1959 was the year Singapore held her first elections for self-government, the point of no return to the British era, a turning point in many lives and the creation of a new nation.
I was born that year in a local hospital called Kadang Kerbau located near old buffalo pens and that’s how Singapore was then..backward, poor, unruly but full of hope.
My father was a “fitter” according to my birth certificate. I’m not sure if such a job exists today but I imagined he fitted things for a living. My mother was a housewife and had been all her life, though she was really good in making side income from sewing, baking and craft-work. I have three older brothers and we lived in a one-bedroom HDB flat in the old Macpherson estate.
For entertainment, we listened to Redifussion, a local cable radio service, and watched our neighbour’s black-and-white TV on days when they felt generous enough to invite us over.
Come to think of it, everything seemed to be black-and-white then. There were not many choices for clothes, furniture, cars, and the little we had. But our days were filled with other kinds of colours – of festivals and games, of scandals and celebrations, of weddings and funerals, of door-to-door hawkers and not forgetting the ice-cream cart.
My most vivid childhood memory was learning about the first man on the moon in 1969. It was as amazing for me as for my mother and her friends. That year, they did not know if they should continue to make offerings to the moon fairy during the mid-autumn festival. The moon episode changed the world in more than one way. For the young, it was the future of things to come. For the old, it was the beginning of the end of tradition.
That was how the generation gap started – when the Baby Boomers broke free from tradition. It was the time of hippies, rock-and-roll, mini-skirts, bell-bottoms and platform shoes; but that’s really the early Boomers. The late Boomers entered adulthood with discotheques, pop music, shoulder-pads, big hairdos, and blingwear.
For over three decades from the 1970s, Boomers worked hard, raised families, saved for the children and borrowed to acquire assets.
Now we are in our 40s, 50s, and 60s. How time flies.
Our children are leaving us but most of our friends are still around and thankfully, so are our little grey cells. There is a new sense of anxiety. It’s a good feeling though – like when you are buying your first home or going on your first date.
I liken this time as a kind of freedom. The time when our chores are done and we can have some fun. So let’s live our boomers years as best as we can from now on.
Climb that mountain we’ve been dreaming of, search the northern lights, swim with the dolphins, learn a new language or simply spend quality time with our loved ones. Do what we didn’t have time to do before. Do it while we still can.