The proper function of making a mark of some kind, striking a blow, proved so much harder again now. In such a time as this what was there possible to say? All the journals were full of pandemic minutiae, when this kind of dread overtopped all areas of thought. In the case of serious illness awaiting an end thought processes wound down and petered out; even terror under bombardment &etc. presented a different, more concrete kind of challenge. No doubt our generation was especially unprepared for anything like this. Like the streets now, stretches of mental space were left vacant, contentless; and the inactivity accentuating helplessness. Those coping with children, elderly parents and other such responsibilities escaped the mental challenge perhaps. A few days before waking to rain was strange for some odd reason, a little shock transmitted by it. The rains came often enough here, there was nothing especially unusual about that. There may have been some particular kind of lulling sleep in this case and the tropical pelting intruding on deeper unconscious. A dream of Bab associated no doubt added its own disturbance. In this instance her appearance fitted the time more or less: she was found in the laundry concentrated on the detergent she was adding to her soaking trough, it must have been. A chemical blue swirl had been carefully measured and poured into a corner of the stainless steel tub that had replaced the older concrete of early days. As these things sometimes went, more strangeness still arrived with Scottie’s mailing of the Woodstock doco, the most recent that had been released last year in the States. There had been some mails exchanged at the time and since then the film had been completely forgotten. Scottie had come upon it somewhere and sent unannounced. MLK & Bobbie K both dead again just prior that same year. An angelic looking young Dylan and his Times are a changing. (In retrospect it was not clear now whether he had performed the song at the festival, or whether he had in fact attended at all.) Having been too young for the era the first sighting of Buffalo Springfield’s homely boyishness surprised. All the musicians were remarkably young, like their audience. The thinness that had surprised Scottie was part of that earlier era too, pre-sugar & fat saturated foods. Vietnam of course hovered over all, in the era when remote warfare from the air was something different—though devastating more than enough even then of course. Viewing the film in Singapore after a long acquaintance here and during the current crisis added dimension. There was the famous story revealed in the last few years of the founding father of the modern republic, Lee Kuan Yew, visiting the Harvard clubhouse during the war with the man who would become a lifelong friend, Henry Kiss, in attendance. After the liberal academics in the gathering had spouted their misgivings about the war, the bombing and mounting ruination, LKY rounded on them unsparingly, famously telling them they made him sick, the lot of them. All that hand-wringing and bleeding-of-heart in the face of the terrible Red menace that was threatening the whole of Western civilisation—and the man’s own little exposed fiefdom down on the equator. Finding ourselves back in the future once more with the old nationalist framework preventing cooperation for our existential challenges, the rain storm, Babi’s careful housekeeping, the young hippies over the green field, left the morning all askew. Walking up for the Buddhist lunches one reserved a special pity for the girls in the bathroom outlets along Geylang Road & Sims Ave, sitting under bright LED among the vanities, the pans and cisterns. At least after the ordered shutdown next week they would be freed from those chambers. This morning the white Toyota man from upstairs coming down to fix himself a late breakfast managed his signature raised brows for greeting. Saturnine they used to call similar in other locales, which doesn’t half cover the case here. The Viet girls from the karaokes have ceased now and the chap prepares regular breakfasts & dinners in-house. Ni came again yesterday for lunch and lovemaking; neither of us could cope without. Last week there had been no need to explain to Ni about the kissing and again yesterday we managed well enough without. The brevity of the episode yesterday left Ni short; in the evening she was thinking ahead about next weekend’s rendezvous and messaged some thoughts about possible adjustments.


Geylang Serai, Singapore 2011–2020