I write for the tourists.

I don’t just mean the ones seduced here by fast money and high, gleaming towers; who think paying $15 for chicken rice is “very affordable!!!”. The ones who know Singapore by the slender red threads of Merlion-Marina Bay-Orchardion-Jewel by the Bay

I mean also the tourists who have lived here their whole lives, those who know Singapore by the slender red threads connecting home-hawker centre-school-shopping centre-and-work.

I mean myself: visitor to what was once my own City, at home but not-home; contemplating these slender red threads.

I write as reminder: maybe there’s enough, even along the same lines we walk every day. Maybe it’s not the Grand Spectacles, the indoor waterfalls, multimillion and always-more (Because doesn’t “ever-forward” also translate to “never-enough”?)

Maybe en route, there are smaller moments worth tasting too, free of charge because they are priceless.

The unexpected gleam of an ATM, spilling like fool’s gold round a corner late one night. The neighbourhood NTUC, raucous with trolley-wheeled aunties, even at noon.

The day’s roseglow washing over these blocks at sunrise, sunset. The unlikely friendship with a cat, whom you only meet on the way home.

I write for the tourists. The ones who visit and transit, but rarely stay. I write for myself and my island, always on-the-way but never-there (not yet; never).

I write to linger, and to listen. To perhaps, the quiet death of the carpark tree (chainsawed, yesterday). I write to record these red threads I walk daily, the narrow paths that are but a fragment of a vaster Singapore.

I write for the unseeing tourist that is myself. I write to remember there is more; that this (and this, and this, and this!) is Singapore, too.

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