The grass was dry. Each a steady presence, listening to the past and silently rallying for a future. There was everyone. There was the very old, ah peks not out of place chewing the evening news at a kopitiam; for a second i thought their dialect meant they couldn’t follow, then i realised they probably knew better than i. I reckon they might be just as surprised to see me, the very young.
The event was held at hong lim park on 2 june, “that we may dream again–remembering the 1987 marxist conspiracy”. In may that year, 22 Singaporeans were detained without trial, and made to confess involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the government and establish a classless society. This has been muffled and shoved under the national carpet since. For example. The cry of the subtext was poignant. For us to dare, to be enabled, to dream again, would be to rid the structure that threatens. No one can dream within a clause.
A pot-bellied man with little on his head interrupted the petition queue, “You help me can? I don’t know computer.” The lady, distracted, tried to explain (“Just put in your name.”). All three of us stared at the keyboard. The letters suddenly looked misarranged to me, the growing list so fragile. He continued, “Aiya, i don’t know, i don’t know how. I write down on paper, you put in for me.” Brave of him to come face to face with an alien mechanism, to boldly put forth his self into god-knows-really-what.
In the middle of a speech (“where wealth and status is preferred to kindness and compassion”), the construction noise just 50metres away became almost unbearable. But only if you notice it–the unyielding screech is such a constant refrain of our island. I smelt the tiny green of the park as if doing battle against the metal. The speakers, one after another, explain what happened, why it mustn’t happen again, and why above all else, we must assert to ensure it doesn’t. Many silenced voices were heard that day, no small feat. And it’s worth our souls to listen and remember.