Catalogue For Cabinet of Curiosities:
A Compilation of Artefacts Born and Excavated in Singapore


Exhibit 1: “Remarkable” Stone
Discovered 1819, mouth of Singapore River

Desc. Weathered slab of sandstone, inscribed with an undeciphered script.

Hist. Historians of language laboured long, but found their sources lacking. The inscriptions are in a vernacular no human has uttered. There is only one conclusion to be drawn out of this deepening well: through the art of erosion, the river itself has carved its tale into the sandstone. 

The river learns its first tongue.

Exhibit 2: Screaming-Faced Medallion
Discovered 1793, by a flummoxed fisherman

Desc. Pendant of unidentified metal and hints of coral, depicting a lion, jaw agape.

Hist. We can tell, through scrupulous scrutinisation, that the jewelry has travelled from far away, possibly from Atlantis. Further inspection of the jaw shows it unhinges to reveal pearlescent scales unlinked to any biological creature, bundled with wheat-gold hair of a familiar large cat. Far-fetched as it seems, the hairs demonstrate waterproof, placoid qualities similar to scales of a large fish. 

A lion swims alongside the river.

Exhibit 3: Correspondence Shells
Discovered 1802, in a brownbanded-bamboo shark’s belly

Desc. A series of ten pearl-lined shells, when held to the ear scrapes out the following sounds:

3.a. “[Glugging, choking sound, translated to:] Down, you beastly fish, don’t let them see—”

3.b. “[Guttural, translated to:] It’s so bright, River, a whole new world to claim. How the murky depths chastise themselves, now! Yet you dare, subject, keep this trove from me?”

3.c “[River:] Lion, I protect you. They’ll tear your scales asunder, sell them for gold if you’re not wary—[Water thrashing, writhing.]

3.d. “[Lion, a roar that quavers:] I require of your services no longer, River: what do perished streams have to offer me? My kin rule whole empires. I must have something. [A shuddering rumble of flood, a keening that sends shrivelled skin peeling.]

3.e. “[The desperate rush of water:] Lion, no, we took an oath. I am bound by troth—”

3.f. to 3.j. Devolves into tornadoes of plaintive, sloshing water, and indolent roaring. No further voices are heard.

Hist. Inference is sketchy, due to the ambiguous yet enthralling nature of the echoes. Suggestions of an underwater skirmish, but between which battling entities we may never be quite certain. An ill-fated symbiotic relationship could be ascertained, out of which only one of them would survive.

The lion breathes its first. The river dries.

Exhibit 4: Seaweed-bound scripture
Author unknown

Desc. Wind-beaten, water-soaked. Treat with utmost care.

Hist. Quotes read, “1819: We see glimpses of a Beast, villagers call “Devourer”. It hunts without abandon, leaves our dogs and cattle in bloodied shreds.” “1826: Waters evaporated with an aching cry, fish dare not venture near.We were wrong. This is no saviour, no god.” “1844: River now runs dry—our only directions to defeating “Devourer” lie, engraved by the one with no tongue, encased in lost stone.”

 “1887: He takes the form of a man donning plaster cloths and crown…and stands forever inert, mighty conqueror, back turned on our dried riverbed…”

Nicole Teng (Class of 2022) studied Literary Arts for four years, and is now a Film student. During this course, her most valuable moment was finding a writing style that blends the lyrical aspect of poetry into prose.