September 4, 2014

Sibu Tales : First Drowning

This is one of the many stories I can write about my famous cousin Lau Tze Cheng. May his soul rest in peace.

When my late uncle Lau Sing Chiong came to Sibu to help with my grand uncle's business in 1935, he left his wife and young son in Fujian. He would send for them when his matters were more settled, of if he changed his mind, he would return to Fujian. He had married Tze Cheng's mother in 1928 when he was 18 years old. In 1929, his first son Kung Hui was born. In 1931 Kung Huong, or Tze Cheng was born. In 1933, his third son, Kung Hui was born. Unfortunately Kung Hui passed away when he was three years old because of Polio.

Events went smoothly for my uncle and he soon sent for his young family, wife Madam Wong(she had bound feet ) and his young son, Lau Tze Cheng to come to Sibu in 1937 in April. She left her older son Kung Hui in China.

Life could not be more wonderful in Ensurai. Food was plentiful, rubber price was good and children even had schools to go to. He was the supervisor of 400 acres of rubber plantation owned by the Second Uncle, Lau Kah Tii.

But alas, one week after their arrival, a tragedy happened.

Photo of my Uncle Lau Sing Chiong with his sons, and relatives at the cemetery of the parents of his first wife, and  grandparents of Lau Tze Cheng. 1986 Fujian, China.(Photo courtesy of Timothy Lau Kung Ong)

My aunt, Tze Cheng's mother, tripped as she climbed out of the motor launch and fell into the river . It happened so suddenly that no one could help in the situation as the water was furious and the boat engine was still running. That was how she was drowned, the first Foochow drowning case in Sibu. It was a very sad year for the family.

My aunt also"  brought out" her younger brother, Wong Seng Tieng, who later worked in the famous Foochow restaurant, Hock Chu Leu. He stayed with my uncle until he remarried. However, my uncle's new wife, Madam Ung, Tim Lau's mother, "recognised" Seng Tieng as her "brother". She would bring her young children, including Tze Cheng, to "see Uncle Seng Tieng" at the restaurant. That is the Foochow way.

My late uncle Lau Sing Chiong continued to manage the sundry shop at Ensurai until the 1970's, By then Lau Tze Cheng was already a famous writer, his other sons are prospering in different professional fields. 

In 1986 my late uncle Lau Sing Chiong brought his wife and family to visit the grave of his parents-in-law in Fuzhou, Fujian, thus fulfilling one of the most important duties of a Foochow. Before 1986, Malaysian laws restricted Malaysian Chinese below the age of 55 to visit China. This restriction was lifted only recently.

Today Seng Tieng's descendants are prospering because they adhere to God's Commandments and so are Sing Chiong's descendants.

May God bless the souls of all my departed relatives.


Anonymous said...

when (what year) did this accident happen? you meant she fell into the river when the motorboat was running?

i saw same kind of graves in china. may be it is the popular foochow design.

Ensurai said...

I have to ask my mother about the exact year. It should be just a little while before World War Two. She was stepping out of the boat and the boat lurched a bit, with all the engine still running. It happened so fast and the river was also very choppy..a life just slipped away like that in one moment. So sad.

Anonymous said...

that was much earlier than a case that i am aware of in early 1960. a relative needed to get water from the river to wash the cloth with poo worn by her newly born son. By throwing a pail into the fast moving boat, she was dragged into the Rejang. The baby remained on the deck, crying loudly and was discovered by other passengers and that was how they knew that the mother fell into Rejang. The mother was unfortunately killed and the body was recovered several days later.

Ensurai said...

So tragic.

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