Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Crime and tragedy

By and large, I don't think much of Singapore papers and the tepid talk that passes for news in their pages. But this weekend they had me blurry-eyed with a headline they carried. It was the first thing I read that morning.

Five sets of clothes.
His curry pot. A rice cooker.
An album of family photos

That was all he owned and they were put in a plastic bag and sent to Chennai with his body...

A lifetime packed off neatly in five sentences and a coffin box, ready to turn to dust over a funeral pyre and across some landfills.

With grim contrast it reminded me of those corny one-pagers that magazines carry on celebrities nowadays. You know, where you can almost hear a nasal voice sycophantically asking - Oh! And if you were stranded in a desert island, what are the three things you simply must have with you there? And then you can imagine the celebrity sighing with boredom in the depth of his/her soul, (if it hasn't been sold yet), before giving a coiffured reply that exclaims itself to death- Of course! My Gucci bag!! I must have that !!! And my 50++ SPF for all that sun I'll face !!!! blah !!!blah!!!!

Of course, people who actually have to make the choice of living with the bare minimum, sometimes in a cloth bundle under their head when they sleep on footpaths, or under their bunk beds in factory dorms - these migrant labourers - they are never asked that question. And they wouldn't have time to respond to such inanity anyway. They are too busy surviving, doing whatever jobs they can manage to get, for whoever can pay higher for it, slung down ropes from buildings, or climbing up scaffolding, living in spaces barely larger than what they will be buried under someday, with no family around them, instead, just five sets of clothes. A curry pot. A rice cooker. And an album of family photos.

Till someone slashes their limbs off because they grudge them even that.

Who needs Shakespeare to read tragedy? Just pick up the damn paper.

The first report on the slashings in Kallang, Singapore that left 1 dead and three severely injured.

Can you help?

Journalist Kimberley Spykerman, who covered the incident for The Straits Times, tells me that HOME [Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics] is helping the victims of the Kallang slashing. Those interested can contact Mr Jolovan Wham at jolovan.home@gmail.com

[cross posted at http://politicalrampage.blogspot.com/]