Today I received the sad news that a man who had made my childhood so much fun had passed away in his hometown in Lumut, Perak, Malaysia.
Ah Chye, as I had called him, was my nanny’s, Ah Eng, husband. They left behind five young children in 1977 to come to Singapore to work. Ah Chye found work in a moulding factory in Changi in the east of Singapore while Ah Eng worked for us in the west. Every alternate Saturday, Ah Eng either went to Changi to his hostel or he came over for the weekend, travelling for two hours by bus.
When he came, he would help with the odd jobs, tending to the garden, painting the walls. When my dog Gigi gave birth to 7 puppies, he built them a shed. I now wonder where he got the materials from.
He was muscular and once urged me to pressed his hard bicep and to hang myself on his arm. Sometimes, he would bring a toy for my brother from his factory. I remember chatting with him in the garden while he smoked.
Both Ah Eng and Ah Chye went back to Malaysia when the factory closed. We kept in touch and he worked for the British navy until they left. Then he started to deliver newspapers.
I visited them once recently, and was happy to note that they were living well in retirement, having moved from the kampong farm to a suburb terrace house with their eldest son, looking after their grandchildren. https://vickychong.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/lumut-perak/
In a way, they were kind of foster parents to us and we the foster kids to them.
RIP. Thank you for being a part of my life.