November 1, 2017

Hua Hong Stories : Rearing Piglets

This is the story of a very kind lady who passed away because there was no midwife or doctor to attend to her during the Japanese Occupation in Sibu.

Living on an island across the river, from Sibu, this lovely and hardworking mother was a hardworking wife and housewife. She not only could make a lot of kuih for sale, but kept many farm animals. As a mother of a growing family, and also managing a large extended family she was dutiful and extremely self sacrificing.

Every year she would have a child as this was before the days of contraception. By the ninth year of her marriage, she had already given her husband and parents in law 9 children!! "How capable she was" every one had said.

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simple pigsty and two young pigs
One favourite stories about her was her skills in rearing a lot of mother pigs which she had hoped to breed many piglets. That would bring in a bit of income for the family.

She got her husband to help her extend the pigsties more space for the mother pigs and the piglets. However, she did over work herself even though she was expecting. Her work would include cooking food for the mother pigs, and collecting taro leaves from the muddy river banks even though she was heavy with child.

In fact she herself was very good with the hammer and nails, doing a lot of minor carpentry work herself.

The Chinese sinseh in Sibu town had already told her that she had been working too much and for too long. She had 9 children by the time the Japanese came and she was expecting her 10th.

But she, as a very hardworking mother, and wife, continued to work very hard and hoped that her three mother pigs would deliver as many piglets as possible.

Living in Pulau Kerto was not easy as she had to cross the Rajang by a small boat if she had to see a Chinese sin seh. Being a very self sacrificing woman in her late 30's, she was already very tired. She postponed seeing the sin seh if she had felt the foetus moving in her belly.

Unfortunately her time had not come but the baby decided to see the world all too soon. The Japanese Occupation did not permit freedom of movement of people in Sibu. Her husband could not get a doctor to come in time. by early morning she had been haemorrhaging for too long and there was not even midwife who could come to help her. After a whole night of labour, she breathed her last, with only her young daughter helping her.

So the poor lady at the age of 38 and waiting for the delivery of her 10th child, passed away very tragically.

Those were the days of high mortality rate among young mothers.


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