Siti Aminah, by Alfian Sa’at

23 August 2012

So you let the Dutch television station
Into your house,
And the kind Dutch interpreter
Drank your coffee,
Which was all you could offer
Apart from, of course,
Your unhelpful silence
Which grew more stubborn each minute
As the static in your head
Buzzed louder, then turned to a terrible song:
The car ride to the High Court,
The monsoon of fists on the car roof,
The splatter of hands, like blind birds, on the windshield
And Nadra frightened by the beating of your heart;
You closed your mind
To their gentle questions,
What do these people know about love?


Siti Aminah took care of Maria Hertogh when her Dutch parents fled the country during the war. Her refusal to return Maria, whom she renamed Nadra, to her parents and the court case that followed sparked off riots in December 1950 now charted in Singapore’s history as the Maria Hertogh Riots

[Read in One Fierce Hour by Alfian Sa’at. Ripped from]

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