Alyssa lived in a 4-room HDB flat in Yishun until she was ten years old. As it was an old HDB block, the lifts shopped on selected floors only. Alyssa spent most of her time playing together with her neighbours and hanging out in their homes.
I lived in my first home till I was ten years old. The HDB block was old and there were a couple of times the entire block had a blackout. My mum would coo me to sleep and brush off the incident, but the neighbours’ kids and I were very excited and would play laser pointers in the dark.
Unlike most HDB blocks now that have lifts that stop at every level, my old block did not have such facilities. It made catching really fun though. My neighbours and I enjoyed running up and down to catch each other. Every level only had two units facing each other, and I guess that’s one of the reasons why I was so close to my neighbours. It was common for us to leave the doors open so everyone was free to run around and hang out in each other’s homes. Whenever I forget my keys, I would go to my neighbour’s house to wait for my parents to come home.
There were three boys around my age living opposite me. I learnt swimming with them. Their household was always filled with children as their mum was a babysitter. They would frequently play football at home at night, kicking the ball against the walls. I distinctly remember that because it was so noisy!
Before our HDB block was upgraded, the corridor space was marked with evidence of our playtime. We used to light candles during mid-autumn festival for fun and leave a pile of wax. We also loved to throw used correction tape cartridges off the ledge to see them swirl in the wind! As kids, we were easily entertained. After upgrading was done, the floors were laid with new cement, effectively erasing all of our marks from the past.
After moving out, I missed my neighbours. I was looking forward to similar ties with my new neighbours at my current place, but they moved out after some time as well. Growing up there, I was contented with everything. I am the only child, but because of my neighbours, my childhood was not lonely.