October 26, 2017

Disappearing Sibu : Corner Shop

At the cross roads in a town, there would be four corner shops. On a row of shops, there would be two corner shops.

Corner shops are strategically placed and are often popular sites for the best shops in town. Sometimes they are owned by the developers or land owners of the shopping area.

But corner shops have a special meaning in my life.

The Nang Kwong corner shop was a popular place for many down river Foochows to meet. Corner chop is Gerk Tow gien in Foochow. If relatives stood at the corner shop, people could catch sight of them easily. Many people from the villages used Nang Kwong for their mailing address. My late father would wait at Nang Kwong to pick up my Ngie mah or maternal grandmother. While waiting, my grandmother would chat with people she knew and she would not feel at a loss especially when she had to wait a little bit longer because the boat came in earlier or my father was a bit late. Waiting in those days was not an issue.

I often smiled when I thought of the love letters which were left in the mail box of Nang Kwong.

Did you send any love letter addressed to a special person who used a corner shop as her /his mailing address?

An old fried, now in his 70's told me that he probably wrote a few letters to the girl he liked very much. "He who had nothing" wooed her and was "seperated" from her for four years because he went off to study. But now after more than 50 years, they are still married to each other. He can't remember if he first saw her at a corner shop or not, both of them being from down river.

The friendly corner shop is probably a thing of the past now.

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