Musings on the penultimate night

Musings on the penultimate night

Even after a year, I still vividly remember my fond time spent in Bario under Batch 2 of Project WHEE!. Life in the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur certainly makes me wish for a more serene environment sometimes. In addition to that, the oppressive heat of the inter-monsoon season causes me to long for a return to the cool breeze of Bario.

To give those who are interested to join a glimpse of what Project WHEE! can be like, I would like to share an entry on the journal which I kept while I was in Batch 2. 

4th July, 2014

It is hard to believe that this is the penultimate night of my stay in Bario; time has passed so quickly despite my best attempts to savour every day, akin to how one can never hold water in her hands no matter how hard she tries, as the water will simply flow through the crevices between her fingers.

The last day of working at the sawah (Malay for paddy field) was a joy. I feel a sense of freedom when I am able to go into the knee deep mud without being worried about getting dirty. As Tepuq Bulan and I had almost finished clearing the remains of the old harvest the day before, it was finally time to spread the seedlings to grow. After we had finished our work, Tepuq Bulan surprised me by bringing out a Tupperware containing a whole cut pineapple. I was delighted of course, as Bario pineapples are perhaps the best in the region, but at the same time I was terrified of disappointing her if I did not finish it as it would be unwise to refuse or fail to finish pineapples when offered in Bario. If it wasn’t for Rhonwyn who was there at the nick of time and helped me with it, I would have ended up in a pineapple-induced coma. 

Today was also the last day that I taught at the local school – SMK Bario. Staying true to my “no play play” policy, I gave my class a quiz on the chapters in Form 2 science that I had been tutoring them to master, chapters that they were going to be tested on next week. Although I was far from a competent teacher, I was determined not to let their allocated time with me be in vain. To my pleasant surprise, they were very diligent in doing the test. However, my heart nearly skipped a beat after I had ccalculated the results, for the exception of a few kids, nobody scored more than half marks on what was supposed to be a very easy quiz. I certainly hoped that I did not show this, and I once again got my chalk to review some important concepts that will help them in their exam. I figured most of them didn’t bother studying for the quiz, but I hope that their attitudes towards the real exam will be different. 

After dinner at 9 pm, Sathesh, Thiiban and I went to Tepuq Bulan’s house to learn more Kelabit. As we had made arrangements for Tepuq Ribed to be there as well, it was quite a party with the two ladies laughing uncontrollably about many things in Kelabit, especially about the word ngawah (Kelabit for marry), with which Thiiban made many sentences with it to his expense.

My last day at the sawah with Tepuq Bulan. Bario Asal is visible in the background on the left. Picture by Rhonwyn.

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