Saturday, December 08, 2007

Long way from home

Mom's away in Kalimantan. Daniel reported on Friday that he cant seem to get hold of anyone in my house. Like nobody's home. I called home today and no one answered too. Where on earth is Carmen San Diego bro and dad?
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So I called dad's mobile. Choi. Turns out they went back to the longhouse for the weekend. For a partayyyy no less.
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You probably can't tell, but I'm Iban. Full blood. It's funny sometimes 'cos not a lot of people know. Like a few weeks back, I went to a batchmate's party, and there was this one chick who conversed with me in a mixture of English and Cantonese, to my horror. Thank goodness I sort of managed to get the gist of what she was saying when she babbled on in Cantonese. I didnt have the heart to interrupt her midstory (she was very animated) to tell her I cant really speak Cantonese. I'm fine with Mandarin though, thanks to many years of mingling with primarily Chinese friends.
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Anyway when I called dad, the party was in full swing. My cousins and uncles were all there, celebrating the newly finished access road to the oil palm estate. I managed to talk to one cousin and an uncle, and it made me realise me how much I miss everyone back in kampung. The funny thing is, I used to dislike going back to kampung for the holidays/festivals when I was a teen, because:
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a. I dont really have friends my age in my longhouse.
b. Kampung no electricity or water supply. Have to rely on self-made pumping system from river.
c. I've got nothing to amuse myself with there.
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When I was a kid, before I morphed into the semi-rebellious teen, I loved kampong of course. The best part actually was the friends that I got to meet/play with. We used to jump into the sungai naked up to when we were around 11/12. We could spend hours swimming around. After that puberty hits and I was made to realise that we cannot swim around naked any more. That or we would curi use the sampan around the pegong or lake. Then one of us would get naughty, stand up and start rocking the boat. Then the sampan would topple over and we would all fall into the water. And man, who could forget the fruit season? I have fond memories of climbing rambutan trees, and walking around the woods with Jenai looking for tebu/sugarcane to eat. But then we all grew up. Before long we stopped seeing each other that often, which is why I've been feeling kinda lonely in the longhouse when I was a teen. Cant really play around but had to help in the kitchen.
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I've only started to re-cherish the kampung trips about 1 or 2 years ago. I've learned that various aunties and married cousins/sister in laws are quite fun company too. And my old playmates, Birun and Erod, we do talk sometimes. Though we're kinda shy with each other now. I mean, I suppose it's understandable considering the various acts of stupidity we used to commit. Haha. Now bujang edy all, mana wanna talk to me. The funny thing is now I've gotten closer to their mom, who is incidentally my first cousin. (Almost all my cousins from dad's side are way older than us and married, except for my sibs n I. We actually bermain-main with their children, ie our nephews and nieces.) She used to marah us a lot for being naughty a decade back. I have no idea where Jenai is though. She was from a different longhouse and we met randomly.
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Kampung life is very unique, and very peaceful. I call every aunt indai, which means mother in Iban, and every uncle apai, which means father. I like the way everything is so family-oriented. My mom was and is very big on social etiquette, especially when it comes to family relations. If you find me good-mannered, then I suppose I have her to thank. No matter how busy you are, whether or not you actually know your guests who're visiting your bilik, you MUST come out and nunga temuai, greet and serve them refreshments. 'Cos nothing spreads faster through the kampung like the news/gossip about a bad-mannered child. Courtesy is vital, see.
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I realised that no matter where you are, you'll always be inexorably tied to your roots and your family. It's quite a curious feeling actually, because I've never really given them much thought before. Now that the end is almost near, the filial responsibility I feel towards my community is getting stronger. I have this strong sense that I have to give something back in return. The custom in my dad's family is that everytime one of the youngsters is about to go away to further their studies, the extended family will all pitch in to give monetary gifts. I was so touched to see the various relatives gather to give me a little something something, because I hardly know some of them. Which is why I sometimes feel like I'm indebted to the whole family.
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Mobile dispensary perhaps? Haha.
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Bilik of my eldest first cousin, Nyah


Ruai of another longhouse in Kua


Cousins and in laws


With some extended family members during Gawai
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Mafia
The Godfath
Marlon Brando, Al Pacino & Robert Duv
The uncles


Bro & nephews

One of my nieces
Ooh. Pork. It's the meat.

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And just to gross out the faint-hearted, tada! They're what the Amazonians call mojojoy (mo-ho-hoy!). Beetle larva! Ibans lovee these. I dare not eat though, just because it's one of those allergy-inducing food. Mom had to be jabbed when she tried them for the first time.
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Bah, have to go. Back to ze module notes.

9 comments:

Entayang said...

Ya same here..i jus love the feeling at kampung..AND...

O like tat ulat tinduh/ulat mulung thingy hehe..aku makai ka..tapi enggai meda enti iya idup...yikes..

Daphne Maie said...

Hi Debbie,

Pia ya deh? Aku nyelai. Aku rindu megai ulat mulung, laban wiggly wiggly. Haha. Enti ipar aku manduk ya, alu tabak ka ya ba kuali idup2, kasih meda bala ulat. Alu bisi meletup2 bunyi.

~ming~ said...

khatulistiwa.

I cant even pronounce it anymore!

~ming
p/s : btw, i like this post *grins*

Daphne Maie said...

Ming, kam ngam geh?


I just added a paragraph or two to this post when I received notification abt your comment. ;)


You like it? Thanks. I was thinking that the pictures mite be interesting to you westerners. (By that I mean western Msia. Hohoho)

Entayang said...

Sigi kenya org manduk ulat nyak kan..terus tabak ngagai kuali..eeee enggai megai..weird creature..ewwww

But i don mind chewing them hehe..somehow the after taste is yummy

Daphne Maie said...

Oh, pia. Laban enti apai aku manduk matal, digetil iya dulu, ngambi sidak badu kekebut sebedau tabak ka ba kuali. Haha.

suechoo said...

wah wah wah!!! a lot of 'foreign' language!! hahaha!! a sarawakian myself but totally different experience!! i heard n knew bout all the kampung thgy but js dun have d opportunity 2 experience it...hahaha!! mayb nx tm i shud pay u a visit at the kampung, but...d ulat...can skip tht...;p

like this post. ;)

Sheena said...

Beetle larva? That not sagowormskah?

Which I'm also allergic to :P So much for being a Borneon & eating cool stuff like worms on a regular basis.

Btw, had to say this:

TRIBAL!

Daphne Maie said...

Hey Sue Choo,

U like the post? Thanks! Yeah, u should go visiting nearby longhouses if u have friends there, esp during Gawai. Then u can see how Ibans celebrate ba, and other exotic food we eat besides the worms. Haha. And of course, you're welcome to visit mine. Fun you know.


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Sheena,

Entah. I dont know the orang puteh name for them, one of the lecturers call them beetle larva, so I ikut jak. Beetle makan sago bark ba.

I've tentatively named my new place Glaswegian Tribal House. It doesnt have a ring to it, so I might change it when I've thought of something cooler. ;p