NMadasamy
Singaporean in Kuala
Lumpur
“But this is different” she’s told. And so helplessly she goes along with it all. She avoids having to make
any choices with regard to the apartment.

“Which curtains would you like” asked the interior decorator appointed by the landlord.

“Anything… its okay with me”

“I’m told to choose the one that you like best”

“I have no likes and dislikes as curtains is concern. Whichever way, I’m happy with it. You choose the
appropriate one for me, yes”

“How about the colors of the walls…. You want us to repaint it to your favorite colors?”

“No… please. Anything will do. Whatever colors I’m okay.” For a moment, she’s tempted to say ”yes why
not paint them red one portion, then blue another, green for the rest” that will be fun….colorful like our
lives but she resist herself. Wonder the landlord would even approve of it. After all as he said, colors
according to her likings. Her husband will be speechless. And so the walls remain off white as they
have always been.

She's beginning to miss her Singapore home, the one she left behind before coming to KL. A three
room HDB flat located at one of the oldest estate in Singapore : Sembawang. Theres' only 5 blocks
available and the estate itself is self sufficient. There's the wet market which is within walking distance,
then the 2 groceries stores. Polyclinics located just 100 meters away. What more can she ask for.

Not many locals around. Majority has move to bigger flats or to newer housing estate. The block she's
staying mostly occupied by foreign workers from India, Thailand, China and Korea. Her father was
shocked when he came to know about the house.

"Both you and your husband salary is more than enough to get a better flat, at a better location, why on
earth do you have to choose this place" he asked her one day when he came to visit.

When they went to the Housing Board to apply for a rented HDB apartment, she did not give any much
thought about the location. "Anywhere is okay with me" she told her husband "also as long as we don't
have to go back to the same flat as in Yishun"

At Yishun there's always this element of fear. Fear that the officers from the town council will come to
spot check on them for breaking the "lock one room" conditions for renting the flat. The owner is never
around. The "lock room" is literally a store room packed with the owner's stuff. The chances of us getting
caught is minimal as long as we keep to ourselves and no complaints from the neighbours.
Nevertheless fear is fear, it disturbed her psychologically.

At Sembawang, old it may be, she found her home at last, surrounded by the greenery and the sound of
the birds welcoming her in the morning. Away from the bustling city life, not to mention the sembawang
park and the beach which was located about 500 meters down the road from where she's staying.At
Sembawang Park, nature blends with history. Walking along the restored old pathway used during the
British Occupation, you will never miss the old colonial houses still standing majestically reminding you
of the past. The Sembawang Shipyard located to the west of the park was a British Naval Base from
1938 till 1968.

The flat was decorated for its simplicity and not for beauty. No fancy furniture or high tech household
equipment. The only items she could consider a luxury is the fridge, the TV and the laptop. No dining
table or expensive bedroom set. A foldable plastic table became their dining table, and the small cabinet
is where their TV stand. Whoever that comes to their house, She don't expect anyone except her father,
will have to sit on the floor lined with cheap carpet she bought from Court occupying the middle of the
living room cum dinning room. Her collection of stuff toys and teddy bears lined at a little corner few
meters from the main door.

She just finish preparing dinner when the door bell rings. Ash in the living room watching Barney. When
she open the door, there they stood : Mother with the baby in arm and the three children, all girls holding
on to her worn out Punjabi Suit greets her.
The first time  when the housing agent brought her to see
the apartment for viewing she instantly agreed to it. The
agent wanted to show her the others in the list prepared
earlier but she refused. She’s tired of going around looking
for apartment. This will be their second house since they
move to Kuala Lumpur and their 4th since their marriage. All
this moving around is wearying her down. She wishes she
could stay in one place permanently. Just when she thought
she’s getting use to the apartment, comes her husband
“Lets' move to a newer apartment” And the whole cycle of
apartment hunting begin.


It’s an old apartment; she’s been told and has been left for
more than a year without any tenant, the last one being an
Australian couple who have since move back to their
country. It’s not that she like the place, it’s obviously too big
for her but does she have the choice. She rather stayed in a
smaller apartment. “We’re given the budget” so says her
husband. “Its' not right if we take the smaller apartment
while those working under me take the bigger ones” So the
logic goes. She never able to come to terms with this whole
notion of “we have no choice”. There’s always a choice to
make.