June 25, 2009
(My father and his beloved siblings and nephew Michael Oon )
As a child I used to be fascinated by my grandfather's guns. There were two of them. My fifth uncle was very handy with the second one. Grandfather would use his own. The two guns were very well displayed in a glass cabinet to which grandfather had the key.
Talking about keys in those old days - one would always know who was a towkay or a towkay neo - the big towkay would have a lot of keys in his huge key chain. Mere mortals did not even have a key chain!! So we all enjoyed watching grandfather and his key chain and large number of keys. It only showed how many cabinets or safes he had.
There were lots of stories associated with his guns.
First of all many of the Ibans who worked in the Kiong Ang Brickyard would often run up to my grandfather to ask him to shoot the monitor lizards and the snakes which preyed on the chickens and other animals in the longhouse. I remember my aunts telling me how brave grandfather was even when he was in his seventies. He had no problem shooting the reptiles.
There was one time when some one saw a crocodile in the Igan and he was summoned to shoot it. He saw a head and shot but he did not get the croc. The children were all very happy to see a Chinese man with a gun trying to shoot a crocodile. It must have been quite a Crocodile Dundee moment for those kids.
Guns were quite useful in the rural areas of Sibu. And often Grandfather would be the one to shoot snakes and monitor lizards. The Iban workers would have a feast after the kill.
Later after my grandfather passed away my fifth uncle took over the supervision of the brickyard and he too took over the guns. But it was not for long because he had to surrender to the guns to the government during the days of Confrontation and Communist Insurgencies.
After that period I never saw any of my Chinese relatives owning a gun.