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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 1, March 2019

Padmini Krishnan

Boatman’s Song

Four of my colleagues and I decide to spend a relaxing evening in Singapore. What better than the intoxicating Singapore River at night? Therefore, we set out from Merlion Statue to explore Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and the attractive skyscrapers on a 40-minute cruise.

As the boat leaves the dock, the boatman begins to sing. My friends and I look at each other. I have been here before, but this is the first time I've heard a boatman trying to sing. His voice is low and shaky in the chill breeze, breaking through the audio and video guide service. Still, he manages to lull a few of my companions to sleep.

I shiver, wishing I had brought my jerkin. In time, there's a change in the boatman's voice, stronger, deeper. His eyes are closed and in the darkness, he's part of the night. He caresses the words, stretches them, and sometimes, sings with a tremolo.

I finally doze off and spend the remainder of the ride dreaming.

whale songs
the lapping of waves
against the hull



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