Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The kampung boy

Born after japanese occupation on the 4th january 1945 in a remote kampung, parit pinang seribu, muar, johor, i spent most of my chilhood days in the kampung (village).
My family house was built by my grand father from wood with zinc roofing, really a typical malay kampung house; no electricity no pipe water and no inhouse toilet.
We had to collect rain water from the zinc roof and channel it into a large square tank built from cement called 'kolah'. This water we used for cooking and drinking. My father also digged a large well into the ground of about 7 feet deep beside the house to collect rain water for bathing and performing ablution.
Imagine my father woke me up every morning at 6 am and commanded me to dip into the well. It was extremely cold and i would be shivering but it freshened me up.
Having performed my fajar prayer , i would be served a breakfast consisting of bolied tapioca and fried dried fish (ikan masin). Then i walked for a mile to primary school called 'sekokah atap' ,located near the main road.
There was no in house toilet, but my father built a make shift toilet by digging a very deep hole on the ground and several pieces of log placed on the surface with several inches of openings in between the logs to enable us to do business by squatting down. The toilet was enclosed in a hut with atap roofing.
Unfortunately the toilet was located several hundred feet behind the house. Imagine in the darkness of the night, nobody dared to go there.
So in the event of emergency , i did my poo somewhere else. I had two choices. One was to climb a tree nearest to my house and perched on one of strong branches and then poo. I did not dare to do it on the ground for fear of being attacked by snake. So the best option was to climb up the tree. My byproduct will be cleared by many free range chicken by next morning. Ha ha ha.
Or sometimes i went to the main drain (canal) with running fresh water in front of my house and did my business on the bridge. Imagine the fresh water fish - ikan keli, ikan betik and ikan puyu were eagerely wating to devour my byproducts. So no waste,  good recycling process. Ha ha ha
There was no electricity and so we used 'lampu gas' feulled by kerosine oil. The kerosine oil was the main source of all our lightings. We did not have any radio and television was unheard of those days.
Kampung life in those days was free and easy, wake up, go to school, play with peer group, learn quran reading after magrib prayer and after solat isha go to sleep in complete darkness.
Those days there were no toys, no children play things. We have to invent our own materials to play with.

We made our own football

We enjoyed playing football but we cannot afford to buy a ball and furthermore muar town is far away. We were creative and inventive. We made football out of rubber latex since it was abundant those days. Most of small holding plantations were rubber.
We collected a big cupfull of rubber latex from freshly tapped rubber tree. Let it coagulate with a help of chemical. Once coagulated we flatten the rubber and blow it into a balloon to a size of a football and then sealed the hole.
The rubber ballon was then wrapped with pieces of old cloth. The final layer was made from intertwining small and long rubber ropes called 'segrep' , tied on and around the rubber ball until this final layer was thick and strong. The final result was an excellent strong rounded and bouncy rubber ball and just nice to be kicked around.
We have no football field and so we played the game under the rubber trees. It was such a fun and just before sunset our parents will be calling us to be inside the house.
The children were told not to be outside the house after sunset for fear of being disturbef bu syaitan.

I made my own toy gun.

Those days my kampung was a semi jungle with lots of birds chirping and flying around our compounds from from sunrise to sunset.
Even owls were seen after sunset but now they have disspeared completely, never seen an owl for ages now.
We were naughty boys who like to get birds hurt by hitting them with catapult and home made toy gun.
On occasions when caught them alive we would rear them in the cage. But sometimes unintentionally killed the birds especially when i used toy gun to shoot them.
Indeed very interesting the way i built a home made gun. The stock was curved from wooden plank, the barrel from bamboo, the trigger and hammer made from wood and elastic rubber band derived from used bicycle tyre tube. The cartridge made from metallic valve of bicycle tyre tube. The igniting ingredient from the heads of matchsticks and the firing pin made from a small nail. The bullets made from green peas. Once the trigger was released the hammer hit the nail and susequently triggered explosion in the metllic valve which then sent the bullets of green peas to hit the target ie the birds.

No swimming pool, we learn to swim in the drain.

The villages in muar were built along canals or 'parit' and most of them are named with parit as prefix.
These canals will be overflowing with water during rainy seasons and occasionally caused flooding. The children would be delighted upon seeing water filling up the canal and fast flowing.
This would be the ideal occasion for children to learn swimming. But for safety we need some thing to keep us afloat. We do not have gadgets but we built some kind of raft made from several banana trunks held togather by ropes (also made from dried banana leaves). The children really enjoyed the fun.

We made bamboo canons and cook dodol.

Come festive season - the eidilfitri,  the village roared with sounds of bamboo canons. Interestingly prior to Merdeka (indepedence from the british), every ramadan and one week in shawal were declared long school vacation. The present school vacation system was adopted after the malaysian leaders ruled the country.
School holidays during fasting i thought was good ; we could concentrate on doing good deeds in submission to Allah.
Traditionally the last 10 days of ramadan the festive mood started to emerge. Our parents will be busy cooking our tradional sweet dodol. I remember my late father somewhat regarded it as a pride and status symbol to produce the best tasting dodol.
They put the best effort and get the best ingredients to prepare dodol consisting of glutinous rice grounded and liquified, coconut milk and coconut sugar. It was hard work cooking it and could take the whole day.

We build canons from large bamboo trunks of about 5 - 6 feet long with internal diameter of about 3 - 4 inches. The diaphgrams at the internodes would knocked off except the last and the lowest diaphgram.
So now we have a hollow bamboo 5 feet long with diaphgram at the lowest internode. About 4 - 5 inches above the lowest internode i bored a hole through which the flame to ignite the 'loaded' canon would be placed.
To load and activate the bamboo canon, several pieces of carbide would be placed inside the canon and some water added. This would spark some chemical reaction resulting in fumes that explode when small flame touched, producing a thunderous sound that could be heard in the entire village.
This traditional practice has become extinct and being replaced by fireworks and fire crackers.

I did not realised the importance of being creative and innovative at the time of childhood. Being so it was a great help in the growth of my brain and enhancing its functions.
On the contrary present day kids are overwhelmed with readymade toys which provide minimal brain stimulations.