Clarke Quay at noon, 1965
MG Kumar, ‘Clarke Quay at noon, 1965’, 2021, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in
‘A soft merging, as when salty waves enter my mouth.
Everything in rhythm, in season.’ – ‘Singapore River, 1962’, Edwin Thumboo
Stepping off his twakow (boat), he raises his eyes to the row of ‘godowns’ lining the riverfront like a troop of warriors. These shophouses and warehouses stand tall at the top of the steps that he is now ascending. Behind the façade of their Transitional and Art Deco architectural exteriors, he knows they are filled to the brim with treasures. Spotting the arrival of the merchant, coolies rush to his side and begin to transport the cargo from his tonkangs. Above, the sky is a canvas of endless blue and the noonday sun continue to blaze – he knows that this is where he will set up his own godown. He is Hoo Ah Kay, although the locals knew him as Whampoa. As he stands here on its banks, he knows in his heart that, for many years to come, this river will continue to flow with her richest blessings.