This picture was taken from a particular spot on the footbridge over the Geylang river near my place. (It is apparently Singapore's first suspension footbridge, built way back in 1998.)
I don't quite remember when I started to do this, but each time I cross the bridge, no matter what time of the day, in rain or in sunshine, I halt at the spot to snap a picture. To capture a moment so I can transcend time and revisit the past in my mind.
It is also while crossing this little bridge that I have had several moments of inspiration. Several feet above the usually placid waters, I have had some of my most elucidating conversations with KrA on life and such. Under the watchful eyes of the skies and the sun, here have I found the courage to give voice to my doubts, to ask the questions I fear finding the answers to. And many a moment of epiphany has come to me in the few seconds it takes to traverse the bridge.
It is one of my favourite places in Singapore. The waters, although usually dirty if you look too close, are nonetheless peaceful and beautiful if you just take in the vast expanse.
Many of the stories of Dream Pedlar were conceived or twisted and bent into shape on this bridge. In the early days, I remember, each story was written carefully over a few hours, and was preceded by much thought and several drafts. Many stories were started and discarded before the nicer ones could be written into existence to grace the blog every week.
To quote from a post I wrote last April ...
"I am a painstaking writer. I mull over story ideas almost all the time. When I cook, when I am out for a run, in the shower, when I wake up in the morning, before I drift sleepwards, even in my dreams, on my way to work, on my way back from work. Even in office when I have some time to spare I start to scour the Internet for heart-stopping images.
But there are also moments when I take the time to stand and stare, to look around me, to take in the sights and sounds and smells and feelings. At the grocery store, on the sidewalk, en route to some place else, I often take a moment to pause living in my head and look, really look at all the people and things around me. In a cafe I strain my ears for the lyrics accompanying a catchy tune wafting from the speakers above the din of coffee and chatter and canoodling.
It is like living in two places at the same time, in the here and now and also in my head, transcending time and space. And I am beginning to feel as if the lines are blurring, the two worlds are coalescing, the thin film of aether that separates the two realms is fast disappearing, dreams and reality rushing towards each other in a frenzy, colliding in some sort of a mystical fusion, like the ecstatic dance of a whirling dervish.
And I feel and experience all of this, and I put all of my soul into each tale. And when I have penned the ending of each story, I am convinced that this is it, that I have no more to say, no more yarns to spin, no more dreams to peddle. Until the next tale comes along, and the dance begins all over again. A new tune, new steps, perhaps slow, perhaps fast, I have long stopped guessing what’s in store."
And I think that made all the difference. Dream Pedlar was either in my head, or in my words, or on the paper, or on the blog all the time. In my dreams, in my thoughts, something unusual on the street would serve as inspiration for another tale. It was like garbing a Dream Pedlar suit, a second skin off which I wouldn't be stripped. Which made it easier to wade through a whole lot of mud and emerge on the other side, victorious, with a little tale in my hand to show for it, all in just a week's time.
This has ceased to happen for a while now. The only time my thoughts meander towards Dream Pedlar are on Saturday mornings, when I wake up panic-stricken, worried about what to write, instead of permitting myself the necessity of rest and carefreeness that is much required after a long, weary week at work.
So what has been going up on the blog over the past few weeks are hastily-scribbled tales, lacking in imagination and inspiration, cobbled together in a fit of panic and half-heartedness, leaving both me and you half-sated.
It's something akin to discovering a restaurant, falling in love with their signature dish at first bite, and then frequenting the place too much for my own good because, sooner than later, the realization dawns that the dish I once savoured doesn't quite taste the same anymore. As if the chef has forgotten to add his secret ingredient. And I curse myself for having known it all along but admitting it to myself only now. And thinking - Why the hell did I not get out of here any sooner?
So after several weeks of going back and forth on this, I have decided to let slip the regimen of stories-every-Saturday that I had been following on the blog and instead, post when I feel the story is nice or there is something worth sharing.
It doesn't necessarily mean there would be fewer posts. A tale could sneak up on you on a Sunday night or in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, a story could weave itself into your dreams on a hot Wednesday afternoon or on a Friday night. Or December could pass by in wintry silence, and we'd be all a-chirpy once again in March.
I think it's better this way. At the very least, I'd feel less guilty about making you read half-hearted tales on the site, while I sit here mesmerized by the bewitching worlds created by Neil Gaiman, Kate Morton and Erin Morgenstern.
Have a lovely weekend, you all.
Thank you for reading, listening, and sparing a few moments and thoughts for Dream Pedlar! :)