I must mention him first. He was the first street artist I met when I flew to Singapore from my hometown at the age of 16. At that time, my friends and I did not even know our ways around Orchard. We had had to ask the passersby to get to where we wanted to go, despite the fact that we kept passing Orchard Road everyday on our way to school.
But then you have to understand that our bus ride was in the earliest of the morning when the stars were still visible in the sky, when everyone on the bus was half-awake and could not care more about the mobile TVs casting English-subtitled Japanese cartoons with incessant signals and with sounds muffled by the engine, and when the bus driver was perhaps the only sober person on board. What was going on outside the bus was beyond our consciousness and left unbothered in the silence of the dark. Out of a group of five or six or more of us, maybe one was vigilant enough to vaguely spot an overhead bridge and press the “stop” button before all was too late.
I’ve probably sidetracked a bit too much. Let’s come back to our artist stationed in the tunnel at the turn of Scotts Road. He is a key-board player cum singer. You will surely remember him the first time you see him. Or you do not even need to see him. Just hear him would suffice a life-time memory. His voice is of the deep mellow kind, not too coarse. It blends nicely with his merry-go-lucky melodies. He uses a loudspeaker; so even in the busiest hour of a public holiday when the tunnel was flooded with people and din, his voice comes unmistakably into your ear, undistorted. If you follow the sound, you will find a man of a certain size with a bulged belly sitting on a chair, wearing a headphone and playing the keyboard, blind. His face is of a broad and round shape, contorted somehow. His wife would always sit beside him and do her own stuff, oblivious of the traffic, as if sitting on the balcony of her own house.
They would be there rain or shine. They would be there day or night. After so many years, when you pass by the tunnel and see the same man playing the same tune, you cannot help feeling that some things are bound to stay and bound to last despite the passage of time.