mum was always very hardworking when we lived in Sibu.
Laundry was first done by our neighbour Kak who came to help her. But later, when my dad passed away we could not have a helper. So she did all the house work herself by hand. There was no washing machine in those days.
To save money, and to make sure that we were on a very tight budget, we saved rain water in a cement well or tank. When rain came we would jump for joy. And when grandma came, instead of boiling water for her bath, mum would put a huge aluminium basin in the yard to heat up the water in the morning sun. By ll the water would be warm and grandma would have her bath. I love the grandma smell. Being in born in China, she had a special fragrance on her skin after she took her bath. It was not the Baby Johnson Powder. Grandma was a very very fair woman.
But what I remember most was the way mum dried our clothes in the sun.
We would help her with the clothes. My sister would pick up the clothes for her so that she did not have to bend down. and when all the clothes were up, I would happily place the pole to hold the clothes line up.
It was a real joy to listen to the clothes flapping in the wind. It was my responsibility to make sure that the clothe lines are up. When the pole came down clothes would be dirtied and it would mean that mum had to wash again. It would give her a lot of pain. So we have all to be very watchful and attentive.
Keeping an eye on the laundry in the morning was an important task. Mum would always remind us how important it was to be watchful and mindful of our daily work.
Every now and then, we had to watch out for the rain, or the gathering clouds, we had to see if neighbours' dogs had come into the backyard, we had to watch out for the wind which might blow the clothes away. And the happiest time was when mum said it was time for her to turn the clothes over so that they would dry faster and we would help her with the clothes pegs. She would go out with her big Iban hat and a towel over she shoulders.
I remember the grounds in our backyard which were never dry. We had wooden planks below the laundry lines for her step on.
Growing up, a soggy backyard was part of our life because that was the way it was in Sibu. No one then ever thought of buying a load of yellow soil to raise the land level. Our backyard was just inches above the flood level. We often watched the flood level rising in the stream and got prepared for the big flood. In my childhood, the big flood came into our kitchen only once. God was merciful indeed.
In this way, we grew up learning about being mindful at all times so that we do not have to do things twice.
Be always mindful, watchful,and observant.
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