This started as a tweet, but I thought it deserves a proper post. I was watching one of those massive sweep streeters lumber down the road kicking up dust and leaves… wait, did I just call them sweep steeters?

Back in Singapore there was an older gentleman who used to sweep leaves on the street and footpath near our apartment building in Balmoral Park. I used to walk past him each week on the way to the bus stop and onto school. There was something calming and reassuring about hearing that gentle rattan sound brushing against the ground; people from South-East Asia know exactly what I’m talking about.

I was a painfully shy kid who avoided initiating social interactions if I could, but I used to smile and tip my school hat at him every time. After a few months of doing this I got to calling him uncle and shaking his hand when I walked past. He spoke almost no English, and I spoke almost no Hokkien, but his smile helped get me through some hard times.

Then one week, he was gone, never to return.

I wonder how he’s doing?