'It is said that one can fake a smile but never the true expression in one's eyes. And in every photo, the eyes sparkle and speak warmly of a bygone era'
Fresh out of my docent training at the Malay Heritage Centre, I was interested in all things Malay. The history of the beautiful precinct of Kampong Glam and its majestic Istana Kampong Glam which is now the Malay Heritage Centre, The glorious Sultan Mosque originally built in 1824 and restored to its present glory in 1928. But not much is known about an adjourning building in front of the main entrance of the Malay Heritage Centre - Gedung Kuning at 73 Sultan Gate. I was keen on finding out more about the history of this building and was fortunate when a fellow docent had this book to pass it on to us.
Gedung Kuning translates to Yellow Mansion in Malay. It was originally built as a home for the Prime Minister (or the Bendahara) to the Sultan, It was bought over by Haji Yusoff 'Tali Pinggang' and was their family home from 1912 to 1999. It was then acquired by the Singapore government under the Land Acquisition Act in Aug 1999. What used to house 6 families all under one roof is now preserved as a historic building under the Malay Heritage Centre.
Hidayah Amin (featured below), one of Haji Yusoff's great grand daughters revisits her childhood home. She writes about the many memories of growing up in this beautiful mansion.
This is what Hidayah had to say :
'Gedung Kuning is indeed as regal as its name and owner. It stood strong during the Japanese occupation. It witnessed the seasons of Haji Yusoff's family through four generations, births, death, graduations and weddings. It shared the joys and sadness of the family...Its mighty halls reverberated with pride to Quranic verses read during religious ceremonies. Its gate welcomed the poor who came to ask for alms. Even to the very last day when the family moved out, Gedung Kuning stood proud befitting its royal colour and stature.'
I took less than a week to read the 189 pages of her very personal account. It was well told and quite an enjoyable read. Throughout the novel, I felt the underlying sadness of the fact that its no longer her family home. Its perfectly relatable. I would have felt it too.
Overall rating : B