Wednesday, May 7, 2014

(Prose) - Leaving


15th March 1967:- As they came into contact with the spark, the bright red firecrackers burst into a startling fusion of noise and sparks which added to the joyous occasion. As I happily surveyed my surroundings, I was confident that I was going to have a successful business. The red banners and jugs of beer exchanged between my friends tempted and beckoned me, but I knew that I had more important things to deal with- tidying up my new shop. It was a small humble provision shop, and although it was not a great place to set up a store, I was proud of it. As I approached my wife, she turned to me and greeted me with a bright grin.

“Look at all the red packets that we’ve got!” she giggled excitedly. “There should be enough to pay the shop rental and buy a signboard.”

With a whoop of jubilance, I embraced my wife happily. We were both satisfied. Setting up this shop was a brilliant choice, and we had a bright future ahead of us. We now had to wait till the day we retire.

“I promise you,” I said to my wife. “I will make sure  that you will never have to suffer in poverty again.”

My wife, who was from a poor Peranakan family, smiled and embraced me again, her happy tears wetting my shirt.

14th July 1999:- Our business is doing fine, although it has been a bit poor of late. Nevertheless, my wife and I are still contented. 

On a rare chance, we would have old friends visiting us, and we would spend a long time catching up on their lives and the current issues in Singapore. I enjoy those moments. They were warm and filled with love, in which hatred had no place in, just pure gossip and chat. 

My wife and I would also provide lunch for our friends in these occasions, asking them to stay longer so that we could chat a little more. If they were free enough, they would sit by our shop and enjoy the cool breeze which always blows through the void deck. 

Everyone in the neighbourhood knows us as they walk pass our shop everyday. Life is slow as it is now, and with a rumoured presidential election coming up, life can’t get any better. Life is great.

3rd April 2006:- Something disturbs me greatly. 

A few days ago, my wife and I had received a letter from the government, and so had the other shopkeepers. My wife and I could not read most of the letter as we did not know English. All I could make out of the letter was “sorry”, “move out” and “en-block”. 

This troubles me to no end, and I wait in certain fear for the end of my business.

2nd June 2007:- I finally had Ah Hock to explain to me five months ago about the letter and I finally understood. My shop would be one of the many shops that would be renovated to better ones, in exchange for three thousand dollars as a compensation.

 Many of my fellow friends and shopkeepers did not like the idea, and neither do I. These shops hold many precious memories that we cherish, and we did not want to give them all up so easily. However, we knew that whatever happened, we still have to follow government orders.

 Slowly, one by one like  falling dominoes, shops closed down, and soon it would be my turn.

31st July 2007:- As I wearily pick up a box of canned drinks, I remember the day when I first opened my shop to customers for the first time. It seemed just like yesterday when the feisty firecrackers disrupted the peaceful silence of the whole neighbourhood, and the neighbours had to resort to filing a complaint to the police. 

The shop is nearly cleared. I took a long look at the corner where the fridge once stood and I gave a sad sigh. With tears trialing down my eyes, I brought the shutters down noisily and rolled the remainders for my supplies to my van. It was then that I realized that I was unable to fulfill the promise to my wife.  

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