Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reliving the Kampung Life.

This Hariraya Korban or Aidil Adha my wife and I had a chance to go back and live in the kampung for a few days. How come since there was only a one day public holiday? Too many people take a long holiday for the Hariraya Puasa, but few do so for this second festival. So, my wife took advantage of the low demand. Her parents and two unmarried sisters also decided to spend a long holiday back in their place of origin, the old kampung house which had been renovated.

First order of the day was compound cleaning - removing the overgrown grass and shrubs and sweeping away the plethora of dead leaves accruing from some 60-70 rubber trees planted in the enclosed compound. My in-laws arrived late. We had to break the chain on the gate to get into the compound as start the cleaning-up work. We've almost swept the entire place clean when they arrived, blaming the traffic jam for the delay. That was on the eve of Hariraya Korban. As we took our rest we let them get the food ready for the evening. The highlight of the food item was a huge chunk of beef stew or bone stew (sup tulang) ( chosen from the hip-bone which could not be broken into small pieces) served in the pressure cooker itself. We took turn to carve out a piece of the meat for our own consumption. Some, including me, went for a second or third helping. We fell asleep that night watching the TV, even when the program was emmm....just so-so. Nubhan showing his new album.

                                                                      I forgot. That evening we talked about the rising costs of things. One good thing, the price of rubber had also gone up. I raised the possibility of us doing some rubber tapping as a joke. To my surprise everyone was very enthusiastic about it. They have never tapped the rubber tees before and would like to try their hands at it. The rubber trees in the compound had been badly tapped before leaving deep swirly scars that had not fully mended. Who's going to be the instructor? I had some experience in helping my late grandma tap rubber before and shyly 

Auntie Cik Lang with her favorite kampung transport

volunteered to help. My wife insisted on calling a Chinese gentleman Mr Chung who was tapping the family small holding, to help. I agreed but we should get all the necessary things ready - the tapping knives, the cups, the holders and the tin ladles leading the latex flow to the cups.

Tun trying her hand at it.

The next day being the festive day, no work was done. It was a day of prayers and feasting. A number of nearby relatives came to the house, After lunch and the afternoon prayers I took a short ride through the village on our battery-powered motor scooter and passing by a notable house saw the young singer and TV star who made the house notable ie. NUBHAN, playing around with his brother. I didn't stop but returned home and told my wife about it for she knew the boy very well. A quick phone call and Nubhan came with his mother, brother and a few other relatives. The evening slipped away on a boisterous note with lots of fun and laughter but one task was done, to get all the things we need for rubber tapping ready.

A new experience at a late age.

The next day the new adventure began rather late. After cherishing the normal food and drinks served for guests on hariraya, the Mr Choong agreed to show us how tapping is done. Only my wife and her sisters followed him as he gave the illustration on a few trees. When I came out of my room after a short nap. I joined them just to make up the number of enthusiasts. After he left my wife, hers sisters and their father, began to practice on an old chopped up rubber tree. Mr Choong promised to come the next day with an assistant to help with the first cut on all the trees in the compound. Since he came late I started to tap one solitary tree, to convince everyone that I have the know-how and experience to do it. I did two cuts, an upper and a lower level one, as shown by Mr Choong. When he came that afternoon he conformed that the lower cut which followed an old one was okay, but the upper cut which ran through an old one with a jagged surface was all wrong. My critiques rejoiced at the remark. I noticed later that even Mr Choong and his assistant could not always avoid cuuting through the old jagged "scars" for the tapper had done a really bad or even "ill-intentioned" job - a job tyhat could kill the trees.

Me working on a tree.

The next day was fun with someone calling on everyone to wake up early in the morning to go tapping. I pretended not to hear the call and continued with my sleep since I had got up very early for my morning prayer. No one disturbed me until I have had my breakfast and came out to the compound to see what they were doing. The teasing was quite intensive:" You said you could do all the tapping but so far you had tapped only one tree." I was quite flustered, took a knife and started to tap with speed and some fury. After about ten trees my shirt was all wet and draining with sweat, It was heartening to see that after I finished tapping two rows of trees my father-in-law had only done three trees, and the latex was not flowing out because the cut was not deep enough. The latex on some of the trees i cut was not flowing into the cup. diverted by a kink or a false cut. I had to repair the misttake.'s no easy job and we all learned a lot from the experience. My wife complained of mosquitoes bites and pain in the finger joints. But agreed that she had a lot of fun getting the job done. When on the next day we spent time answering wedding a and birthday invitations we really had a lot of things to talk about. We rediscovered the joy and fun of reliving the old kampung style of life. This was a hariraya holiday with a difference.


dzaitun mohd ali said...

hubby- it was a great fun and experience of how our late grandma and grandpa take their hard time to earn living from aping rubber trees at early hours and the price of latex those years was just roughly RM2/kilo

norzah said...

Very many of us went to school and proceeded to do higher studies wth the help of proceeds from the rubber trees and the hard work of our grannies beside the help of our parents and the government, of course. We should know how hard it is to get money from the trees.

Al-Manar said...

You are one up on me. Rubber trees are not foreign to me. During my school days I used to make a small cut on a rubber tree to bleed some latex to mend a puntured tube for my bicycle. Those were the days. But I have never properly TAPPED one.

kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
Money grow on trees,
so they say.
I tried to tap a tree once but someone had to do a repair job and he wasn't pleased.
But it looked easy on TV,
the tapper darting from tree to tree. I thought it was a breeze!

norzah said...

Hahaha, Akhi Kaykuala, i thought the same too. It looks so easy on TV and even when you actually observe an estate worker doing his job. But try it out and you'll find out that not just your hands and wrists
suffer but also your mouth which takes on some funny shapes while you concentrate on the work (see mine in the pic).