Inside the mind of a hoarder

Inside the mind of a hoarder
DIY PROJECTS: Mr Yee is fond of installing hooks to hang his bags and clothes.

When Madam S.L. Yue, then 75, fell in the toilet in 2013, the paramedics took 30 minutes to get her out.

They had to navigate the mountains of plastic bags, boxes, buckets and junk that cluttered the one-room flat she and her brother, Mr F.L. Yee, 76, shared in Geylang Bahru.

That was almost two years ago, and there has been one cleanup by volunteers from the Touch Seniors Activity Centre at their block since.

But when The New Paper on Sunday visited the flat last week, there was clutter again, with only a narrow path snaking through the accumulated items, leading from the entrance to the tiny kitchen area and toilet.

Alongside the path are buckets and dangling plastic bags.

In one corner, we spot bags of rice received from welfare organisations such as Lions Befrienders.

The siblings have opted to save the rice for a rainy day - except the rice has been sitting for so long, the bags are visibly full of weevils.

There is no space to sit, so the interview is done standing up.

At the far end of the room, there is a small space with two mattresses where Madam Yue, 77, and Mr Yee curl up to rest at night.

The problems started when the siblings moved in together in 2005.

Before that, they had their own flats, so the move meant both lugged their own possessions in.

"We threw out a lot of things when we moved. Six lorries full of my things.

"I was left with only two lorries' worth of items," Mr Yee insists.

He is obviously reluctant to get rid of things.

A bit of a handyman, he has a penchant for affixing hooks to any available surface and hangs up various knickknacks.

For instance, he has made makeshift handles, hanging from the ceiling, for them to grip, should they need the support.

He also salvages wooden bits to put together. Tin cans containing tools and nails are tucked against stacks of boxes.

Madam Yue is in the habit of keeping clothes, even pieces from years ago which she no longer wears.

Both are still getting help from Touch volunteers.

A spokesman says they are still trying to convince Mr Yee to get rid of stuff.

FOND OF 'YU' THINGS

Says the spokesman: "He is quite superstitious, he keeps quite a lot of fish (yu in Mandarin) items because of his surname Yee.

"We had to clear a 1.2m-long fish tank blocking his doorway."

When that was cleared away, smaller tanks found their way into the flat, she reveals.

"He still collects things, so now the house is back to square one."

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