Market

Take me back to the market
where boots squelch
under a corrugated iron sky,
little kids puke their laughter
before festering fish, fresh eyes
that scream ‘Help me, Master!’

Take me back to the market
where slippers patter
to the sliding glass vault,
comics black and white like
our souls those days, kuti kuti1
our pocket rainbows.

Take me back to the market
where shoes stall
in line before the aproned Auntie,
fingers wrinkled with change
and the Uncle, tossing sweat and wok
in a backstage ritual of the rain.

Take me back to the market
where feet shelter
under plastic tables of family,
nasi lemak2, roti prata3,
sugarcane, wan tan mee4,
all together like yong tau foo5. So tasty.

Take me back to the kopitiam6
where yeye7 used to sit
cup in hand
with a bottle of Guiness stout
that never ever seemed to finish…

1colourful tokens (many molded in the shape of animals) that children used to play games with
2a Malay dish of fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk with dishes
3an Indian dish, a fried flour-based pancake eaten with curry
4a Chinese dish of yellow noodles in sauce together with shrimp dumplings
5a Chinese dish consisting of various tofu-based ingredients in soup
6a traditional coffee shop found in Southeast Asia
7affectionate Chinese term for grandfather

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