While I was walking out of the carpark, I saw this colourful sign.
There was a showroom going on in the flat near us. No wonder there have been quite a number of unfamiliar people coming over. Being the inquisitive person that I am, I thought I’d stop by to take a look as I’ve never seen one before.
Like the majority of other Singaporeans, I live in a flat. These are high rise buildings which was meant to accomodate our 4.5 million (estimated) residents from overcrowding on an area of 693 km²
Inside a regular 5-room flat, the space is comfortable enough to accomodate a regular sized family. For the curious, the flat that we are staying in is 116 m² and was bought for 252k after the Selective En-Bloc Scheme.
I like the area where I am living. It had a nice suburban-ish charm to it. It wasn’t too crowded nor too still. There were plentiful of facilities around like the stadium, a small shopping center, a community center, food centers, a mosque and others. All of these were within a few minutes away from each other.
But I still have memories of our old house. I spent a huge part of my life here. It was not modern. It was only 5 storey tall, no lifts. It was a rather small, being a 3 room flat. It was a choice accomodation for the workers in the Jurong Factories nearby.
This picture of me and my brother was taken in 1985. In the background are the type of flats that we used to live in, and if you looked carefully, you can see some kids playing in the background.
If the place was still around right now, many people would probably be creeped out. I remember when I brought my classmates over for a study session. They said that the place was pretty run down and dilapidated.
But I loved the place. There were so many memories here.
Hari Raya with friends in 1994
The friends I’ve made, and how we’d play games that we made up, like ‘hantam bola’, ‘police and thief’ and catching. I remember when my best friends in primary school, Michael Tan Xue Ming and his lovely sister were the first ones who taught me how to ride a bicycle. When I was able to go around the block without any aid, it felt like such an achievement!
It was the age of innocence. Where everyone looked out for each other. I could leave the house unlocked, innocently floated some paper boats in the drain and still come back to see the house intact.
I was a tomboy then. Even after a broken arm from climbing trees, a chipped tooth from overzealous showing off from the metal bar, some burnt hair, numerous bruises and scratches, I’d still feel safe here.
Looking back even further, I can still remember when mum brought me over to my grandparent’s place. My grandparents used to live and own a provision shop in Pulau Tekong before it was taken over by the government to become military training grounds.
This picture of mum and her friends was probably taken in the 1970’s. The huts in the background was a typical accommodation then. My grandparents house looked different though, being a shophouse. I cant find any pictures of them unfortunately. Many of the pictures were left during the transition.
My dad waiting at the Jetty at Tekong
There were so many things to see at my grandparents shop. There was a pulley that you can pull and a tin can will drop down. This was where change will be kept to be given to customers. At the back of the shop there were bales of cloth. I remember seeing my grandfather calculating rapidly using an a abacus. Sometimes my grandfather will ask me to accompany him to the small hut where the rice and oil was stored and I would observe him measuring the weight of the rice or carefully pump the cooking oil from huge containers using a metal pump into small individual bottles.
Mum by the cloth bale
My grandparents house was so cool.
There was so much space to run around and explore. Me and my cousins would make forts out of the things that we could find. At the backyard, my grandparents kept chickens which I would play with and sometimes if I’m lucky, one of my uncles or aunts would take a coconut to husk using a spear. We bathed in well water and it was refreshingly cold! I found simple pleasures in pulling out water from the bucket tied with string.
Try to spot the chickens!
I think the coolest thing about the place was that the neighbours kept aligators in their backyard. I’d sneak in to take a peek at those mesmerizing shiny yellow eyes. And some times, my uncle would take me and the rest of the cousins to the boat and we’d see him scrape the barnacles and shellfish from the chassis and then have some toast and kaya in the chinese coffeehouse afterwards.
I feel blessed to have such an interesting childhood 🙂
It’s a pity that I don’t have more pictures to show. I wish we had a device to capture all our memories and we can replay it ala virtual reality. Wouldnt it be great?
I’ll all treasure the memories that I had.