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Batavia Centrum | Batavia Centrum

4 November 2012

Batavia Centrum

1933:
Chinese women, young and old
Totter beneath
Buckets of sweat
Treading narrow lanes
between shops in Pintoe Ketjil

1942:
The Japanese arrive
Stupid bastard, they say
To the Chinese man in calico
Miserable from having
his godown plundered
No New Years this year
Moon cakes stuffed with coconut pulp

1954:
Chinese girls and boys
Unlatch their doors
And wait for coins
To fill donation baskets

1963:
Chinese men and women
Prop open their doors
To let the smoke of incense
Waft into their homes
Quietly, they calculate
Bad days on an abacus

1979:
Tapeikong cooks are envious
To see the god of gambling
Offered incense every day
The Tans and Lies control the chiefen
Some of them visit the temple
Others kneel before Mother Mary

1992:
Elderly Chinese women and men
Walk unsteadily hand in hand
To the square for tai-chi
As their grandchildren in Singapore
Remain soundly asleep

1998:
As the iron curtain crumbles
Jade statues of the goddess Kwan Im
And the tiger Pa Kua shatter
And are scattered with ancestors’ ashes

Batavia Centrum

1933:
Beberapa encek dan encim
Tergopoh-gopoh memikul
Keranjang keringat
Menyusuri lorong sempit
Pertokoan Pintoe Ketjil

1942:
Jepun datang
Bagero, katanya
Kepada babah berbaju blacu
Yang memelas saat gudangnya
Dikuras
Tahun ini tanpa Sin Chia
Kue Pia hanya berisi ampas kelapa

1954:
Beberapa amoy dan akew
Membuka grendel pintu
Dan menunggu recehan
Untuk mengisi pundi-pundi abu mereka

1963:
Sebagian enci dan engkoh
Mengganjal pintu
Dan membiarkan asap hio
Masuk ke rumahnya.
Diam-diam mereka menghitung
Hari-hari sial dengan sipoanya

1979:
Taipekong dapur iri
Melihat dewa judi
Diberi dupa wangi setiap hari
Marga Tan dan Lie mengikat chiefen
Sebagian sampkai ke vihara
Sisanya bersimpuh di hadapan Bunda Maria

1992:
Beberapa encim dan empe
Tertatih bergandengan
Menuju emperan untuk senam Tai-Chi
Sementara cucu mereka
Masih tertidur pulas di Singapura

1998:
Tirai-tirai besi koyak berderak
Bersamaan dengan itu
Batu giok Dewi Kwan Im dan Macan Pa Kua
Jatuh berserakan bersama abu leluhur mereka

1998

English translation by Deborah Cole

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