Countdown #6 – Home
At a point in life when all your friends, classmates, and otherwise contemporaries are planning and flailing over planning for or buying a residence (at this point in the local and global) economy, home is probably as close to heart as the toy that one grew up with – the one which has just gone into the spring cleaning trash.
I was able to enjoy this view – this and the ruddy redness of sunset seeping in everyday (that visual cue that meant Art Attack was on TV), thanks to the east-west facing of the windows and main door. This has been my home for the last almost-25 years, and, possible loss-of-creativity notwithstanding, it’s familiar portals that let in the greater natural cycles has given me the stability so taken for granted when possessed but yearned for when missed.
Incidentally, the fates have also been kind. At least 3 blocks of flats would have been in this frame if they were not demolished since about 20-odd and 10-odd years ago (different housing boards). My block is the figurative highlander – still alive, and yet close to the famed Old Airport Road Hawker Centre.
Life has been kind – from the vines of morning glory flowers (the wire-link fences have since been taken down) along the canal, to the fresh-ground coffee that was sold in the wet-markets, to the sound of the karang-guni man calling and honking his toy tooting-horn every incense-and-breakfast-riddled dawn (the early mornings have since taken on a new meaning).
Naps were (and still are) a dangerous affair – my brain has as much respect for time and the average alarm clock as a hot knife does for butter. My groggy consciousness usually first registered the pit-pattering of several elastic collisions of basketballs, spotted with shrieks of laughter (score!) and disappointment (augh!) and the ringing of bicycle bells.
Sometimes, especially when the atmosphere was dusty, the aforementioned liquid sunset would flow through the grating of the main gate when the door was opened for fresh air. Sometimes, depending on the season (the sun’s path was one of the few other seasonal-significant phenomena) the sun would appear through the glass of my corridor-facing windows and slowly trace a distorted yellow path down each individual pane.
Change is but a passerby, in the home that stays lodged in the mind. Following the demolition of several neighbouring blocks, the yearly-to-bimonthly auctions and sporadic kite-flying and GE rallies that marked the calendars of some and the fields surrounding my apartment block, the construction and reconstruction of several adjunct and currently open roads, and the Circle Line that warranted the previous road developments, I have been privy to the turmoil that surrounds my home and had the privilege of being the eye in the storm.
Yet, a home is but a concept – a concept that requires people to give it meaning, in both abstraction and reality.
(To be continued…)