Nearly inseparable duo were once neighbours

Madam Cheong (left) and Madam Choo are more than just flatmates at the AWWA Senior Community Home. They have similar hobbies and often go for activities and outings together.
Madam Cheong (left) and Madam Choo are more than just flatmates at the AWWA Senior Community Home. They have similar hobbies and often go for activities and outings together.

Before Madam Cheong Kim Chwee's husband died in 2010, he had one last instruction for their neighbour living opposite them.

He asked Madam Choo Ah Yoke to look after his wife after he was gone. Madam Choo then moved in to live with Madam Cheong, and they have since lived together for six years, in the AWWA Senior Community Home, a cluster of rental flats in Ang Mo Kio for needy elderly.

Madam Cheong, 85, a housewife, and Madam Choo, 80, a retired hairdresser, are almost inseparable.

When Madam Choo had a conflict with a flatmate last month and staff suggested she move to a different flat in the same block, she moved together with Madam Cheong, saying that they must not live apart from each other.

They also go for social activities together, such as dancing classes, craft workshops and outings.

Madam Choo told The Sunday Times in Mandarin: "We go together on outings. When we have meals, she'll sit next to me."

Madam Cheong is more fluent in English than in Mandarin, so they talk to each other mainly in Malay.

Madam Cheong and Madam Choo have lived at the AWWA home for 21 years and eight years, respectively. They moved in after their husbands died and have no children.

Madam Cheong had remarried at the home. She had met her second husband there and they were the first couple to marry there, in 1997.

Madam Choo said the two women's hobbies were similar and their friendship had already been close when they were neighbours.

"We're good friends, just like sisters. She's the older sister, and I'm the younger one. I respect her. And if there are things to be moved and she doesn't have the strength to move them, I'll help."

Priscilla Goy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 26, 2016, with the headline 'Nearly inseparable duo were once neighbours'. Print Edition | Subscribe