We visited Singapore just after Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dragon, so there were dragons everywhere. This seemed an auspicious start to our journey, heading towards the UK and a new life there.
The architecture was a mix of traditional and new, some buildings, like the one below, defying imagination. Those dots along the top are palm trees, to give you some idea of the size.
Soon after we arrived in the UK, I started writing for myself. One of my first short stories was a letter I wrote, a submission to a magazine that published only letters based on a theme. I can’t even remember what the theme was now, but my letter was rejected anyway – the first of many. Still, I think it evokes how Singapore felt to me, and so here it is:
To M, Singapore, July
So here I am, a million miles away from home and you and all that is precious in my world. I have only this one page left, so will use it to try and convey to you some of what I am experiencing.
The light around me is bright and hot, reflecting from sand and sea and glass and white stone, shimmering in waves from pavements, sparking off ice cubes clinking in tall glasses. By contrast the jungle lies hot and dark, signs warning against entering – I do not speak the language, but the silhouette holding the gun is enough for me to know I should not set foot there, no matter how much I may wish to. So instead I sit here, under my awning, most of what I own in the bag at my feet. The lime in my drink is cool and refreshing, the sizzling fizz against my lips and throat just what is needed in the oppressive heat. People pass by, shopping bags filling their hands, chattering, laughing, all colours of skin and tones of voice, the scent of clove cigarettes all around me. Last night I went to the zoo and watched rippling dancers breathe fire into the sultry air, while tigers prowled and elephants slept under the cold stars.
So, if you have not ripped this letter into small shreds by now, you may wish to know why I did what I did. I cannot exactly say, but I needed to come here, to divest myself of all that I know – the dark and grimy streets, my job, my possessions – they all seem meaningless now.
Except for you.
Coming here, being burnt by this light, has seared away all except that one thing. I know now what I want and that is a light I can hardly bear, one moment embracing it, the next feeling it burn me to the core.
I will come back to you, if you will have me.
Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!