Tiong Lien Tie - My Maternal Grandmother
My maternal grandmother was Tiong Lien Tie, hailing from 14th district of Min Ching area in China, an area I have not visited yet in my life.
When she was five she was sold by her father, at 5 silver dollars to my great grand uncle, Lau Kah Tii, who was then visiting Min Chin: such a bought child then would become the child bride of the intended person, the purchaser would provide for. Lau Kah Tii who was married with a few children and had been brought to Sibu by Wong Nai Siong in 1903. When he bought my grandmother, he was already a successful businessman in his late twenties or early thirties.
The child bride was intended for his brother,Lau Kah Chui, who was then 20 years old. According to family gossips, my grandfather Lau, was a timid man, but was sharp in the mind. However he was not quick to address issues pertinent at the moment or quick to seize a business opportunity. He was petrified of his elder brother, who later on went on tobecome a community leader or Kang Chu. By profession, my grandfather Lau was a tailor.
My granddad Lau was a good man who had lots of humour in his speech with close friends.
One interesting statement he made was : A doctor can save lives but inside his sleeve may be a hidden knife which can take away lives. This was said when he was very disappointed during one visit to a doctor immediately after the Second World War and he was not given the treatment because he did not bring enough money. My granddad died not long after that, probably due to liver complications as he liked the bottle a little too much. My grandmother Lau was in China, Foochow City, then, as the Japanese cut off all communications and transport from China to other parts of South East Asia.
When she was about 16 the marriage ceremony was performed and she was officially the wife of Lau Kah Chui. Although the marriage (from what I heard) was quite stormy, the union brought about five daughters and four sons. They lived in a huge wooden house built from the earnings from rubber. I used to visit the mansion frequently i.e. every holiday or every opportunity. Perhaps sometimes, just to eat extremely well. this house is no longer in existence as the fast currents of Rajang River and the riverine erosion caused by the river express boats washed it away finally in 1980. This house was in Lower Nang Chong, now known as Paradom.
How did my Grandmother Lau's life interwined with our Tiong Clan?
Grandmother Lau in fact was recognised by our Grandfather Tiong Kung Ping as Aunt, due to their having the same Tiong surname. In fact, my grandmother told me once that she helped to baby sit my father, Chang Ta Kang,the first born, when he was about two years old on the occasions she visited Sibu town. My father Chang Ta Kang, was a fair, plump and handsome little baby according to her. At that time, she never knew that that little baby boy would become her 4th son-in-law very much later in 1948.
Hence my Grandfather Tiong probably married my grandmother Chong in 1906 or 1907 as my father was born in 1908.
Lau Kah Tii wielded a well organized business community from the early 30's to the 50's. when he passed away in 1959, his funeral was a huge one. His own direct family consisted of well educated professionals and their wealth comes from banking, import and export, agricultural products like rubber. His son, Lau Pang Kwong is married to our third aunt, Aunt Pearl (Chuo Sieng). Third Aunt and Uncle Lau are parents to James , Judy ,Rosalind, Robert , William and Peter and Dolly Lau.
(The Lau Mansion built by Lau Kah Tii graced the riverine right bank of the Rajang River in Ensurai and was the envy of all the Foochows for a long time. I believe the timber frames are still standing and would still be worth a lot of money if vandals have not gotten them. - This would be a later story)
Uncle Lau later introduced my father to his own first cousin, Lau Hung Chuo. It was according to most people, love at first sight.
Thus, our Tiong Family tapestry, has a magnificient interwinning of threats and layers and layers of very complicated stories.
more stories later.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Tiong Lien Tie - My Maternal Grandmother
Memoir by I Am Sarawakiana at 11:41 AM