Thursday, 25 April 2013

Tribute to purses

THE satiny baby blue purse made of plastic and shaped like a shoe was a prize from the tikum store. When I was in primary school in the 60s, there were small stalls manned by Indians at the entrance of many lanes along Chartwell Drive in Serangoon Gardens. I used to live in Brockhampton Drive, and there was one just at the mouth of the road. There was another further down where Corfe Place linked Brockhampton Drive to Blandford Drive.

They had wooden planks for floors, straddled across the roadside drain, so that they would not obstruct traffic. They had tarred canvas roofs. They sold all sorts of things from toys, hair cream (especially Tancho and Brylcream), chewing gum and sweets. Special mention must be made about the chewing gums -- these were small balls of all colours and kept in a glass jar. They were among the favourite things I used to buy from these stalls -- besides those tubes of goey substance which you stick onto one end of a small tube and then blow from the other end so that they form  bubbles.

And of course they had tikum -- which was a game where you pay the owner of the shop 5 cts (couldn't remember how much exactly) and  tear a number from the cardboard that usually dangled from some beam across the roof. The prizes were displayed enticingly -- each numbered accordingly. If the number matched the number you picked, bingo! I was actually eyeing a pink pearl necklace -- for a 1,000 years. But I was happy enough to get this cute little shoe purse which fitted very well into my school pinafore. And the ending to this happy tale was that, I actually got the pink pearl necklace, one fine day. Couldn't believe my luck!

The greenish, black and purple purse with hound's tooth design (I used to call it dog's tooth, because I couldn't understand why it had to be "hound") was bought at a night market along Lorong Chuan. For some reason, even now, I love purses more than handbags, and was always badgering mum to buy me new ones. The rubbery red bean purse which you could easily open by depressing the sides, was a joy to play with too. The colours were great too -- they came in turquoise, green, blue and red. When you shake it with a few coins inside, they make the best noise in the world. Gluck, gluck, gluck....

And finally, my prized butterfly purse with clasp. How I missed it when it fell out of my pocket while running along Queen Elizabeth Walk with my friend. I think we were in primary 5 then. One of my school mates at Serangoon Garden South, suggested we take a bus ride to the park. We felt so adventurous and the lawns looked just right to race on. So we did. After that, while waiting for the bus home, to my dismay, I found the purse missing. We searched high and low along the lawns of Queen Elizabeth Walk. It was a very sad day for me. I could never find a similar purse. My mum gave me a good scolding of course. It only contained a dollar and a few cents. But it wasn't the money in it. It was the purse my mum had bought for me. The most beautiful purse made of shiny plastic with pictures of butterflies.

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