I am a Ming Chiang Foochow with my forefathers burial grounds in King Sha in Fujian Province. However many of my friends are Kutien in descent . We however do understand each other's accent. This trip back to Sibu and the eastern bank of the Rajang I met for the first time a real Pingnan (屏南)man. He used to own the motor launch Ma La San (Bawang Assan) which plied between Bawan Assan and Sibu making one daily trip to and fro. I must have used the boat before. After more than 40 years of motor launch work he retired to look after a school canteen for Kai Dee Primary school as his house is just next to the school. He also oversees the security and maintenance of the Hung Ang Church.
These steel rods are actually construction steel rods which he recycles as grills for his canteen window. And the small chicken wire mesh also provide an extra security for his sellable items. Neighbours can also buy some sundry goods from him.
He is very generous and hospitable. He offered us Sibu produced Cream Soda.
These two bottles of Cream Soda (Made in Borneo!!) brought back a lot of memories. 40 years ago so many families here would not have owned refrigerators. There are two refrigerators in this canteen to serve the students of Kai Dee school and the neighbours. A canteen like this is often a focal point for youths to gather around and the canteen operator often plays the role of a counsellor!! A low table serves as a card table for the boys who have come by bicycles and motorbikes. The airy porch is really a nice happening place.
He has a close neighour who lives alone next to his canteen. So he does not really feel so lonely. He keeps house by himselfe and his children all live in Sibu. The kampong chickens he rears pick on the worms in the front yard and a nice chili padi plant grows healthily just by the side of the gate.
Above on the wall in his canteen we saw a painted coloured traditional wedding picture. In the 1950's wedding photos did not come in colours. He had asked someone to paint a coloured picture of his wedding photo!! This was a norm at that time. And still faithful to his marriage he has the wedding photo hung up high on the wall . This photo he said will remain up there till eternity. How romantic.