If you think it’s going to rain, it will.– Clint Eastwood, American actor
Yesterday, I could not work in my backyard garden because it was raining. Now, the garden has become an urban mini-jungle, with creeping weeds clinging to my lime plants and cangkok manis (star goose berries).
The speed at which the weeds are growing amazes me and reminds me of the Enchanted Forest in the story of the Sleeping Beauty.
In the classic fairy tale, a princess was cursed to sleep for 100 years by an evil fairy. She was awakened by a handsome prince in the end and the prince had to cut his way through a forest which sprouted and grew as the princess and every living person and animal in the palace slept.
I have not been able to work in my garden for a while now. Every Friday and Saturday, when I am not working, I look forward to spending a few hours in the sun daily. But most of the time, it had rained on my days off from work.
No, I am not complaining about the rain. Many years ago, someone got angry with me when I complained about the rain. “Think about the farmers who depend on the rain to water their crops,” said that person. I cannot remember who the person was and whether it was a man or woman. Since then, I’ve stopped complaining about the rain.
When I was growing up, I used to spend the long year-end school holidays with my grandparents in a village in the outskirts of Kanowit, a riverine town in Sibu Division.
Whenever it rained, my aunties, who were still single then, would rush to collect rainwater and store it in big earthen jars. After filling each jar to the brim, they would then proceed to scrub the grimy floors and finally, to shower with the rainwater.
The rain spared them the backbreaking task of having to carry pails and pails of water from the river back to the village home for cooking and washing. All these happened before the introduction of the gravity feed water supply and finally, piped water supply from Kanowit town.
Some kids in Sibu town would play in the rain but not my siblings and I. Our mother was strict and would punish severely anyone who did so. She did not want us to fall sick.
It looks like we in Kuching are in for more rainy days from now on. I have given back all my geography knowledge back to my secondary school teachers, so I don’t even know whether it is really the rainy season now. But what I know is that the weather is not the way it used to be. The dry season and the rainy season are not that distinct anymore. Could it be due to climate change and global warming?
Anyway, many parts of Sarawak, particularly the northern and central regions, are flooded now, causing many longhouses and villages to be under three or more feet of water.
When I shared pictures of the flood in Kanowit town with my younger sister, Lan, who lived in Johor Bahru, she recalled having to chase after an express boat in a motorised longboat operated by a brother-in-law aeons ago.
Kanowit was flooded then and the water was so high that the wharf disappeared.
Lan was a student at SMK Tun Openg in Kuching then and had gone to Kanowit to help our elder sister, who was in confinement, look after her two older sons.
“It was scary sitting in the longboat as it chased after the express boat because I could not swim.
“When the express boat arrived in Sibu, I had to rush to the airport to catch my plane to Kuching. School was about to reopen the next day,” recalled Lan.
I did not know about this story until she told me.
In life, I find that there are many things I only know as I grow older and begin sharing openly with our siblings, family members and friends. When I was younger, there were many things I could not express and share with the people I loved.
When I saw pictures of the floods in Sibu recently, I asked my best friend, who lived there, whether she was working. I was surprised to learn that the floods were not as bad as they seemed to be.
Yes, she went to work, as usual. The floods, she said, lasted only for a few hours.
“These are due to heavy rains in Kapit in the upper Rajang River. You know these are due to heavy rains because the floodwaters are yellow in colour. The floodwaters in Sibu are normally clear,” she explained.
One flood picture captured in Sibu showed people sitting nonchalantly in a coffee shop with floodwaters above their ankles and a longboat beside them.
I guess although pictures speak a thousand words, they do not actually portray the whole or actual story. But anyway, such dramatic pictures do sell newspapers and garner hundreds of ‘likes” on Facebook.
With this, my friends, I end my column this week. Until next week, take care and stay safe.