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Monday with the Editor: Reliving new year memories

Hallo everyone

The advertisement in The Straits Times today reads:
"Today & Tomorrow only, 7 & 8 Feb - Free Fresh Eggs 30's"
Yes! Giant, Shop-N-Save and G'Value are offering a free tray of fresh eggs today and tomorrow for the first 100* customers each day spending S$30 and above in a single receipt.
A line in red reads, "Hurry, When It's Gone! It's Gone."
Giving away free eggs is a good way of rewarding the customer for his patronage. The tray of eggs featured in the advertisement jolted my memory. I found myself staring blankly at it, for in an instant, my mind had been transported back to the Singapore of the early 70's.
I remember I was in secondary school then, and living in a three-room flat in Toa Payoh. Back then, with every new Chinese New Year, each household, whether in an HDB flat or a private residence, would receive free eggs. Some received a tray, others were given more trays of eggs. It was the pig farmers' way of thanking the households for contributing swill to the pigs the farmers were rearing.
You see, each day, my mother would pour the leftover food into a small bin which she would then leave outside the flat, in the common corridor, for the pig farmers to collect. It was the same thing happening with every household in our block, and in other blocks in the neighbourhood.
At the end of each year, usually just before Chinese New Year, the farmers would pile tray upon tray of eggs in the lift landings and then go from flat to flat to distribute the trays of eggs to the flat occupants. Some received two trays. My family was given one. The number of trays of eggs given depended on the amount of swill contributed during the previous year. We received less because ours was a small family and had not much swill for the farmer to collect each day.
There are no farmers going around HDB flats nowadays to distribute free fresh eggs to HDB dwellers. This is because the pig farming industry was phased out of Singapore in the 70's. The only thing left are my memories of the whole affair. In fact, I had plain forgotten about the whole thing, till, that is, I saw the advertisement in today's newspaper.
I am sharing this with you so you have an idea of what people did at home way back in the 70's. In case you are wondering how it is possible for pig farmers then to have such big farms to consume the amount of swill dished out by so many HDB estates such as Yishun, Bedok, Tampines and Ang Mo Kio, let me tell you this - such estates were not even built then. There were only two HDB towns then -Queenstown first, and Toa Payoh later. If memory serves me right, the next HDB town built was Bedok in the late 70's, followed by Ang Mo Kio.
But, it's all history now. Memories of the old ways come back when the mind is jolted. It is times like this that I yearn for the old days, of a time when I was much younger. Can we turn back the clock? Obviously no. But, we can have a good time reminiscing the past. And this advertisement did something that money cannot buy - it brought me back to the past, albeit in my mind.
I look at the advertisement again and read aloud the line in red:
"Hurry, When It's Gone! It's Gone."
It's true. When that time has gone, it has gone, never to come back, except in our reflections.
So what is the message I have in mind for this new Year of the Rooster? It is this:
Live each new day to the fullest, for it will never return. What you do today decides whether it is good memories or bad nightmares you store in your mind's bank for you to conjure up in your twilight years.
Have a good day!
*500 for Giant


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Public Holidays CHINESE NEW YEAR is the next public holiday. It falls on 9 & 10 February 2005.


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7 February 2005