Friday, July 31, 2009

Life in Primary School 3

When I was in Primary 3 and 4 (last 2 years in Pa’Main School) there are a few things that I remember fondly. We love our teachers. Our headmaster was Mr David Lian (Maran Tala).
Over some weekends that we do not go back to our own village, we would go to help him. (We would go home every forth- night not like when we were in Pr 1 and 2 which we did weekly)
We would go to help him get bamboo to fence his ponds or do small errands that he might think fit for us to do. I remember very well the time we went to cut down a tree to saw for our chalkboard (blackboard). It was mostly us, the Pa’ Umor boys with two or threePa’ Lungan boys. We were doing it with a long saw with a person at each opposite ends – you push and pull. There was no stream nearby where we could have our drink. We went to cut some vines to drink from. Our headmaster’s young son who wasn’t in school yet come, he too wanted to drink. One of us was helping him to drink from the cut vine when it accidently slipped and hit his mouth. His gum bleed and we were all so scared of our headmaster but he did not scold us.(I wonder if Yahya could recall this) That chalkboard was used till the school closed many years later.

It was those year when we were taught (by the late Raja Ngatan @ Lawai Busan) to plant new types of vegetables - cabbages,carrot, bitter gourd etc. We were very successful in planting them but the sad thing was we were not taught how to eat them!! The cabbages had that very strong smell, the white carrot we did not know how to cook – the top (leaves) were very bitter. I remember our cabbages grew so big we later ended using them for our football (it wasn’t good for football either).
We saw at that time, the colonial governor Sir Anthony Abell came to Bario and upon landing at the airstrip (now the place where Bario Asal village is built on) he was led to a patch of vegetable garden nearby. He just pull a red carrot and cleaned it with his hands and ate it !! Well now after all these years I could do that too.

In those days the football balls came with bladder and have to be pumped and tied up. At one time we ran out of football ball. The headmaster had a few bigger boys going all the way to Lawas town to buy new ones - about a week walk away. William Anyie and Malang Mawan (Siren Lemulun) still could remember this even. Football (soccer) was the only game we knew besides our traditional games those days.
Near the football field in Pa’ Main stood an old mango tree (I think it was ‘keramut’). It used to be the gauge for us to see how strong we were. We kick the ball up and see who could over shoot its height! I wonder if this mango tree is still there.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life in Primary School 2

Life in school those years was hard but very interesting.Those were the days when we as young
boys were eager to be independent - to show off that we were grown up! We were competing to be seen to be able to do everything. We were taught not to cry when we were homesick,which was very often. We were told of an older generation boy who cried when he was home sick and mentioned that he missed the yam at home. He was from a neighbouring village.He cried ' Do' teh ngi ruma' kami inan teh upa' kenana narih'. ( lit. It is good to be at home,got yam to eat).

Activities such as cooking,taking fire wood,nekap arar manuk and keketih (looking for birds nest and bee-hives ) will take most of our time after class. It was after these activities that we will have great times in the river. There were elders to call for us to stop and go back -we were our own boss. Those were the days when we could drink straight from the river.Boiled water or coffee and tea were unheard. The last time I tried drinking the river water was in 1975 - I got diarrhea!

I still can remember my little pot that I used for cooking my rice. It was made of aluminium. After cooking my rice, which is for my lunch and dinner I have to be carefull not finish it at one go as half of it was for dinner. It was not much - I could hang the full pot of rice from my ears together with my ear ring. I had ear rings down to my shoulders. (another story in days ahead)

Life in Primary School 1

I went to School in Pa’ Main Primary school in 1958.
Life was hard then. We have to walk through jungle track
for 7 miles (about 11 km).There was no boarding facilities.
We have to stay in small huts built by our parents. I remember the various small huts built by the different villages, our hut was next to the Pa’ Lungan childrens’ hut. Infact during my 4 years in Pa’ Main School we ‘moved’ our hut 3 times. This was because it was either too small or was built too far from the longhouse. Moving our hut nearer to the longhouse (Pa’ Main longhouse was burnt down and rebuilt at a new site) was not because we were scared but because we did not have any matches or lighters those days that we ‘get our fire’ from the longhouse. To start our fire we have to get a lighted fire wood from the longhouse and bring it to our hut to start our fire. Starting a fire from this small amber by blowing it continuously until
it could light up a fire was very difficult – you will see stars ! This brings back good memories of two granduncles, Tepu Dara Pad and the late uncle Maran Tulu’s father (I can’t remember his name- can it be Luun Adto) were very kind to us,they would pick the biggest or the most lighted piece of firewood forus to take to our hut. We have to cook our own food. It was mostly plain rice and salt. At times we might have some smoked meat and at weekend when we could go out foraging for wild vegetables we will have our nice meals! At times the two granduncles mentioned above would invite us to go to get some vegetables from their farm (hill padi) which were usually cucumber,spinach and ‘ensabi’ (karid kuru). This reminds me of my days as headmaster in boarding schools before I retired from teaching how spoiled the children are these days - they would not eat

the vegetables,meat or the fish that the school served. The half eaten apples and many hard boiled eggs being thrown away. (That's why my two children used to say their papa is 'ketinggalan zaman' (out of date) when I use to tell them how life was back then).
These small huts were about 12 feet by 10 feet (4m X 3m). There were 7 of us boys when we started in Primary 1 (we were the first group of pupils who completed up year 4 from our village). In later years the girls joint us and at one time we were altogether about 12 of us.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mekaa Ngadan (Irau)

The Kelabit hve this particular culture of changing (mekaa) their names. A minor name change may happen when a young child (person) is always not well (often get sick),the parents may want to change the name in the hope of changing the quality of life of the child - or they may offer the child to be adopted by a close relative or family friend.
The Mekaa Ngadan in the true and normal meaning here is an occasion (an Irau) where a person who have attained the stage of parenthood - becoming a father or grandfatherhood. In the case of my late father, his given name when he was young was Nipa'.When my elder sister was born his name was changed to Tama Akup (my mother Puyang became Sina Akup) . When my first child (Wayne) was born I have togo through this occasion by 'mekaa' my name for Kalang to be Madoayu and my wife Elizabeth became Sina Mado Ayu (Mrs Mado Ayu) and my parent changed their names, a second time to show that they are grandparents. Tama Akup became Adtah Naan Bala and Sina Akup, Adtah Naan Ayu. This occasion of mekaa ngadan could be more grand and elaborate than maybe the wedding as it involve many people. In a wedding the bride and bridegrooms are central while the mekaa ngadan may involve the couple, their parents (both side),uncles,aunties and maybe a hordes of relatives.
When we changed our name in 1975, we had the irau in Pa' Ukat. We slaughtered 2 baffaloes,a cow and 8 pigs and it was a big occasion for us and our family.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Life 2

Pa' Umor was the place where I grew up untill I completed my Primary schooling.It was the place I learned all the Kelabit ways of life (all the skills and crafts that I now knows). As mentioned in my earlier blog, I learned must from my late father and grandfather. One particular trick (craft) I learned from my uncle Ngeruid Ayu (Lawai Iboh) was to trap the wild pigeons (meto), be it in their nest or at the water holes at the salt spring. I would be much like to pass all these knowledge to my son and grandson given the opportunity - which is sad to say will not come because of the way we live our lives nowadays.
Looking back now, I feel my father would have me grow faster than the normal children. Or was he a very reckless man! He would teach me all the tricks on how to trap wild animals and even let me shoot with his shot gun ! I remember the first time he let me shot a cock with him holding the gun and aiming while letting me press the trigger. Before he said ready I had press the trigger and off went the head of the cock. He said that was a very good shot,even he might have not done that good. I was only 5 years old.
The second time he let me shoot was about a year later. It was a deer. It was early one morning when he came running back to our farm hut to pick me piggy bach to the river side.
There across on the opposite side of the river bank was a deer with it majestic looking anthers.
He put me down and cocked the gun and asked me to fire. I fired the first shot only to hit it on the front legs and the second shot did the job. We kept the horns for many years and he prided himself by telling everybody it was shot by me - I was about 6 years old. This was in 1956.
Two thing that sadden me now as I reflect back on this deer horn are - In 1974 when I was a teacher in Lawas, I went to an old chinese dentist shop and recognised a deer horn hanging on the wall. I asked the tawkey where he got the horn and he told me he bought it from a Bario man my late uncle Tama Galang who was then working at the SIB headquarters in Lawas. I knew it then that was my deer horn! My late father was presuaded to trade it with a small tin of gun powder -priced at that time RM60. When I asked to buy it back from the tawkey he would not let me get it for RM300 my pay for a month at that time. Secondly as I go back to Bario as I did in May and saw the farm where I shot that deer is beeing used by somebody else to rear sheeps. I lost the momentous deer horn and the land.

My Life 1

My name is Mado Ayu @ Kalang Akup. Born on 5 October,1950. I am the second of 6 children of Tama Akup @Adtah Naan Bala and Sina Akup @ Adtah Naan Ayu at a temporary longhouse (lubung) at Pa' Reperah (Sg Reperah) in Pa' Umor.
My elder sister Sina Lingad Bala was called Akup when she was young thus my parents were called Tama Akup (Akup's father) and Sina Akup (Akup's mother) - the why and how will be explined in another of my coming write up. I can barely remember moving from that temporary longhouse to the long house in Pa' Umor. I might be 4 or 5 years old -just starting to wear my loincloth. I could remember that we reared 2 pocupines in the house ( this was confirmed to be true by my mum and my uncle Bala Ayu when I asked them in May when I went back home recently).
At this 'lubung' I could only vividly remember very few things such as those pocupines, a cousin got lost (gone missing for a day and night) and a place where we had a lot of
'buah kiran' (jack fruit) and the day we moved to the new longhouse. I remember walking behind my father who was then carrying 'a lot of things' . It was, those days very far ... maybe because I was anxious of getting to the new home. That moving must have been in 1954 or 1955. And I will be travelling along this road many-many more times years later as we have to pass the old longhouse on the way to our school in Pa' Main.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How I went to school in 1958

In 1957,I went to school with me elder sister for a week or two and found it was not the place for me. Going to the farm with my parents or going hunting with my grandpa was more interesting.My grandpa taught me to make animals traps eg rope snares (alad abpong,ruing to catch squirrels) sharp bamboo (rapi', for the deers and wild boars) fish traps (bubu and maring).
Imagine the excitements that going to check these traps bring to one every early morning. (No wonder when I was teaching, I had a soft spot for those children who didn,t want to study but prefered to stay in the longhouse with their parents!) My grand father taught me how to aproach these traps and deal with different animals that were caught in the traps as there were some dangers of being beaten by them or they may be able to escape. He never allowed me to
go alone when checking the 'rapi' and the 'maring'. Only now do I realised the danger of these two traps.
Sometimes in the middle of the year 1957 my father was asked to be a porter to two colonial officers - a Mr M G Dickson and a Mr wilson who came up the Baram and going to Lawas. I went with my father with some other men. We walked from Pa' Umor, our kampong and took us almost two weeks to reach Lawas town.
It was on this trip that these two British colonial officers talked me to go to school. On this trip we have to eat our lunches between the various villages that we have to passed through. I cannot forget how nice the corned beef tasted. The aroma (smell) is still stored in my 'hard disk'. I still love corned beef today (maybe being the first canned food I ate!).
It was during one of thes lunches (picnic style) that these two colonial officers talked me to go to school. One of the gave a ballpoint pen (maybe a bic) and told me after the trip I have to go to school and the would returned to 'check' on me. I kept my part of the promise, in that when the new school term in 1958 started in Pa' Main School I went and stayed in school expecting them to come and 'check' on me . They never came. Anyway I am very thankfull to these two 'orang putih' -Thankyou tuan. May their souls rest in peace.