This is a story about Bidadari, a park near my home. Bidadari, a cemetery previously, was slated for redevelopment in 2001 and reopened as a park in 2006 to the public. It was rare to find an un-manicured park in Singapore. The park with beautiful and majestic old trees quickly became my favourite place for an evening stroll and a place to get away from the city. The pavements were bumpy and unpaved. Sometimes I would see a snake slithering into the long grass. There were always squirrels scampering from branch to branch. There were no lights in the park. In the darkness of night, foreign workers would sit in the park and just enjoy the breeze.
The park was gradually closed to the public. It was a slow and gradual change. First the fences came up. Next the bulldozers came in. In a city where buildings need to be bright and shiny, parks are manicured and trees uprooted to new locations, everything is controlled.
A sense of loss and panic has kicked in as everything is changing at lighting speed in our country. My perfect little un-manicured park, that I thought is paradise, has been broken up into fragments of memories. It’s a feeling that becoming too familiar. When you turn around and find that things have changed. You think you know a place but you realize you don’t. You learn to live with it but still you yearn for the old.