For about 2 decades, home had been a 3-room flat in Bedok. Like most families who stayed in HDB flats in the 80s, we had a basic setup– a CRT TV with antenna, a saggy sofa, worn out dining table etc, however that serve us well.

Those were the days when we bathed from buckets filled with cold water. On rainy days, mama would scream at the top of her voice, nagging at us to come out from the bathroom as soon as we could, which obviously fell on deaf ears.

For a couple of years, I had volunteered to sleep on the floor due to the rapid growth of my siblings, which resulted in the lack of space of my parents’ bed.

On many occasions, when I can't sleep or felt more gutsy, I would find myself staring at the dark space underneath my parents’ bed and start to imagine what exactly were inside those 2 red eerie looking containers surrounded with cobwebs. Ghostly images, hairy and ugly looking spiders and even lizards with popping eyes would then start to creep into my mind. Up to a point when I was overwhelmed with fear, I would shout out to my parents for help. Mama never failed to come to my rescue by switching on the lights and freed me from the monsters' clutches . And on those nights, everyone had to sleep through in the brightly lit room. I am not sure how my siblings felt about those nights but those were some of my everlasting memories from my childhood days.

Like most children, I had alway wanted to grow up quickly, earn my keep and lead my own life. Don't we? As I am writing this journal entry, I look at my sound asleep mama who insistently want to sleep in the living room claiming that the environment being more airy and conducive for sleeping even though there is an air conditioner installed in her room. I wonder “How I wish I could turn time around, how I wish I could return to the past and again experience some of my life’s most precious and simple moments yet being taken for granted i.e. the entire family of 5 cramping together on a pocketed spring bed that creaks and squeaks and mama serving my favorite drink ,milo etc."

Please do not mistaken that I am naïve to not know that life has its ends. We all know how nature works. Our parents will grow old and frail and I am just delighted that there are memories shared with them that will forever etched deeply in my mind.

“Papa, mama, I can’t repay you enough in this lifetime. No matter how difficult life is, I will not leave you behind. I will hold your hands and walk with you as you walked me when I was still a toddler.”

(Many years later, I would come to know that those 2 red eerie looking containers were actually bathtubs that my elder sister, younger brother and myself had spent some of our happiest moments soaking in it.)

Contributed by Mr Tan Chin Hock
Author of Father (父), Mother (母) 
Founder of HoldingHands

Mandarin version
长达二十年的时期,勿洛的三房式组屋就是家。犹如八十年代多数居住在组屋的家庭,我们家也只有最基本的用品 – 旧式彩电、坍塌的沙发、残旧的餐桌等,但这些已足够我们过活。用盛满冷水的桶洗澡也是那个年代的生活点滴。每逢雨天,妈妈总会高声叫我们,要我们尽快离开浴室;当然我们并没有乖乖听从。


每当我睡不着或感到无惧的时候,我都盯着床底的黑暗空间,并开始想象那两个布满蜘蛛网,很恐怖的红彤彤容器究竟是装了些什么。脑子这时就会晃过鬼影、既丑陋又毛茸茸的蜘蛛、甚至是突眼的壁虎。当我因而感到非常害怕时,我会大声呼求,而这时妈妈就一定会“搭救”我 - 开灯,照明整个睡房,使我不再恐惧。因此,全家人也得在灯光明亮的情况下睡觉;我不知道姐弟对这有何感想,但它是我对儿时最深刻的回忆之一。





陈进福,Father (父), Mother (母)的作者

Learn more about Our FFL Contributor Tan Chin Hock:

Tan Chin Hock is a bit of an adrenaline junkie - a former commando, no less! He is dedicated to empowering and advocating for strong families. With his passion for self-care and healthy living, he leads by example and encourages others to prioritize their family relationships. Through his social enterprise, he aims to inspire and uplift the less resourced communities through photography. Join Chin Hock as he combines his unique experiences and unwavering commitment to promote the importance of strong families and making a positive impact in today's world.

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