Passing through a neighbourhood that I am familiar with, I was greeted not by the familiarity of its faces, but by an unfamiliar silence that now fills it. The neighbourhood is one that, having lived near it for some fifteen years, I have had many interactions with. It is one in which, compared to the neighbourhoods of my early childhood, doesn’t go back as far in time, and one where my memories are much more current. Despite its more recent past, such is the pace of the change that sweeps through the island we live in, that this neighbourhood is not spared from it. The neighbourhood is one that sees its heart and soul – the people and business that brought life to it, displaced by the cruel winds of change.
The world that has lost its soul is one that has also lost its colour – the only colours left seem to only be that of a playground that has outlived its usefulness. As I look beyond the empty playground which bears the marks of neglect and abandonment, it is the neglect and abandonment of the shuttered row of shops that stares at me. The eerie quiet seems to scream at me. It seemed like it was only yesterday, that the shutters had been raised to reveal businesses that in the relative isolation of the neighbourhood – were ones which had been insulated against the passage of time.
At the end of the row, as if in a show of defiance, characters sprayed on in black paint stand out against the pink of closed metal doors, remind us of what once had resided behind the doors – a electrical goods and repair shop. The three rows of characters painted on the doors are of two telephone numbers with the word ‘Service’ below.
I look down a corridor that even when it was alive has always been one that seems to be haunted. It is not the ghosts of today that I now see, but the ghosts of yesterday. As my eyes move to the right towards the part that I am most familiar with – a General Practitioner that I often consulted had his practice at one of the units, it is the reflections from the glass of an un-shuttered unit that distracts me. Beyond the reflections of a world that is about to change, it is the secrets of the former world that existed beyond the glass panels that I see … one which belonged to a certain Annie Song. I also see a face – one that is perhaps the face of a ghost of the past. It is a face that will soon fade, as will the world that it now looks at. And when the face and all that is around does fade, the physical link that many will have to a world that had been a part of whom they were – will be forever lost. What will survive will be the memories, memories of lives, of growing-up, of children taking their first steps and perhaps of romances … memories that is time will be ones of a distant and what will certainly be an almost forgotten past.