This post is a follow-up from Part 1 of the 5 part series “The Last Train” documenting the end of the KTM railway in Singapore.
Many a times, when I am in the zone and taking photo of people, I am acutely aware that every fleeting expression will result in a photo of a different moment, and I take several shots of the same scene so that when I get back into the (now digital) darkroom I can look through the pictures and select THE one representative photo.
However documenting the closure of the KTM railway station in Tanjong Pagar, I was even more keenly aware, that every photo I take will never again be repeated, not even re-staged, for the closure of the station meant that everything will, and did indeed change.
The hawkers selling food will no longer be reporting to the same stall everyday; the station masters will no longer be working at the same post, in the same office; the workers and people of the KTM Tanjong Pagar station will never again step into the building in the same meaningful manner of going about their daily business.
Instead, with the building being preserved as a national monument, there will only be memories to step into, nostalgia to wallow in when one re-enters the building. Our photos (and videos, too) record the last days of this once vibrant station, the daily flurry of activities and the sights and smells of the place distilled onto ink and paper.
There were many people rushing to the station to savour the last few days, eating at the station’s famous stalls and usual haunts. There were not many days left to do so.
Photographs preserve not only the visual, but also the emotions that went along with those visual vignettes of a life once past. They are the key to unlocking our memories, to unleashing those latent feelings. I feel very privileged and fortunate to be one of the many people trying to retain our sense of place in Singapore’s history.
Some of the stalls may relocate to other places in Singapore but for many, it will be an emotional return to Johor Bahru, Malaysia where most of them hail from.
And after 79 years, the KTM Tanjong Pagar station has become part of our history.
Look out for Part 3 of the series ‘The Last Train”, where I will be featuring the tireless KTM workers, the people who made the whole system tick. Hope you have been enjoying the series so far!