singapore Widow with 6 children works as fishmonger for 50 years, has no plans to stop despite ailing health

3 weeks ago 87

While most are winding down for the night, this 81-year-old fishmonger is just starting her day.

After 10pm, Lin Qiuyue (transliteration) sets out to Jurong Fishery Port to select the freshest fish available.

She then makes her way to Bukit Merah View Market and Food Centre, where she has been selling fish for some 50 years.

When a Shin Min Daily News reporter recently visited Lin's stall at 3am, the elderly woman was already hard at work.

"I have to scale, fillet, chop the fish and lay them out on display," said Lin, adding that she sells fish weighing nearly 200kg every day.

Within an hour, the fishes are ready for sale. Her first customer arrives after 5am, and she closes shop at around 4pm to 5pm.

No prior experience with selling fish

Growing up in a low-income family, Lin got married when she was 16. Unfortunately, her husband died 13 years later, leaving her to raise their six children aged between three and 13, she related.

"We used to rear pigs for a living, but my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. The authorities provided us a monthly payout of $51, but how is that enough for eight people? When my husband died, he only left $15 to me," she recounted.


To make ends meet after her husband's death, Lin set up a stall on the streets, selling vegetables grown by her neighbour. However, multiple run-ins with public health inspectors left her at a loss.

Things started looking up in 1973, when Lin successfully obtained a licence and was allowed to rent a stall at the newly built Bukit Merah View Market and Food Centre.

"I planned to sell vegetables, but I was assigned to sell fish.

"At the time, I was completely clueless and didn't even know how to use a scale. It was haphazard at first, but I slowly figured out how to run the stall," said Lin.

Does not want to rely on children

The widow now lives with her eldest daughter and is determined to continue working despite her declining health. An illness four years ago left Lin with only one kidney.

"Although my legs are weak and I can't walk far, I don't want to rely on my children as they are living their own lives.

"I can't stop working, I feel uneasy when I stop. It's a tough life," said the long-time fishmong...

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