October 18, 2009
Mrs. Lau Pang Huai and Mrs.Lau Pang Sing
I met two ladies who became brides of Nang Chong Foochow men after the Second World War.
First story - the lady on the left in the photo:
Mrs. Lau Pang Huai is a retired primary school teacher and she has taught in Kapit and Kanowit Chinese Primary Schools. She married my mother's cousin Lau Pang Huai who was also a Chinese Primary School teacher.
They have an extra ordinary life as primary school teachers having lived through colonial system and pre-Malaysian period and post Malaysia period. Both of them had to be comfortable with a little English they acquired almost by force and the Chinese they learned before and after the Japanese Occupation. How they managed was a miracle indeed. It was their love for teaching and their love for the next generation that they continued to serve as teachers even during the turbulent communist days.
With Chinese school salary as small as 60 dollars they toiled every day.
While serving under the Malaysian government after 1963 the husband and wife managed to be retrained by the government and they continued to teach until they retire with a slightly higher salary from the government.
During the recent senior citizen conference Mrs. Lau Pang Huai gave a harmonica presentation.
Second story : lady on the right:
On the other hand my third aunt (married to my mother's brother Lau Pang Sing) was a town girl (born in Bukit Assek in Ka Koh Chuo) who moved downstream so to speak to marry a rubber tapping pig rearing and wharf labourer who lost out in education because his fate was dealt with a rough blow at a young age by war. Under occupied Sarawak my young uncle did not have a chance to go to school and his education was barely three years of school before the war. Almost traumatised by the Japanese my uncle became very timid and shy and was not a man of strong opinions. He was fortunate to have my aunt as wife as she shouldered most of the decision making and management of the family. Under her capable hands she managed the large household while my uncle brought back the proverbial bacon.
My aunt Wong Nguk Ling worked very hard as a housewife and together with my uncle saved what they could while supporting my grandmother as they had become quite impoverished due to the fall in rubber prices and land value (communist impact). They planted padi and oranges and limes tapped rubber and reared pigs like every one else in the Rajang River basin after the war.
Then all of a sudden the political situation began to change. The Nang Chong villages were too unsafe for rubber tapping and rice farming was even a thing of the past. Animal rearing was getting more difficult because of transportation costs . The final crunch came when the land started to be washed away by the powerful expresses running along the Rajang River.
Finally my aunt and uncle had to abandon their piece of land which my grandfather pioneered in the 1910's and left Nang Chong for good. They moved to Lucky Road Sibu and establish once more a household. Today her children are successful beyond their own dreams. Lau Bui is a wealthy road building contractor.
Their Rural urban migration is only one of the thousands of stories from Nang Chong and the Rajang: interrupted lives- interrupted education - short changed businesses and enterprises - adversities - poor water supply - no electricity supply and so many trials and tribulations.
But these two ladies have kept their faith and are now enjoying their golden years worshipping together and enjoying fellowship.
I am glad I shared some part my youth with them.