August 9, 2015

Nang Chong Stories : Where my mother was born

My mother was born in Chieng Nang Chong and not in Ensurai or Ah Nang Chong. She said that my grandparents had moved across the river to help develop more rubber land after he had helped his brother, the Headman Lau Kah Tii clear some 400 acres. Then it was his turn to clear more land with the blessing of his brother. The two brothers were very close and united in their efforts and they would never forget the siblings they left behind.

Besides as soon as they were able, they brought out the children of their siblings to Sibu. The boat journey cost a bit, and the whole journey even took up to 1 whole month from 6 Du, Minqing.

In those days, those who could clear enough land could benefit from the Rajah's government. Each block of land had a ditch surrounding it. Clearing of land or rather virgin jungle was a really hard job to do because the soil was marshy and even smelly because of decayed vegetation. Roots were every where and water came flooding in with the tide. Many almost drowned in those days and many of course were bitten by insects and snakes....

My grandfather built two coolie houses, rather long houses for the new Arrivals or Sing Kah. Sing Kah were new immigrants who either came with loans of money sent back by their relatives, or they were "sponsored" by richer relatives.

These coolie houses had a kitchen on the ground floor and a higher level for the bedrooms for fear of flood. And by the river side were the little huts which housed their pigs.

My grand parents' humble house was next to Aunty Lau Mee Ying's family home. Aunty Mee Ying later married into the Wong family and had a lovely family in Sg. Merah. They owned the San San Rice Mill.

Aunty Mee Ying and my mother were born one month  apart and they were really close cousins. I remember going to the San San Rice Mill in Sg. Merah to buy rice with my mother and they would have long and quiet conversations at the corner.

Mum said in those days, relationships were really good and every one helped every one, especially in time of need. She remembered going to school barefooted with all her cousins before the war. And they were so happy to be in school!!

And from time to time, if a slaughtering of pig occurred for festivals, they had meat on the table.

Those are her great memories.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really no more so close knit nowadays.
Imagine those immigrants from China n coming to face the muddy or mushy grounds
some got elephantaisis n some got malaria or dengue etc...

Not easy at all. Understand your writings though I have seen when I was abt two or three yeaRS OLD to our Sing Pa means new land near Sibu Catholic Cementry there.

In the early 60's horrible n flooding all the time!