March 24, 2017

Nang Chong Stories : Har Chien or Cincaluk

During the Japanese Occupation, life was difficult for every one especially in the Chinese villages. The Japanese hated the Chinese and would love to kill them if possible. But usually, most of the Japanese would just slap them when they had a chance. This enmity between the Japanese and the Chinese was from ancient history.

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When the Japanese arrived in Sibu, they were very much into taking over the town and running their government as they liked.

Food was scarce, people were scared and there was lots of bitterness too.

Girls were quickly married off for fear of rape and being forced to become comfort women.

My mother and her younger sister chose to be dressed up as boys and worked in the padi fields, with blackened face.

They worked hard but food was scarce.

One of the food on the table was the fermented shrimps which we Foochows called har chien. Cincaluk in Bahasa Malaysia. They had to be very frugal with even this dish.

They could only dip their chopstick into the sauce and ate some sweet potatoes. Sometimes when the har chien was gone, or had gone bad, it was only salt and sweet potatoes.

However after 3 years and 8 months, the Allied came and the Japanese surrendered.

February 27, 2017

Pulau Kerto : Love and Obedience

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I was born in Pulau Kerto. The birth was attended to by a local trained midwife, whom my father fetched from Sibu . He took the small boat across the River Rajang when my first time mother said that it was time and it was confirmed by the Confinement Lady, Sixth Aunt, or Sixth Sister to Mother.

Mum was brought up in the Foochow village of  Ah Nang Chong, about 2 hours boat ride from Sibu. So she was used to riverine village life and the rearing of domestic fowls and animals. She was best in rearing pigs according to her.

When she married my father, then manager of the rice and ice mill (Hua Hong Ice Factory), she was all ready to raise her own domesticated animals and poultry for food. Living with a Grandmother in law also helped her gain confidence in an extended family life. She learned fast from Great Grandmother as they got along very well. That pleased both my grandparents, and my maternal grandmother.

My father was happy that his wife was a a capable one. She raised ducks, chickens and even goats.

Mum was most happy in the evening when she could call all the ducks home to the cage, below the house. Her "deee, deee,deee, deee" resonated ...During low tide, the ducks were dirty and during high tide they were very clean.

Mum would cluck her tongue and laughingly tell us, "See, we love our ducks by giving them food...and they are so obedient!!"

I suppose we kids grew up very obedient because we wanted to eat all the nice food she prepared. She continues till today to give us the best food, to show us love. <3 p="">
As kids we enjoyed watching the ducks grow bigger and bigger and at times we were extremely happy when mum called out how many eggs the ducks had laid. Sometimes she would go around the river banks to find the duck eggs, as some mother ducks were not good at laying their eggs at "home".

Chickens were free range and they roosted on the trees around our house. The goats were also tied to the higher grounds and they munched on the grass. It was fun watching them chew and munch away.