Life is the art of drawing without an eraser ~ John W. Gardner

Sweet Old Memories

I used to live in a house of 5 rooms, with 13 family members. Nope, it wasn’t a spacious bungalow. It was a small one-storey terrace house which grandma did an extension at the back of the house and made it to 2-storey at the back. Daddy said that grandpa bought that house for RM8000 40 years ago. Hahaha.

I squeezed in a small room with my 3 other sisters, 2 double-decker beds with only 1 wardrobe and 1 drawers cabinet to share. The house always seemed so small for 13 of us. When all of us were at home, the living room was more like a mini cinema. The elderly occupied the sofas as always, the young and small ones were always on the floor. We didn’t have a proper study desk. The big round dining table after dinner, was our study desk. I used to do my homework on the floor and on my bed a lot. Exams time, the TV volume was still blasting as usual, I had to hide in my room with the Hi-fi on and made myself focused. It was always noisy at home. The only quiet time was 8pm, when daddy was watching the news on TV, no one (not even the mosquito) shall make a sound! Quarrels always happened between 2 families. Still, we remain as family.

With only 1 toilet and 1 bathroom, bathing time was crazy. Bathroom was never free from 5pm to 8pm. We often kept our biscuits in the bedroom, for fear that cousins would finish our precious supplies. Haha. We had 2 dinner time, 6.30pm was our family dinner time; 7.30pm or when we finished, whichever earlier, was my uncle’s family dinner time. Grandma had the freedom to choose whom to dine with. It was occasionally that we would all eat together, such as birthdays, someone won the lottery, festive seasons…… The table would then be expanded(yes, it could be opened up to fit for more persons). That table is still with us now, almost 30 years.

My eldest sister got married when I was 13. Uncle moved out with his family when I was 18. But 3 of us sisters still squeezed in the same room, none of us wanted to move upstairs. The rooms upstairs became store rooms! Ha! I went to college at age of 19. It was then daddy decided to revamp half of the house. Main reason, the structure of the house was slanting towards the back, when you were upstairs, put a ball on the floor, it rolled on itself towards the back. During the renovation period, pity mom the most. She had to cook outside at the car porch, which daddy always scolded her for causing oil stains on his car. Sigh…… Mom had to clean the house everyday after work. The renovation went on for 3 months. She suffered for 3 months. And during that period, mom’s daddy passed away.

The house still looks very much the same on the outside. Only with new kitchen, bigger dining room, wider stairs, 5 rooms, 2 toilets, bigger and nicer bathroom. The house looks so spacious and comfortable right away. 2nd elder sister gets to have the room to herself and her daughter. Younger sister and I sharing 1 room upstairs, with 2 big wardrobes! A spare room used to be occupied by the maid, now empty.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about my “crowded” childhood. In fact, I kind of miss it. Without going through that type of life, I wouldn’t be myself today. I can now listen to music and study. I can multi-task very well. I know how to clean and tidy my own room and stuff. And there’s a strong bond between 2 families eventhough there were some unhappy times.

After the passing of grandma 2 and a half years ago, my uncle, my daddy’s younger brother, is the only closest family we have now. He was not well for quite some time, I am so happy to see that he is all healthy again.

Family is still the most valuable thing we have in this world. Unhappy time is nothing compared to the happy time spent together.


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