Eddy Yanto

Fort Canning

Jan 20, 2014

The clock has just turned 7.30 in the morning when Terry got off the public bus. It took him less than half an hour from his place to Fort Canning, a historic park located in the middle of the city. The park had intrigued Terry for a while but although he had been living in the city for a few years, he hadn’t visited the park before. A few times it had crossed his mind to visit but for one reason or another, he hadn’t.

So today, for the first time, he finally gotten himself up much earlier than usual. It was Saturday, a day when he didn’t have to work and had no other activities lined up in the morning. The sky was getting brighter, greyish white and a tint of blue in colour but the sun hadn’t came out yet so the usual orange glow was missing.

After tapping his fare card and gotten out of the bus, Terry walked for a while and stopped at an intersection opposite the park, the traffic light had just turned green before he could made crossing. As cars and buses started moving past him, he took a moment to reflect his intention of standing on that roadside in the morning. After a brief moment in thought, he felt glad that he got out of bed an hour ago, had a cold shower and took a bus to where he was now. The idea of walking in the park, looking at the trees and varieties of plants and taking in fresh morning air filled his thought and it was getting him excited.

Soon, the traffic light turned red and vehicles stopped moving, Terry walked towards the park. A few people walked beside him heading towards the same direction — a woman with sports outfit and others wore casually. As he walked nearer to the gate of the park, smell of grass and subtle fragrance of certain plants permeated in the air. He paused walking upon getting past the gate and took a full minute to enjoy the smell. He felt relaxed in the serene atmosphere of the park in the morning.

Terry took out his iPod, put on his earphones, and set it to play the album of Song of the Irish Whistle. The first song, The Level Plain was playing as he continued. He stopped walking after sighting an exotic plant. The plant has unopened reddish flower on top that looked like strawberry and was shaped proportionately longer. A few red ants were crawling on the flower — Terry wondered if the ants were aware of being observed by him.

A few meters away from this strawberry-like flower stood another plant that caught Terry’s attention. It was a plant with flower shaped like a fin. The fin-like part had mostly reddish color on the inner section and a tint of yellow on the outer section. Together, these flowers hang from its red stalk, resting on the wall resembling a centipede.

Above these exotic plants stand tall trees. Their spreading canopies provide shade to the small plants below. Their big trunks bulging out from ground and together with their stems had greenish moss from long exposure of rain and sun. Between the cracks on their barks, tiny plants sprung to life. These minuscule plants grew by getting nutrients from the bark and hanging on it looking as if they were standing on a metaphorical giant.

A white colonial building stands in the centre of the park. A flag was flapping on its top. Above it, the sky was full of white clouds now, drifting at a very slow pace. Terry was sitting in a wooden bench not far from the building and he had the full view of the whole scene to himself.

The South Wind was playing half way on his iPod when he was drawn into a contemplative thought. He looked back to the days when he was little. Once a while after school, he would wander to the back garden. The garden was big for his younger self but in his memory he still felt the same bigness even though his height had since doubled.

The garden had a few trees, the bigger ones among them were starfruit, guava of both red and white variants and rambutan. Terry enjoyed climbing up to the white guava tree, plucking its fruit and ate it while sitting on top. He liked guava that wasn’t too ripe and still retained its light greenish skin, producing a crisp sound when bitten. Often, holding on to the branches, he would give the tree a violent shake, and soon dead leaves and ripened fruits would snapped off their stalks and fell to the ground. Out of his playfulness, he did first what nature would do to the leaves and fruits later when their dried stalks could no longer hold their weight against gravity.

A gush of wind blew against his face and his thought evaporated. He lift his chin and looked at the building again noting the perfect symmetry of the building — a feature of neoclassical architecture. Then he stood up and walked towards the black iron gate. The sun had came out by the time he reached the gate and sunlight penetrated through the trees making sparkling patterns on the ground. The patterns shook as the wind crashed on the trees.

The South Wind finished playing and Terry concluded his visit and walked out of the park feeling contented. The event this morning was committed to his memory.