When I started school, my father bought me a pair of blue canvas shoes. S was the other guy with a pair of blue canvas shoes. The rest were in their standard whites. The teacher Mr I and the Heamaster did not mind. There were many without any, barefooted. It was my only pair. I used them for school, I used them to play tops and to play football. I used them to my cousins wedding, I used them to accompany grandma to town. ( The 2 mile walk along the NORTH-South artery is unthinkable now for a 6 year old)
Subsequently, the teachers must have enforced that all whites shoes regulation. I had a pair of white Fung Keong. The FUNG KEONG was $ 1 a pair. I never liked fung keong. Uncomfortable, because it had gaps and free spaces not like the body hugging of present day Nike or addidas. I did not like them because Fridays and Saturdays were shoe cleaning days. A rainy weekend meant, a wet pair on Sunday. I prefer the blue canvas.
Then there were the Badminton Masters, the standard wear for the All England multiple winners, tan aik Huang, the Boon bee and the yee khan. A pair was $ 4.90. The lucky ones would be the envy of the rest. I do not think i had one, not until my secondary school days.
During eid, there was this ocassion when i still did not have a pair even on the first day. I could still visualize me sitting on the front step, the walk in the green pair of sleepers, the walk to the simpang , catching a bus to BP with my sister to get my pair. Remembering those moments moved me emotionally. For that I am forever grateful to her.
Bang Ngah was the other person who would always buy me a pair. He was a postman and yet he had the time and could spare his meagre income for me. I would always have a sleek pair of Essex at the end of the third term holiday. The ESSEX was a fine piece of footwear. Was it BATA? I think so, and the store was the Batu 10 store along Pasir Panjang.
At Eaton of the East, for the first time I had four pairs of footwear. One for formal wear, one for games, one for my malay dress and one flipflops. I remember I lost my johnson boots, while on transit in KL. Even when I was in the Navy, I did not have as many.
Today, I bought a pair of Ferragamo. They were my fifth pair this year. I bought a pair of XX in London, a pair of casual SF in Istanbul, a TL before going to Taman negara, a jungle trekker made in jerantut for RM4.50, a Nike in SP and I knew I would end up with another pair when i opened the door to that Store in KLCC today.
Having had a shoe-deprived childhood , I tend to overindulge now. Or was it my training in that school? Naaaay……..I am just searching for that elusive pair that could serve my formal as well as my casual needs, for working and for walking and jogging, a pair that is multifunctional, maintenanace free. I am still searching, errr…….something like that pair of blue canvas.