Durian Seng feared a no-show for his birthday giveaway
It has been a fixture for durian fanatics for over 20 years, yet this year, for a while it looked like it had gone rotten.
Every year on July 11, Yap Kean Seng - affectionately known as Durian Seng - celebrates his birthday by giving away free, quality durians to his loyal customers.
The event usually attracts a stream of eager customers and it is not uncommon to see a queue forming hours before the evening's great giveaway.
But on Tuesday, for the first time since his giveaway began, Durian Seng, feared that nobody would turn up to celebrate him turning 65.
The New Paper arrived at his makeshift stall at 14 Jalan Tampang in Sembawang at 6.30pm to a near-empty street.
At 7pm, just 30 minutes before the giveaway was due to start, not a soul was in sight.
On the table were tall stacks of Styrofoam containers filled with durian. Several large baskets containing a total of 500kg of D13 and D101 durians that cost Mr Yap over $4,000, sat ready.
Mr Yap used to give away 1,000kg of durians in the past. He told TNP that increasing prices ruled that out. This year, he said, durian prices upped by three-fold and the harvest was not as good.
As time ticked by and the street stayed empty, Mr Yap could not mask his worry.
He told TNP in Mandarin: "I feel quite upset. I bought so many. Durians are meant to be eaten (immediately) and now I have so many of them."
"What if nobody turns up? What am I going to do? Die, lah!"
Resigned, My Yap repeated a number of times: "This whole place is so quiet."
Searching for a reason why the usual throng was absent, Mr Yap - who has been selling durians for 35 years - said that the day itself could be a factor.
"Tuesday is the worst day to do business in Singapore. This area is particularly quiet on Tuesdays. But what can I do? I cannot change my birthdate," he said, almost resigned to having to take half-a-tonne of durians home for his family to eat.
Mr Yap also realised that he had started spreading the word about the giveaway late as he had only started selling durians again just four days before.
"Even Jay Chou needs to promote his concerts six months before the actual day," he quipped.
Thankfully, his fears of a disappointing birthday were allayed. By 8pm, a handful of people had become a throng.
In exchange for flashing his name card, the now numerous patrons received a free box of The King of Fruit which they consumed communally at the long table provided.
The birthday boy's mood had visibly lifted and he returned to his usual jovial self, greeting customers with a bright smile.
Many shook his hand and wished him well. Some even added to the celebration with beer and red packets.
Mr Yap even took to the street, happily shouting "Free durians, free durians!" to attract more people.
He was in good spirits and his customers left satisfied.
"I think it is awesome that he is giving away free durians. He's passionate about the fruit, just like I am, and that's what I really like about his attitude," said project manager Jaya Suriya Vikkraman, 32.
Mr Yap, was all-smiles as he told TNP: "I was so sad when nobody turned up. But now, I've given out about 400kg of durians at this point so I feel very, very happy.
"I like to give out durians because it makes my customers happy and when they are happy, it makes me happy, too."