Most people would say that they spent their childhood watching TV or playing video games at home but that is not the case for me. I spent my childhood in a photocopy store run by my parents located in Old Seremban Town.
Our photocopy shop was actually under an abandoned cinema named the Golden City Cinema on Jalan Dr Krishnan. Six out of seven days a week, I spent my time there from 8am to 6pm doing my homework, studying and photocopying ICs. I would say that I spent more time at the shop than at my own home.
The theatre business in this building went on for more than 70 years and assumed 3 names with the first being Majestic, followed by Kok Wah and finally, Golden City. The building has been there for longer than the business.
The structure has always been quite unstable as the wooden flooring on the second floor had some holes in it. If you looked carefully, you could see the first floor! In recent years, some parts of the ceiling even fell down, so when we opened up the shop in the morning, we did not know what kind of “surprise” awaited us.
Even when I was little, I was always terrified of going up the staircase to the place where the seats are because it was always dark and the only light you could get was from the window connected to the side and the light of the furniture shop below. Imagine the terror when the skies were dark with strong-blowing winds!
It doesn’t help that the whole place was covered in dust and mould. So, the interior of the place actually looked quite dystopian with trees growing from inside as well. There were even instances where I was bitten by bugs that were living in the old cinema seat cushions and endured red, swollen and painful skin.
I had a chance to explore the office at the back of the cinema that was sealed off. To be very frank, it was very creepy as there were still film reels there and many pieces of machinery that were rusted. We even found an unopened can of something called an arbutus there! Old movie tickets were scattered on the floor as well.
Last day of business
In August 2020, my parents retired and we stopped renting the place. The last day of business was bittersweet. Saying goodbye to the cinema, the walls I drew on with my siblings, and the place where I spent a majority of my life was tearful, to say the least.
Fast forward to almost a year later, a fire broke out on Jalan Dr Krishnan at 4am on 22 April 2021. The deadly fire ravaged five empty shop lots and it was almost completely destroyed. When we received news of the fire, I felt like the flames engulfed a part of me too.
Although some of the physical things such as my childhood drawings were all destroyed, it still lives on in my memory. With that said, the physical embodiment of my childhood is gone and I feel a little hollow inside. It reminds me of how fleeting life can be. Be it as it may, we must all forge on.
While the building has lost all its physical heritage, some parts of the theatre like the seats have been refurbished and are available for public viewing (with a small fee) at the Citizen Heritage Cultural Center.
With this in mind, I definitely hope that everyone will cherish the memories that you have with a place, a person or just an object as the saying is really true.
“You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”
RIP Golden City Cinemas, you will be deeply missed by our family.
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