Sunday, January 04, 2009

Story from My Mother IV

These ripe ricefield pics ready for harvest was taken at Sungai Panjang, near Sungai Besar.

Story from My Mother IV

Yesterday I drove inland with a friend, to Bund Canal at the edge of the forest and then north to Sungai Panjang, then back to the west to Sungai Besar. Afterwards I drove north to Sabak Bernam and over the bridge of Sungai Bernam to Perak. I turned back after the bridge.
Driving through kampong is peaceful, less cars on the road, and the view of the rice fields is beautiful. My only concern is that some of the villagers and teenagers don’t wear any helmet when riding motorbike, even at speed exceeding 80kmh. This Bund Canal at the edge of forest has a history of its own. It was build to store and distribute water for rice fields from Tiram Buruk in the south, to Sabak Bernam in the north. Back in 1971, after a long spell of rainy season, a section of the bund broke near Kg Kunci Air Buang, resulting in heavy flooding downstream even to Tanjong Karang. I remember the water was 1 feet high on the road back then and the flood took one month to subside.

Also back in 71, and earlier, bombs could be heard exploding in the forest beyond the Bund Canal. The war against communist guerrillas was still in earnest back then. Back in the late 80’s I met a former Askar Melayu who was working as a slaughterman in Dunedin. He visited Christchurch a few times back then. He told me stories that he used to patrol the area near the forest close to Sekinchan, protecting Chinese villagers from being killed by the communist guerrillas. His platoon patrol the area for months, and when the spotter plane from above reported that there is a guerrilla camp deep in the jungle, his platoon had to go in. The water in the swamp forest can be as high as your neck, and they have to take turn sleeping on tree branches at night. At one stage, his platoon was so worked up of the hatred for the communists that they promised themselves that they would all eat the communist. Strange isn’t it?
“Kalau dah janji, maka kena buat.” He said.
So at one time, after some weeks, they managed to kill a communist. So it was time they make good their promise. One of them cut a chunk of meat from buttock/rump part, about a kilogram worth. They cook it for 3 hours, because there was still so much fat coming out. After that they divide the meat into thumb size amongst the platoon members, because the whole platoon promised to eat it, none shall be left behind. He said when he chew it, it was tough, and when he tried to swallow, he couldn’t. He felt sick and vomited. Of the whole platoon, none could eat it, except one person.
“Eh sedaplah daging ni, dia kata, ambik satu lagi.”
The whole platoon promised not to tell anyone, not one word.
But he accidently related the incident to his commanding officer, a Briton and his wife while they were having dinner at the commanding officer’s house.
“Ah so that’s how the strange wound came about” his CO said. “We were examining the wound, but we couldn’t figure out. It’s a strange wound” he smiled.
“Urgh, you cannibal! Yuk!’ the CO’s wife said and run to the sink vomiting her dinner.

He was awarded Datukship (Panglima Gagah Berani) by the Sultan of Selangor (was it the late Sultan Hishamuddin?) for saving the live of his wounded commanding officer when the communists overran an estate in Batang Berjuntai. He carried his commanding officer on his back for some distance to safety that night. Some of his comrades were killed in action that night. He did show me the black and white photo of award ceremony in a smallish hall in Klang.

While passing Batu 12, Parit 3 Sungai Burong, I remember my mother told be the story how her twin sister died on the road at the front of her house. She was drying daun mengkuang to make tikar mengkuang on the roadside. She was run over by a lorry and died on the spot. My mother told me that Uncle Sisar, her husband died a few years ago. One of his famous son, Nani Gedi (for his large size, hence Gedi) died a few years ago of heart failure.

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