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Our village after the war - 1947

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Our village after the war - 1947

Postby chungyn » Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:16 pm

Our village after the war - 1947

Next to Father's little grocery shop, there lived a lady and her son. Her
name was Chin Lian (陳蓮) and everyone in the village called her son Ah
Fan because he was half African and half Hakka Chinese. Actually Chin Lian's
madam surname was Cao (曹 for Cao Cao 曹操). She took her husband's surname
Chen (陳). Ms Cao Lian (her madam name) was a Tongyangxi (童養媳 or child-bride)
to a man bearing the surname Chen (No one remembers his full name). Mr
Chen's parents were in Tang Shan (唐山 China) and he had an uncle, father's
younger brother, in Jamaica (占美加). Before she was officially married to
Mr Chen the uncle of Mr Chen, in Jamaica, sent for him saying that he needed
a close relative to help him to run the business. So Mr Chen decided to
go to Jamaica with Ms Cao Lian instead of being a tin mine worker in the
village. However, Ms Cao Lian did not want to go and told Mr Chen to send
for her after he had made plenty of money. Actually Ms Cao Lian did not
want to leave her parents who were also living in Kampong Sayap.

Several years later, Mr Chen sent for Ms Cao Lian. At those time it would
take months by ship from Malaya to Jamaica. She was too afraid of going
alone and she decided not to go. Several months later, Mr Chen again begged
Ms Cao Lian to come to Jamaica to join him. Again Ms Cao Lian declined.
Then Mr Chen wrote and said that he would get married if she refused to
join him. Ms Cao Lian wrote to Mr Chen asking for his first born son if he
were to get married there. Mr Chen agreed. He married a black Jamaica girl.

Several years later, as promised, Mr Chen sent his first born son to Ms
Cao Lian. Having had a son she took her husband's surname Chen and was known
as Madam Chen Lian. In order to respect the son of Chen Lian those children
who were younger than him called him Ahfan Kuo (亞番哥 or elder brother
Ah Fan).

Believing that no girl would want to marry her son when he grew up Chen
Lian bought a baby Hakka girl as a Tongyangxi for her son. Many years later,
after the war, Ahfan Guo had a few children and no one called his children
Ahfan Zai (亞番仔) because they looked more Chinese than Ahfan Kuo.

Since Father started the business of rubber and tin ore dealing with his
partner, Huang Renan (黃仁安), in Pusing town, he was very busy and seldom
returned to Sayap Village. But he was still the village chief. First Uncle
(Father's younger brother) was running the grocery shop with the help of
Grandmother. Father's brothr-in-law, He Cai (何財), the husband of Father's
First Younger sister, was doing the job of smoking (cooking) the rubber
sheets in the smoke-house (煙房), an air-tight two story large shed built
of wood. The smoke-house was erected near a pond that the village folks
called Lower Pond (下塘).

All the rubber sheets collected in Pusing were transported by a lorry to
the smoke-house. There were four large cement water tanks. He Cai had to
fill up the tanks with water by a water pump that was installed near the
pond. Sometimes it took him two to three hours to fill up the tanks. Seeing
him struggle to fill the water tanks the children of Father often gave He
Cai a hand on pumping water. Father had to employ two or three women from
the village to help He Cai scrubbing off the dirt from all the rubber sheets
with water before they were being hung up with bamboo rods on the upper
floor of the smoke-house. When smoke floor was full with rolls and rolls
of washed rubber sheets. A few large rubber tree logs were placed in a specially
constructed large fire place with a cement top for burning the logs. It
required smoke but not fire to smoke the rubber sheets. Therefore during
the process of smoking all the windows and doors of the smoke-house were
closed air-tight. After about a week or more days of smoking the rubber
sheets were then 'cooked' that is they became transparent. The value of
'cooked' rubber sheets were worth much more than the raw rubber sheets.

When the cement tanks were filled with water and work for washing the rubber
sheets would not start until the next day. My siblings would invite their
friends to come for swimming in the tanks which were about four feet high
which were just like swimming pools to the kids. They all had a good time.
Some of the kids would spent a night in the smoke-house with my sibling
and I. It was just like a slumber party. It had been going on like that
for a long time until the Emergency (a war between the British Colonial
Authorities and the Malayan Communist Party) came.

School day was six days a week. From Monday to Friday was ordinary school
days but on Saturday the pupils had to go back to school for essay writing
which usually lasted until about eleven o'clock in the morning. Then we
went home for lunch. After lunch instead of allowing his children to have
free time Grandmother sent us, her grandchildren, to a village school for
a few hours to stop us for running wild. The village school was in an empty
house because the family of the house owner had relocated his family to
live in the State of Pahang in the east coast of Malaya. The school teacher
was called Zhang Fulai (張福來) whose profession was tapping rubber. In
actual fact he was studying Junior Middle Two at Yoke Choy High School Ipoh
(怡保育才中學) when the Japanese came. It was too old for him to go back
to school after the war. He became a rubber tapper. His calligraphy was
very good. Every year, a week or so before the Chinese New Year, one could
see him writing New Year Couplets to sell in the market. Unfortunately,
during the Emergency, the the 'Hill People' from the village suspected he
was was a police informer and so one day they had him killed while he was
tapping rubber in his own rubber plantation.

On Sunday morning, after breakfast, a group of boys, including me, from
the village would go to the rubber plantations, near the jungle, to collect
firewood. There were plenty of small broken branches and twigs on the ground.
Twigs were very good to start a fire for cooking in the kitchen. The boys
used lalang (tall grass) as ropes to tie their collected firewood. It was
fun as they talked and sang the songs they learned from school, while they
picked. Usually they returned home before lunch time. I remembered Grandmother
always fried a duck egg for my lunch and according to her I deserved it.

It was time to catch birds after lunch. There were a lot of quails and sparrows
in the bush. The boys usually set traps to catch them. Even now I still
remember how to make a bird cage by using bamboo sticks that I had cut into
small strips.

Yi Zhi Niao3 Zi3 Lia3 Zhi Yan3 一隻鳥子倆隻眼

一隻鳥子倆隻眼,---Yi zhi niao3 zi3 lia3 zhi yan3,
倆個腳子繞繞動;---Lia3 ge4 jiao3 zi3 rao4 rao4 dong4;

A little bird has two eyes,
And two legs that move round and round;

一雙羽翼一個尾,---Yi shuang yu3 yi4 yi ge4 wei3,
一個嘴子尖尖尖;---Yi ge4 zui3 zi3 jian jian jian,

It has a pair of wings and a tail,
And a little pointed beak;

喙了米來又喙粟,---Hui4 le mi3 lai2 you4 hui4 su4,
鳥子鳥子飛飛飛.---Niao3 zi3 niao3 zi3 fei fei fei.

It pecks rice as well as millet,
Little bird, little bird, fly, fly, fly.

CHUNG Yoon-Ngan (鄭永元)
Pusing Hakka Lao
Posts: 8579
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:06 am

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