Monday 16 July 2018

Many Paddy

Time with my Sina was probably one of the defining moments of my time in Bario. I had been a little apprehensive at first. "What if she doesn't like me?". This was quickly put to rest when I met her for the first time. I was in the middle of deciding if I should shake her hand or wave when she just went in and gave me a big motherly hug. It was then I knew that things would be okay. With her came along a family which worked for her and their son Alan, who had become something of an 'anak buah' of hers, staying with her over the weekends etcetera. Before long she had named me Bungan, and I had become another of her many "anak buah"s. 

Rocking the farmer look.

On my second day in the paddy field, I made the fatal mistake of trying to motivate Alan to out down his phone by telling him I would race him at planting the paddy. Staring me dead in the eyes, he grudgingly put down his phone, stood up lazily and... let's just say he wiped th floor with me. If I had been any less dignified, I would have fallen backward, sprawled in the mud, panting, in view of my utter defeat. However, because I am the "older sister" here I settled for just panting and laughing. Though I am proud to say that by the last day I could sort of keep up with him on a cold day (he hated the cold. Picture below to prove a point). All the while, Sina watching us from the shed near the fields... probably also having a good laugh... she laughs a lot. 

A cake with many layers. He said it was really cold.

I think the liveliness of it all gave my Sina great joy. She was always smiling at the chatter and commotion that went on. She would tell me where the water came from, what she did, the kinds of paddy she grew, how the different kinds of paddy differed in their characteristics, her husbanf and children who she missed, and telling me how I had improved from my first day at the paddy field which I hope she is still not chuckling about to the other Tepuq's and WHEE kids past and present. Apparently she had found it so amusing she had hailed Tepuq Supang whose fields were next to hers and recounted the story to her amidst fits of laughter. 

She would also talk about God's work and the ministry she strove to do for the Lord. That passion she had for people, gospel, Bario, and everything around was evident in every word, and every movement she made. If I were to describe one particular moment with her which I would cherish the most, it would be the day we spent about 3 hours cleaning the fields. It was quieter than the other says what with Alan and the rest of his family having gone home for the week. It was just two of us in the paddy field. So she played some music as we worked. It was fun planting the paddy and rocket launching weeds to the sides of the paddy field in time to the music played. 

WHEE planting many paddy

Being the youngest among all the farmers who took part in this project, it struck me how much she talked about the paddy fields going to waste, and how she was trying to the best of her capacity to keep the many paddy fields around her alive. It was obvious that  the paddy fields which were either so long unused that the grounds no longer sucked your feet in, and those that were a breeding ground for weeds and rats deeply saddened her. Paddy fields were not meant to go unused. Too many stories, friendships, families, and dreams have been built on those sawah's. 

To sum things up, if anyone would ask me how I would remember her from our short time together, it would be how relaxed and motherly she is, and how passionate she is for people and for the things she loves -- her Many Paddy Fields. This is because it was her passion for it that made me realise exactly how important the growing of rice is for Bario. It is not only as a source of income, but a way of life; more than money, it is happiness; more than idealistically fighting for preservation of tradition, but the right to be proud of their identity. 

Clovey Lye

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