Sunday, April 11, 2010

Die & Dye

Long ago, at this corner of Kreta Ayer Rd and New Bridge Road, facing the Oriental Theatre across Kreta Ayer Rd, was a small shop. It's specialty was to dye any clothing to black.

It was a time when black was not the fashionable dress or clothing as most Asians, if not, Chinese, considered it as one of mourning. Indeed this was the shop that dyed clothing of any colour to black for those in mourning.

In the old days, when someone in the family died, all were expected to wear black. For some, like the children of the deceased, wearing back might be expected for a longer period of time. Mourning period could last (or is expected to last) for 3 years. It is unlikely that anyone had black clothing in those days. And so, if there was such a bereavement in the family, getting some clothing to be dyed black was one of the priorities.

It could well be the beginning of the fast service that one expects of any funeral activities today. In those days, one could expect to get the black clothing, perhaps in two days after sending in.

And so, in this little hut, there seemed to be constant activity as clothing was sent in to dye to black. The proximity of Sago Lane (known to the Chinese as Sei Yan Kai - dead people street) could be a reason for the brisk business.

These days, black is a fashion. So, there could be ample supplies at home. If not, the nearest shopping centres could yield abundant black clothing, in various styles and design.

We have yet to see the mourners coming with black lipsticks or eye shadows (^^). Makeup was a no-no then, when in mourning. Nor watching wayangs or movies. But with TV these days, no one observes such rules.

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