March 18, 2016

Sibu Tales : Showing Appreciation the Foochow Way

The Famous Foochow Bagel or Gong Bian

The Foochows have our own numeral coefficients. We have a slice of meat, a bowl of soup, a piece of cake, and specifically when it comes to pieces, we say suoh doi (big chunk of meat)niik, suoh liu (small slice) niik, suoh pien (thin layer) ngii niik (fish can be sliced very thin).

The smallest of anything if to say something sarcastic or insulting, one would say Suoh Pi Sai ( a small bit of snot)

My maternal grandmother was a fast thinking and smart lady who could stand no fools. Any woman or man who did not pay respect to their elders or who did not say the right would get a sarcastic retort from her. She did not go to school, but she memorized every word the school teacher said in the Church room when she was four, in Kay tou Buoh, in Minqing, China. A year later, she was "sold" because her parents were too poor to feed another mouth, particularly a girl. What she learned in one year was to help her live a wonderful life in Sarawak.

She used metaphors when she spoke. And she taught us moral lessons, ancient legends, Confucious' sayings and almost everything which helped us become ethical, God fearing people.

One of her favourite sayings, and it was also my mum's, was "Never even see a small piece of Gong Bian from that ungrateful relative..."

Love was expressed in kind amongst the Foochows. We would give gifts of chickens if we had chickens in our farms, or eggs etc. If we could afford biscuits we would buy tins of biscuits. But those who were poor, could even buy the the cheapest of gifts - yes, a few pieces of gong bian for 10 cents in those days.

A grateful man would bring some gong bian to his benefactor.

We were often trained to remember how to show our appreciation - the Foochow way.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

my grandma did not attend school, as can be imagined for most ladies in old china. recently, i thought about the same thing as you did. i thought she must be a very smart lady, because she could remember so many things she learned from the church. definitely there were many smart chinese ladies. i afraid the old chinese system had killed so many smart ladies who otherwise would have become great scientists.

Anonymous said...

I am staying in London now. Miss the kompia so much!!!

Ensurai said...

Thank you for commenting. Yes in the early part of the 20th century so many girls who were just born to killed..This was called female infanticide. One of my aunts was hidden in the backyard stove by her angry grandmother(who wanted a grandson) and the ashes were already stuffed into her nostrils. Fortunately a kind neighbour saw the horrible act and took her away and then later made arrangements to make her a child bride of a Sibu Foochow man. This aunt lived to tell the tale.

I am sure that neighbour is blessed by God for her good action.

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