Untitled 6

October 30, 2011

This Singlish love poem was composed and read on the spot in response to a challenge issued during a closing debate at Singapore Writers Festival 2011.

Ah Lian, you damn jude
I see you I choot choot choot
I see you I lau nua
Don’t make my heart phua
Don’t make me kua kua
Don’t make it all sua.

Gwee Li Sui

This simple poem masks complexity. The speaker is an Ah Beng who is professing his love to a stunning, or “jude”, Ah Lian. After the first line establishes this fact, all subsequent lines record the involuntary responses of self he faces. The Ah Beng needs to “choot choot choot”, or wolf-whistle, and “lau nua”, or salivate. “Choot choot choot” is onomatopoeic and suggests a repetitive automatic animal reaction.

However, the argument quickly crosses over to a realisation of what must then be negatively beyond control. There is a chance that the Ah Beng’s heart may “phua”, or break; he may go “kua kua”, be disappointed on a grand comic scale, causing the romance to “sua”, disintegrate. As opposed to the earlier bodily responses, deeper emotional change is now shown through the manly Ah Beng’s fear of getting hurt.

All these latter lines end with open vowel sounds, precisely highlighting vulnerability. The Singlish words themselves denote fragility and transience. There is an excess of one line as compared to the earlier cluster, pointing to the overflow and irrepressibility of emotions. The rhyme also hinges on a false intonation for “kua kua”, which, in making it more flat, adds to the anxiety of being let down, even emasculated.

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3 Responses to “Untitled 6”

  1. Trebuchet Says:

    Haha… yes, we can now establish Singlish as a platform for high culture. The renegade creole returns home to recolonise the space formerly claimed by colonial hegemonists.

  2. Gweek Says:

    Err… what talk you?

  3. slotusch Says:

    tank yoot hor! dis poem is for we all ah lians!
    … but er… wat means ‘false intonation kua kua’? izzit the tone like ah kua?


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