From their voices, an image

Some kids are talking behind me. They talk about their plans after graduation — the boy wants to set up a ‘b2b business’, the girl doesn’t really know what she wants to do. They compare course codes, talk about requirements for graduation, and then when they run out of things to say, they sit in silence. I can’t see their faces but I imagine that the boy is pimply, with black-rimmed spectacles and long gangly limbs. He speaks in a slurry mumbly way, the voice of young Singaporean males who haven’t learnt the art of Corporatespeak. Round-neck t-shirt, in a dark colour — something unobtrusive, that would provide him camouflage in the sea of clone-like young men dragging their ambitions and dreams against a stream of national and familial expectations. Flip-flops, black backpack — deflated. It only contains a file with a couple of notes. And a plain pencil case with ball-point pens. The girl has a bounce in her slightly-nasal voice that has the potential to turn into a whine. I imagine her in a dress — small floral prints with short sleeves, its hem ending way above her knees. She probably has a tote bag — something cute and pink. The deep pink of bougainvillas, not powder pink. I imagine her in sales or PR in a year’s time. She sounds like she avoids the sun. Her philosophy in life is to enjoy herself and to be happy. His is to make money and to be his own boss. They clutch at things to say — alternating between the present situation of their school life and their future, which doubtless, shines before them. A sea of opportunities and avenues. Calling them ‘kids’ dates me instantly — I am at least 10 years older than them, possibly more. They talk about ‘freshies’, their juniors, who they must feel so superior to. In every place there is a pecking order, a hierarchy for some to feel superior to others. They lapse into silence again, probably looking out of the window watching the Raffles Place crowd go by. The office ladies with their shift dresses and flats, striding purposefully to the train station. They keep their heels at work, a show of power for the boardroom. “A lot of my friends are starting to get engaged,” the girl says suddenly. They throw up some names of couples, and the boy pauses at the mention of someone. “I think he’s waiting to be stable first. Financially stable.” Then he changes the topic and asks the girl about how her class gathering went.

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