My name is Miss Caj, white-furred with big eyes. I enjoy sitting in front of the window of one of the Peranakan houses in the Kampong Glam area—a historic district in Singapore filled with unforgettable corners. This district was once the village where ancestors of Wong Jawa [Javanese folks] travelled and settled since the pre-colonial era. At the time, ports throughout the East Indies became the world trading centres with plural communities from Polynesia, China, Arabia, and Europe. The rising demand for indigo, coffee, sugar, and other spices became the primary root of colonialism, bringing about slavery, segregation, and racism. Colonialism in the 19th century exploited massive natural resources in this area and hindered any progress in cultivating indigenous knowledge. Today, the remnants of colonialism in the modern paradigm, which still cause epistemic injustices, can only be dismantled by reshaping the narrative of pre-colonial Southeast Asia. In this very spot, on this beautiful balcony that I witness, various fragments of history and personal journeys of different people can reflect a vibrant cultural tapestry that is undivided by race or specific beliefs.
Written and Illustrated by Melissa Sunjaya