The cooking pots started rattling in the kitchen, or called “ABUH” in Bidayuh, my sleep would be interrupted by my mother who had started her day by getting ready the food not only for breakfast but the the food they needed later for their lunch. Normally I just turned around and went back to sleep waking later to see them gone, if it was not my day to follow. If not, I would dragged up earlier even with all the protest for no one would be looking after me then. Imagine they would leave the comfortable bed before the light shone through our door. Only after half to one hour walk would the day breaks. Fortunately it was not always like this because only when the farm was two or more hours walk would they leave early. But then after burning normally we had a farm hut where we would stay there unless there was something to do outside the farm in the village. Otherwise only after all the harvesting is complete as others farmers would, we would go home. But in a few areas where my parents would farm there for a few years the farm hut was built to last that long too.
Life then would be very interesting for my job was just to eat and sleep or just play around catching grasshoppers for my fishing baits later. The easiest catch for me was what we called POPAK, DUDU”K and NGIBALUOK. The first two are long, POPAK bigger than DUDU”K but both are greedy species and as long as you stay silent and stay out of sight you sure catch them because they just gobbled your bait. The hardest to catch is SIPOIT – not only that they would finished your bait without swallowing your hook. In fact from this lesson I learned before going to school, I always remain my audience about “baits and their votes”. I want the voters to be like “SIPOIT than POPAK”… unless they want to be “eaten alive later”… hehehe.
The paddy field is place for fresh air and normally our farms were in the most scenic sight as far as I can remember. There is not a place I would detest. It is a place for silence and learning from my parents. They would tell me off if I did anything wrong. The most severe punishment I received was a pat on the head which was covered with a rattan tray, called “SUBUOI”, leading to a nose bleed. Unfortunately it became his worry also to stop the bleed…Hohoho. If our farm happened to next to a friend’s family that would became a bonus because I would have a friend to create havoc..My life become going to school was carefree and fun but came close to dying because of a very high fever possibly due to malaria..
But I was saved by a Malay Bomoh who made me drank a very bitter concoction and he changed my name to Patau too. Yes, many lives were lost then to infectious diseases especially to young children and also I believed my eldest sister also succumbed to malaria. I remember one year, all the babies and younger ones died almost every few days until all died. These I believe were due to Diphtheria.. Luckily I escaped them all. Cholera also killed many. Luckily these diseases left enough people to allow the original village to become five now all having more houses compared to the old village at the place called “TOLOK BLINGING”.
Yes our village was indeed a place where I grew up running around and swimming in the Sarawak Kanan river. Of course with supervision most of the time, although during the dry period with friends and peers. The village had three longhouses and a few detached ones, in fact four detached ones and one of them was my father’s bungalow. The other prominent one was my uncle, my mother’s elder brother who was then the Village Head. In the corridors of the longhouses and the “open spaces for drying’ called the “TANJUH”, we had our fun and games. It was short lived though because we abandoned it soon after the death of my sister. My parents were the first to leave. We had a farm next to our present village, actually at the back of our present house and my father built more or less a permanent one. The year was 1948 or ’49. Later after the elders decided to move the area next to our farm was chosen. This become the present Kampong Blimbin which is whoever registered the name in the District Office was a non Bidayuh who do not know how to spell BLINGING – so “Blimbin”, it stays till now. It is at this new site we moved into the current modern era, because it was my father with a few of his progressive friends that there must be a school built for us although there were very strong resistance against it in 1951.