Friday, June 06, 2008

Jute Bed in Sibu

This photo from a piece of news I read on the Internet reminds me of the few Sikh people who were peaceful residents of Sibu.

Today there is still indeed a small Sikh community in Sibu which supports the small Sikh temple in former Race Course Road. The community of Punjabi descent ascribe to the Sikh religion. According to them, any one can become a Sikh but most Punjabis are Sikhs. A few of my friends who are non Punjabis and are married to Sikhs follow the religion and learn to speak their beautiful language too.

I remember one of the families in Sibu continued to supply fresh milk for many years to many of us who were particular in having fresh milk every day right up to the 80's . My father insisted that my brother and all of us should have good milk every day. So he arranged with his Sikh friend to have fresh milk delivered. The milk was delivered by our Sikh milkman on bicycle. And I remember that it was not too expensive. Whenever he came, he would just leaned over a little from his bicycle and pour the milk from his can as we were ready with our enamel mug. He had such long legs that he did not have to get off his bicycle. When we grew older we did not order any more milk from him.

Many expectant mothers also bought fresh milk from this family to increase their calcium intake.

The small herd of cows did indeed supply enough milk for those who needed fresh milk. And how and when it stopped I cannot remember.

Another thing I remember about the Sikhs in Sibu was a bed like this used by the Sikh jaga of Sime Darby, a two storyed building along Central Road. The "jaga" would always greet my father and I whenever we passed by. His jute bed was partially hidden under the staircase leading up to the first floor of the Sime Darby office. This bed would be much better than many of the recycled hard paper boards many security guards use nowadays. Although I fully realise that jagas are not supposed to sleep on their job.

The manager of the Sime Darby at that time was Mr. Lee Swee Ling. His wife, a Nyonya who always wore red and pretty sarong kebaya, was well recognised every where she went. Mr. Lee spoke very good English and was a very impressive Hokkien man. And it was a well known fact that Mrs. Lee was a remarkable cook and homemaker.

Like every where else, the days of the Punjabi(Sikh) jaga continued into the 70's. And they were also a very important part of the Malaysian police. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the Sikh families of Sibu. Are they still there? Where have they moved to?

But I always fancied the jute bed.

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