I could still vividly remember the wake-up calls from the ringing of the school bell as the Park Road and Pearl Bank Primary Schools called their student to their assemblies to start the school day. The chattering of the kids as they ran and played with their friends came to a silence and the serious singing of Majulah Singapura began.
I was in and out of Singapore because of work then. And soon, there was silence. No sounds of young voices. Empty shells stood. The buildings of the two schools, which later became one and then none, had reached a milestone of their lives.
And then, I saw strangers, foreigners from all over the world, congregating into the buildings. The former Park Rd Primary School became the hostel for men and the Pearl Bank Primary School became the hostel for women. Standing from the multi-storey carpark facing the school, one could see the interesting daily activities in these two buildings.
The neighbouring shops flourished with the new neighbours meeting their daily needs. Prepaid SIM cards and supermarket. And a fruit shop too.The coffeeshops must have been too. After years of integrating into the neighbourhood, plans have changed. The hostel was no more to be.
The buildings fell silent again. This time, the renovation was intensive and extensive. The neighbours were told of what was to come. Elevators were being built for these two former schools. This is to be a centre for senior citizens. There will be no young legs to pound the stairs. The rooms have to be renovated to make movement easy and convenient. After months of dust flying into the neighbouring flats, things have settled. The road into the buildings was re-tarred.
As I looked at it this evening, the buildings are ready to receive their new occupants. I spied some double-deck beds already in one room. For the people who are going to man the place?
The neighbourhood is going to adjust to a new neighbour. Perhaps, for the better, for the ageing residents in the community?