21 November 2019

A couple of days back I was in the Lavender Street area after attending the wake of a pioneer street animal rescuer.

She had served the needs of homeless and dying animals faithfully even as she knew her life was ending. It’s now time for her to rest and let someone continue The Work.

At the traffic light junction outside the funeral parlour I asked a young lady in her late twenties if the way I was headed led to an MRT station.

She cheerfully offered to walk with me as she was also going in the same direction.

It turned out that she was learning to travel alone for the first time in her life. She had picked Singapore to be the first country for her solo practice and appreciated the predictability and order of our little island.

In her 4 days’ stay here she had memorised the MRT map and even knew I was living on the west of Singapore when I mentioned Jurong East. 😊

Solo Girl’s family has 7 dogs and care for a number of street cats. Her eyes opened wide in a mixture of horror and relief when I gave her the real reasons why unlike in her home country, she didn’t see any stray dogs or cats roaming Singapore streets.

I was to alight at Chinatown Point and she at Bugis Junction. Before we parted, Solo Girl asked me if I had any children. And when I told her I never married and never had any kids, she smiled warmly while her eyes lit up in amazement.

I believe this had to be the first time in my life that the mention of my unmarried and child free status solicited such looks of admiration! 😄

Solo Girl revealed that she felt very pressured to get married by her family and community. People told her that happiness could only come from being married and having children. She was getting a little stressed as she neared 30 and all her friends were settling down.

“Your family wants you to be happy and to them getting married and having kids is happiness. And because you’re such a pleasant girl, they cannot imagine you being alone. But it’s precisely because you’re such a lovely girl, you shouldn’t just marry anybody out of pressure,” I said, and we both laughed heartily at my touch of theatrics as I shared my opinion.

The tourist couple seated opposite us smiled. They could be wondering what kind of joke these two women from different races and generations were sharing.

Solo Girl was still laughing when I wished her a life of happiness on her own terms as I alighted the train.

In hindsight, Solo Girl’s short stay in Singapore might not be about sightseeing or shopping. It could have been a brief respite to recalibrate her emotions and clear her thoughts from gossips back home.

Maybe our meet up outside a funeral parlour of all places is a reminder for me to take responsibility for the choices I make, even if I have to make them alone.

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