Dec 3, 2012

Look into an old person's eyes.

You are cowering against the wall, enduring hunger pangs and gun shots. You are watching your siblings die in the hands of a faceless Japanese.

You are mourning over your hero of a father, but you must stay silent.

You will suffer, you will toil, to make sure your own future children will have a good life.

You're a timid mouse on the streets that reek of brutality. You hurry past a soldier. A blow. A stream of shouts across your head: you forgot to bow. You feel the flash of fear, real fear, where you don't know if you'll live another day.

Peace is nothing but a faraway dream; one they say you must forget. You force yourself to take these grains of nothing and create your own courage now, all by yourself, because the world always tramples what you live for.

You watch the smoke clear and a small, rebellious spark in your heart hopes that hell just might be passing over, even if only for a day.

And you realise, in the blink of an eye, that the poverty and simplicity you've always known have disappeared; this island has been scrubbed clean of its bloodstains, like none of it ever happened. Spick and span, gleaming with skyscrapers and technology, university degrees are given out like food rations; children are whining about not getting the latest video games. Your own kids have left you to lead a better life, just like you've dreamt for them.

But the Singapore you know is an old, old lady, a friend you haven't forgotten; her veins bleed stories of suffering and tears. The younger ones don't get it, they don't care. They don't see this old friend of yours; they see her immaculate makeover, complete with botox, whitening and spotless glamour. History is little more than banana notes and torture tales. Oh, how much you want them to know. You try so hard, but you can't do more than relate excruciating memories that live in your head as vividly as yesterday, at a family gathering around the dinner table. They don't bat an eyelid because the stories are too dramatic to be relatable. Too much to seem real.

You never thought you'd hit eighty, you never thought you'd be one of the tired ones. You feel it with every day. Your pace is slower, heavier. Your pauses are longer. Your voice is feebler. You are but a speck slowly disappearing into the wind, and the stories will be gone forever.

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