must mention him first. He was the first street artist I met when I
flew to Singapore from my hometown at the age of 16. At that time, my
friends and I did not even know our ways around Orchard. We had had to
ask the passersby to get to where we wanted to go, despite the fact that
we kept passing Orchard Road everyday on our way to school.
But then you have to understand that our bus ride was in the earliest of
the morning when the stars were still visible in the sky, when everyone
on the bus was half-awake and could not care more about the mobile TVs
casting English-subtitled Japanese cartoons with incessant signals and
with sounds muffled by the engine, and when the bus driver was perhaps
the only sober person on board. What was going on outside the bus was
beyond our consciousness and left unbothered in the silence of the dark.
Out of a group of five or six or more of us, maybe one was vigilant
enough to vaguely spot an overhead bridge and press the “stop” button
before all was too late.
I’ve probably sidetracked a bit too
much. Let’s come back to our artist stationed in the tunnel at the turn
of Scotts Road. He is a key-board player cum singer. You will surely
remember him the first time you see him. Or you do not even need to see
him. Just hear him would suffice a life-time memory. His voice is of the
deep mellow kind, not too coarse. It blends nicely with his
merry-go-lucky melodies. He uses a loudspeaker; so even in the busiest
hour of a public holiday when the tunnel was flooded with people and
din, his voice comes unmistakably into your ear, undistorted. If you
follow the sound, you will find a man of a certain size with a bulged
belly sitting on a chair, wearing a headphone and playing the keyboard,
blind. His face is of a broad and round shape, contorted somehow. His
wife would always sit beside him and do her own stuff, oblivious of the
traffic, as if sitting on the balcony of her own house.
would be there rain or shine. They would be there day or night. After so
many years, when you pass by the tunnel and see the same man playing
the same tune, you cannot help feeling that some things are bound to
stay and bound to last despite the passage of time.