TALES from the tropical rainforest, at the foot of the Malaysian main mountain range. Take a break, come over and join me for a cuppa, and stay a while, will 'ya - coffee, tea, even chlorophyll, s'il vous plait
I went down to the kitchen early one morning and found him waiting for me – perched on my favourite cup, which I got from one of those rainforest tours.
I said “Hi, hello there, what have we got here?” He said “ Hello, I’m Mantis, how are you?”
(Thoughts ran through my mind – I had just bought the camera then. Well, here’s my first great opportunity to test how good the Canon 550D is, or rather how good my photography is. I moved Mantis to a wooden ladle for better shots, and ran as quickly as I could up the staircase to grab no, gently but quickly take the camera out of the bag).
“I am fine, how are you?” I asked my uninvited guest, while fumbling and struggling to select one of the 14, yes fourteen 'modes' on the camera, hoping that it would be the correct one for the shots I was about to take, and wishing that he would stay a while longer.
“I am fine too, but rather hungry" he said. " Had been scouring this whole place for something to eat but you have kept it too clean. No food leftovers at all” Mantis said, making animated movements with his head and spiked forelegs.
“No problem, we can fix that”, I said. I opened the fridge and took out a strip of spring onion and put to Mantis’s mouth. He didn’t seem to like it. Then I took a piece of cabbage and let him chew.
“Do you prefer this one?” I asked. Mantis said “Hmm… not bad, but I like insects and bugs better”. I said “Good, then you can help me get rid of the pests around here”.
All of a sudden Mantis stopped chewing and stood head down, very still, all the animated movements completely gone. He was all quiet. I knew then, Mantis was praying.
Hello my name is Sabarudeng. I am one month old.I am ayang bulu tak dok ttekok setabok ( a chicken without any feather on the neck) – don’t ask me what kind of chicken I am, I don’t even know myself. This is the story of how we got our new home.
Yesterday Grandpa as usual took my buddy and I out of the serkop i.e the bamboo basket, and put us in a little paper box. He does this whenever he wants to clean up the floor where he puts the basket, and change our drinking water.
I thought it was going to be like any ordinary day. But ordinary it definitely was not. We stayed inside the box for what seemed a loooong time. We couldn’t fly out as Grandpa covered the top of the box, except for a small breathing hole, and put a heavy object on it. We always wondered what was it out there that’s so dangerous (that’s until Grandpa told us the story of the three-legged lamb…hrrrr spooky…)
Finally we could feel the box being lifted up and carried some distance away. The lid was opened and viola! - we flew out of the box into a completely new place!
Our new home is a BIG improvement over the 'serkop'. It was unusual for a chicken coop, but we didn’t mind at all as it was comfortable and airy. There’s wire mesh all round right to the top. I guess that’s to stop us from flying out. But why would we want to fly out from this place, we can stay here forever. Besides the thought of the three-legged lamb limping about scared the shyt out of us.
We darted about exploring this huge new home. Then we realized why it was not the usual wooden coop. It was a kennel-turned-goat house-turned-chicken coop! Very crafty! We liked the place immediately, except for a funny odour*, which we hope will go off quickly.
In the middle of the coop were two sticks for us to take short flights and perch on, something we chicks love to do. In the corner was an open front box, for us to take shelter when it’s windy or when it rains. Grandpa had certainly thought of everything...
We wanted to relax and just chill out, when suddenly a huge black thing appeared out of nowhere and started clawing at our door! We jumped up and perched ourselves up on the stick. This got the black guy more excited. We jumped down and ran to the other corner of the house. He followed us whereever we moved to! He even tried to come into our house from down under! So we retreated to the back and hid inside the box, terrified.
We wondered if this black thing has got anything to do with the three-legged lamb...Come to think of it we remembered seeing it swallow the whole head of a yellow thing...
Look - no head!
We were thinking, if it can swallow the whole head of the yellow thing, which was quite big, what about us? Hrrrr...spooky....
*Grandpa’s note: The odour was from a disinfectant called Lindores. It is an iodophor (combination of Iodine and Phosphoric acid) detergent, sanitizer and disinfectant. I had thoroughly cleaned and sterilized the shed before bringing in the chicken. This will help prevent spread of diseases, especially the dreaded Newcastle disease.
We have been getting a lot of rain on The Farm over the last few days. So it has been nice and cool, even chilly in the wee hours of the morning, which requires you to put a jacket on. As you may know by now the Farm House is quite spartan, made of wood with an open concept. So it is in no way air-conditioned, no sir, no way. Which is just as well, if clean natural air is what you look for.
Rain is good for the young trees which need plenty of water on a daily basis. But not so good for the older trees which are supposed to flower. Too much rain will delay or stop flowering altogether. In fact they need a dry spell of a week or so for the flower buds to burst out. No flower means no fruit. But that is farming. You have to accept nature as it is. Take the good and not so good in your stride. Kind of like life itself isn't it...
Rain is also good for the fish. The pond is full of water which means more oxygen and bigger space for them to swim around. And it is a delightful sight watching schools of fish swim!
After the rain Dragonflys came out in numbers around the pond. They are pretty tame, but not tame enough for me to get real close-ups. So these will do:
This is a blue one, quite rare. The wings are transparent so
not so clearly visible
I took the opportunity of the high water level to release ten more Tilapia frys, along with a dozen Soon Hock.
The Soon Hock or Marbled Goby, or 'Ikan Hantu', or 'ghost fish', I think they are called, as the name suggests are nothing to look at, if fact they are quite ugly.
But extremely good eating especially when steamed with soy sauce and garnished with spring onion.
(Warning: there’s a bit of rambling here, so you may skip this if you don’t like ramblings. Go straight to jail the chicken story)
Grandma says I am an alien so often that I began to think I am one. She thinks my thinking is often outrageous and my ideas out of this world (see what I mean?).
Aliens are full of themselves. That’s what I am, full of myself. Not in a bragging, loudmouth kind of way, far from it. I just happen to live in my own world, by my own rules.
You can hear very few words from me. (That's why I am so bad at coffee shop talk over teh tarik). But you can read plenty, because once I’m at the keyboard (used to be my trusty fountain pen) there’s no stopping me.
Like the Aliens I think humans should follow me to my planet, live the way I do - enjoying the simple things in life. Be carefree, but be careful. Survive on bare minimum, no wastage of any kind. Save some for the next generation.
Aliens find earth not so technologically advanced, and human thinking flawed on most issues. And planet earth is beyond saving. As Amelia said in her blog "We are selling assets as income - that's false economy". I agree one hundred percent.
I tend to however take these ideals to their extremes. I want to live in a perfect world. I despise human imperfections and frailities. I do not suffer fools gladly.
Aliens believe reverently in two rules for happy living: One, do not be affected by how others behave. If somebody is rude, or insensitive, or habitually late, or whatever, that is his or her problem. He/she should be the one feeling sick about it, not you.
Number two: do not rely on others to give you that happiness. Find your own. This non-reliance will break you free. Free from expectations. Free to explore beyond your present boundary of happiness, and seek solace from the fact that you already have so much, what more can you possibly want.
If you have an expectation and hit a brick wall about somebody’s behaviour here's the fall back:
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change The Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference
Last week I broke both rules. Yes, last week humans made me angry. And I expected others to make me happy. I was guilty on both counts. I let other people’s behaviour affect my own. Yes, I snapped!
Suddenly I was an alien no more. I fell to the ground, yes to earth, with a big thud, and realized that I am human after all.
But not before I hurt someone I dearly loved. Not before I broke her heart.
So off to the wilderness I went. To seek solace. To renew the promise to myself that I will once again live by those two rules. Even though they are alien to human.
The night is full moon, brightly lit starry night. I hear rumblings… could it be the spaceship landing? Good, then I will take that journey with my alien friends and learn a few more things from them. Things I will share with my human friends.
"Hello, I am Irfan Adam. I am four years old. Last saturday Papa, Mama, Atuk n Nenek (that's my mama's dad n mom), uncle Pin, uncle Tariq and I went to visit Grandpa at his farm. I have been there before, seems a looong time ago. I was still small then. That time I slept at Grandpa's farm house, but this time I was too excited to take a nap. Lagi pun I am a big boy now kan.
When we arrived that afternoon it was raining slightly. Grandpa was all smiles as he greeted us. I salam and hugged him, and asked "where's Grandma...I want Grandma" Grandpa said Grandma's not around, she's travelling.
Everybody then rushed to see how the boers were doing, while Grandpa checked the chicken he was cooking for us on the barbi. Later Papa and I took some fish food and walked to the pond to feed the fish - so many of them. Papa said they were Kois.
While Papa and Mama helped Grandpa with the barbi I played on the staircase with Grandpa's tattered old belt. Grandpa was so amused when I called it "vine". He said he didn't learn the word vine until he went to France to study grape plants. Then I went with Grandpa to feed the goats.
Here's the chicken, and me posing and acting funny...
Caps in a row, as re-arranged by me
When it was time to 'buka puasa' or break fast we enjoyed Grandpa's bbq chicken and other stuff nenek bought on the way. Nenek also helped to cook some dish.
I continued playing until I felt funny and tired. When I spoke loudly my mama said it was rude. I felt my face jadi 'bengkak' (swollen) and my eyes became long and small - like those chinese cartoon characters. So I went on Grandpa's lap and whispered to him "I'm not happy with most people here..." Grandpa said I must be sleepy. He asked me to take a nap. So my papa and I went to the bedroom, opened the mattress and lie down. But I didn't sleep. We just chatted.
When I felt better I went out again to see TV (Grandpa didn't have cartoon channel 613, so I was forced to see Discovery Channel). When there was a picture of a monkey jumping up and down Atuk said that was my cousin, I said no, my cousin is Zaqwan...
Soon it was time to go home. We all salam and said good-bye to Grandpa. "Bye-bye Grandpa, see you real soon..."