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Jan 17, 2010

"If We Dream Too Long" Book Revisited

In my previous blog on "In Memory of Dr. Goh Poh Seng", I was impulsive to do a revisit today to the book "If We Dream Too Long" 12 years ago. The book is not even available online from or some local bookshops.

Thus I resort to loan only from the nearest home from Geylang East Public Library today.

To revisit can actually provide us to look back at media format of old photos, old audio tape (if video for modern technology devices), books, movies. In person, its revist to places in old homes, kampong days or travel overseas places for a decade ago...time and space! But then most of them have been changed or gone. Some people are gone passed by.

How then would I feel to myself to revisit "If We Dream Too Long"? The dreams have been gone too long and the story book is been there and done that. Mostly are imaginative, fiction but when the book was written in 1972, the life of the story characters may appear to be unchanged because of human social conditions, rich and poor, the "Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo" (Italian translation to "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach in the title roles), strength and weak, love and hatred, human tranformation to and fro, blah...blah...blah.

Until the end of the world in human species whether whatever people or whatever countries of first world or third world in whichever universe.

Amusing revisiting the somehow felt like learning me over the decade to mature and mellow with the growth of thoughts...from young and innocence to an education over the years which we can learn and teach from everyone within our affinity and whoever of human nature.

All the characters in this book are fictitious.

Be it books, stages, movies or TV serial, nothing is real life in human culture than directors or scriptwriters. Similar to The Book of Five Rings - The Classic Masterpiece by Miyamoto Musashi.

That is the digress though.

My discovery of revisit is a walk down memory lane, from the reality walk of the olden days of Singapore lifestyle as resurrected from "If We Dream Too Long". When you read on to the excerpt of Dr Goh Poh Seng as his writer in virtual graphic description at a long time ago.

Here goes:

"It was a bright and hot afternoon only a few hours ago when Kwang Meng too the long bus ride up the East Coast Road to the Tanah Merah beach at Changi.

"Now following the direction of the wind in the evening, he went towards the sea-front, the Esplanade."

"He walked in the direction of Collyer Quay for the bus-stop, the sea to his left. To his right, across the street, the Singaore Cricket Club stood patronizingly at the corner of the Padang."

"Walking on, Kwang Meng felt that it was not such a relic after all, inspite of Independence. The English are durable, he thought, passing the Victoria Memorial Hall and Theatre on his right, then crossing Connaught Bridge towards the grey imperial Fullerton Building nearby. All these colonial names, idelibly stamped everywhere."

"Meng, have you seen that film at the Odeon?"

"Kwang Meng enjoyed a nice sense of guilt, of illicitness, as they entered the air-conditioned darkness of the Paradise Bar and seated themselves at one of the booths at the back. The imitation leather seat felt cold. "

"Two large Tigers, Mary." said Hock Lai, without asking them. Be a Tiger man, drink Tiger beer, as the ad. goes."

"When he reached the Cold Storage Milk Bar, Portia was already waiting for him."

"All those daily-rated labourers, working in the Port Authority or the Public Health's Cleansing Department, nightly drunk or toddy after an abstemious three years away from their wives in India, to whem they monthly remit their wages."

"So, after holding on for years, during which time they lived any old how, thinking of their family, their will begins to break down and then they seek, nightly, everything from toddy, the sweet coconut wine. At the Government regulated toddy shops, they queue up in the evenings, and later in the night tumble out drunkenly, their eyes containing wild stars."

"At the corner sarabat stall, he ordered a black coffee."

"They walked until they sighted a pirate taxi which stopped for them. A cheap form of transport, these unlicensed taxis."

"Hock Lai took him to the G.H. Cafe at nearby Battery Road. There were no hints anywhere what the G.H. stood, abbreviated, for. The hawker stalls, the Singapore River, were a world away."

"The sky darkened, making brighter the distant stars. A plane droned above in the one small sky, heading for the Paya Lebar International Airport."

"He had to change buses in order to get to Orchard Road, to the fashionable Mont D'or Milk Bar in the Ngee Ann Building, where Hock Lai had prearranged to meet him."

That's all to keep us in suspense....

The blog topics by "Blogs Of The Same Feather" links for younger reader would discover the stories more memorable and interesting.

To conclude, the blurb from the book below:

"...The first serious attempt to represent critically, contemporary Singaporean experience."

- Singapore Book World

A literary landmark in the development of the Singapore novel.

[ If We Dream Too Long is a Singaporean's search for personal fulfilment and happiness within the social realm and set of values shaped by a young nation. Although Goh Poh Seng's canvass is that of old Singapore (when sixty cents adequately buys you a lunch consisting of a bowl of laksa and a glass of sugar cane water), the psychological landscape of his protagonist, reflecting aspects of the contemporary Singaporean experience, is one that many of us can still relate very closely to today. ]



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