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The Closing of Borders Wheelock by the Landlord Similarly Named

We had a look at Borders yesterday, with its shutters down and roses left for it by visitors. A large piece of cardboard on the inside was on display, with a handwritten goodbye letter from its staff to Singaporeans thanking them for their patronage and acknowledging their sense of loss — they too had grown up there and loved books, it said. The final line: “P.S. remember to look after your books”, was sweet enough to offset the embarrassment of their having misspelt “privilege”.

By evening, someone had come along and left a note on the glass: “U can’t do this to us! (sad smiley), (heart) Singapore.” It seems having a large bookstore in the middle of Orchard Road for 13 years did little to instill some standards of English language use.

I remember the first time I visited the store, all those years ago, and being floored by the breadth of what was now within reach, shelves upon shelves of poetry — that eventually, and sadly, dwindled down to a small and forgotten handful of crass anthologies in a corner — how it forced me to plan and prioritize and comprehend that much time had to be made, and many more sacrifices to be accepted, for the countless books that I now could read but for the most part never would.