360 SQUARE FEET
Photographs by Azura Azmir
Boon Lay Drive Located in the western side of Singapore, stands an old estate. Close to approximately 40 years of existing, these 1 and 2-room rental flats are still the humble shelters to many elderly and low-income families. Like other old flats different parts of Boon Lay Driveâ€™s old been left standing recently completed
located in Singapore, blocks have among the new ones.
In this journal, I will share my experience walking along corridors and entering a strangerâ€™s house to find out what it is like living in a different living standard that many of us are not aware of.
THE ESTATE’S FAVOURITE
KARUNG GUNI MAN. Before I proceed with knocking on doors, I took a stroll around the neighbourhood to observe the environment and the living condition there. I chanced upon this interesting space where I learnt that it was a resident’s workstation. He was nowhere in sight but when asked the other tenants, he was mentioned as the their favourite karung guni man as they would look for him if they needed anything to be repaired. He had moved into his son’s place here. Having the passion and skills for mending gadgets and bringing second lives to broken things, he decided to set up a space behind their home after getting a license from the HDB.
A birdâ€™s eye view of a residentâ€™s workstation located at the back of his abode.
As I randomly stopped by different floors, I noticed similar settings of â€œcorridor decorsâ€?. Unused items and bulky furnitures were placed outside as space was clearly limited in these old block rental flats.
In such narrow corridors, it was a norm for the people living here. Kids coming home from school, walking in a line, and there were also kids sitting and chit chatting to pass the time. It was a mixed emotion for me as I felt sorry for such inconvenience but glad to know that they are grateful and they make the best out of what they have.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF 7
MADAM ASMAH AND FAMILY OF SIX... Madam Asmah, 50, belongs to one of the families living here. A full-time housewife, a lifetime mother and a loving grandma, she lives under one roof, in a 1-room rental flat with five other family members.
“You can actually see the bedroom and kitchen from the main door.”
described by Muhammad Zulfitri, Madam Asmah’s youngest granchild. After which ran to the fridge to quench his thirst before leaving for his religious class. Madam Asmah and family had moved into this rental flat five years ago. Although it was just a 1-room flat, the rental cost was $150 a month. I was caught by surprise of its rental fee but got to know that it was because they had sold their previous house before moving in here.
routine Apart from being a housewife, she also does housekeeping and ironing to make a living. She would run errands for her needy neighbours which mostly consist of the elderly as most of them are either sick or weak and could not walk long distances. To them, she was like their guardian angel.
Their living condition. This is where the family sleeps. With no existing room door nor walls, Madam Asmahâ€™s husband had made dividers using a plank of wood and also a wardrobe. As the space was limited to accomodate six people sleeping, they have mattresses for them to lay out in their living room. Despite their poor and restricted living condition, Madam Asmahâ€™s family get along very well. Their relatives would come over the weekends and they would spend their time fishing in Changi. To her, their family bond would always compensate for the struggling life they face everyday. She is grateful for the support she gets from her relatives.
â€œIt is cramp but we learn to live with it. It is better than not having a house.â€? This was the last few words she told me before I left her place. It was a heartwarming experience for me. Many times, some people including myself took our home for granted and not appreciating what we have. But after seeing and knowing what it is like here, I learn to count my blessings and I hope others would too.
This neighbourhood was the home of my grandmother. I was introduced to Madam Asmah as she would always help her out when my grandfather goes out to work. It was always a different atmosphere when Iâ€™m around here and I would love to share that atmosphere through this photojournal.
Nur Azura Azmir Visual Communication Nanyang Polytechnic