Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bed Rolls in the Early Days

This photo must have been taken by one of my father's photographer friends during a Sibu photographic society's trip to Belawai:he is reclining on his bed roll (Kayan mat,pillow and a blanket, and may be even a mosquito net). This bed roll at that time was considered a complete set for a man to bring along whenever he went for a trip or whenever he moved to a new job, especially in another town. This was taken about 1954 or thereabout.

ly,this is
the upper deck
of a Chinese
motor launch.
If you have never
been inside one,this is a good picture. Passengers had to sit facing each other on
the hard wooden bench. Apparently my father had the whole bench to himself and had a good ride down the river as he was a voracious reader. His favourite magazine was "Chuen Chiew,Spring Autumn" a Chinese monthly magazine. Going to Belawai at that time would have taken a good whole day, arriving only a little before sunset.

Lat,our Malaysian National Treasure, and a cartoonist, has always touched people's hearts with his cartoons. This cartoon (I photographed it from his book) of his father taking his bedroll up to the bus is just so Malaysian. It naturally reminds me of all those by gone days before 1970's.

I hope my two illustrations would bring you some smiles today.

Can you last remember how a boy would make his first journey to stay in a boarding school in Sibu? His most important possession would have been his mat, his pillow and perhaps if he came from a fairly well off family, a thin mattress. What about adults who went on a week's trip by the sea? Apparently, a bedroll would be part of his camping equipment.

Today we have the state of the art of camping equipment:sleeping bag,tents, even motorised inflatable boats.

Also 40 years later,today, students who moved to boarding school actually could go with just a suitcase. Everything would be provided for. But Lat's cartoon remains dear to my heart for always.

And finally, I have a sad tale to tell too of life in those days. One sad wife had come running to her neighbour saying that her husband had left. A definite and all telling sign that he had moved on was her saying,"He had carried (niak) all his bed roll. The man and all his possession apparently would never come back again. By then almost everyone in earshot would have gathered around her,showing their sympathies.

Thus this experience of knowing of a desperate housewife in my neighbourhood was quite a trauma. It was so sad to see her waiting at the roadside to see if her man would come home. With or without a marriage certificate, when a man decided to take off with his bed roll,nothing much then could be done it seemed. Sibu in those days did not have the services of detectives to find a disappearing husband. Perhaps it was because all such a man had was his bed roll. She never remarried and some how or other she managed to bring up her children. Later on she moved away. In those days it was too risky just to "follow" a man. The Hokkien word was "twui" which is equivalent to "cohabit" of today.

0 memories:


web statistics