fine morning, and my assigned lady – Tepuq Ulo was cooking wild boar in her
kitchen. She lives right next door to our homestay, so I always went over and greeted her after waking up. I decided to try conversing to her in simple English that
she was taught earlier.
Morning Tepuq! How are you?’
is your name, Tepuq?’
burst out laughing although I silently worried if my efforts had gone to
waste. It turned out she was just messing with me. Phew. The
name Tepuq Daging stuck through our stay though.
admit the first week of working with Tepuq Ulo wasn’t easy. Don’t get me wrong, she’s an amazing lady! She just had a lot of difficulty remembering the words I
taught her and every time I asked her a word in English I received a
short ‘tidak tahu (don’t know)’ as an answer. Although
we were told by our coordinators to work according to our own tepuqs’ pace, I couldn’t help but feel the
pressure when Tepuq Ulo wasn’t making much progress. I constantly reminded myself to find the balance
between building a relationship and reaching our goals.
took a turn on the seventh day. Tepuq Ulo finally asked me ‘How are you?’ when
I said good morning. I FELT LIKE A PROUD
Ulo gave me a boost and reminded me of my purpose in Bario – to teach her English so that she can work as a community guide.
is the coolest grandmother I could ever ask for! Tepuq
Sinah Rang calls her ‘Tepuq Pelik’ because she can be so weird at times, in a
good way of course. She’s always the one that’s cracking inappropriate jokes
and ends up laughing at herself. Oh man, that laugh is so contagious we all end
up laughing like madmen. Especially when she teams up with her friend, Tepuq Ribed,
the jokes and teases never end. That’s just one of the reasons I
absolutely adore her.
|After work. She’s so adorableeeeeeee <3|
|Tepuq Ribed (left) can never stop laughing at Tepuq Ulo’s jokes|
the Bario ladies, she’s very tough. Working next to her, I’m ashamed to say I
feel like the older person of the duo. She could lift one bag of rice weighing
50kg all by herself! One time I saw a small snake and I was so fascinated I stood there staring at it. Tepuq Ulo immediately said ‘Bunuh dia (kill it)’ and chopped
it into four pieces with a parang. I just stood there open mouthed and in awe
while the pieces of the poor snake continued moving.
diligence will never cease to amaze me. She built a fence from scratch
to stop chickens from going into her garden. It was a lot of work! She’s also never lazy to take preventive measures. Once, when I went to her cornfield,
and she built a shade out of canvas cloth and wooden sticks before
we started working. And again, it wasn’t an easy job. To be honest, I thought it
was pointless because there were plenty of trees to protect us from the hot
sunlight! In the afternoon when it started raining, that was when I learnt how
wrong I was. That extra time and effort she took to build the shade kept both
of us warm and dry.
paddy field work or weeding was always made less painful by Tepuq Ulo. She would tell me funny stories or we would laugh at each other for the stupid things we did while
working. But it was very heart-warming when she made me a hot cup of Milo and boiled
me hot water to shower after we had to run back from the paddy field in the
rain, tie my shoelaces around my pants to prevent leeches
from attacking my legs, search the whole homestay for something for me to eat before I departed to SK to teach, and even an act as
simple as lending me her umbrella because it was raining mades me feel warm. She
treated me like family.
end of my stay, when she asked me what I would like to bring back to KL, I
would always say I wished to pack her in my luggage bag and bring her back home. Missing
you, Tepuq Daging!
|‘What makes you laugh?’
|The card I drew for Tepuq Ulo featuring her paddy field.
Excuse my drawing skills, I only had Sharpies to work with 😛