January 25, 2017

Nang Chong Stories : The Death of My Maternal Grandfather

translated from Uncle Lau Pang Hung's Article published in "Kapitan Lau Kah Tii's Memorial Book"

"My late uncle Lau Kah Chui was born in 1882,on the 8th day of the Sixth Month of the Lunar Calendar. He passed away in 1944, 23rd day of the Fifth Month, at 8 a.m. He was only 63.

I can specifically remember a lot about him because he was such a loving uncle.

When I got to know him as an uncle he was already 50_. He kept an unshaven chin and as a kid with the others we were most scared of his rough chin. He would tease us by rubbing his chin on our faces. We used to hide from him when he approached us.

He loved his water pipe. Using a rolled up piece of paper he would light his pipe. We loved listening to the  bubbling sounds of the water in his pipe, forgetting our fear of his beard!!

My "young" uncle was a man with a good heart and very mild nature. He loved all of us, his nephews especially from his older brother. I remember lazing around in the hot afternoons, using his lap as my pillow. And when he carried us around playfully we would begged him now to tickle us with his beard.

There were about 10 of us children, of about the same age in the big home, and we enjoyed listening to him singing Foochow folk songs. As a adult who had almost no education at all, he had a very good memory for folk lore and moral stories. Here is a folk poem I learned from ...we recited this every time he was with us and that was how we learn to memorize all the words

 (This is my Foochow Pinyin)

Hui nang nging
kWONG nang nang
pah tieh peng
pek loh pan
loh peng ah oo lung kung
au muong kuoh tii chong
chong mo wui

kuo jik buoh,
buoh mui wong
sien tii lan lak beh dui wong
Dui Wong hui tung sieh
bien kii siek
kii siek meh kii ong
bien hu liong
hoo lion meh nieng ging'
bien tiek ding
tiek ding meh ding char
bien yah mah
yeh mah meh siek chou
bien tongtou
tong tou meh tang soon
bien liong soon
lion soon eh ar moh being tie su
tie su meh jok erh
bien chow eh
chow eh meh gak tang
bien sing nang
sing nang meh gah chu
bien tu duh
tu duh meh giek wan
bien mi guong
mi guong meh liong me
bien la li
la li meh tuk too
bien wong ngu.
wong ngo meh song gek
bien gie gek
....(to be continued)

IN 1934 my uncle decided to build his separate house in Ah Nang Chong because his 200 acres of rubber land was helping him gain quite a fortune. His large house was in fact by today's reckoning as large as five double storeyed terrace houses  on stilts.

We were very reluctant to see him move away from Ensurai. The Rajang was a big river then. It would take an adult one hour to pedal a boat to see him if the tide was not in his favour.

When he moved away he was still a very strong man, able to carry a bag of rice weighing 180 katis. He could haul the bag onto his shoulders without any one helping him!! What a strong man!!
 However not long after he was afflicted with small intestine problems. He was operated on and he lost a lot of his original strength. In fact he had to wear a brace made by the doctor to stablize his stomach area, especially when he walked. In fact the doctor also placed a metal ball, the size of a small fist in this brace to uphold his small intestine. This internal ailment of his weakened his entire body until his dying days.

My uncle loved to sip a bit of his wine or brandy every evening. He liked glutinous rice wine, Ngu Ga Pui, Xiao Xin Wine, Ax brand Brandy, Martell, XO, Mou Tai, Napoleon Brandy etc.

The most unfortunate happened towards the end of the the 1930's. Our Foochow settlers faced once again another misfortune - the falling prices of rubber, our cash crop. Life became very harsh for everyone. The padi fields were not giving forth enough food for my uncle's family and he was ill, too weak to do much. The Japanese occupied Sarawak and medical services were not available at all, especially in the rural areas. Besides, my aunt, his wife and their second son were stranded in China due to the war.Image may contain: 1 person, glasses

Towards the end of the Japanese Occupation, his illness worsened and he called my father to his bed side, "My Second Older brother, I have to go first in this world." Every relative who was by the bedside started crying.

We all believed that he was going to live longer. However after returning from his A Nang Chong house we felt a discomfort. The next day, early in the morning, we decided to pedal our small boat across the river again to see him. However half way across the river, we heard the fire crackers and my father realised that it was too late to see his younger brother for the last time.

The solemnity of the firecrackers thus announced the end of the life of a remarkable but humble younger brother of the Foochow Headman."

Translated by Chang Yi.
Originally written in Chinese by Uncle Lau Pang Hung,1990.


Anonymous said...

it would be nice to have the foochow song shown in chinese so that we can figure out the foochow pinyin.
the first line is fire fly, second line is very bright....
ha, some one may need to sing and record it in youtube.

63 was also a long life in those days. many people left before 50.

Anonymous said...

Had it been today with better facilities and doctors, do you think your uncle will survive better if he lives in this age and time?

Ensurai said...

thank you for your suggestion. I will have to get some one to type the words in Chinese for me...

Ensurai said...

I have checked with some doctors who said that this medical problem , which is similar to today's hernia, can be easily corrected with the right procedures. And my grandfather (uncle to the write of this piece), would have lived to one hundred years!!

Anonymous said...

watch this video at 40th min

Anonymous said...

Hernia can be cuased by carrying heavy load!

Ensurai said...

That's right. He was suffered too much from heavy work too...

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