The Orchid Folios
By Mok Zining
A genre-blurring work that reimagines the orchid as a living, breathing document of history.
“When you take an orchid out of its pot, you must first loosen the roots’ hold on the soil. Late last evening as I unravelled the braids of the shattered phalaenopsis, I saw how the ends were white and shrivelled from neglect. You have to do it gently—it’s like combing hair. I remember Mum’s fingers running through mine, and mine through hers, until the final months when all of it started to fall.”
A pot shatters. An arrangement falls apart. A florist finds herself amidst the scattered leaves of history. At once a poetry collection and a documentary novella, The Orchid Folios reimagines the orchid as a living, breathing document of history: a history that enmeshes the personal, colonial, linguistic, and biotechnological with the Vanda Miss Joaquim, the symbol of Singapore’s postcolonial hybridity.
While the Orchid has shaped the fantastical narratives that govern our multiracial City in a Garden, it continues to shape-shift and bloom on its own terms, challenging us to imagine a decolonised Singapore. This is the organism at the heart of The Orchid Folios—by turns stark and unruly, documenting and challenging the narratives that are the roots of our national consciousness.
Read if you: have become a plant parent in the past two years.