He wasn’t a particularly genius kid. That fact tickled all his friends who had travelled the world. They regularly teased him about how “un-Asian” their Caucasian pals abroad would find him, if they met him.
But he was Asian.
And for this reason, his brainy friends occasionally had him be the joke. Yes, he was from the lower class of society. Yes, all four of his brothers before him were bookworms. And yes, he would unlikely be able to attend a university with his grades. But being friends with Jimmy didn’t mean he should be spared the shame.
Even though they weren’t anything unfriendly or derogatory — the jokes — they did affect Jimmy’s self-esteem some. At eight, he’d started developing a reclusive personality. But it wasn’t all that bad. After all, it did his creativity a great good, him finding endless fun in artistic design.
In a weird way, in fact, he’d found his connection to his Asian roots. The Malaysian craftmanship was a national pride. And he could now identify.
At 11, he had made his first shoes. Paradoxically, they were women’s shoes. But no one could deny they were a perfect 10. Even better, he felt his first feeling of accomplishment.
What changed everything
Three months ago, Paula, the mother of Ningsei, one of his childhood friends, was in high spirits. She was about to be married to, Zarpid-Bu, a rising star in Malaysian opera.
Four days to the wedding, Paula and Zarpid-Bu came home from a little party his colleagues had thrown them, to a shocking sight: their home, burgled! Her 1200-ringgit wedding shoes, flown in from the UAE (of course, with some other valuables), were gone!
She was devastated. The police might catch the culprits. Eventually. But the wedding would have to go on. For the entirety of the following day, she was at the mercy of the police, and rightly so.
Unfortunately for Paula, most local shoe designers and retailers were no sort of friends with her, because of how vocal she’d been about her views on the quality of Malaysian craftmanship when it came to fashion, particularly leatherwork. If only she could pin the burglary on any of the hundreds of suspects it could be, she had of course thought.
It surprised no one, therefore, when her stylist turned up with a terrible list of alternatives.
Luckily, however, Ningsei had taken the initiative of calling up her old friend, who she knew could do wonders — miracles! — for the female feet. Eighteen-year-old Jimmy met the impossible for the first time in his life, smiling that innocent, “old-soul” smile of his.
And that was the beginning of it all.
By the eve of her wedding, Paula was test-strutting in Jimmy’s cheaper, yet far more exquisite take on the wedding shoes she would never see again. And boy, were they exquisite. Talk about unbelieveable, Paula thought.
The Malaysian tabloids gushed at the wonder: Glorious crafts made from the hide of the most uncommon of misgivings. His name resounded in the media. “A Malaysian messiah is born,” they heralded.
As he made clippings of mentions of himself that weekend, he noticed his name mispelt in one paper; indeed a strange re-emergence from his childhood.
So he decided to take the hint.
Jimmy Chow will be applying for his visa soon. He’ll be spending the next three years learning from the greats at Cordwainers Technical College, London.
But, unknown to him, he will end up being the most notable graduate of that higher institution of high fashion.
He thinks about his life, the opportunity he has been blessed with. How ironic that he grew up a blockhead in a household of cobblers, but happens to be leaving home to study on a full scholarship.
His first rummage through the little trunk containing the family’s important documents, and he finds that old piece of discoloured green paper. A birth certificate dated 15 November, 1961. It reads Dato’ Jimmy Choo.
*This story is pure fiction, written solely for self-expression and entertainment. All the characters in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to persons dead or alive is coincidental.
Copyright © 2013, Oluwatobi Aworinde. All rights reserved.
Image from pablogallaga.com