter is building a three-storey office building in Decentraland. Even they know they will find clients who need professional accounting advice in the metaverse.
For actual NFT, go to: