If you are a parent with young children, I urge you to give your children experiences that will make their childhood memorable. My parents gave us many experiences which were interesting and fun. I still enjoy the things I learned and enjoyed as a child. Our childhood was made more interesting because we had the opportunity to be with various members of our extended family. At weekends we visited our grandmother at her beautiful home and we enjoyed the company of our aunts and cousins. We played together, climbed trees and went into large drains to catch small fish. MY aunts were excellent cooks and we were treated to great meals. Let me tell you more about my childhood.

As A Baby

I was an eight pound baby, chubby but cute! Unfortunately, the fat cells have remained with me and all my life I have had to battle with fat! As a baby, I looked like a boy. Again, like the fat cells, this unfeminine look has stayed with me throughout! I was not your dainty girl, gorgeous teenager or beautiful young woman. I was me..uncoordinated limbs, long thin arms, long thin legs and big body. My hair, in my baby photos, seemed to stand up. It still does so today, many years hence!

My Nanny

My parents had recruited a black and white amah to look after me. A Black and White amah was a nanny from China. They were called Black and White amahs because they always wore a pair of black pants and a white samfoo top. A samfoo is the Chinese style of blouse with a high neck and frog buttons. Such nannies dedicated their lives to their work, to their charge and to their vocation. They were spinsters and would return to China when they stopped working. These nannies are now no longer available. Today, when people use the expression, “Black and White” they are referring to the Tudor style colonial bungalows painted in Black and White. Even the blinds used in the old days were black and white.

My nanny really adored me. She loved my father too but she disliked my mother. She would take me to the market and buy pieces of threadfin fish and potatoes. She would cook up a tasty fish pie of sorts..fish and mashed potatoes and feed it to me. When my nanny left us she retired to China. Her love and care for me must have given me a strong foundation for confidence.

Till today I love fish pie and I just love potatoes. I can eat potatoes cooked in many ways: boiled, saute, gratin, mashed, dauphine, etc. Potatoes have always been my comfort food. During my adolescent days, I would come home from school, boil two potatoes and eat it with chilli sauce! Somehow what you are introduced to when you are young and what you develop a liking for then will stay with you forever.

My Kindergarten Teacher

My parents enrolled me into a pre-school or kindergarten class. It was a very small class and my kindergarten teacher was an elderly English woman. She was a good teacher and a very caring person. Family members later told me that she was clairvoyant. My teacher called me Bonnie and gave me a beautiful card when I left the kindergarten. The card had a picture of a woman in Victorian clothes playing a piano. The room that the woman was in was very English in design and had beautiful antique furniture. As I grew up, I used to take the card out and look at it. I wanted to be like the woman in the painting because she looked so polished and cultured.

Sadly this did not happen. Daintiness and elegance avoided me throughout. I had not been fortunate to have piano lessons when I was a child. So as an adult I enrolled for classes and tried to learn to play the piano. Unfortunately, I could not master the piano. His Highness (the spouse) could not bear to hear the dreadful sounds that I produced as I practiced my pieces and was delighted when I had to concede that piano playing was not a skill for me! But I have not given up my ambition to play the piano. I plan to enrol for classes again and His Highness is terrified! I still hope to realise that picture on the card.

Our Trishaw Driver

Situated on a hill, the kindergarten was not far away from where we lived. My parents did not have a car then and so they recruited a trishaw driver to take me to the kindergarten. This trishaw rider later took me and my sister to our primary school as well. He was a very hard-working person and he looked after us like his own children. The trishaw rider was Chinese but he had a dark complexion as he had spent many hours in the sun pedaling his trishaw. He was a very good human being.

Many a morning I did not want to go to the kindergarten. I would cry and run and hide somewhere. My mother was not patient about this and she would scold me loudly. The trishaw driver would come to my rescue and he would pick me up and try to soothe me. He would then put me in the trishaw and take me to school. He was a very kind man. My parents always talked about the trishaw rider with great fondness. They regarded him as a member of the family.

I have been fortunate to have had so many kind and good people in my life. They helped me to be a better person and they were a good influence on me. Life is made better by the people we meet and love.


  1. Lovely memories of Singapore, thank you.
    Those early experiences clearly served you well because I remember the great love you and Paul had for Ah Eng, the wonderful amah who was with you both for so many of your married years in one of those lovely old Swettenham Road Black and Whites.
    Very best wishes, Bill.

  2. How wonderfully summed up Ms Zaibun! You have righty asked all parents to give their children a childhood they can cherish and I promise to do just that-not for my two souls but for many more that we in ECE sector care for. Your heart is truly dainty Ms Zaibun, we attest that a million times! Thank you for bring YOU!

  3. Aunty Boon,
    I recalled meeting Ah Eng with Nazima many years ago, when she was visiting you. I was shocked that she could recall meeting me many2 years ago at Swettenham Road when I was a teenager. I have fond memories of Ah Eng, and equally fond of her Cheese cake!

  4. Thank you Zaibun. Yes, this evokes wonderful memories of Swettenham Road – adult memories not childhood ones … thanks for helping make those memories and also reminding me they’re there on the hard drive! Much love, Maxine

  5. As the saying goes … memories are something that no one can take away from you 🙂
    Reading your stories and your blog, explains your whole cheery personality. Never too late for all to learn from 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *