Stories for a new year: Even at the end, the world was still beautiful

I'm thinking about how it all began, as usual. It's been snowing in Singapore for two and a half years, and nobody knows why, or how, or why now.

People wanted to blame global warming. All that made me realise was that the universe, as usual, had a unique sense of humour.

Pa said it was magic. Kor smirked and said, "Maybe it's Yishun. I bet it started from there." Jie sighed and wondered if it was aliens.

Ma quoted the Prime Minister: "It's not the end of the world. It's just a state of emergency."

I kept quiet; I had no theories. Even at the end, I thought, the world was still beautiful.

That was something we had to admit to ourselves.

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The snow fell over houses, shopping malls, parks, drains.

It fell over carparks, hawker centres, the steps on overhead bridges.

It caused people to slip, and fall, and in several cases, die. Once it caused a bus to slide off a flyover.

But even then, you know: life went on. People still walked, and drove their cars. Whenever the snow worsened, you could find groups of motorcyclists huddling under expressways, retying their scarves and taking out their thermoses. They'd sip teh halia while watching the weather unfold, settling over an unrecognisable world.

I was in the LRT, once, in the midst of a snowstorm. The tram had left Senja Station and then halted mid-journey, pausing above Jelebu Road.

The windows rattled; you could barely see Bukit Panjang Plaza. We were all shivering, and waiting, for someone to come save us. And then static blasted, from the speaker of the intercom, before the doors to the car inexplicably opened.

They were asking us to save ourselves.

And so we disembarked. We held hands, all 16 of us. And then we walked in single file, down the middle of the track towards Bukit Panjang Station.

I saw nothing but snow. It stung my eyes, my cheeks, my exposed wrists. All I could focus on were the hands of the people I held onto.

Later, I told everyone: I can't recall what any of them looked like. I don't even know how we reached the station. All I know was that for a long, long time, we made this great curve, all around Hillion Mall, wondering if we were traversing the planet instead.

I think we adjusted the best we could.

Sometimes I went to school. Sometimes I did not. Sometimes I'd dream of being on the tracks again, holding onto strangers' hands.

Pa learnt to cook. In our free time, he and I would take photos of the barren trees, the grey waters by the beach.

Ma would visit Gong Gong and Po Po three times a week, to make sure it was warm in their Woodlands flat.

Artmotion Asia

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