My Grandfather--Sim's Fmaily Story

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My Grandfather My grandfather, Ong Kwee Seng, was born on 1st January, 1944, in Penang, Malaysia. As the oldest son of the family back then, since young, he was responsible for taking care of his five siblings- two sisters and three brothers. Over time, he has forgotten certain details of his life, such as where his old home was at, but occasionally, he likes to speak of the olden days, when life was much simpler. As far as my grandfather could recall, his family of 8 lived in a rented room when he was young. My grandfather said that back then, his father rented a room in a house that was shared with 72 others. In 1955, when he was 11 years old, my great-grandparents decided to immigrate to Singapore in search of a better life, and that was when my grandfather began to live in Singapore. The family no longer lived in crowded houses like those of their previous residence and moved into an attap house like many others at that time. The attap house was situated in Kampong Tiong Bahru, which he says used to be an old graveyard. For his primary school education, my grandfather attended 南洋工商补习学校, which is now known as Gongshan Primary School. In 1957, when he was 13, he attended Chung Cheng High School to pursue his secondary education. My grandfather loved to learn and even now, he reads up a lot about politics, and knows a lot about current affairs and history. However, after Secondary 1, his love for education was forcefully stopped. Life became hard and harsh for my grandfather. 1957 was the year his parents passed on, leaving him and his 5 siblings orphans. It was a hard time for my grandfather, and he seldom talks about his teenage years. There simply was no way for him to afford school anymore, and so he could no longer attend school. However, from scrimping and saving, he managed to put 3 of his youngest siblings in school. As the eldest son, he felt that it was necessary that his siblings did not have to suffer like he did. He took on the role of the parent in the household. Even as a teen, he was very mature for his age. After his parent’s death, they could no longer afford the luxury of living in the attap house. The 6 children moved in with a kind family, and my grandfather had to work as a coolie to put his siblings through school. Later on, when my grandfather grew up, his sister had to work as a maid in the house they lived in. In 1971, when he was 27, he married my grandmother, Tan Kha Eng. The couple purchased a flat in Bukit Merah and lived there happily. My mother was born several years later in 1973. She was the first and only child of my grandparents. However, after my grand auntie passed on, they adopted her three children and treated them as their own. Now with 6 mouths to feed once again, he worked hard as a worker in a factory. In 1988, my grandparents purchased a new flat in Bishan, and have lived there since then. Now my 71 year old grandpa is retired, giving me more time to spend with him and more time for him to finally relax and catch up on stocks.

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