Today it is raining. Industrial lampposts, sleepy leaves, the creaky red tile on the roof- everything is dripping. Water rushes through the drains, to the longkangs and to the reservoirs, where it will meld and mingle with its siblings. The smell of rain touches everything and will linger till tomorrow.
My country’s landscapes are not poignant. We do not have ungovernable black waves that threaten silvery cliffs and beaches. We do not hide ancient nooks that sigh fey tales of High Kings and battles. Our composite heart does not recall guttural war cries from long-ago revolutions or songs that individuals can forget or never learn and yet know. How do you obtain that rhythm of history, of sure and certain knowledge of your place? We have not yet found its source.
Singapore is tremulous and bright, and beautiful with possibility. Possibility is the colour of the skyscrapers that meet the river along the quay. It is the colour of our geologically impossible trees- the trees that grow in soil they should not grow in. It is the colour of a country that should not exist either- a country that should have crumbled and crawled away a thousand times over. It is the colour of each improbable new square in the crazy-quilt that is this immigrant nation. It is the colour of ambition, burning fiercely in hearts and hands that wrote their will across the land. It is so fun, the impossible.
A love for this country is a fiercely-won love. She is not a country that immediately enraptures. She will not stir great monologues and homage. It comes, for me, as pride warm and homely as embers, as surprising protectiveness, as affectionate satire. It comes like the beauty of this country: unexpected flashes- the Muslim call to prayer, the rainbow lights of a pasar malam (street market) against dusk, bougainvillea hanging over the side of an overhead bridge.
It is raining, I said. The rain is falling on my roof, my soil, my buildings. Everything is growing and will continue to grow. It’s one of the little beauties of the place where I live.