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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bathing In The Small Canal (Part One)

(It is already 16th Syawal.  I don't intend to write anything else about my hari raya experiences.  I have prepared somethng that I recalled when performing my duty a few weeks back.  I think the time is ripe for me to publish this experience.  It comes in two parts.)

Before I was born, pipe water was not a common sight among the villagers.  Most of them drank rainwater which they collected using very big tubs (tempayan) that they placed under the rooftops, and washed their clothes using drain water.  (The drain was not what we now see, carrying dirty liquids from houses and factories into big drains.  The drain at that time, did not bring dirty black liquids form houses and so on.  In fact, the water in the drain was crystal clear, the bed was sand, one could see fishes swimming in it).  We used to call it “parit” but the word ‘drain’ doesn’t seem the right word to use.  Therefore, I prefer to call it a canal.
A small canal, but this is not where I bathed
At the end of Kampung Batu 6 Bakri towards the west, there was a “parit”; a big drain or small canal.  This canal served to release water collected in a tin mine further up during rainy season.  The water bed was made up of sand, providing firm ground for those who wanted to stand in it.  As the water looked clean and crystal clear, people who stayed nearby used this canal to bathe and do their washing.  There were Wak Jom, Mak Ngah Esah, Tok Chik on this side, and Pak Aji on the other side.  According to Bang Ngah my elder brother, sometimes Kak Long (my elder sister) went to the canal bringing some soiled clothes to wash.  But I never saw her doing that, most probably I was too small to notice it.
 There were a few platforms built along its bank, some on this side and the others on the other side.  People such as Wak Jom and Tok Chik used this platform when they were doing their washing in the canal. 
At normal times, the water level was between waist and chest deep.  Boys of my age used to play in the drain; swimming from this side to the other side, splashing water at each other and sometimes wrestled in the water.  When the water was quite deep after heavy rain, or when the drain had been deepened, some of the bolder boys who could swim well performed somersault by diving from the branch of a tree into the water.  This they did by climbing a rubber tree nearby the canal.  They then crawled on a branch which grew in the direction of the canal.  From there, they jumped and swam towards either this side or the other side.  The boldest ones twirled twice in the air before making a great splash as they reached the water.

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