Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Happy birthday, Mum

I pass by the current Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy building once in a while. It's gone through many incarnations in its life, starting as the University of Singapore. But to me it will always be the IE building, i.e. (ha) the Institute of Education Building, because that's what my Mum called it when she worked there, in a branch of the Ministry of Education, working on the "Helping Underachievers Programme".

My Mum worked almost all her life, once she got her A-levels and finished Teachers Training College. She taught in Balestier Mixed School, where she met my Dad. She taught in Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), up until her retirement in 2005. And in between there were various schools and stints at MOE. So, occasionally, after Primary School finished, when I wasn't parked at the National Library waiting for her (the family didn't have babysitting), I would go to her office in the IE Building, and get parked in the library there. I discovered the lovely graphic novel style of Raymond Briggs' "When the Wind Blows" there. Plus, while my memory grows fuzzy, I think they had a good collection of Asterix comics.

But I would also go up to her office, where to keep me entertained she would give me some paper and an electric typewriter to use, and I would type things out. It was such a revelation, compared to the manual typewriter we had back home, which was exceedingly tough to use for my little-boy-hands. Plus the ability to backspace in a line was astounding. No Tipp-Ex! And so that was where I learnt to type, by my Mum's side, up in that little room in the IE building.

She was always proud of me. But in so many ways she helped me become who I am today, and sacrificed so much to give me all these opportunities to learn. And I hope somewhere she remains proud of me. Happy birthday, Mum.



Daryl, I'm absolutely sure your mum is proud of you right now.


I spent many memorable hours in the Math & Science section of that library too, back when it was still IE/NIE's library. I lived close-by, on the other side of Dunearn Road, and this was the nearest library to my home.

Initially I was somewhat concerned that the librarians would throw me out, since I was clearly much too young to be one of their students. But later on I realized that they didn't give a shit, probably because their own students hardly used the collection at all. I found that almost every book and volume of bounded periodicals were in mint, unused condition; it would appear that by and large none of them had ever been checked-out or even flipped open by anyone other than myself. I could spend hours in that section and not a single soul would come by to pick up a book. Even though the library was heavily used by students studying their own notes and doing their homework, its collection was probably one of most underused in S'pore.


Hi Daryl,
Is your mum named Molly Sng and dad Mr Sng? Both of them were my from teachers back in 1973/4.


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