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....
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.
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.