Breaking Fast Together In Singapore’s Last Kampung

Other than the crowing of roosters and the occasional visitor, afternoons in Kampung Lorong Buangkok are fairly quiet.

But the kampung comes to life in the evenings, especially during Ramadan.

On weekends especially, relatives stream into Mr Awe Ludin’s compound, merrily greeting the people already inside as they head straight for the kitchen with bags of food.

By 6pm, the kitchen is a hive of activity as everyone gets ready to break fast.

Mr Awe is considered the penghulu, or village elder, by the 11 Malay families of Singapore’s last mainland kampung.

Speaking in Malay, the 82-year-old retiree said: “When we know that our family is coming, we will prepare big pots to cook some dishes.

“My children will call, saying they are going to bring chicken or beef, so we will prepare prawns, because it will be tough for them to cook everything.”

Mr Awe, who is also the caretaker of the kampung surau (small mosque), lived in a Housing Board flat in Ang Mo Kio before moving into the kampung in the 1980s because he preferred the openness of the kampung.

“At the flat, I got to see friends only if I went down (to the void deck), and that is if they came down as well. In the kampung, I get to say hi to my neighbours (from my house) if they go out to throw their rubbish, and we get to chat for a bit.”

His fondness for kampung life has rubbed off on his 58-year-old daughter, Madam Rohana Musa.

The Taman Jurong resident returns to the kampung once a week.

She said: “I miss the gotong-royong (communal) spirit and the kampung vibes.

“In the kampung, you can clearly see the festive mood when we break fast with the our extended families.”

When The New Paper was at the kampung last Sunday, Madam Rohana said she and her sisters had been up since 4am making cookies and rempeyek (a deep-fried Javanese cracker) until noon in preparation for the upcoming Hari Raya celebration on June 25.

No matter the age, everyone in Mr Awe’s family looks forward to these family gatherings.

His granddaughter, Miss Nur Aqilah Fiona Abdul Ghani, 19, told TNP that it is a time for all of them to set aside their busy schedules and catch up with each other while they clean the house and prepare meals.

“It is tiring (to cook using the big pots), but after you see everyone enjoying the food, the smiles on their faces just wash away the fatigue,” she said.

Miss Aqilah has been living in the kampung for about six years, after her parents decided to move in to take care of her grandparents.

It was initially tough for her to adapt to kampung life without Wi-Fi, especially when she had school projects, but she got connected within a few weeks.

Miss Aqilah admitted that it takes some time to load videos even now, but the staff nurse still enjoys the kampung spirit.

“As a Singaporean teenager, I am proud to say that instead of just listening to the stories of past, I am able to experience the kampung life myself.”

Even with its lively atmosphere, Kampung Lorong Buangkok is seeing its final days.

An Urban Redevelopment Authority spokesman told TNP that the kampung is part of an area planned for future housing and associated amenities, but the authority has no immediate development plans for the area.

Cousins Juliani Aripin, 23, and Muhd Irsyad Mohd Dolkifli, 17, are grateful to be able to balik kampung (Malay for return home) in Singapore during Ramadan.

Miss Juliani, who visits the kampung once a month, said: “When people ask me where is my kampung, I am proud to say it is in Singapore.”



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