Superhero (Part 2)

As mentioned in Part 1,  my dad worked at Bank of America (BOA) in Singapore in 1970s. He started as a storekeeper for their 2 large godowns (warehouses) which were huge structures overlooking the Kallang River. The BOA was already advertising their presence as they painted huge words in front of each godown with “Bank of America Godown 1” and the other Godown 2, of course. You could see it clearly from afar when going along the stretch of road or if you were at the river area. Perhaps BOA did not intend to advertise but make it obvious for the delivery trucks to have no excuse of locating them.

As a storekeeper, my dad had to ensure the goods were placed systematically in the godown (which I will refer to as the warehouse from now on). It was just a large empty space like several basketball courts with a very high ceiling. I believe he would decide where the gunny sacks of spices would go and where the bales of cloth should be positioned and there were other goods as well. He would also need to know when the trucks would deliver or collect the goods so that the organisation would make it efficient for storage and removal of these goods.

You may wonder how I would be able to perceive this when my dad never really shared with me about his work. I was also too young for him to tell me such stuff. Well, my dad had to look after me during the school holidays and to keep me out of trouble (i guess) he brought me along to his work place which was the warehouse.

Some of you may squeal hearing this as why would anyone bring a little girl to a huge warehouse filled with heavy stuff and there would be trucks moving heavy stuff in and out as well. I never thought there was any danger at all and in fact, I considered the warehouse as one of my favourite playgrounds at par with my kampung (village). I recalled jumping from one stack of gunny sack to another and when I found any that had a tear causing the contents to come out, I would quickly scoop up spices such as cloves of garlic, dried chilli, star anise, cinnamon, etc, put them in a bag to bring it back to the kampung to share. My dad allowed me to do that as it would help clear up the mess from these `leaking’ sacks. I would load it in his favourite car (volkswagon beetle seen with him in the photo below) which he had for many good years.

Dad with Beetle (2)

My Dad with his trusty Volkwagon Beetle

As I mentioned earlier, there were bales of cloth too and my dad would bring back some that were left behind. Most of these cloths were for furniture upholstery or curtains and if there were any that was actually good for human attire, it did not make it to my wardrobe. My mom was not one who would waste these cloths so she would get a seamstress to make cushion covers, curtains and of course the good cloths would be for dresses for her or my sister. I refused to wear one so my mom decided to let the leftover tougher cloths meant for curtains to be my pants or blouse! You can see a specimen of this in the following photo where I was wearing one of such pants and it seemed that I was not too happy too 🙂

Parents and 2 girls

It is pretty obvious who is the Peanut fan.

So my dad allowed me to do whatever with the spices which brought delight to my grandma and my neighbours who all loved to cook and he would please my mom with the bales of cloth for her to go to the seamstress to come up with the latest trends for that season but little did she know that she had set a trend for me to have quite a weird taste for colors and clothes in my later years too… but maybe not. My dad chose lime green as the color of the volkswagon and it made quite a stir at the kampung and on the roads at that time. It attracted lots of attention whenever he drives it around and I think there were no other car like his in Singapore then 🙂

I was and still am proud of my dad for giving me such an interesting and amazing childhood that was filled with so much fun and adventure. When you read any posts on my childhood adventures or my growing up years, you need to remember who my superhero was and always will be.

Dad's 60th BD2 (2)

Dad’s 60th Birthday (1987)

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Reverse Shot

What’s your earliest memory involving another person? Recreate the scene — from the other person’s perspective.

Surprisingly, I just posted about my late father in the last DP and what better way than to turn it around now.

This sentence took awhile as I never really thought about how my dad looked at me during those times spent together. I am the youngest of the 3 children and perhaps, the most mischievious. So here’s what I think he thought of me:

This little rascal needs to be taught to do many things to keep her occupied, if not she will get into trouble with all the neighbourhood kids. Always running around and playing with them. I can see that they all have trouble keeping up with her and had to take turns to play with her as it was too tiring to keep entertaining her…. (me talking now – I can’t help it if I was a hyperactive kid).

I have taught her how to keep birds as pets, by showing her how to clean their cages daily, putting them into their bath-time cages, sunning them, cutting fruits and catching grasshoppers to give as treats and the art of making bird feeds. So far she has been faithfully doing all that was taught quite well. I have also taught her how to listen to their tone to differentiate the male from female as only the male ones had more melody and were suited for competition. Yes, these birds were also able to take part in singing contests organised by the community centres or bird clubs. Here’s a photo of the bird known as white-eyed sparrow, in its cage for bathing time and for show off:

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I even let her join the neighborhood karate club although she was still too small and young. This was so that she will be tired out enough to go to sleep at night and not create trouble for the family or neighbors. She is my little rascal and the apple of my eye and I am really proud of her.

(And I am the most blessed daughter in the world to have a dad like you :))

Reverse Shot – DP

Avant Garde

From your musical tastes to your political views, were you ever way ahead of the rest of us, adopting the new and the emerging before everyone else?

Yes, when I was around 7 or 8 years old, my father taught me how to whistle or mimic the birds he liked to keep as pets. I was able to tell the gender of the birds just by listening to the tone and I could set traps to capture them in the wild without causing any harm.

Not many people could learn or know how to do this and my father was the rare few men with the skills. Perhaps, I was not only the youngest but the only female with such skills then.

This was a clear example that fathers can transfer learning by doing to their children, both girls and boys effectively. All they need is love, passion, patience and care. That was my Dad, the Avant Garde!

Avant Garde -DP

One-Way Street

Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?

I choose the past to the time when my father and grandmother were alive and we all lived in our simple village house together. We had birds, dogs and sometimes white mice as pets. Our neighbors had cats and chickens.

It was a long time ago but I still miss them and the way life used to be. They were the most loving and selfless people in my life and were key players in shaping me from birth to adulthood. I can never thank God enough for them and would want to tell them how much I love and cherish them.

It was not in our conservative culture to express in words how we feel about each other but it was the smiles, deeds and time spent together laughing and poking fun at one another that says we love each other.

Come to think of it… I change my mind. I am taking the one way trip to the future! Where I will meet them in heaven and be with them happily ever after 🙂

One way street – DP