Note : This picture is by Regina Doman (blog : House Art)If I can find one such tub in Sarawak I would be so happy to photograph it!!
When I was very very young, I enjoyed bathing in an oval galvanised metal basin which also doubled as a washing tub for my mother. We were living in the Hua Hong Ice Factory on the island, which had no name. It was just Hua Hong Factory or Ice Factory to all, young and old, in Sibu at that time.
Every family I believe had a few galvanised metal pails and one washing basin. These were almost like family heirlooms and were supposed to last a life time. I remember when we moved to our wooden house in Kung Ping Road, my mother made sure that the basin came with us. She found it the most useful household item.
I also remember that about twenty years after we moved to Sibu, a Spanish friend of mine, who was living in Sibu at that time, told me that the Spanish would boil their clothes using a similar basin. By that time, she could not find one in Sibu. And ours had seen enough wear and tear. My eldest daughter was born in the wooden house and she too had a chance to use the metal basin. In a way, that metal basin had seen 26 years of good life by then. Amazing wasn't it?
Which shop made galvanised metal pails and basins? There was one in Blacksmith Road. I remember jumping over the metal sheets whenever I went to school and had to use the five foot way along Blacksmith Road. It was next to Dr. Kiu Nai Cheng's Clinic.
The half shop had an array of metal pails and basins and the two staff would be seen bending over and shaping the metal sheets into pails and basins. The would be wearing their white Pagoda singlets. Once in a while because the weather was so hot, they would not be wearing an singlet at all. Just their blue Chinaman cotton shorts.
At lunch time, they would take their break and their lunch would be served on a low table quite near their fire place. food was most probably brought to them in the enamel tiffin carrier which was so popular at that time.
This was the kind of life style which went out of fashion when cars became the norm and urbanity set in. Then later, the shop and the skilled craftsmen moved somewhere else and the half shop was taken over by another owner. True to progress, industrial enterprises have to move to the outer rings of a growing town to reduce costs like rising rentals, and most probably the owner must have made enough money to expand and have a factory built to accommodate more business and more workers.
A galvanised basin was often used to "heat up" bathing water in the hot morning sun. Babies who were bathed in sun heated water were believed to have less prickly heat. The metal basin would indeed heat up very fast. The special size of the basin was really ingenius in measurement - not too big and not too small. A child could enjoy bathing in the basin until she was about three or four years old. Bathing a baby was such a joy then.
I felt rather sad when plastics started to overwhelm our lives and lifestyle. It was always very comfortable to hear the scrapping sound of the metal basin on the crude cement floor.
That "kerliing kerliing" sound was the sound of mother's love - mother was was up early and getting our laundry done in the washing area. It was a comforting sound which told us that she was looking after us really well.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Memoir by I Am Sarawakiana at 8:27 AM