writing the thesis presents issues of organization — do I approach it thematically, sandwiched between an introductory narrative & conclusion? or do I write chronologically & demonstrate my brilliance by weaving the themes into the narrative? the former is uninteresting; the latter runs the risk of incoherence or unnecessary reiteration.
whatever the case, I am so definitely opening with this paragraph:
In the Hikayat Abdullah, Munshi Abdullah tells a story about twenty-seven beautiful female slaves who fled from Sultan Hussein Shah’s well-stocked harem, materializing at the police office in a flustered and hysterical flock to lodge complaints of cruelty and abuse at the hands of their master. “One opened the clothes on her back to show the marks of the rattan cane, others had marks of having been hung up, others of burnings with pitch, others complained of being punished by fasting and nakedness”. John Crawford, the presiding Resident of Singapore, must have been a picture of incredulity. What did one do with twenty-seven vagrant women? After some deliberation, he made what was probably the only decision he could make in such circumstances: to “allow them to go where they liked: so some went with the policemen, some to the Klings, others to the Chinese, and a few of them to the houses of the Europeans, just wherever they could get food and clothing”.
The British Government, some seventy years later, would face the same dilemma, but this time, without the privilege of nonchalance.