“Are you Singaporean?” a middle aged Chinese man asked us.
We were in queue to get our books autographed by a writer at the festival. “Uh, yes?” answered Max who actually wasn’t. And he should have proclaimed his Malaysian-ness to all instead of answering for the majority of us if we would have known what would happen next.
The man continued with, “Did you know this festival is by tax payers money?”.
I turned around, facing towards the start of the queue, my backpack towards him with the sudden need to see how many was left in line. My other friend, Raven looked into her bag as if it was the most interesting thing in the world. That left Max and Jo to face him.
Why. Why was this happening.
He was repetitive.
He needed to repeat every time as if to make a point that this was all the ‘approved’ writers and that it happened in his time and now it happened in our time and we needed to protest. Protest that the festival only had approved writers from the government. That we needed to make a stand since there would be a great Singapore writer but they do not get featured.
He didn’t tell us his name and once he was over with his tirade, he left the area only to lurk nearby, perhaps to pounce on other young looking people who had books in their hands.
Raven’s bag stopped looking interesting once he left and I was finally able to turn around to face my friends.
That was mostly our expression. We kept quiet earlier and just nodded because the points that he made just made he seem like a very bitter writer who didn’t get a chance or really, he just seemed bitter.
And for one thing, he didn’t know our names.
If he had been supporting young writers and actually doing pro active work in trying to support the arts and all instead of lurking about trying to incite protests, he would have known that we were those writers who did need support but who are also working on it.
HECK, we’re one of the most out THERE writers in Singapore who show up at most literary events or have smashed our fiction into places so that people will know us. Even if you might not know our names, you would remember our faces and know that we’re heck memorable.
“Why do we attract the weirdos when we’re in a group ah?” asked Raven.
“Maybe, it’s like a planet thing and they’re attracted to the gravity…” I suggested.
“Are you saying that I’m fat?” said Raven.
ANYWAY, with all the past literary events that we went to, uuugh there are so many stories and well. I have made a bingo sheet. You know how to play bingo? Just match 5 in a row straight or diagonally. Play it with your friends if you like this is my version of it:
Or if you want the jpg itself to print, save it from here.