“Putri & Amanah


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I look up at the sheet of clean grey above me as I step off the bus, wondering if the rain will impede the march. There’s the scent of festering heat from the asphalt and the concrete pavement, readying to release. But everyone doesn’t notice, and instead they crowd around the food stalls. 
Smith Street(noun)
A small street running through the heart of the Chinatown district in Singapore. The only road in the area to be named after a European.
is bustling like the weekday lunch hour because of the parade for Singapore’s first National Day. And at once I see and smell the food around me, the fresh oil from the
cakoi(noun)
A long golden-brown deep-fried strip of dough commonly eaten in China and (by a variety of other names) in other East and Southeast Asian cuisines.
, the smooth fragrance of porridge. A faint whiff of coconut flakes plays in the air too, and I catch sight of two Indian men eagerly waiting for their
kueh dadar(noun)
Kuih dadar or kuih tayap is a rolled crepe flavored with pandan juice and filled with grated coconut steeped in gula melaka or Malaysian palm sugar.
as  an old man with skin as brown as my father’s grinding the coconut flesh.



Image Credits: Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore. (Source)


People scurry around, looking for a better spot to watch the parade, even if it’s been going on for an hour by now. There’s a white man with his arms on the waist of a Chinese lady, unhurried by the bustle. They remind me I’m in no rush; I only want to meet you later.



You’re watching with your parents at the
Padang(noun)
An open playing field located within the Downtown Core of the Central Area in Singapore.
, so I thought it’s best I stay away. But it’s been a while, Amanah. I wonder how you’ve been. We could talk for hours, do you remember? Our feet mingled as we picked each other’s brain about the songs on Radio Malaysia while we worked—singing along the sombre crooning of P. Ramlee.

‘It’s like he’s serenading us right here,’ you’d always remark. We’d marvel at how he could play with sounds we knew from our kampung, and even Elvis Presley in ‘
Bunyi Guitar’(noun)
Bunyi Guitar (The Sound of Guitar), song by P. Ramlee.
.

I guess I have to be patient, and wait until we meet for lunch, though I’m not sure if you still want to watch the fireworks afterwards.

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