“Jurong My Love” by Dan Koh
“I think we should secede, Jurong.”
“Let’s turn every single person away, Jurong. Unless, of course, they would deign to kiss our feet.”
The opening poem sets the tone of the whole book. Author Dan Koh refers to Jurong as if she were a person, and his words hint at a strong sense of loyalty and protectiveness over the place.
Then throughout the book, we follow the author as he recaps his life through the path that Bus 99 takes him on, from pre-teen memories with friends, weddings and deaths of relatives, to Chinese New Year traditions at his Ah Kim’s house.
He paints a very average and mundane life of a Singaporean, yet it is filled with such intricate details that you feel his connection and sense of nostalgia with each landmark around Jurong. Reading a recap of his childhood and life around the area (with a few fun facts and many anecdotes along the way), he paints a sense of a very liveable neighbourhood that seems to encapsulate heart and soul, something that I originally had found hard to see about Jurong – a place that in my mind is filled with shopping centres and factory buildings.
However, he worries about the industrialisation and Jurong becoming the ‘next CBD’ or the ‘District of the Future’. He shows uncertainty of what his childhood place with come to with the line: “My Jurong, will you be there?”.