“READ ME!” screams the front cover of Peranakan author Josephine Chia‘s Kampong Spirit-Gotong Royong, a gift to lovers of nostalgia. A black and white picture of carefree kampong children goofing around water pipes invite viewers to participate in their playtime.
In Kampong Spirit-Gotong Royong, one notion seemed to stand out above others, that nobody needs to be alone or abandoned. The conviction that everyone should be cared for, and care for one another.
Whatever your circumstances, always live with joy.
— Mak, the author’s mother.
The book has quotes that stick and invade the conscience scattered throughout its pages.
Kampong Spirit-Gotong Royong tells of Josephine’s childhood, interlaced with one of Singapore’s most crucial decades in terms of industrial progress — back when Orchard Road wasn’t a commercial cavern crawling with imported franchises; when in place of a bustling street was a mere row of palm and nutmeg.
Also appealing is the author’s recollection of Singapore’s slow and steady escape from the caresses of colonial power in the 50s and 60s.
Josephine writes as though for a friend, exchanging letters on her childhood with the reader and bringing to life details of growing pains. She provides a different perspective on life when most are blinded by their own, based on what has always been.
Kampong Spirit-Gotong Royong is perfect for casual reading, though some parts have strong hooks impossible to detach.
These eloquent words are also accompanied by a wealth of pictures from the past. To know for yourself what life was like in in Kampong Potong Pasir in Singapore, make sure to read Josephine Chia’s literary brainchild, and experience a journey of discovery and reminiscence.