This image probably explains my love and fascination for books, and why I’ve always wanted to own a bookstore. In 1962, my grandfather and his younger brother, together with the help of their mother and sisters, ran a shop called Zulin Book Company on Carnarvon Street in Penang.
Besides selling notepads and stationeries, they also sold science and sports equipment for schools, such as ping pong bats, hurdles and geometric rulers. Many of these items were imported from abroad, but many were also made at home. My father used to tell me stories of helping his father make plasticines and stroboscopes to be sold in the store.
Zulin was operated by my granduncle Lim Chuin Chong. Its name is derived from the fabled location of Sulin, or Yulin in Taiwan where scholars would gather to drink tea and write poetry. The store was moved closer to home in Jelutong a year later in 1963, and ceased operations six years later in 1969.