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Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Bathing In The Small Canal (Part Two)
In‘Bathing In The Small Canal Part 1, I wrote about a big drain at the edge of our village that, apart from fulfilling the villagers needs in cleaning themselves and their clothes, also helped making our childhood lives interesting. One may think that parents did not mind their children enjoying their time in the water.
Some of you might think that my parents allowed us (my brother and I) to enjoy ourselves in the canal. No, they didn’t. They warned us not to go and bathe, and would scold us whenever they learned that we had bathed in the river. Their trained eyes could detect what we had done when they looked at our ruffled hair and dusty skin. I knew I was wrong when I broke the rules. I tried to heed to their advice but sometimes the temptation to go and bathe was too great to resist when my friends invited us to join them. How could I avoid them?
I remember one day, Dad gave us (my brother Bang Ngah and I) a tight scolding because we did not do as instructed but spent most of the evening bathing in the canal.
At that time, most of the villagers used firewood to cook. Only one or two wealthy ones used kerosene. Our family, being one of the poorer ones that made up the majority of the caste in the village, used firewood. Due to that, whenever rubber trees were felled to make way for replanting, many of us would come with our parangs and saws to cut off branches and trunks and store them at our houses.
One day, Dad instructed us to cut off as much firewood as possible and bring it home. He couldn’t do it together with us as he and Mom had to attend a wedding. Obediently, we started our work, but not for long. At the slightest provocation from our friends, we put away our parangs and sprinted towards the canal. We also put away Dad’s instructions and advice, we played and played until we were tired. Then, when the sun started to set, we quickly went back to the felled trees to resume our task. But Dad and Mom were already there.
‘Where have you been?’ Dad asked quietly, his sparkling eyes piercing our timid hearts. I could sense thunderstorm brewing.
There you are. We, miserable kids who turned naughty got what we deserved. Served us right!