April 5, 2011

Freshly Harvested Padi

It is harvesting time in Tutong where the Iban descent Brunei Permanent Residents/ Citizens have been provided small parcels of land for padi planting scheme by the government of Brunei.

Although I could ( if time permits) have a chance to go "ketam" or harvest some padi I have not decided to take up the offer. It would be terribly hot and I would become really sunburnt after one morning's work. And there is no coffee break (:)). The tough as nails ladies just go on and on with their back breaking work until the day's work is done for they have to harvest  quickly racing against time for if the rain comes the harvest would deteriorate/even be spoilt!!.

Harvesting is not easy believe you me.

I am proud that my mother's parents grew rice in Sg. Maaw when they first migrated to Borneo and my maternal aunts went down to manually plant padi too during the Japanese Occupation. My children's paternal aunts are also padi farmers. It is fitting that often family conversations are focussed on the year's padi cultivation and harvest.

Until today it is  still a social shame if an Iban family does not have enough family grown rice in the longhouse community!  Well for as far as Iban culture was concerned it was not right to have inadequate supply of rice for the whole year in the days of subsistence farming and non-monetary system.

Conversations when local Sarawakians meet often veer towards rice and its cultivation. Since rice is the pride of the longhouse dwellers it is a good topic to start any conversation . I would not find it uninteresting even in the city especially in these days of global warming. We should be very intellectually and socially concerned about the state of affairs in our farming lands and the welfare of our farmers.

there is a saying in Foochow " rice comes from the sweat and blood of our farmers".And I do get very offended when some socially inept people whose minds are crippled by the modernities of life sneer at the topic of rice and the intricacies of its farming.

In Japan a nation most famous for its rice cultivation its Haiku poet Basho in writing his famous Haiku placed rice cultivation almost at a spiritual level and imprinted the wonders of rice in Japanese culture. Here are some samples of his writing....


Husking rice,
a child squints up
to view the moon. 

a peasant’s child
husking rice, pauses
to look at the moon



This is my Brunei friend coming home with only one and half gunny of harvested and threshed rice after 6 hours of  hard work. She has already separated the rice stalks from the seeds. Even with wearing of a hat she still becomes red like a cooked lobster under the hot Brunei sun.

Really well formed rice...very firm in their husk. And soon to be milled to become good and fresh tasting rice. The sight of these grains remind me of my grandmother living in Sg. Maaw and my ancestors who toiled the land.

We give thanks for people like Martina who grows organic rice in Brunei. From the field to the home and the milling machine  the rice is not exposed to contamination or radiation this year. Safe Rice.




8 comments:

sintaicharles said...

What a heart-warming blog.

Ann said...

Did Mdm Mamora ever teach you this song?

Planting rice is never fun,
bent from morn till set of sun,
cannot stand and cannot sit.

Oh my back, like to break.....

I used to think it is a Sarawak song, but it is a Philippino song.

Sunflower said...

I love red rice bought from Tamu so nice and fragrant. I had some Thai red rice here, it's tasteless no comparison.

Bengbeng said...

the price of rice is going up irrespective of grade

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks Charles...I am sure you have been to the nice padi fields of Tutong...it is lovely to know that people are planting still staple food for their own family needs.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...Yes Ms Mamora did teach us the song and later in my own classes I would use the song to teach moral values and the "ing" form of verbs....
By the time I was in upper secondary school there were several Philippino missionaries in our church so we sang their songs and did the Bamboo dance too. My friends even performed on stage..this woman with two left feet some how never got selected!! I can't even do the poco poco ....hahahaha.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes Sunflower...red rice is lovely. I am now eating more zhou mi and I like the crunchiness of the variety. Martina's rice is soft for porridge for my mother and aunts. Her's red. Did you recognise the grains?

wish I can give you some...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Beng Beng
What we do here is eat more vegetables and less rice. Veg are RM3 per kg. Rice = RM 5-10 per kg.

I used to give hill rice as love gifts to my Sibu relatives because we had so much each year but some of them turned their nose up!! hahahah! Those were the days. Now cannot afford to give away already. And don't really have to.

Nang Chong Stories : Tiffin Carriers

School meals in the 1950's and 60's were simple fare. No Foochow activist like Jamie Oliver would have fought for better school meal...