Monday, September 09, 2013

Memories of Kampung Ensika

Did anyone ever remember me in Sarawak? Did anyone ever think of me once in a while in the Iban Kampung of Ensika, where I once braved crossing the mighty Sadong Jaya river and another smaller river filled with crocodiles, to fall in love with a community of people, whose women so jolly and so warm, had guarded me against the terrible consequences of the tuak (pronounced tua) handed to me by their men. "Not too much, that's enough," I hear them whisper to each other in their own language, a language I could not understand, as the indigenous sweet wine was being poured into the glass. Their hands in a protective gesture, the look of genuine concern on their faces, those Malaysian women were enough to make me feel so safe and warm. In contrast, a woman in a Christian household back in Kuching, wanted me to drown under her tuak, offering me glass after glass of it, I had a hard time refusing her. A tuak is a gesture of hospitality among the Ibans, refusing it was supposed to be considered rude; but remembering the Iban community whose women had protected me, I took the courage to refuse. Now, I still think of those women, their brown faces smiling at me, saying things I don't understand, eternally amused by whatever I do in their village. Where could they be now? What could they be doing in the kampung, so far away from the city, accessible only by boat during high tide? I may have forgotten their names, which were so strange and very difficult to pronounce, but I could not possibly forget their faces. Good memories of them I carry with me whereever I go.

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