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March 30, 2016

There Are Strange Things Said and Done

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – In trying to piece together the history of this island – from the beginning to 1840 – has been a challenge. You see, I have to read what they wrote and try to interpret what they meant from their point of view.


When I mean "their," it has to be someone else because the local people had no written language. So, I must rely on observers who could write.


So, in 250 CE (Christian Era) a group of Chinese reported that they had found people with tails who were cannibals at the Sarawak River basin. From this, I can gather that somebody was living at the mouth of the Sarawak River. They were probably head hunters; so, that is where the cannibal part came from. The tail part I have no idea. By the time the recollection was received by whatever Chinaman wrote it down, they had somehow grown that appendage.


[Damn! I have to take my son Dzul to the emergency room to get his chin attended to. He fell in the bathroom while showering and well, you know the rest.]


I'm back...nothing like the emergency room on Easter Sunday though it doesn't make any difference here because it's a Muslim country. They glued Dzul's chin shut...I remember the days when they would have sewed it...progress...oh yes where was I?


My next problem has to do with this legend: The Semnah people were under the leader named Trau. Trau committed matricide. He opened the stomach and found seeds of every description. Trau took the seeds. He fled to Sambas and returned via the Sarawak River to a place on the left fork of the river. He then planted the seeds he had been carrying.


Now, how does one interpret, or make sense of this, for historical use? What happened to Trau? How did he carry all those seeds? Who in his right mind would follow him? Yet so many people of that tribe believe the story to this day.


In the United States, there is a fine line between life and death. Either your dead or you're not. Here, however, that line is muddled and you can go between the two realms, and that history is recorded in oral legends as fact. And those legends are handed down for over 20 generations, one generation=25 years – or 70 years depending on whom you talk to.


Which brings me to my mother. A few days before she died she "saw" Mrs. Dennis a neighbor lady from years ago. She also saw another neighbor, and we hadn't lived there for over 30 years. And then there were the angels a day before she passed. I attributed it to the medication she was on, but I never did find out if Mrs. Dennis was alive or dead. I still don't want to know.


Both my parents were cremated and there ashes spread over the Atlantic Ocean, as per there request. In my mind's eye, I see Dad’s face over the ocean with a big smile. And he never, ever smiled while he was alive. Never.


Mom, at first I saw waving in a dim hallway with side view. Now I see her in a rocking chair holding my daughter’s child who died in the womb.


I guess now I can see, after talking to you, how legends get started and passed down from generation to generation. I certainly have my share of them.


...Life is good. . . . .


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