How to Sing a Malaccan Folk Song
I forbid myself mention of sex imagery from all walks of life found in folk songs. Suffice it to mention a few: the water-pail in the well, the plot of land, the boatman, the monk, etc.
If you were to sing me a folk song, neglect not the water-pail in the well, the plot of land, the boatman, and the monk. Begin with the shade thrown over Malacca River and sing to me of the water, mucid and still, or the waitresses passing fugitive smiles as they balance chilled glasses of lime juice. Since I am here, do not omit the chrysanthemum flowers, or the perspiring mango trees, or even the cows grazing by the billboards. I want your voice to rise and fall, like the dishes tossed from one coloured plastic tub to another, cleansed in the sudsy hands of a row of squatting women. If you were to sing me a folk song, sell it with kaya jam, papaya, coconuts, sugarcanes, and clams. Finish it lightly and linger, like the girl in the bakery whose fingers were dusted in white flour; she asked, Is that everything you want? Can I get you anything else?