Last Wednesday (30 Mar), Melvin Chew, one of the administrators of Hawkers United – Dabao 2020 Facebook page, read about a story of an auntie hawker who needed to work because her husband has been ill for many years.
Perhaps we are prone to jumping to conclusions too quickly.
Melvin might have done so as he went down to the hawker centre, presuming that this would be a wife’s tale, of a hardworking couple that built a living for themselves out of a humble store selling Katong Laksa and Fishball noodles.
Yet, he left the Circuit Road Hawker Centre with a stomach full of good food and utter heartache for the couple, and for everything they’ve been through together.
Helping His Wife Earn a Living
In the hours Melvin spent at the hawker centre, crystallised into a short three-and-a-minute video for the viewers’ consumption on Tiktok, it told a story of how a husband hoped that his wife would continue living well even after he passed away.
The small stall the elderly set up together might not be the grandest, but it’s steeped with the well-wishes that his wife will be able to take care of herself financially, and that she can find purpose in cooking and interacting with customers.
You see, the elderly man only has one year left to live because he has Stage Four Cancer.
According to another commenter in the Facebook group, who presumably visits the store frequently since she’s well-aware of the elderly man’s condition, she shares some private details about his terminal illness.
She writes that the doctor has already estimated that he only has one year to live.
It has been a long and hard-fought battle with cancer for him, but age ails him; he has already lost one kidney, pancreas, and a part of his lungs due to the cancer. His lungs are spotted white, and he has six screws in his backbones.
Sadly, chemotherapy hasn’t worked out well for him so he’s on supplements now, living on borrowed time, prolonged by what modern medicine can currently provide.
Despite all of his pains and tribulations, the uncle still finds the ability to smile and live his life to the fullest.
He still keeps an optimistic outlook on life.
He helped his wife establish this hawker stall because he wants to leave something behind for her, something substantial and meaningful that can support her when he’s no longer around.
Although he knows he’s running out of time, he still hopes he can “live longer” and “stay in the business with [his] wife.”
Wife Works 12 Hours a Day
The auntie runs the stalls for 12 hours a day, from 8am to 8pm.
When Melvin asked her if the work was tough, she returned a question: “When is earning a living not tough? I need to wake up early [to run this business].”
In spite of the hardship and labour, she says that sentence with a faint smile on her visage.
You can only admire the tenacity of this beautiful woman.
Melvin Chew’s Response to the Couple’s Story
After meeting the couple, Melvin expresses his utmost respect to the couple, admiring how strong their mentalities were.
When he heard about the severity of the uncle’s condition, he admitted that he was “at a loss for words” in his Facebook post.
“I dunno how to say but uncle [told me] he is strong willed and he will live to his fullest every day. [They] set up this hawker store because in the future the auntie will have a business for herself, at least will [be able to] earn a living.”
He added, “I encountered a lot [of] hawkers, helped quite a number of them too. This story just made me wanna carry on and help more hawkers! As much as I can! Uncle’s story touched me, auntie’s love for uncle touched me.”
Truthfully, the elderly couple do represent the marriage vows perfectly:
“To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”
If there truly is a god, let the couple have more time.
Support the Katong Laksa Hawker Stall
Since Melvin has gone through many hawker stalls, he can be a food critic, of sorts.
In his Facebook post, he claimed that the laksa he ate was very good, and he wasn’t saying that just because he wanted to help them.
He notes that the laksa paste is done by the couple themselves, the sea hum is fresh, and the portion given is definitely worth its price.
Besides their signature Katong Laksa, they sell Chicken Curry Laksa too, and a variety of Fishball Noodles.
The address for the 88 Katong Laksa is Blk 79 Circuit Road Hawker Centre #01-49.
Its operating hours are 8am to 8pm.
If you’re interested in watching Melvin Chew’s full Tiktok video, it is attached below:
@hawkers_united_melvin I encountered and help alot hawkers, this 4th stage cancer hawker is the 1 which I wanna help most. 🙏 #tiktokfood #tiktoksingapore #hawkerfood #ourhawkerculture #melvinchew #championhawker #hawker #food #sgtiktok #88katonglaksa #laksa #cherisheverymoment #tiktokmalaysia #foodtiktok ♬ original sound – Melvin Chew
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Featured Image: Tiktok (@hawkers_united_melvin)