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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。

当姐弟快速成长,而父母空间有限的床再也容纳不下所有人的那几年,我选择打地铺。

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。

跟一般的小孩一样,我一直渴望自己赶快长大,可以赚钱、自立,过自己的生活。这不就是所有人的想法吗?我在写这篇日志时,望着在客厅里熟睡的母亲,想着她坚持比起开着冷气的睡房,客厅较舒适、通风,会睡得较香。我不禁希望时光能倒流,让我回到过去,从新体验当时既简单又宝贵的时刻。因为那时的我都把这些点滴视为理所当然,无论是全家人挤在一张破旧的床褥上或是妈妈为我冲泡美禄,我最爱的饮料。

请不要误会我会天真地以为人生没有尽头,我们都了解大自然的运作。我们的父母都会变老,身体开始虚弱,我只是庆幸与他们的共同回忆会永远烙印在我的脑海里。

“爸妈,您们的恩情我这辈子都无法回报。不管生活有多艰苦,我都不会遗弃您们,我会牵着您们的手,陪您们一起走,就如您们当时牵着还是个小孩的我。”

(多年以后,我才知道那两个恐怖的红色容器就是姐姐、弟弟和我的“浴缸”,而浸泡在其中是我们最快乐的时光之一。)

陈进福,Father (父), Mother (母)的作者

Tags: 3 Generation Family /Family Bonding