Monday, January 5, 2009

Where I lived before...

I have never felt that I am deprived of anything during my growing up years. We were definitely not rich or anywhere near moderate. Things were pretty tough for my parents. I remembered we lived in different locations as kids back in this country where I grew up.

The first one was a house facing the main road. We lived in a rented room. I like this room because there were two windows. One window was facing the main road and another facing a storage yard. Just outs
ide the window was a tree growing from this yard and its branches hanged down around like a green shade. I later learnt that the name of this tree is "Magnolias". The flowers bloomed at night. There are two colors - white and yellow and the one that grew outside my window is the white species. The fragrance from this flower is strongly perfumed and can be intoxicating. However there were scary stories because this flower blooms at night and it attracts 'non-human'. (See the attached flower). However this flower is also use as offering to the Buddha on special occasion. Coming back to this place, we actually had a room on the 2- storey. We had a little dining table outside our door. There were 4 families living on this floor.

The second location was at St. Michael. We lived in a long house on stilt. There were altogether 18 families living here. Each family lived in a room. Ours is an extra room created for extra income for the landlord and therefore we do not have any window. The rooms were divided by wooden plywood and you could hear your neighbor's activities. Some of the naughty children would drill holes on the wooden walls to peep into neighbors' rooms. Behind our room lived a family with 5 boys and 2 girls, to our right was a couple and to our left was an older couple who owned a coffee shop. We shared a common cooking area and you can imagine that your neighbors looked at what you eat and gossiped. The common washing area was also a problem. Mum tried to avoid certain hours and troublesome neighbors. Mum always washed her clothes late at night. We have lots of children in this long house and there were always quarrels and fights which the parents heatedly joined in. The worst came later when both sets of parents canned the kids and there were howling and crying, screaming and scolding and banging of doors. Mum told us to stay in the room to do our homework and we can only go out to sit on the balcony when Mum and Dad were around. We were a humble family back then. Both parents were trying to make ends meet. Even in this situation, my parents never let us feel that we are inferior. Mum always said 'Be happy with what you have and not compare with others'.

As I grew into teens, Mum was even more careful with my upbringing. Other than going to school, I spent time in the rooms doing my homeworks and reading story books. Our only entertainment was to sit outside the door of a neighbor to watch Television because we have no money to buy one. This entertainment has to depend on the mood of the wife and when she was in a fouled mood, there goes our evening entertainment. Mum actually does not like us to watch TV but we do not understand the sensitivity. Mum went to work as a washerwoman and with the money she rented a Rediffusion (a kind of radio) and applied for a telephone. We were very proud of these. We spent time listening to both English and dialect programs and making telephone calls from our own telephone. When our finance got better Mum decided that it was time we moved to a 'zinc' house.

This house was located along the same lane as the long house but right behind and 5 houses away from river. We have a living room, two bedrooms, kitchen and a bathroom. The bedrooms have a raised floor or about 30" high and we have to take 2 steps to reach the landing. I loved this house. One exciting thing about this house was when it rain, the water level from the river will rise. During this period our house will be flooded and there w
ere fishes swimming into the house. You can just pick it up with bare hands. These are 'Gurami' fishes. I was in higher school now and my younger siblings were in their junior school. We walked to school every day. It was here that I completed my higher school education and due to lack of money, I stopped and look for a job.

The 3rd place we lived in was at AMK. We are lucky to get this new unit thanks to a special person. I was very active in the youth group which was a sub organization under the government arm. Due to this merit, we were given this flat because our rented 'zinc house was due for demolish because the landlord sold the land. He did not even give us any compensation. Mum and Dad were very happy that we moved to AMK. Our living condition got better. During this period I am having a permanent job and we decided to buy our own apartment.

This 4th Place is at Tam. It was a 5-room apartment on 13th floor (the highest floor). This place is ours today as we have completed paying our mortgage. We now have our own property and a car. I do not consider ourselves anywhere near 'rich' but we are comfortable. Mum loved this place. However Dad passed away in 1990 and we moved in 1991. Dad did not have a chance to enjoy this nice house.

To all those that are growing up and going through phases in life like what we did, strive and have fate. The motto is work 'hard', be realistic, put your feet to the ground and builds your future step by step. There is no short cut but hard work. You will need a good education and always upgrade yourself. I am sure you will make it - maybe even better than us. For me, I am happy with what I have today. I need not carry any financial burden on my shoulder. I have my CPF, my insurance, my savings and my career. Meng is retired and he is enjoying life. He is a simple man with simple needs. He is doing some small business of his own. Ya worked with a health group as a medical record clerk. She now has her own house as well. Our parents can rest in peace because they know that we are well catered for.

I always believe that being filial to your parents, you will naturally be blessed by the divine. Divine will make sure that obstacles will be cleared for you to move on, this is my experience. May whoever read this be encouraged and motivated to move ahead in difficult times and BELIEVE in yourself.


  1. You've got a really great blog, it's really well written and unique. I plan to read more from you!

    I.S. Differ

  2. I.S
    Thank you. That is a great encouragement to me. Do come, leave me comment to help be better my blog. I will drop by your too.