Thursday, June 5, 2008

Children Under Trees - Bedok circa 1950s

Kampong Days - A glimpse of Kampong Life in Singapore. Remember the kampong folks in Singapore - they were the pioneering generations. Many lived by the sea; some lived in secluded spots all over Singapore, particularly near the coastal areas. Kampong Days in this blog give you some notion about the old kampong style of life, the rustic retreat, the rural environment - something far removed from our accustomed urban life and far away from the maddening crowd. So we start off with some pictures of the days gone by, featuring the old Singapore kampong, pictures picked at random from the precious private collection of Master lensman, Yip Cheong-Fun, a recipient of the Cultural Medallion and world famous photographer, elected by the Photographic Society of New York in 1980 as the "Honorary Outstanding Photographer of the Century."

So, here goes with the first picture taken under the coconut trees in a familiar Bedok kampong in around 1950 - entitled "Children Under Trees"

(See photograph entitled "Children Under Trees - top left and a poem by Andrew Yip below)

Children Under Trees

Like little children we walked along
Nature`s way strewn with flowers, leaves and thorns,
Under tall trees and their dark looming shadows
Bright lights pierced through the mist like arrows.
We watched mesmerised, uneasy yet unafraid,
Dazed and gazed in awe but not a word was said.
Nature`s mood in mist mystifying and passion raw,
A fury unleashed - its deadly trails we saw,
Haunting us even when our leaves of life turned golden,
Burnt brown or black - blight or trodden;
Or bare branches crushing us like rusty rods,
And thorny twigs sting and stab like swords.

Then as our winding paths diverged,
Grim and grey in a verdant maze of haze,
Like children perplexed by a blurred vision,
Anxious, leaden and long we gazed,
Paths led to paths; patches wedded to patches,
Obscured by thick bushes and undergrowth;
A jigsaw of puddles and puzzles of sand and pebbles,
Mingled with marshes of mud and mangrove.
The wind whirled in the wood and gathered the blossoms with glee
It stirred the silent streams and set the tree leaves flying free.

We looked as far as we could,
An oasis of emptiness in the wild wild wood,
Piles of boulders - bare and rude,
Perched on the peak perilous they stared and stood,
While gay granite gleamed emerald in the setting sun.
Could all these be obstacles or Nature`s whims and fun,
Or are they an orchestration of the sensual soul?
And the wood with many moods could it be high heaven or hell hole?

Yet with firm faith or divine inspiration, we set forth
Into a misty maze with mixed mood and emotions,
Under the mighty majestic trees and branches aloft.
Wary of the recklessness or risks but with renewed vision,
Clutching life`s light and shadows still unknown,
Into the enchanted mist of the future on our own
Moving along this long lonely road,
To somewhere, nowhere - whatever the means or mode.

(A poem written in December 2004 when the poet mourned the death of some friends in the Tsunami Disaster in Phuket, Thailand)

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