Knife Sharpening

“Lotuses are good!” (Cantonese direct translation: Every year is good), describing this pair of sisters in the Yap family: Good Sister and Lotus Sister.

Beneath the carpark of an ancient building located in an alley behind Jalan Sultan, a big sunshade umbrella, two wooden benches, two pails, several pieces of sharpening stones, one sitting in front and the other at the back, the two sisters work in the space between the carpark and a pillar for half a century, sharpening knives for the neighbourhood and customers, regardless of the weather.

The Yap sisters inherited their skills in the trade of sharpening knives from their father who is also a master in knife sharpening. The elder sister Yap Juin Hou (transliteration) (Good Sister, 81 years old) has been following in their father’s footsteps since the tender age of 12, learning to sharpen knives and scissors; the younger sister Yap Yoke Lin (transliteration) (Lotus Sister, 71 years old) is also influenced into the mastery of this trade. The two sisters mentioned that in earlier times, they set up their stall in the corridors in front of the shops nearby, however after the 513 incident they shifted to their current address.

The era of high mass-consumption directly impacted traditional trades, the two sisters inevitably feels sentimental. Even though they reached the age where they could live in ease and comfort, the sisters each have their own families, Lotus Sister still does business every single day, enjoying herself immensely; recently Good Sister needs the aid of clutches to walk, however whenever her children are free they will send her to and fro the stall.

Nobody knows how mmuch longer Good Sister and Lotus Sister will be operating here, the ancient building above the carpark is also due to be renovated. The future of knife sharpening in the back alley of Jalan Sultan is uncertain.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Evon Pang
Music : Buch from Felt Music


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