Blades of Societal Norms and Judgements

The people in Bario Asal accepted me for who I am.  For example, as a vegetarian, I could watch and admire Tepuq Sina Rang’s skills of cutting up wold boar and appreciate the effort Tama Wesley put in to have BBQ night under a sky full of stars without feeling compelled to consume meat.  And there were other situations which reassured me that my heart was safe from blades of societal norms and judgements.
So, sharing a piece (some parts were edited) that was written half a year ago when a choice was made to not wear social norms as a uniform.

“Imagine a father stabbing his own child over and over again. And this happens daily.” 

My friend, Sean painted this scene with his words. The vividly grotesque image floated into my mind – tears flooding the naïve child’s pink cheeks as he screamed for the man to stop, and the cold look in the father’s eyes. This was completely unacceptable. 

It was at a wedding that I met Sean, a German exchange student who supported his arguments with heart-wrenching analogies. He continued his analogy, “Now, Imagine the same dad doing the same act only once in a while.” He stressed on the last five words. “That’s better, right?” “No Way!” The words escaped my mouth before he finished his question. Logical thinking dictated that this was violence no matter how often the stabbing was repeated. No sane person would agree with the notion that this was morally right. 

Our conversation started with both of us finding common ground. We discussed the culture and history before finally settling on vegetables. Cabbage, carrot, broccoli, cucumber, spinach – we did not contemplate the natural beauty of the green leafy vegetables. Instead, we agreed on the uniqueness of their creation in this vast universe as a species that specialises in food production through photosynthesis. They’re created with a purpose to feed other species.

As the discussion went on to vegetarianism as an alternative to consuming meat and heavy fast food which is detrimental to health, I proudly declared myself an ‘optional’ vegan, my reason being not wanting to burden anyone to prepare special food for me. When I came to think of it, there were times when I used this as an excuse to give in to my own temptation to eat meat as I reassured myself that the occasional meat eating was okay. This was when Sean, as a pure vegan put forward his analogy to express that doing the same act less frequently doesn’t change the fact that I’m a hypocritical sinner.

This analogy made me rethink my belief systems. The child being stabbed by the “father” representing rigid social norms was my inner secret self – a small, fragile girl with low self-esteem who was always in a dilemma whether to follow the popular opinion or go with her guts. However, on the outside I tried to be an advocate for causes that felt close to my heart, For years, I found myself admiring the work of Emerson’s principles of Transcendentalism and Individualism. My two sides often conflicted; the war of cruelty between child and dad raged on inside. However, I often let the inner self’s fear of being ostracized take over my decisions, sometimes resulting in negative outcomes for others as I unconsciously believed that “stabbing once in a while doesn’t hurt”.   

Sean’s analogy sparked a decision to let the inner child to muster the courage to stand up against the cruelty; to learn from and consequently merge with my outer self to form a healthy whole. It will take time and patience to fight constantly with the demons in my head that I have grown accustomed to, but I think it is worth it as standing up for a cause while feeling doubtful inside doesn’t make any difference in the world as it doesn’t convince others. 

I will try my best not to allow my heart to be stabbed again by the blades of societal norms and judgements. 



-Srinithya aka Uding Aran-

The Story Behind Tapioca

The Story Behind Tapioca

Tapioca. You might have tasted it before, but have you seen a tapioca plant before? Do you know that tapioca doesn’t grow like most fruits or vegetables? Instead, it is grown from the roots of a tapioca plant.
I was so glad to have the opportunity to follow my assigned lady, Tepuq Bulan, to visit her tapioca farm. To be honest, I had never before seen a tapioca plant until visiting Tepuq Bulan’s farm.
Tapioca farm
Tapioca is best harvested when the plant is about 9-12 months grown. Because of this, it is planted annually.
We can identify the maturity of a tapioca plant by looking at its branches. If there are fruits on the tapioca plant, it means the tapioca is ready to be harvested. 
Tepuq Bulan harvesting tapioca using a hoe
Harvesting tapioca is a backbreaking job, especially for a 6-foot tall guy like me. I had to bend down, continuously digging until I caught a glimpse of the tapioca. It was very challenging as you can’t dig too fast or exert too much strength when digging as you might damage the tapioca. Tepuq must have been watching with cold sweats while I was harvesting the tapioca as she was worried I might destroy her hard work. Luckily, there was only a small cut on one of the tapioca roots.
“Be gentle” ”Do it softly” These were the words of advice Tepuq gave me before she left to collect tapioca leaves. By the time she finished collecting one bag of tapioca leaves, I was still struggling to pull out tapioca from the same spot.
After harvesting, the stem cutting method was applied to plant a new tapioca plant, where the end of a stem is sharpened before inserted into the soil with a depth not exceeding 4-6cm. The stem was cut to about 15cm long for it to grow.
Fried tapioca cake
“It’s just an ordinary fried tapioca cake, nothing special about it” was my first impression of the dish pictured above. But after I experienced the process of harvesting and planting tapioca, I started to appreciate it as I realised so much blood, sweat and tears was involved in getting the tapioca that we take for granted. There are a lot of things we do not understand until we experience it. During my time in primary school, my teachers always reminded us not to waste rice as every grain of rice came from the hard work of a farmer. Now, I clearly understand that we should feel grateful and appreciate everything that we have even if it’s just a cup of water because we are living lives far more fortunate than many others.  
How to be…Happy :)

How to be…Happy :)

Bario is my happy place. There were genuinely so many things
to be glad about in Bario. It just made me think, who needs the latest iPhone
model anyway? Here’s a list of things that made me (and maybe my friends too)
happy.
Happy people 🙂 No, they’re not twins. 
1.      
When there’s Vico/Milo to drink in the morning.
(It’s a luxury)
2.      
When my friend Nithya rolled down the small hill
behind SMK. It was hilarious!
Nithya lying on the grass before rolling down the hill.
3.      
When it’s a sunny day and all our laundry were dry!
4.      
When we managed to hitchhike back to the Bario
Asal longhouse. (Thanks Nithya!)
My batchmates getting a ride at the back of Tepuq Sinah Rnag’s 4WD.
5.      
When Uncle Julian decided to give us a ride to
or from the hydro dam.
6.     When my tepuq boiled hot water for me to shower with.
It was the only time I conditioned my hair in Bario.
7.      
When we managed to pick a big bag of vegetables
from the jungle.
8.      
When we conquered Prayer Mountain!
On top of Prayer Mountain.
9.      
When it’s the weekends and we could sit
and do nothing for the whole day.
10.  
When the SK and SMK teaching sessions go well.
11.  
When it didn’t rain while we’re drying the
paddy.
12.  
When the tepuqs told us inappropriate jokes.
13.  
When I managed to catch 20 fish for the first
time, on my own (my tepuq had to leave me alone to do some chores).
14.  
When I could finally differentiate between
vegetable species after a while.
15.  
When we danced in the middle of the road before
going to the airport.
16.  
Watching Wai Leong (Apoi) do the traditional Kelabit
dance. He’s gifted!
Wai Leong (Apoi) rocking his Kelabit headgear. (Third from the left)
17.  
When my friend Hooi Ju had a chance to go into the paddy
field and got muddy for the first time. That smile on her face was so priceless
it made me really happy.  
Tepuq Ulo teaching Hooi Ju to fish after she went into the paddy field.
18.  
Having fried chicken wingsss!
19.  
When the marshmallows were roasted perfectly. And
dipped with chocolate. Mmmm.
20.  
When we surprised Nithya with a Bario birthday cake on her birthday!
Bario birthday cake.
21.  
When our tepuqs learned a new word!
22.  
When we were told that we have beautiful voices after singing in church haha.
23.  
Coming up with dance steps to Jai-Ho with my
batchmates!
24.  
Seeing a rainbow <3
Rainbow! 
25.  
PINEAPPLES.

Pineapple ceremony.
(From the left) Nithya, Tepuq Ulo, Tepuq Ribed, K Rou and me
The list goes on. In my opinion, the secret to happiness is to be appreciative
and thankful of the little things.

And that is the biggest lesson I brought back
from Bario.

Love,
Pei Chi

Inevitability of Farewell Redefined

Inevitability of Farewell Redefined


I always dreamt of building a
world filled with people I crossed paths with. People who impacted me so deeply
that they would leave a crack in my heart that can never be filled by anyone
else. However, goodbyes are inevitable in this world. Every time the moment comes
to bid goodbye to a community, family or a group of friends that I grew close
to, my heart bleeds.

“Don’t be so old school
la. Now kan got technology. Got Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype etc etc. We can
always keep in touch.” These are often the remarks I get when I try to tell
others that things are never going to be the same once we are separated by
distance. Don’t you agree with me that your priorities change and you ‘keep in
touch’ by texting or calling but the emptiness is always felt?
So,
what’s the point of making new connections in the first place, if farewells are
inevitable at one point or another in life? I was dwelling upon this thought
when I first landed in Bario. I was ready to meet the community but not so
ready to open myself up to anyone. As we (Project WHEE! participants) first
arrived in the Bario Asal Longhouse, we were greeted by faces unknown to us
with genuine smiles and handshakes. I felt welcomed as if I was returning home after spending years away.
 

Excited faces after landing in Bario 🙂
        
On the back of 4WD on our way to Bario Asal Longhouse

  

My
question about the farewell was only answered during my second working day with
Sina Mayda (the lady I was assigned to in Arur Dalan). We went to the paddy
field earlier than usual to avoid working under the hot sun. The 15-minute walk
to her paddy field felt short due to our singing and her explaining about the
wide range of flora along the way.
The way to Sina Mayda’s paddy field
The view of the paddy field after harvesting season.

While we were collecting grass that had already been cut by a Penan
worker in her paddy field,

‘Uding Aran (my Kelabit name, first part was given by Tepuq Sina Rang
while the second part was by Sina Mayda), apa orang India buat masa orang
meninggal dunia (what do Indians do when someone passes away)?’,

Sina (mother in Kelabit) asked. She had been curious about our way of
life since the first day I met her. This was one of the many questions she
posed. As I explained about the Indian funeral rites, I also learnt about the
Kelabits’ methods of conducting funerals. She also related death to farewell
which led me not to look at farewells the same way ever again.

Her way of reasoning (which was in Malay) is as
follows:

‘Death is certain. We all know that, right? The same applies to
farewells. I am aware that farewell is inevitable even in our
relationship. So, if I cry when you leave, that doesn’t mean that I want you to
stay with me forever. It is just a momentary sadness. I would still be happy
because you’re leaving for good to continue your life in a direction that is
just different than mine. That thought of separation from each other’s life is
not going to stop me from embracing you and this relationship and be grateful
that our paths crossed.’ 

Those words struck a chord in me. So, there she was, standing in a paddy
field, her feet in mud, shedding light on another way to look at
farewells; and there I was, learning in the least expected place, that what
matters the most is the moments spent and the presence which should be
embraced.

After 22 days in
Bario, when the day of farewell finally came, it was a different farewell from
all the others I experienced. My heart didn’t bleed much; rather it
swelled with gratitude for the memories created, lessons learnt and connections
made in the Bario highlands.

“Farewell is said by the living, in life, every day. It is said with
love and friendship, with the affirmation that the memories are lasting if the
flesh is not.” – R.A Salvatore

-Srinithya aka Uding Aran-

Home

The last couple of years haven’t exactly been the best for
Malaysia. Politically, economically, socially. A question I constantly hear is
“Don’t you want to migrate? Find a job elsewhere and not look back?”
 While I do not fault those who live elsewhere for their decision, I think
that my experience in Bario is one of the reasons why I don’t think that leaving
this country is an option. Living with the Kelabits has made me realize that we
do have a responsibility to give back. Malaysia is home after all.
This blog post isn’t so
much about Bario. It is a plea to anyone reading this that we can learn so much
just by going out there and doing something new instead of just reading about
the negativity that we see everyday. When I first signed up for Project WHEE!, I
had been on the fence about my future, whether I should stay or consider ‘greener
pastures’ because I was tired of the way things were.
Having met Tepuq Sinah
Doh Ayu and all the other people that have touched the project participants’ lives in one way or another, I know for sure that there is no other place that
I’d rather serve than this country I call home. Why? Simply because of the
people. Learning about the Kelabit culture and way of life made me see them as
real living individuals. Sure, I knew of the Kadazans and the Ibans and a few
other communities, all of which we learnt about in our textbooks, but having
experienced Bario, I think that it is important as Malaysians to know that
these people are so much more than the pictures in our books of colourful
clothes and longhouses. 
It isn’t enough to just
read about something only to forget about it in the days or months or years to
come. I choose to believe that complaining about the way things
are and running away from it isn’t the best way to deal with it. Bario
showed me, that equipped only with the language I speak and the strength in my
back, I could make a small difference and for that, I will forever be grateful for
my time there.
There is so much to be
done and so much to learn just by taking a leap of faith and doing something
small to help out. Trust me when I say that the moment you start, it will not
seem like work at all. All it took for me to make up my mind to stay was this
tiny little town called Bario that we the participants can’t ever seem to stop
talking about and we have the Kelabits to thank for that. We consider them
family – not by blood but in all the other ways that matter. Malaysians, just like
ourselves. Part of the country we call home. 
Being An Inspiration

Being An Inspiration

In Project WHEE!, besides training and equipping the Bario women with skills and knowledge for ecotourism activities, we the volunteers also teach in SK and SMK Bario after school. We organize activities there to brush up the students’ English and hopefully, inspire them.
When Batch 5 was told by Daniel and Rhon, our project coordinators about this task, I was worried. How exactly will I be an inspiration to these students, when in reality, I’m not exactly the most inspirational person around? 
SK sessions went well for me and my partner, Abang KK. We were tasked with the Standard 6 class. The students were absolutely adorable. They greeted us very formally (Goooood eeevehneeng aahbaang KK aand kaakak Gaaneet) every time we entered the class. They listened to everything we said in class, and cooperated with us for all the activities. Needless to say, we adored them to bits. 
After a session in SK
SMK on the other hand, was a real challenge, for me at least. In SMK, I was tasked with Form 1B. The difference between the SMK and SK students were, even though the SMK students cooperated with me in our session, I could clearly see that they weren’t as enthusiastic as the SK students. Their faces showed what they really thought about my session – boring, not exactly helpful, uninteresting.
After my first session with SMK, I went back to the homestay feeling dispirited. I thought I had failed to be an inspiration for the students. 
That night during debrief, I shared my disheartening experience with the rest of the batch and wallowed in misery. I was upset for not being able to live up to the expectations I had set for myself. However, Rhon said something that made me look at the entire situation differently.

”You may not think that you have been an inspiration to them, but just seeing Project WHEE! around in school is already an inspiration for the students. They don’t see many outsiders in school most of the time, and you don’t know this, but they are very excited to see us whenever we come to Bario. Just because you don’t feel like an inspiration does not mean you don’t leave an impact on them. You may not have inspired them to learn English, but you have inspired them on something else.” 

For me, what she said rang a bell. In my life, there have been many events that inspired me to do something that was not the original objective or goal of that event. One example would be a contest I participated back in secondary school. My team was the First Runner Up for this national level contest. It was about producing a professional magazine. Winning that spot did not inspire me to become a journalist, nor did it inspire me to pick up graphic designing. Instead, it inspired me to believe in myself – believe that I have the potential to achieve amazing things in life. I trust that the organizers of that contest had no clue or foresight that they  would motivate a participant to be more confident in herself, and yet they did.

”We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.” – Stephen King, 11/22/63

My experience with the SMK students did not inspire me to become a teacher, but it did inspire me to understand the way teenagers think and learn. I sincerely hope that my session with the SMK students did spark some sort of inspiration in them, and I hope this story has inspired you with something! 🙂
Everything Else Can Wait

Everything Else Can Wait

When we are not working in the paddy field or farms, Tepuq Doh Ayu and I would usually chill at home. I love how life in Bario is rather slow-paced and laid-back. There is no need to be guilty for not being ‘productive’ enough if you decide to spend your day sitting by the fireplace and chill together. There is so much that we could do together in Bario.
Fireplace is like the backbone of a longhouse where most of the family activities take place here. The warmth radiated from the burning firewood is the best companion amidst the chilly weather in Bario. We would eat, drink, relax and talk around the fireplace.

It is no surprise that a friendly and warm lady like my Tepu, her fireplace has became a popular hangout spot among the neighbours and relatives. 
We would sit down and have some nice conversation over cups of tea and bites of biscuits. The ambience is very lovely and relaxing. They often include me in their conversations and make me feel accepted as a part of the family. The conversation topics usually range from family, weather to work. Sometimes, I would ask Tepuq Doh Ayu about her Kelabit culture and lifestyles. She would then happily take up the role of a teacher and show me the traditional Kelabit beads and musical instrument.

Traditional Kelabit musical instrument is a tube zither made entirely of a poring bamboo. Tepu Doh Ayu slides her fingers across the bamboo strings gracefully and a beautiful melody is heard across the longhouse. She does it so effortlessly and elegantly which in fact I spend so much time attempting to master it 😛
Tepu Doh Ayu demonstrating Kelabit beads work.

Despite the fact that I couldn’t get a grasp of their Kelabit conversation fully, I enjoy observing how the whole conversation takes place so naturally. They would pay full attention to the others when they are talking and would in turn to take on the responsibility of keeping the conversation rolling. Even when there’s silent moment when the conversations pause occasionally, it is perfectly comfortable and pleasant as the they would retrieve the momentum of resuming the conversation very quickly.


That puts me on a deep reflection of our long lost culture, connecting with people wholeheartedly on a personal level. I remember in the older days when we were still young and smart phones did not exist, people would meet each other in the eyes, throw a smile in their direction when they bump into each other on street; or they would spend some quality time talking and enjoying each other’s company when friends and family gather.



Now the next best thing you’ll bump into on the street is either a wall or lamp post because you’re too busy looking down at your phone. 
In London, bumpers have been places around light posts to prevent pedestrians from slamming into them 😛
It is sad to notice that the crowded lively restaurant atmosphere which was once brimmed with laughter, has now been replaced by the tapping and clicking sound of smart gadgets.



There’s an interesting article about a research done in the U.S. to study the dramatic increase in the amount of time it takes to be served in restaurants nowadays. The main reasons are that nowadays customers are too preoccupied with taking photos upon entering, telling the waiters they are having problems connecting to the WiFi, taking photos of their food once it’s delivered to them and bumping into other customers and waiters as they enter and exit the restaurant as a result of texting while walking. ( read more here )
This change in the trend of communication occurs subtly throughout our daily lives and without much attention, you and I are prone to being carried away by phone screen and paying less attention to the real world out there. Having spent some quality time bonding with Tepu Doh Ayu and her family on a face-to-face level has offered me the room to ponder over our diminishing attention span for the people in front of us.



In this rat race and paper chase world, time has becoming a rare and priceless commodity where we have became more and more careful or even stingy with the use of it. When is the last time you have a long nice chat with someone? Can you still recall when is the last time you spend time with your family, doing nothing but merely enjoying each other’s presence and feeling the exchange of breath in the same room?
We often think that we live a separate live from others, having so caught up in our own schedule leaves us very little time to interact with others. However, people in Bario have shown me otherwise, they would unselfishly allocate time for friends and family, give undivided attention to each other when they speak and gladly spend their time away watching rainfall from the window or sipping tea together by the fireplace.

Bario has taught me that the best and universal gift one could offer is time

I’ve learnt to pay full attention to my surroundings because every moment counts and what has been missed cannot be recovered.

Everything else can wait, including the notification buttons on your phone or some unimportant newsfeed on your social media. At the end of the day what matters most is the people around us. 
As each of us get a fixed and limited time in this world, giving your precious time away to someone just show how important they are and how much you do care for them.
NYC aka Ubung Ahchuan
p.s. The writer would like to express her utmost gratitude for your precious time spent reading this blog 🙂
“Amoi, kamu rindu KL ke?”

“Amoi, kamu rindu KL ke?”

Hi kelas, minta maaf kerana Cikgu tidak boleh hadir hari ini. Tapi
saya harap kamu semua menikmati masa yang kami telah berada di kelas…
(Hi class, I apologise for not being present today. But I hope
all of you have enjoyed the time we had together…)
This was the beginning of a speech I was writing to my class
I taught at SMK Bario. And I was stuck there, unable to continue my draft.

The speech
was meant for the last day we were to teach in the school and I wanted to
motivate and encourage my students to work hard for their next exam. It’s not
that I had nothing to say, in fact I had plenty to say, but I didn’t know how
to say it in Bahasa Malaysia (BM). I found myself having to translate what I
wanted to say from English to BM and elicited help from my friends when I
couldn’t remember a particular word in BM. I realized some of them struggled to
recall as well.


Such was the difficulty I encountered throughout my stay in
Bario. The primary language of communication was BM and my capacity of speaking
that language was embarrassingly limited to Bahasa pasar. I can’t seem to
recall all the 1000 word karangan (essays) I wrote and countless peribahasa I memorised.

I remember one occasion when Aunty Dayang (the lady I was assigned to) had to bring a
bunch of army men to put out a bush fire and they were all really curious who I
was, why I was following Aunty Dayang and why a peninsular kid like me was
doing in Bario. They started firing questions at me in BM and I struggled to
understand them and my response to them was slow and short to say the least. I was
interested in their army life too, but was too shy to expose my lousy BM speaking
to ask too much. Much of the time I kept quiet and that kind of made them assume I missed home when the truth was far from it. So they kept asking me, “Amoi, kamu rindu KL ke?” I just smiled and said “tak.” Never have I felt more like a foreigner in my own country. How do I tell these guys my embarrassing lack of proficiency in the national language?

Why don’t I ask in English, you say? Because I stubbornly
wanted to prove that I am a trilingual Malaysian. I didn’t want to be excluded
from the conversation or to make things awkward by making them speak English
just to me. At the end of the day, they are a great bunch of guys who
are doing a great job serving the army and my regret was not getting to know
them better.


How childish was I for being so gleeful thinking I’ll never have
to deal with BM after SPM when in actual fact Bahasa Malaysia is the one thing
that ties me directly to my country and its people. It is the language we all
know and it is the language that allows me to connect with anyone in this country. It is by speaking in a language two parties are comfortable with that we begin to understand each other. That story with the army guys shows how they misunderstood me for missing home due to my failure of communicating with them.

One thing’s for sure, I don’t ever want to feel like a foreigner in my own mother land again. Never.

I did finish my speech in the end. Maybe I should do another one in Mandarin and Tamil? ;p

Ai Jin 
Aren

Hope and approval.

Hope and approval.

It is
less likely for a regular person who lives in the city to wonder what it would
be like to live in a small town and live life on a day-to-day basis instead of
literally sketching out plans for the future.
I for once, did not. Adding
ignorance into the fact thinking that I anyway grew up in a small town. Bario was a pleasant surprise in so many aspects. But, if I had to choose one particular
aspect that always had my heart touched and my mind wondering; it would be the endless
blessings we received over our course of stay.
I remember that hot Saturday
afternoon when I walked into the long house being the new member that was
missing for the past 10 days. I questioned my acceptance into the residents of
this home, I was anxious if the first impression I bring would be counted, I
was engulfed in fear not knowing where I stand; not knowing if my presence was
accepted. I was first greeted by the homestay host’s daughter, Aunty Su who
very willingly gave me a warm hug even before knowing who I was. This hug made me feel a whole lot calmer. 
Aunty Su, the first person to welcome me into the long house.
However, the moment that really touched my inner self was when the homestay host, Tepuq Sinah Rang and all the
other Tepuqs came over to the kitchen to welcome my other team member and I.
Each and every one of them greeted me with so much warmth, hugs, wide smiles,
and excitements. Besides all of that positive vibe I received at my first introduction,
I was genuinely touched and moved at the fact how some of these
lovely Tepuqs said, ‘Semoga Tuhan memberkati kamu. (May God bless you)’ when they gave me a hug.  
I’m not sure what was it that got
me, but there was a sense of genuineness and acceptance that I honestly have
not felt anywhere else. At least not in the first hours of my presence in a new environment. This thought is often followed by the fact that I am
nobody to them, literally nobody. I have just met them minutes ago, and at the
next meal I am referred and accepted as someone’s grandchild.

I remember two days before flying home,  my team member and I who had both our Tepuqs ( Tepuq Uloh & Tepuq Ribet ) working together for that whole week decide to
take them out for a meal. As they were emotional at
the fact that the journey for all four of us together was coming to an end,
they never forgot to give their blessings to us. With tears in their eyes, we were
blessed with good health, to excel in our studies and to always remember that
being humble and having a good heart will give life the meaning we need and a
journey worth remembering.

There was a lot of hope and approval
in their blessings. I am not sure if anyone else would have felt the same, but
how often does one hug you and give you their blessings; so genuine and heartfelt? In a day and age where everyone seems to be a little self centered, voluntary well wishes like these should always be cherished and taken to heart.
Count your blessings. They don’t
come by as often. 
When We Makan (Eat)

When We Makan (Eat)

This is Nenek Ros being a master in the kitchen. We made fish and sawi vegetables. I helped prepare the ingredients for our lunch while Nenek applied her magic in cooking. I cried like a baby cutting the onions, Nenek stood at the side watching me, going “Aiyooo, Kijan” and laughing. Nenek taught me to wash the onions in the future before hand, to avoid tears flowing out like waterfall next time when cutting them.

Before our meals, Nenek Ros would say a prayer of thanks for the food that is on the table and small moments like that really touches me.
Lunch is ready! 

Do you think sometimes eye contact is a lost art?


I’m sure most of us here are guilty of having our eyes glued to our mobile phones in group meals. Everything in our lives have to be fast paced, moving. Even when we are waiting for the lift to get to our classes, we tend to take our phones out. Just randomly scrolling on things, sometimes just to avoid awkward conversations with others. 
During lunch, 
Nenek and I talked about the future today.
We talked about the younger us.
We talked about how important family is. 
We talked of how if I would to get married in the future, I have to find a good husband. (HAHA)
But most importantly, we listened to each other. 
Nenek lives alone and she shared with me about how lonely it can get sometimes when her children are in Miri, striving for a better future.

As parents, they pray for the best of their children and for them to achieve happiness in the things they do.
Every day, I learned something new from Nenek Ros.

And coincidentally at that moment too, Nenek received a phone call from her daughter. Nenek’s face lit up with a smile as they chatted. 
Dear readers, how about the next time, we too, can take some time off from being a phone zombie and invest time in the people that we care for and matter most to us? They would appreciate it, and after all, it’s the memories that count right? Instead of worrying about the amount of likes that we have for the latest uploaded photo on social media. 
Remember to smile and tell people how much you appreciate them! 
Signing off, 
YeeWan.