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Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores
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Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Singapore Fairy Tale: The songs of the candy floss baby

The Esplanade dome cracked open; it had hatched. Out came a giant baby pigeon. It was past midnight and no one saw it come out.  Pink and white, glowing in the moonlight, she was made of candy floss. She had big eyes and small feet, and a wide orange beak.

How did the Esplanade dome become an egg?  That was when a very lazy pigeon, our baby pigeon’s mother, kept sitting on one of the two domes all day. As it became an egg, the dome sucked in candy floss from all the vendors in Esplanade to make the baby. The mother flew away immediately because she didn’t know how to take care of such a big baby.

The Merlion, Behind-The Esplanade
(Img Source: Suntec Singapore)
Our baby called for her mother and took clumsy steps, but she was nowhere to be found. The heavy baby was very hungry. No one was around. She only found the Merlion bending over to drink water from the bay.

“Mr. Merlion, Have you seen my mommy?”

The Merlion spoke in between his drinking, “I don’t know…(gulp) Don’t disturb me… (gulp) I need to drink.. (gulp) as much as I can all night….(gulp) Tomorrow..(gulp) I will have to keep… (gulp) throwing water from my…(gulp) mouth all day..(gulp, gulp, gulp).”

“Sorry, Mr. Merlion. Can you just tell me where I can get some food? I have not eaten anything since I was born.”

“You are…(gulp)  such a nuisance…(gulp) People here go to…(gulp)  food court to…(gulp)  eat…(gulp) Now, go away. …(gulp)  I really need to drink. ..(gulp, gulp, gulp).”

Maxwell Road Food Centre (Img Src: Tripadvisor)
The cuddly baby wobbled as she walked. She was feeling very tired. With great effort she managed to reach the Maxwell Road Food Centre. Maxwell Road Food Centre was standing up on two legs and stretching.  Head to toe, he was entirely made of food stalls. As he stretched, his whole body gave out the sound of banging utensils.

“Mr. Maxwell Road Food Centre. Can you give me some food please?”

“Oh poor baby, I am closed for business now. I need to walk around. The whole day, I just keep sitting. Wait, there may be something in my fridges,” he shook his left arm full of eatery stalls, and out came hundreds of steamed buns. Then he shook his right arm, also full of eatery stalls, and out came all kinds of fruit juices.

The baby pigeon ate and drank heartily.  “Thank you so much, Mr. Maxwell Road Food Centre.  Can you tell me how I can find my mommy?”

“Oh, poor baby, I don’t know much about Singapore,“ he touched both his feet with his hands to stretch, “I never walk too far from here. But I have heard that people go to the library to look for information.”

The big baby thanked him and kissed him and walked to the Central Library. This was such a big city; so many roads, so many apartments, so many choices for pigeons to stay. Was there any hope for our baby? She found Ms. Central Library lying down, fanning herself; her thirty-six eyes half-asleep.

“Dear Ms. Central Library, can you please help me find my mommy?”

“Shh… don’t make noise. My books are all reading each other. They can’t read anything during the day. This is their only time. Anyway, I don’t think they would know about your mother. They could tell you the physiology of pigeons or some pigeon recipe.”

“Please help me Ms. Central Library. You know everything. Everyone comes to you for knowledge. Please think of a solution.”

“Shh… don’t make noise. Yes, you are right. I am very knowledgeable indeed. But even the police don’t record the whereabouts of pigeons. Perhaps you could ask the blind singer at Simei Station. He knows a lot of pigeons. But yes, I know everything. See, I told you exactly what to do. Indeed, I know everything…”

The baby pigeon threw her a thank you and left hurriedly.  At Simei Station, she waited patiently where the blind singer sat every day. The next day, she pretended to be a statue so that people don’t get alarmed by her size. Many took her picture on their phones. Young kids rolled in to her candyfloss body. She kept still; a statue. The blind singer came only in the evening. 

The statuesque baby told him her story.

“Your mother hasn’t come here,” said the blind singer, “Perhaps; you could sing a song for her. It has to be a very special song; such a song that once she listens to it, she can’t resist coming to you. Singing and listening, that’s all I do. But no-one bothers to listen nowadays. People just see me and throw a coin. When will they tip me for my music and not for my blindness?”

“But I don’t know how to sing. Can you please teach me, Sir?”

“I know only four songs; ‘Lady in Red’, ‘Sleeping Child’, ‘Please forgive me’, and ‘Everything I do’.  I don’t think these songs will serve your purpose. Your song has to be very special. It has to come from inside you.”

“Alright, I will make the words. But please give me the notes,” said the pink-white baby. The blind singer agreed.

Our podgy baby put down the words on pieces of paper and spread them out on the pavement. They said, ‘Mother, come back please, I want good food and cheese.’  The blind singer threw out some musical notes from his packets. The notes became strings and flew around for a while and then just fell on the pavement.

“This is not the right song,” said the blind singer, “Try harder. And, don’t mention the cheese.”  The big eyed baby thought for five days and five nights. Again, she laid out the words on the pavement. Again, the blind man threw the notes from his pockets. This time, the strings fell on the words, one string for each word and quickly wrapped itself around them. Then they began to fly like kites, notes and words. “This is the right song,” said the blind man.

The sweet voiced baby began while the blind singer played the guitar.

The star of my life has gone away
My heart full of sorrow and dismay
Will my mommy be never by my side again?
Who will comfort me when there’s heavy rain?
My mommy was lost a few days ago,
With whom will I pay tic-tac-toe?
Till now I am trying to find my mother,
Will some kind heart please find and tell her?

Mommy, I will be a very good baby
Together we will sing and dance, well maybe.
Please come back to me else I will cry,
Cry all the time till my eyes run dry.

I am searching for mommy night and day,
While all other children are happy and gay
Even though my efforts are going in vain,
But, if I don't, I’ll be full of pain

The big-eyed baby cried as she sang. The blind singer cried as he played the guitar. Passers-by cried, as they listened to their song. More and more people came to listen. The Karung Guni men replaced their horns with the baby’s song. Ice cream cart uncles and aunties played it non-stop from their masts. Lion Dance Troupes ran rounds of the city with the song. Getai singers learned it by heart and sang it on all occasions. Someone uploaded the song onto Youtube and got a hundred billion views and forty hundred billion tear drops in one single day.

All the pigeons of the city, except for our baby’s mother, gathered in Simei to comfort the baby. Pigeons from Indonesia and Malaysia came to Simei to comfort the baby. Ostriches swam all the way from Africa to Simei to feed the baby and the blind singer.  But the baby kept singing and crying. The whole world came to Simei. They came, they listened, and wept.

Toto winners came together to announce a prize of a hundred billion dollars for anyone who could find podgy baby’s mommy.  The trains announced at each station, “Please mind the platform gap and please find the baby pigeon’s mommy.” The Singapore flyer rode all around the town to look for the mother.

And where was the mother pigeon? She had been hiding, flying from one place to another, as far as she could from the baby. But whenever she heard her baby’s song, she cried. She hid behind windows to watch Youtube videos of her baby and cried. She cried all day and kept flying further away, so that she won’t get caught. She knew that everyone loved her baby and took good care of her. But if she came back to her, they would all go away. How could she then take care of the enormous baby all by herself?

The mother pigeon had not had anything to eat for days. She had lost all her feathers and had become very thin. She couldn’t go on for any longer. She nearly collapsed and fell. And then she saw a cat because only the cats had not gone to Simei.

“This is my end. I will be eaten up by this cat,” the mother pigeon gasped for breath. But the cat didn’t bother to move.

He just said, “You must be the noisy baby’s mother. All other pigeons have long gone to Simei.”

“Yes,” said the mother, “Why aren’t you eating me?”

“How can I eat you? Didn’t I hear your baby’s songs? We cats also cried. We just didn’t go to see her because the dogs reached there before us. And you know how smelly dogs can be. Why are you so heartless? Go back to your daughter.”

“If only you knew how I want to. She is such an adorable baby; such a loving baby. But how can I take care of such a big baby?”

“That’s not a problem. While everyone was crying, we cats did all the scientific research to find the solution, only out of curiosity. Your baby’s body has a lot of candy floss. All she needs to do is to share it with other children. Then she will become a normal baby.”

Hearing this, the mother pigeon was overjoyed and asked the cat to take her to Simei. The cat said that he was busy but called for a taxi for her. After giving instructions to the driver, the cat called another taxi and headed for the association of Toto winners to claim his prize money.

Both the mother and our baby pigeon were ecstatic with joy when they met each other. With some difficulty, the big baby and the mother managed to embrace. They cried their heart out for one final time.  The crowd surrounding the pair went ecstatic too. Every mother hugged their children tighter and wept for joy. Neighbours embraced each other and wept. Employees of one auditing firm spotted out employees of competing auditing firms and wept. German Shepherds embraced Chihuahuas and wept.

And then the mother pigeon asked all the children to line up; for this was the time to celebrate with candy floss. The baby pigeon joyously gave out big dollops of candy floss to every child. The whole city was eating candy floss and revelling. The baby started shrinking and soon became a delicate small baby pigeon, just how all baby pigeons should be.

Since then, the baby pigeon and her mother sit on the blind singer’s shoulders and sing with him. They only sing four songs, ‘Lady in Red’, ‘Sleeping Child’, ‘Please forgive me’, and ‘Everything I do’. As for the cat, he used his award money to build the largest candy floss factory in the world in Tuas.

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