Wang Gungwu, Head, East Asia Institute, National University of Singapore

Municipal Prose-Poem

I walk out from the fields where the green grass grows and try the metal roads. I find that they always lead somewhere, though it may be in oposite directions.

The road-people seem very sure that they know where they are going; but most of them have their backs to each other, and they all know that the wrong way is behind them and the less wrong before.

Ah I must tell the field-people about the snakes here. They are short, and fat, and purr inside, but they go faster on the roads. (I'm sure they die younger.) Are there any rabbits in those hedges? Or frogs?

I like smell of the drains and the river. It reminds me of little Porky.

Oh dear me, I must not tell my darling Ah Mooi about that man there kicking the little boy's fruits. His clothes are smart. I think my scarecrow is cold out in the night.

The women here are too thin, are powdered outside --to hide the freshness I suppose. They go slow for only their toes are near the ground.

A yes, I must buy some of those cheap pearls and rubies. They look like real ones, and Ah Q loves to show the neighbours.

Goat's skin? Those Kelings next fence keep goats. I must buy one yard home. Happy, I go back to the fields where the green grass grows.



Reproduced with the kind permission of Wang Gungwu.

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singapore Literature Overview

Last Modified: 25 July, 2002