July 23, 2014

Nang Chong Stories : Kneeling and Kowtowing


My cousin Chok Ming (Tang) born in 1935 remembers my grandfather's special coffin - two ends sticking out, reaching the sky. It was such a horrifying sight to him, making him feel that death was a ghastly event.

 He was only 9 years old and his mother, my Aunt, held his hands very tightly. In those days, it was very "proper" for close relatives to pay their greatest respects by kneeling and kowtowing.


This photo was taken in 1933, two years before my cousin Chok Ming was born. My maternal grandfather is second, standing last row, from the left. He looks so much older than his older brother, Lau Kah Tii, standing second from the right, last row.

Aunt Hung Ing, brought her sons to pay their final respects to their youngest uncle, Moh Moh Chui Gah Gah (UNcle Moh Moh Chui), or Mui Gah (Last Uncle). Aunt Hung Ing in those days of Foochow Pioneering era was one of the educated girls. Her father, the headman of the Foochows ensured that all his daughters went to school alongside the boys. Her hand was also given to Mr. Tang Yew Tung, a Fujian born schoolar who taught for many years in the schools established by Rev Hoover.  Aunt Hung Ing brought up her children to value education and respect their elders. Three of her sons have been teachers (one, Cousin Chok Lik was a headmaster in Sri Aman until he retired) and the others are businessmen.

My Cousins of the Tang family and their mother, my Aunt Hung Ing.
Cousin Chok Ming remembers to this day how he and his brothers had to kneel three times and kowtow 9 times. Kneel, kowtow three times, second round of kneel, kowtow three times, and third round of kneel, and kowtow three times. He also said that even though he was only 9 years old, having to kneel and kowtow in that way made him feel really good because my maternal grandfather left a very deep impression on him. He thought that my grandfather was a kind gentleman who had led an examplary life and had shown him the greatest of Chinese values.

According to him, when I met up with him recently, that was the last time he did it as a Foochow ritual of paying respect to an uncle during the funeral. He said that he never knelt and kowtow-ed again in his life. His mother did not ask him and his brothers to show that kind of respect to any one else. I really felt good that his late mother and he and his brothers regarded my grand father so highly.

This was because his mother truly loved his Youngest Uncle, the beloved youngest brother of her father, the Capitan, Lau Kah Tii. According to my mother, her father had loved all of them very very much.

My maternal grandfather was truly blessed because he was so well loved.

July 22, 2014

Flora of Miri : Simpor


The Simpor is a very common plant in Sarawak jungles and different races use the leaves and the trunks for many purposes.

When we were young we used to earned a few cents by collecting the fresh leaves in the morning and selling them to the local butcher. Most of my school mates did this once or twice a week. Or they would be collecting them for their mothers for wrapping kuih.

The stems of the simpor can be cut and used as temporary walking sticks whenever you go to the jungle. It is good to beat the brains out of snakes!!

Simpor stems are also useful when you need a rod for your vegetables to climb.  Long beans, and other beans can be trained to climb up the stems. I often find raffia strings very messy and not environmentally friendly for our local gardening.

A simpor tree in your garden can also provide you with many leaves for wrapping, and an occasionally salad of its fine, young leaves.

The flowers can make a very pleasant floral arrangement with other local flowers.

Also, you can always get a few senior citizens together and wrap some tasty snacks together. It is a wonderful method to spread goodwill and good cheer.

Interestingly it is also the national flower of Brunei, our neighbouring state.

If you want to get fresh simpor leaves, you can call me, and make an order. My friend said the two of us can have a micro business in this!!