23 March 2009


It became dark as night that Sunday at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and suddenly there was no one about and the rain, which started as a sudden silence, and gusts of cold wind that smelled of mud and river and old eternal things, pelted down through the rain trees. We ran into the gazebo with our coffee, snatching our paintings first and the paints after, and bent over, mopping our things with tissue paper, and our paint spotted rags, and laughing and wondering where the others might be, getting wet?- or dry like us? - with our half-drunk after-lunch coffee. Then we settled companionably down to enjoy the thunderstorm and tried to paint in the trees, and the grass and earth, trying to remember the effect of the sun, just a few moments ago. D leaned over and using the corner of his T-shirt sleeve wiped a smear of oil paint from my lip. He smelt loamy like the rain, like the roots of plant freshly pulled from the earth. We tried to imagine the details of the landscape, now smudged by the sheets of rain, of this garden that was started in 1859 by the British. It wasn't possible, in the blur of water, I kept seeing the dank plantation and tangled virgin rainforests that people got lost in, that stood here once.