These glass jars in an old shop in Lachau of Second Division remind me of the Cooperative in Sg. Maaw and the little village shop in my grandmother's house run by Uncle Dien Ching. According to the nice Hokkien towkay these jars (from his father's time) are more than 80 years old and he would not sell them.
The shop keeper then would have been the only one allowed to open these very air tight jars. The shoppers and especially the children were not allowed to open the jars in any way.
As a child I was small and I felt those jars were bigger than I. So I never attempted to open them. I often wondered throughout my teenage life why was it that children of my time were so ever respectful of the village shop owner. But then village shop owners of those days were also kindly people who were not competitive and arrogant. They were indeed the classic tradesmen who served the villagers with tender loving care and the raising of prices was not even thought of in those days. Otherwise they would never have lasted so long.
He would always allow the villagers to "owe" him for the goods they took before their rubber sheets were sold in Sibu. This was an old system of writing into the account book what they took. Each family had a page and Uncle Dien Ching would record with his Chinese Calligraphy brush what was taken. And I am sure now many of the women could not read very well. They managed with a system of trust and their own good memory of how much they had taken. They would have everything settled when they had the cash very amicably. The shop keeper was also a kind of banker as some emergency cash was always available whenever it was needed.
I especially liked going to his shop to get a bottle of kerosene to light up my uncle's special pressure lamp. The responsibility gave me a sense of importance. And I also knew then that the brighter light was a joy to all of us children as we could spend a longer evening with grandma and uncle. We could talk and laugh in the breezy verandah (landoh)while waiting for the pow to rise and then steamed. those were the hours when we absorbed traditional stories from China and jokes from earlier Sibu days.
I would always remember Uncle Dien Ching who used to say humbly that his little shop was just enough to "change for a mouthful of food". (Wang suo chui siah).