November 26, 2015

Sibu Tales : Ungrateful relatives

Most families are large amongst the Foochows of Sarawak.

This was because when the Foochows first came to Sarawak they brought with them their culture, values and agricultural practices from Fujian. In 1901, they settled in the delta of the Rajang, which was actually quite a lonely and prohibitive, mosquito and vermin infested area. The land needed drainage and the Rajah Brooke did not know any better, only hoping against hope that these Chinese agriculturists would come and develop that region and make it prosperous like the Yangtze region, which he had only heard about!!

The hardworking Foochows' reputation was further confirmed by people who introduced them to him. Hence Wong Nai Siong was given the green light to bring in 3 batches of Foochow farmers at the invitation of the Rajah, and promises of allowances were given in return for the land that they would "wake up from their deep slumbers".

Life was tough, flood was regular, many died from diseases, snake bites took many hundreds of lives. In fact in one way a plague like disease struck them until one Foochow man commented, "To day I carry many corpses for burial, tomorrow I would not know who will carry me to my grave."

It was in such hard times that a Foochow man brought out three of his distant relatives to work in his rubber estate. He gave them free board and food and treated them as his own for five years. the wife raised pigs, chickens and planted vegetables and padi for every one and there were easily four tables in their kitchen. To this man, it was good because every one was helping out. A small token salary was also given out the the relatives who were working for him. Food was any way fairly easy to come by.

The relatives got married and soon moved away and they prospered.

But in no time, they forgot about the man who vouched for them to land in Sarawak. They also forgot how he and his family provided fro them for five good years.

This was a common story amongst the Foochows in the 1920's and 1930's.

When the Second World War broke out this Foochow man was in need of medication, while his own sons were stranded in China and his wife had passed on  some years before the war.. His rubber garden was untapped and all his relatives had moved on. It was good that his only daughter came to help him out.

He told his daughter to forgive and to forget because the only factor of their dire straits was his ill health. He had exhausted himself. Time was hard for every one. And he blessed his daughter like any good Foochow father would. He then died peacefully in his sleep. He had tried his best to live 40 years in Sibu. And he had raised 3 educated children.

His two very educated sons returned to Sibu and inherited his land and slowly brought the rubber garden to life again, even though it was a big struggle.

His daughter had married a poor scholar and as soon as the war was over she "returned to China" and joined the Chinese revolution.

We must always remember those who have helped us along our life's journey. We have to bless them in return. This is the only way for God's kingdom to prosper.

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