Ban Mian Seller in Singapore: This Single Mum's Story Will Move You!
Read about how a ban mian seller in Singapore was on the brink of suicide, before her daughter stopped her!
She didn’t want to live any more.
Broke, depressed and devoid of hope, she wanted to end her life.
She climbed on a chair near the window and looked at the world below, one last time. She decided to jump.
Ban mian seller in Singapore: How it started
It was year 2012, and Madam Vivian Leong was 38 then. Her daughter Ivory was just 7.
Singapore mum Vivian still remembers the day she received that dreaded phone call from Shanghai. It was her husband, and he was asking for divorce.
She tells Channel NewsAsia, “I was completely taken by shock, and my mind was blank.”
“I asked him why, and he said that our personalities were not a good fit for each other.
“I felt so misunderstood and wronged. For so many years, I had tried my best to be a good wife to him … taking care of him, looking after our daughter and loving him the best that I could.”
“I loved him so much, and I felt that the past few years of my life was all for nothing.”
Her husband had apparently found someone else, leaving Vivian and Ivory in the lurch, “I really lost all hope, and felt that there was no more meaning to my life.”
And so there she was, standing on a chair near the window, all ready to jump.
Until a little voice begged her not to.
“Mummy, please don’t jump. If you jump, I will go down with you,” begged little Ivory, kneeling down, with her hands clasped.
Vivian recalls that moment, “When I heard that, my heart was so painful, and I knelt down, hugging her and crying.”
She broke down and said, “I’m sorry, I won’t do this again.”
Little Ivory consoled her mum, and told her something that was to change her life forever, “Mummy, don’t worry. The ban mian you make is very good. If you open a stall, many people will come and eat.”
Ban mian seller in Singapore: When life turned around
It seemed like the most impossible thing in the world then. How in the world was she – a struggling single mum in Singapore, who was broke after her husband abandoned her – going to open her own ban mian stall?
(Ban Mian is a popular noodle dish, consisting of handmade noodles served in soup)
And yet, it was a thought. A thought that had given her hope and saved her life.
As Vivian told Channel NewsAsia, “To me, it was impossible. I had no savings and had never worked here (in Singapore) before. The skill I had was to cook for my friends and family.”
She started by washing dishes at a stall, and soon became a kitchen assistant. Then she learned how to handle accounts.
Her hard work and effort paid off. She was noticed by a coffee shop owner who asked her to take over an empty stall, “I think he saw how hard I was working at the cooked food stall, and he asked me to come to his coffee shop and take over an empty stall there.”
“I didn’t have to pay a deposit. Instead, I gave him S$50 a day from my earnings.”
And finally, in late 2015, 2.5 years after she had decided to end her life, Vivian had her own stall at a coffee shop in Holland Close – “Madam Leong Ban Mian”.
Today, the stall is located at 7 Maxwell Road. It is also a favourite among food bloggers in Singapore. (Updated 2020)
Ban mian seller in Singapore: Hard life but worth it
The Vivian of today is a far cry from the depressed mum she once was. Her life is tough, but she looks forward to it every day.
She tells Channel NewsAsia, “Every morning, I am up at 6.30am to get my daughter ready for school. Then I have to open my stall, make the noodles, prepare the chilli, cut the ingredients … all before my stall opens at 10am.”
Whatever little free time she gets, is spent on taking care of Ivory and helping her with school work.
She admits that it’s a difficult job, “Sometimes, I feel like my body really has no strength to continue, especially when I get sick. When I really have no choice, I will close my stall for one or two days, quickly take some medication, see a doctor and hope that I can get well.”
Sometimes, she still feels weak and wonders if she did the right thing, “Late at night, I sometimes ask myself. Why do I want to continue, especially when I only make enough to cover my expenses?”
“What if my daughter wants to go to university, or if I want to buy a house?”
This mum soldiers on though, for her daughter, who has just completed her PSLE and will go to secondary school next year.
It was her daughter who gifted her a new life after all, “My daughter tells me, no mee hoon kueh, no life. No mee hoon kueh, no home, and no love. And that, to me, is a miracle: God’s words, and my daughter’s encouragement.”
“God tells me that my journey has not ended yet. And I feel peace in my heart.”
(Source: Channel NewsAsia)