“Putri & Amanah


A breeze finds me as I find my way to the street where the parade is passing. I wonder how many of the people marching in front of me come to this island, in search of the promise of better work. How did they unmoor from the contours of their hometown, the colour of their mothers’ eyes, the scent of wind in the morning?

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

Would meeting someone new help, then? Surely, the start of a new life requires new people in them. You certainly made my life in Singapore better. If not for you, my weekends would be long and lost. You’d always plan something for Saturdays—your Sundays were reserved for the
A college for Islamic instruction.

. You’d even check the weather the day before we meet. You took me to so many places: the shining Robinsons and John Little department stores at Raffles Place, the sprawling Telok Ayer Good Centre. You even brought me to watch Singapore’s first-ever 
Grand Prix (noun)
any of a series of motor-racing or motorcycling contests forming part of a world championship series, held in various countries under international rules.

But I suppose the folklores that wrote our past will always resurface, even in a new life. My mother was the one who told me I could still run around and mess about. She told me to go find another river to follow, instead of the one that’s just outside our house. She knew that I always wanted to build something of my own.

I’m just like the protagonist from
Hikayat Panji Semirang The Hikayat Panji Semirang (Tale of Prince Semirang) is an epic poem—a classic work of literature in the Malay and Indonesian languages still extant today. The story derives from the Hindu-based folklore of East Java and the poem dates from the 14th century.
, she told me, always out venturing. She named me Putri, because she wants me to be fearless in the face of reinvention. No matter what. Just like the princess in the story.

The rain picks up, the march goes on. Neat rows of schoolgirls and schoolboys now trudge in front of me, the rain dotting their pristine uniforms. I think of the river near my house, how it will start to rush the moment there’s a hint of rain, its swirling surface hiding its speedy currents. My mother would implore me to get inside, before I come home with muddied shoes and the smell of wet grass, her voice ringing against the angry clouds.

I’m getting tired of the spectacle, so I peel away from the crowd. After all, it’s time to meet you.

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