Monday, October 29, 2007

Some pictures for homesick souls - out there!

Little story about myself - Part 3

For the record, the boy first had a group picture taken of him self only in 1970 while he was in standard six. The first time he saw a TV was while he was in form two or three sometimes in early 1970’s. His first time wearing long pants in Form 4 and only got a wristwatch the same year donated by his brother. Neither his parent nor his brother could afford to buy him a new watch. Often he salvaged watch bought cheaply or given away by well to do friends. He would borrow reference books from friends when they were themselves not using them. In spite of all the hardship he would wake up 2 or 3 am in the morning to study for his examination together with friends. Hungry stomach studying at such odd hours compelled them to climb coconut or mango trees to satisfy their hunger pangs. Different students had different motivations to study hard. The boy had a unique motivation of his own. He realized even at that young age.

He had no choice but to study hard otherwise he would end up suffering the same fate as his older siblings who struggled daily to meet end needs. He saw early in life that though his siblings were born on to this world before him they continue to make no headway in life but languishing in misery and poverty instead. Didn’t they say poverty breeds’ poverty? Poverty is also vicious cycle. One had to struggle to free oneself from it all!

In spite of his poor background he studied quite well compared with his peers. For the most part from Form 1 until Form 5 he was among the top students in his class. This he did in spite of almost without any motivation from his folks who never inquired about his school examination results or performance in school. His stepfather preferred he stopped schooling so that the boy could become his constant companion in all his fishing trips and farm works.

Like others his age he was at one time or the other ridiculously interested in a classmate – first a Chinese than an Iban girl, all to no avail. Imagine he was even interested in a businessman’s daughter who was in his class. How could a poor boy with little confidence in him self win the heart of girls when there was no shortage of better looking and stylist boys around? Intimating style then was by way of writing a note indicating one interest in a particular girl and leaved it in her pencil box overnight. The reply or response would be received through the same pencil case the following day whether positive or negative. None was of any particular success to remember. Sorry guy – no one is interested in you!

The boy too was interested in playing games or joining sports of some kind but he had no money to buy sport shoes such as soccer boots or shorts. As a result he was not good at any of the games.

Survival technique in those days was an interesting story in itself. The boy could consume two packets of instant noodles at any one time. The water was boiled using borrowed water heater and the noodles were let to soak in a container for a few minutes before consumption. During regular meal times one could scoop as much rice as need and then queued up for the dishes. If round boiled egg was served for dinner or lunch the boy and his friends would hid the egg in rice and queued up again for the second serving making sure nobody among fellow student servers notice the cheat or even turned one face away so as not to be recognized or lessen the embarrassment if caught. As much as 20 – 30 pieces of cream crackers could be consumed for each breakfast time. Imagine the tremendous appetite in those days where food was never enough.

Students slept in a boarding house with double deckers. Mosquito nets were used to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Bathing and washing of personal clothing were by turn in the common bathrooms and toilets.

The boy continued his study in Miri’s college. He took a small coastal vessel from Kuala Mukah to Kuala Bintulu together with total strangers whom he had never met – a whole day journey. Scared and worried he put whatever little money he had inside his socks under the shoe. Nobody (repeat nobody) should have attempted to rob him for a small knife was also hidden inside his socks in one of the two skinny legs. Putting aside fear and shyness he joined other passengers for a simple lunch on the boat. Hungry and desperate he did not bother to wait for any invitation to partake in the lunch. Arriving in Kuala Bintulu (now known as Kemena) at dusk he looked for a place to settle in for the night. Situated near the wharf there was this tamu (small market place cum rest house for rural folks) where he saw a lot of other fellow Iban. He settled at a small corner for the night. The boy dared not leave his big bag alone for fear of it being stolen. Never mind there was nothing much of value to steal anyway. The bag was a treasure to him. He did not have proper food that evening because of the bag problem. He spread out his bath towel and slept for the night. The mosquitoes truly had a feast that night and it showed on the boy’s body the next morning.

From Bintulu the boy proceeded to Miri joining another group of strangers in a chartered taxi. The road to Miri then was unsealed and gravel. Imagine the backbreaking trip it was throughout the 4 – 5 hours journey.

Little story about myself - Part 2

The boy’s life in the school started in 1965 and ended in 1970. Six eventful years were spent in the primary school – Nanga Sikat. They slept in a boarding house made of third grade timber plank and dried wood bark walls with too many holes on the floor and the walls as well. Undoubtedly the boarding houses were too well ventilated for mosquitoes and other insects to freely roam about on the look out for exposed young blood and skins. The children would sleep in smelly mosquito nets tied using raffia strings. When one string was pulled the rest of the nets would move in tandem like rolling waves in the ocean.

Morning routines were mandatory light exercise led by school student head followed by work parties. Works parties started at about 6.30 until 7.30 in the morning. During such work parties student were assigned different tasks some were instructed to fetch water (nyauk ai) from the rivers using specially designed tins with handles while others were assigned to gather wild ferns (pako) in the vicinity of the school nearby forest. Breakfast was usually simple and insufficient. Attending class with noisy and hungry stomach was the norm. Times for break and rest were given in between classes but there was nothing to eat or drink. Those who had coins could buy bun from nearby kayu kepapa where an old lady always had something for sale to the school children.

Wearing shoes and uniforms to class were unheard of. Some attended class without brushing their teeth and nails were usually long and unkempt. Most kids were smelly and nobody complain after all everyone was so used to each other foul body odors.

The boy and his friends normally earned a penny or two by collecting wild ferns and sell it to the middlemen for further sale at Mukah town. Some weekends were spent ngangkut pasir ari sungai ngagai moto chalo untuk dijual ngagai Ng Mukah. Pocket money was no more than 5 ringgit per school term. Recreation was in the form of hauling oneself from the riverbank into the flowing stream and swimming in the rivers. Other weekends were spent collecting firewood with the elders. The young boys usually got scolded during such outings for the small bundles they could only carry and yet ate the same amount of food compared with the seniors. Food in those days was shared equally among the children. Far too often they were scolded and chided. “Nya gaya perut buntas, perut peruti - ngambi kayu enda kuat tang makai sama ga nyampau nya” they loudly complained and cursed. The boy and his friend just kept quite and took the abuse in considerable fear and misery. Just who was there to defend them and turn too anyway?

School morning break times were spent main guli or main asin. What else was there to do? There was no money to buy biscuits or sweets. In one of those dinner times the boy kept and sacrificed his steam round egg for sale for 20 cents and used the money to buy coconut bun (pau kelapa) sold by someone under the tree near the riverbank. Most break times there was nothing to eat or drink!

There was this incident in class while everyone was standing up one of the boys stuck out a sharp pencil targeting the buttock of another. While the poor boy was about to sit down the pencil pierced his buttock and he cried out in pain. At such distraction the teacher would normally threw the board duster at the culprit from the front of classroom hitting the victim at the head. At another time the teacher would pull the naughty ones by the side hair near the ear until he cried in pain. Such action was standard punishment for lazy, playful or inattentive kids.

The boy was a fairly likeable and good kid. He was many times requested and selected by the teacher to wash his dishes in the quarters and in return got his chance to eat the remaining food on the table. The teacher’s hot tea or coffee taken together with cream crackers truly never tastes so good in those days. Others were not so lucky. The teacher in person had since died during the grounding of the vessel Pulau Kijang in one of the storms somewhere near the present day Tanjung Manis in 1970’s.

Traveling between longhouse and school was all about torture and hardship. From the longhouse the trip involved traveling by boat for about half an hour followed by trekking through paddy fields and peat land with rice ration and personal effects carried on our backs for another one hour, then a boat ride again under the hot sun or rain going down Mukah river for another hour before finally reaching the school. From the school the traveling route was reverse starting with a quarrelsome boat ride up Mukah’s river for an hour, followed by trekking through the fields and another boat ride to the longhouse. Going back for holidays from school to longhouse was usually a happy occasion but the reverse was usually a less pleasant experience. If life in the longhouse was difficult, life in the school was no less miserable away from parental love and pampering.To be continued........

Little story about myself - Part 1

The infant boy was born sickly. Before him there were six others born into the same family namely eldest Ilam (who died of drug overdosed as a spinster), brothers Bajat, Balai, Rantai and sisters Jentang and Mala (deceased at age 42). The boy had many names: Ridau, Gimran,Lachum and Kaka.

Story passed down from the mother had it that while she was pregnant bearing the child she had a dream. In the dream she was told that if the child happened to be a boy he belonged to them. She protested but was ignored. The folks interpreted the peculiarity of the dream to be the root cause of the boy very sickly childhood. Offerings after offerings were offered to their god but to no avail. The elders decided the only way was for the child to be given out and adopted by the boy auntie who was barren and had no child of her own.

His health improved after the adoption but he was still not free of other minor problems. He had his saliva continuously spilling from his mouth (meriul) down his chest and body causing some kind of skin disease, which they called “kaka” in local terms. Looking quite unhygienic, fragile health and with prominent big ears (so they said) he was often a subject of ridicule, contempt and demeaning jokes from youngsters and elders alike. He was bullied time and again and made funs of by people who knew next nothing on the proper nurturing of the young life self esteem, spirit and morale. Not surprising he grew up to become very shy, withdrawn, timid and had very low self esteem and only finding solace in the company of more understanding and sympathetic souls in the longhouse. One particular source of comfort and company was his very old grandma who always stayed at home to look after him because of her age. They spent many days together while the rest in the family worked in the paddy fields.

A typical day in the longhouse was play acting and making mock home (main temuai), a swim in the river, bathing in the boat or even sliding on the mud slope at the river bank. Breakfast and lunch were normally very simple and basic. Sometimes simply sugar or cooking oil and even preserved shrimp paste (belacan) were often used to force rice down his mouth during meal times. Preserved shrimp paste were normally stored in dried bamboo hidden somewhere in the kitchen (atas para). Only when the working members in the family took a day or two breaks off from the routine paddy fields work were the meals more varied than usual with all the fish, meat and vegetable dishes.

Evenings were normally spent in the ruai (veranda) listening to the men folks sharing and exchanging their little stories about their respective recent and past fishing or hunting adventures. The ladies on their part were making traditional mat, breast feeding their little ones or merely listening to the stories being told. Bed times were about 9.00 pm in preparation for early works the next morning. There was no TV but they had an old transistor radio to kill off some evenings bought by one of the brother’s pulai bejalai ari menua jauh.

The poor boy initial experience in school was at the longhouse kindergarten. One of the longhouse folk, who had some basic education and came from outside the village but married to the longhouse girl volunteered to teach. In one of the incident while attending class, there was this little girl who involuntarily caused a stir – a tapeworm was crawling literally out of her backside (burit). The incident greatly embarrassed her and caused the other children to scream in fear and others in laughter. The schooling experiment did not work out very well and soon it was closed down.

The folks subsequently decided to gather all school going age children in the longhouse including the boy and sent them to a proper government primary school about three hours away by boat and trekking through fallowed paddy land (nengah umai, temuda, rimba). The actual sending off to school these children were preceded by a fanfare with offerings to the god (miring, begawai, bedara).There were about 15 – 20 children in all. Not all children wanted to attend school and be separated from their parent at that young, tender and early age – away from the “comfort” of home. There were a lot of negotiations, protests and persuasions. Some had to be dragged, threatened and shipped out to boarding school by force.

To be continued.........................

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Names I cannot forget

Today is the day I wish to think about myself.

Seek both in my heart and soul, for the names of those, whose names are written in my book of life.The names of those I have now lost touch with and the names of those who are close to me every time I need them. I want to go through each page of my book and remember the names that were important in my childhood, my young years and Now.Those I no longer meet often and those I meet every time the sun rises The names of those I will always carry in my mind. Those who stood by me in hard times and those with whom I share a smile.The names of those I have hurt and those who brought a tear to my eyes. Those from whom I have learnt lessons and perhaps have learnt something from me.

Those names are now part of my human existence. Those that are no longer here, are with me in every prayer and the names of those that came into my life for a season and then carried on their own jurney are etched in my heart I am thankful to those that at one time or other have been with me in times of sadness and lonelinesss. Those who have always encouraged me and lent me an ear when i had lost my way
True friendship is like the marriage of souls, sharing good times and bad times. Friendship is feeling what the other feels. It has no time, age, colour or sex. It has no boundaries. It is magnanimous with the faults and enhances the the virtues of others.

As I go through the pages of my book I would like every thorn to change into a bed of roses. Change tears into smiles and hugs,and change the darkest night into a stary one. Change each aching minute into a feeling of total happiness and relief.
I am thankful for each of those names that have left a mark in my heart. Making friends is a blessing. Having a friend is a gift, being or having been your husband, father or friend is an honour which I treasure.

These are maps showing where the family members are located.......

Why we should be happy always!

Have you ever, at any one time, had the feeling that life is bad, real bad,
and you wish you were in another situation?

You find life make things difficult for you, work sucks, life sucks,
everything seems to go wrong...

Read the following story... it may change your views about life:
After a conversation with one of my friends, he told me despite taking 2
jobs, he brings back barely above 1K per month, he is happy as he is.

I wonder how he can be as happy as he is considering he has to skimp his
life with the low pay to support a pair of old parents, in-laws, a wife, 2
daughters and the many bills of a household.

He explained that it was through one incident that he saw in India that
happened a few years ago when he was really feeling low and touring India
after a major setback.

He said that right in front of his very eyes he saw an Indian mother chop
off her child's right hand with a chopper. The helplessness in the
mother's eyes, the scream of pain from the innocent 4-year-old child
haunted him until today.

You may ask why did the mother do so; had the child been naughty, had the
child's hand been infected?? No, it was done for two simple words- - -TO

The desperate mother deliberately caused the child to be handicapped so
that the child could go out to the streets to beg.

Taken aback by the scene, he dropped a piece of bread he was eating
half-way. And almost instantly, a flock 5 or 6 children swamped towards
this small piece of bread which was covered with sand, robbing bits from
one another. The natural reaction of hunger.

Stricken by the happenings, he instructed his guide to drive him to the
nearest bakery. He arrived at two bakeries and bought every single loaf of
bread he found in the bakeries. The owner was dumbfounded but willingly
sold everything. He spent less than $100 to obtain about 400 loaves of
bread (this is less than $0..25 per loaf) and spent another $100 to get
daily necessities.

Off he went in the truck full of bread into the streets. As he distributed
the bread and necessities to the children (mostly handicapped) and a few
adults, he received cheers and bows from these unfortunate. For the first
time in his life he wondered how people can give up their dignity for a
loaf of bread which cost less than $0.25.

He began to tell himself how fortunate he is. How fortunate he is to be
able to have a complete body, have a job! , have a family, have the chance
to complain what food is nice and what isn't nice, have the chance to be
clothed, have the many things that these people in front of him are
deprived of...

Now I begin to think and feel it, too! Was my life really that bad?
Perhaps... no, I should not feel bad at all... What about you? Maybe the
next time you think you are, think about the child who lost one hand to
beg on the streets.

"Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, it is the
realization of how much you already have."

When the door of happiness closes, another opens, but often times we look
so long at the closed door that we don't see the one which has been opened
for us.

It's true that we don't know what we've got until we lose it, but it's
also true that! we don't know what we've been missing until it arrives.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they
just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past,you can't go
on well in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

Please share this message to those people who mean something to you, to
those who have touched your life in one way or another, to those who make
you smile when you really need it, to those that make you see the brighter
side of things when you are really down, to those who you want to let them
know that you appreciate their friendship.

And if you don't, don't worry, nothing bad will happen to you, you will
just miss out on the opportunity to brighten someone's day with this

A prayer to God

Dear Lord, I thank You for this day. I thank You for my being able to see and to hear this morning. I'm blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me. Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you.

I ask now for Your forgiveness. Please keep me safe from all danger and harm. Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Let me make the best of each and every day to clear my mind so that I can hear from You. Please broaden my mind that I can accept all things. Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over.

And it’s the best response when I'm pushed beyond my limits.I know that when I can't pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will. Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak... Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those that are lost and can't find their way. I pray for those that are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don't know You intimately. I pray for those that don't believe.

But I thank you that I believe. I believe that God changes people and God changes things. I pray for all my children, sisters, brothers and relatives wherever they may be. For each and every family member in their households. I pray for peace, love and joy in their homes that they are out of debt and all their needs are met. I pray that for those who believe there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than God. Every battle is in Your hands for You to fight.

Controlling Anger is important

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails
and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back
of the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father
about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally
able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be
the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You
can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm
sorry, the wound is still there. " A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Morning Reflections

Good morning to myself and anyone out there who cares to enter my site. Welcome to my world and peace be with you.I wake up early this morning - almost every morning because its my son end of year exam week.Can't think of asking him to wake up early and alone while i sleep happily in my bed. Instead i wake up and make coffee for him and serve plain hot water for myself for health reasons.

I have been doing this fatherly routine for quite sometimes. My wife is quite a problem sleeper and so I let her sleep on till she chooses to wake up at her own time while I play the alarm clock and timekeeper role and keep my son company. Well its only for another year I will have to do this after that he will go to college flying off like a bird to the world outside. I am practically savouring these moments because soon it will become just a memory when he is college somewhere.

Just visited Airasia website and found its so cheap to fly to Macau on promotional fares. From Btu to Kuching return its cost 200+ and from KCH to Macau return another 500 bucks. I am thinking of bringing my family there next month but will have to check with the embassy first for immigration requirement. My wife has sportingly agreed to foot up the bills - bless be to her while I take care of the food and entertainment expenses and of course the Farms cap ex.

Sometimes I cant help but think that we are generally selfish and naive. We expect the helper to be happy and stay with us forever. To wait and serve us - forever.How could she when she is at a a ripe marrying age. There are times she is in it not for the money but job satisfaction, friends and freedom to do whatever she likes. After all its her life we are talking about.We hate to be controlled by others and yet we want to dictate and control others life.

Land - where are thou?

A lot of people claim to have land yet they are poor. Others have little or no land and yet are rich. Some people keep land for their children but their children migrate to towns and have no interest in going back to the land.There are others who have land with titles and quickly dispose of the land for fast money and later become landless themselves.Those who do not have titles to their land are blaming others for it but never themsleves for hoarding and keeping the land idle.

Some others believe land is there forever and you will never lose it.WRONG! Today's land have similar properties to sugar and salt.They attract people who will quarrel, fight and go into war over land disputes - either too much or too little of it causes WAR! The moment the land is open for development - disputes will spread in all dimensions - each claiming and encroaching into the other boundaries. Big land seventaully become small parcels because others encroach into yours. The weak ones even lose their land altogether - disappearing into thin air. No land development - no disputes and no disputes - nobody bothers about boundaries.

Changing the MINDSET

People ask me why bother planting palm oil when you have nice job in airconditioned room? First its today's golden crop. Many success stories have been heard. There is one smallholder who has less than 200 trees and he earns a good RM4,000.00 per month, another has 2000 trees and he earns RM30,000.00 per month. These days even serving YBs are planting palm oil and God knows when will they have the times to serve and take care of their constituents. Well of course not everything is money. We have lawyers,off shore big shots,top company executives, firemen, safety officers,government officers etc venturing into palm oil. Of course not everyone will succeed except for those who has the determintaion and the capital.

But planting palm oil is more than just trying to make more money. For some it is a preparation to retirement days. Or something for the children to fall back on if upon graduation there is no job offer in sight. For others it is an interesting hobby or distractions from office routine, politics, boredom, and whatever have you.

For some others it is also a mean to keep the land of some use rather than keeping them idle for generations. Imagine if your palm oil can generate a monthly gross income of RM30,000 per month why do we need to prepare our children to become people's employees and why not train them to become future employers instead! This will make the children return home to their roots and become millionaires of the future. Well surely it has to start with a dream. No dream nothing happen. Desire creates dreams and dreams are stirers of emotion - your first step to action mapping.

Keeping land idle is NOT the solution. Land are useless unless you put them to good use. Those who keep their lands idle will lose it to the enterpreneurs and people who are farsighted and who dare to take risks - they will buy these land for a price you name. These land acquirers will turn them into money making machine. You have to be on guard: watch and see - a revolution is happening right in front our own very eyes. Why allow it to pass you by?

People risk their life and limbs to earn a a living and for some others to make their names famous; seeking glory and fame and later stiking riches and glory immediately thereafter. Going to ISS is one example, trekking in North pole alone is another, sailing the 7 seas, flying solo in a single engine aircraft, F1 drivers are gambling with their lives to just name a few. What is planting a few hundred trees of palm oil compare to those "pasttimes" mentioned above? Look dont be mistaken I am equally not qualified to speak on business success or motivational theories. No of course not I am merely expressing my humble opinions - just as I would like to hear yours.