This piece was written very shortly after the memorable flag-lowering ceremony at Geylang Bahru. That was one of the most emotionally charged moments of my life, and I decided to preserve the memory forever, before the details slip out of my mind. So here we are. I made some minor changes so that it wouldn't sound so cheesy, as I often find my works when I look back a couple of years later. And it is quite normal for me to start padding along the way, adding some spices and more and more and more flavour along the way. That would serve also as an 'update' to my latest style of writing.
So here we go. Any problems with comments tell me via cBoard on Fortisssimo. Enjoy.
There was a distinct air of gloom, as class after class shuffled into the parade square, most, for once, letting their bags fall to the ground with a depressing thud. Few spoke, just stared, not quite knowing what to say. Not quite knowing what to expect.
It was about an hour before, when the Principal had announced his presence over the PA system with the usual ding-dong-dong chime.
'Good afternoon boys. This is Mr. Ang speaking.'
Most of the boys he was addressing merely shot mild enquiring glances to their friends or to their teachers, who were as usual equally clueless.
'It is the proposition of your student leaders that we hold a flag lowering ceremony.' He paused, probably knowing that in almost forty different classes students were exchanging wild confused looks, eyes and mouths wide open in disbelief.
'We shall,' he said loudly, again knowing that there would be a great murmuring around the school then. 'We shall assemble at the parade square at 1:05pm, immediately after your lessons end, where the Head Prefect, Monitors' Council chairman, and... myself will address the schools with short speeches, and then we shall conduct the flag lowering.' The PA went silent for awhile, as if the principal suddenly fell into a pensive trance. Then there was a quiet, hoarse 'thank you', followed by the telling crackle which meant that the system had been turned off. Immediately there was a great buzz around the school, and the teachers needed a full minute to calm everyone down and resume the lesson.
Everyone sat impatiently through the prefect's speech. But just as the chairman of the Monitor's Council started his speech, drops of rain started to fall for the first time in weeks. The hot ground absorbed each splatter, only to be hit with five more. Those who had been muttering curses under their breaths fell deathly silent. Everyone turned in all directions, meeting glances in pure wonder, astonishment, and brave resignation. By the time the principal ascended the podium to address the school, the heavy drizzle had turned into a light shower. When the prefect greeted the school for the second time that day, the students half-heartedly stood up. Attention was called for. Attention was given. For once.
The conductor took a deep breath, then raised his hands. One last time. Make it good. His hands swung into action, enchanting with their hypnotic rhythm his fellow bandmates to do his bidding, as a sorcerer his minions.
The snares struck first, crackling through the damp air with its crisp buzzing hiss. The kettle drum soon made its sonorous entry, on cue to the very millisecond, rising to a magnificent rumble, before the rest of the instruments joined in and drowned the percussion to a faint yet distinct beat.
Ah yes, the school song. Anthem, they call it. Everyone sang it with unusual gusto, with lusty emotion, not quite ready to believe that they were seeing the school flag descend. They sang as if the better they sang it, the slower the flag would fall. By this time, the rain poured full scale, drenching the already wet students. They responded by raising their voices.
The final bars of the school song saw the triumphant notes of the trumpet, piercing in a nice, satisfying way, and the kettle drummer beating the hell out of his poor instrument.
The boys had never in their life been so emotionally charged. But what could they do? Cry? Oh well, if anyone did let the furtive tear or two escape, the others wouldn't have noticed. Thank God for the rain.
A cacophony of wild yells and screams sounded to one side. Cheers! Laughing with relief the others dashed over to join in, the hell if they were yelling senseless words. An air of satisfaction descended over them like a fog of heady alcohol fumes. Picking up their bags, swinging it cheerfully over their shoulders, they strode out, through the narrow gate, smiling, never to return.
We do not return to you, Mother, because we never really left.
OK, I know this is turning into a documentary of my writing style, but I couldn't care. I just think it'd be nice for you to know what I'm actually thinking instead of using those Literature shit to come up with inferences I wouldn't have thought of in a million years.
About 1/5 of the volume of the version you have just read were new, fresh out of the oven. I told you, it's a not-too-good habit of mine, adding stuff in. But there were more cheesy parts than I had expected, and I had changed that (duh). Also some descriptive parts I thought were too shallow, so I padded. Overall I did not endeavour to even change details, just to make it juicier. Rather like not directing you to a different stream of water from the one I had promised, but digging the waterbed deeper so you have more water to drink.
So. Comments. Pull no punches. But hey I wasn't born yesterday. I will delete immediately any comment that stinks of malice and intention to hurt. Go on now. And thanks for taking time to read and comment.