Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hercules of Sg. Ma'aw

When we were growing up in Sg. Maaw near Chung Cheng School we admired our uncle Lau Pang Sing very much. He was not only a filial son to his mother my maternal grandmother Lau Lien Tie (Mrs. lau Ka Chui) but also a great cook and a strong man. We called him Ka Tuai or Big Uncle. He was also very extremely communicative and humourous.

We have a very old photo to show how strong he was: Here he was carrying a crate of aerated water over his shoulders with his two sons following behind. The crate had come with the motor launch and most probably it was Sing Hai Huong (New Sea King). The wooden platform is the jetty he built and a huge floating pontoon was at the end there where we used to wash our clothes. It was one of the biggest and best in Ah Nang Chong. People often called it Pang Sing Toh Tau. Two motor launches could berth easily alongside the pontoon which was built on at least six big logs. The pontoon was very well built and lasted for more than 30 years until the waves of the express boats broke it up in the mid 80's.

Just before Chinese New Year I had the opportunity to capture some traditional soft drink crates on film. I was passing by Selangau and one of the shops had these eight crates of Ngo Kiang aerated water. Each wooden crate traditionally would hold 48 of those brown glass bottles of aerated water or Kan Chui or pok chui. If smaller bottles were put into the crates the total number would be 72.

It was just an easy task for my Uncle Pang Sing to throw a crate over his shoulders and carry it up to the house which was about 200 metres from the river to the applause and merriment of the children ( there were about 19 or 20 of us). He was always called upon to carry heavy things by relatives and neighbours. And it was no wonder that he finally worked as wharf labourer in Sibu when times were really difficult during the Communist insurgency.

His filial piety was examplary. Whenever he came home from his work in Sibu or elsewhere he would look for grandmother first. He would ask Aunty Nguk Ling his wife "Where's Neh?" (Neh is the Foochow dialect term for Niang or mother.) Without fail that was the first question he would ask.If she was having her nap he would go to the room to whisper quietly to her that he had brought her the item she had requested before he went to work at the beginning of the week. It could be chicken wings or a slice of pork belly or may be even a bottle of hair oil.

He and Aunty Nguk Ling had trained their children very well and as visiting cousins we learned from them too. Whatever Grandmother loved (be it chicken wings or the belly pork) we would never dare to pick them first at the dinner table. She would always be the one to sit at the table first and have her choice pieces. And then we kids would start eating. These were our table manners.

Uncle Pang Sing had 8 children while Uncle Pang Ping had 7 children still staying with him and my aunt Yung has four small kids. And I would be visiting very often. When we started running on the first floor or upstairs of the house our elders thought that even the wooden floors could split open!! We were like hordes of Mongols riding on horses whenever we ran and played games like Eagle and Mother Hen.

Those were the days when we were young and innocent. But when we children think of those days we would always be grateful that we had a wonderful uncle like Uncle Pang Sing - our Hercules of Sg. Ma'aw.

2 memories:

Just a Little Kindness said...

This is a nostalgic trip to the days of my parents too.

I still enjoy the Ngo Kiang drinks. My special treat is the banana flavour but with age catching up it is just too sugary.

Do you have a photo of the Ngo Kiang factory?

May I say Welcom Home to Miri?

sarawakiana said...

Nice of you to visit and comment. I will be delighted to take a photo of the Ngo Kian aerated water company when I next go toSibu. I think it is still in Lanang Road next to the Chung Hua Middle School.
The place is a little run down but generally Lanang Road is still something we can be proud many manufacturing companies providing so many jobs!!
In this way Miri is way behind industrially.


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