By Rachel Seah, published July 1st, 2022
Right now, I am unbearably hot.
No, not that kind of hot–I’m talking the sticky, stinky, crinkle your nose in disgust kind of hot that can only be caused by the humidity of a tropical country. The heat drains my energy, much like a hoard of mosquitoes might savour my blood. Alas, I’ll be scraping off the sunburnt flakes on my cheeks and nose in the morning.
The atmosphere is lively despite the heat, and the locals are used to the beaming sun. Singapore is a tidy ant hill where people march with a firm destination in mind. During rush hour, MRT stations carry the weight of the nation, and everyone bundles into cabins–tightly, like egg rolls. Some chat on their phones in rapid fire Singlish, tongues curling around a remark that sounds aggressive, but is casual language to the rest of the nation.
I am a stranger surrounded by familiarity–a birthright citizen seeing everything for the first time.
Near the old streets do stray felines dwell, rarely deigning humans with their presence. Letters with confusing curves and crevices intermingle with English words on cardboard signs. They call out to me, as do the asian aunties and uncles selling ice cream bread, tissue packs, and curry puffs.
The next thing we know, we’ve purchased a bundle of puffs, a dollar a piece. The pale chicken is drowned in the thick orange curry, its aroma sharp, bright, and meaty. The crispy crust draws you in for another bite–while the spice makes you question your choice of food in the humid heat.
I probably look like a bruising papaya.
As I savour the burning taste, I ponder on this place that, though not quite home, is deeply ingrained in my memory. Despite my uncertain recollections, I am certain I will remember this feeling.
(And now you have a taste of it too!)