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Lion City Daikaiju

by Jason Erik Lundberg

That night, Singapore's landmarks declared war: the Merlion lurched off its concrete pedestal and flooded the riverfront with its eternally gushing masticatory fountain, catching untold numbers of tourists unawares, forced to leave behind their $20 mixed drinks and plates of tapas; the Raffles Hotel, in all its colonial splendor, leapfrogged across the downtown area, knocking over bank buildings and squashing flat petrol tankers and cars plastered with adverts; the twin metallic durians of the Esplanade curled into spiny balls of hedgehog lethality, and rolled over and through every upscale mall they could find, taking especial care to utterly demolish the shopping district on Orchard Road; the National Library took flight and glided to the MediaCorp building, dropping barrages of encyclopedias and folios onto transmissions towers and backup generators, destroying the link between the viewing public and the badly acted and written serial dramas that filled the broadcast airwaves; the twin statues of the country's patron saint, Sir Stamford Raffles, one dark bronze and one white polymarble, lay seige to every construction crane in evidence, leaping nimbly from structure to structure, leaving bright yellow wreckage in their wake.

Who was to blame, the people cried, why has this happened, could it be Jemaah Islamiyah and that terrorist who escaped, or was it resurgent aggression from Japan, or could it be an intelligent group-mind of dengue-carrying mosquitos, or revenge-seeking Americans with outrage and the image of a public caning in their minds, why oh why is this happening to us, and the people fled in terror, at this revolt by the reminders of the nation's greatness, as those selfsame landmarks reduced to rubble every symbol of progress, sign of homogenized inclusion with the globalized world, and showing of shallow flash and glam over depth and culture and tradition, and when the sun rose over the tropical island the next morning it was all over, the assault had stopped, the landmarks as still and inert as their previous states, the country no longer globally competitive, but the people did not despair, because as they buried and cremated their dead and began the rebuilding process, they remembered that they had endured the British occupiers, and the tyranny of the Japanese military, and they had arisen to become a global corporate power, and that they would now reinvent themselves into something new and bright and shining, a jewel of the future world, a unique visage of identity.

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Loved the term 'hedgehog lethality' for it's visual impact and I roared through the piece with great pace (as did the shrapnel)
'Colonial Splendour', for me, was a loaded phrase as I think it depends on your previous experience of this kind of 'occupation'. I think eitherway that it is therefore a much fuller picture that you get out of a couple of words of both visual action and perhaps social commentry on colonialism.
I really enjoyed reading it and was taken by the message of hope and renewal tucked in at the end. Thank you.

Posted by: lucaninlalaland | February 26, 2009 2:45 PM

Thanks, Lisa. Glad you liked it.

Yeah, since I moved here, the Esplanade has reminded me simultaneously of a durian and a hedgehog.

As for colonial splendor, there's an interesting attitude here toward the British colonization; on the one hand, the feeling is that Singapore didn't really come into its own until Stamford Raffles discovered the place (and made it very attractive for the Chinese to immigrate), but on the other hand, there's also a nationalistic pride about transforming the country into a global power after becoming independent in 1965. So yes, it's indeed a loaded phrase, and a complicated one in the context of Singapore's history.

And as annoyed as I sometimes get with the focus on very superficial things that inexplicably achieve prominence and importance (much of which were destroyed in my story), I still have a lot of respect for what this tiny country has been able to do in just 40 short years.

Posted by: Jason Erik Lundberg | March 3, 2009 4:15 AM

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