Went to see a friend yesterday. She’s slightly younger than my mum but unlike my mum who has had to endure many changes of home, my elderly friend has been living in the same house practically all her life: she might even have been born there, but I’m not sure.
It was from the same house that she got married, became a mother, later a widow, then a mother-in-law and a grandmother. More recently, she became the grieving grandmother who lost a precious grandson who was too, too young to die.
As I sat with her, I reflected on all the old houses that have been torn down in her neighbourhood; all those that are waiting to be torn down and all the small condos that have sprung up in their place.
Quite a stayer in a Singapore that’s moving on with a vengeance.
Yet, she’s not the only friend I have in the same neighbourhood who remained in the home she was born in, see her parents pass on and who is now growing old in the same house that her ancestors once lived and loved. One other is holding on equally faithfully.
Not too far away, an elderly cousin of mine lives alone in Serangoon Gardens, in the same house she had moved into in her early teens when it was a home teeming with people and laughter. Now her parents are gone, while her siblings have created families elsewhere in Singapore and across the world.
My own sister, Daffy, continues to live in the same house she married into. She would be celebrating her 40th wedding anniversary in 2013.
And believe it or not, earlier this month I celebrated the 20th anniversary of living in the same apartment. Quite a feat, considering that prior to that, I was moving home every 9 to 18 months.
Worse was when i was living in Kuala Lumpur where once, when a new friend was sending me home after a night of revelry, I couldn’t remember where I lived. United Gardens in Old Klang Road? PJ Section 14, 17? Or old PJ, off Jalan Gasing?
I’ve no such problem nowadays.
But I wonder how much longer I will call this apartment home, consisdering all around us have en bloc or are new builts.
After all, the house where I was born in Owen Road has long been demolished. More recently too the house where I gew up in Rangoon Road. So who knows when the demolition ball will claim my current home.
Still, I’m not unduly sad. Because staying rooted in the same place, feeling left behind even as the world around me is changing, could be even more heartbreaking!