Monday, March 15, 1999

Kukup Air Masin

A friend of mine once asked me why must a blog always carry a sad sorry? I don't know either. Since this blog is created with him as one of my readers, I shall include a sad picture with a sad narrative.

Just look at the blanket. It belong to me and my younger brother.

Yes !

It is true.

We shared blankets in those days. Not only do we shared blankets, we shared the straw-mat we slept on every night. In windy and cold nights, the wind will blow through the gaps between the wooden plank floor boards of our stilt house, through the straw-mat below and chill us to the bone. So instead of using the blanket as cover on top of us when we slept, we used it as another layer of mat to prevent the chill wind from getting to us so easily.

I have to air the blanket almost everyday. My younger brother was still very young and couldn't control his bladders at night. Sometimes I found myself wet too when he wet himself. My mum made some of his pants with a slit in front so that he could relieve himself more easily without wetting his pants during day time. At night, his organ sometimes refuse to take cover properly and his jet is sprayed all over the mat and blanket ...... and me.

Look at the blanket again. My mum had put patches on it because it was torn. We kids are really very noisey sleepers. We kicked all over the place and fight for the blanket at night to cover ourselves. We don't even have money to buy a new one.

Thats how poor we were at Kukup Air Masin.

I remember my mum borrowing a can of rice from a neighbour once when our catch was very bad and we don't have enough money to buy rice. In those days, you don't buy rice in bags or in kilogrammes or catties. You go to a provision shop and buy your rice in cans. The cans are actually used "Blue Cross" or "Dutch Lady" condensed milk cans. So you buy 2 cans of rice and the shopkeeper put the rice in a triangular paper bag fashioned with old newspaper and tied it with a string made from a strip of dried banana tree trunk. (Banana tree trunks are used to feed pigs also.)

Until now, I always finish the last grain of rice on my plate.
The other reason is because I don't want to marry a wife with pimples.

Take a look at the picture again.

You can see a pair of legs behind the blanket. That is my older brother. He was very camera shy and my cousin who took photoes for us just couldn't get him to pose for a photo. You can also see my older brother hiding behind the wooden pillar in the school photo.

I attended this Chinese School in kindergarten in 1963. Actually the school doesn't have a kindergarten class, but my dad managed to convince the principal to put me with the Primary One boys in instill some discipline in me.

This photo above was taken in 1964 when I was in Primary One and attending an English school in Pontian Kechil. Some old photographs to remind me of how fortunate I am to
be here in Singapore.

The following pictures show the high & low tide at Kukup Air Masin.

My youngest brother.

My cousin, youngest brother and the brother I shared my blanket with.

My older brother finally pose for a photo.

My older brother desmonstrate what he can do during low tide.

My sister picking unwanted stuff from the belachan. Quality control People often asked how long I had been fishing. I honestly don't know. I only started fishing with a fishing rod 5 years ago when I gave up smoking. Then changed to using a fly rod 4 years ago when I found it more fun and challenging.

As a kid, I watched my family fished using nets. I was too young really to be of any usefulness. More often then not, my father assigned my sister to bring us away from the fish sorting area after I was knocked into the sea by the buttocks of a fat woman. The tide was out and I dropped into the soft mangrove mud ...... head first.

The main catch then was very small shrimps which was processed into belachan and chinchalo. Kukup Air Masin is still famous their high quality belachan. Jelly fish is another premium product.

As kids we used hand lines or whatever lines we can get our hands on to fish. Of course we also operate our family's mini kelong style nets. Elongated catfish traps made of bamboo. The ever green crab net. The bait normally used were pig-oven fired and cooked horseshoe crabs.

So how long have I fished?

I attended this Chinese School in kindergarten in 1963. (Note 1) This photo above was taken in 1964 when I was in Primary One and attending an English school in Pontian Kechil.

  • Kukup Air Masin

  • Chi Mang School

  • The school Chi Mang where my photo was taken was demolished and rebuilt. Look at the link above.

    (Note 1)
    Actually there wasn't a kindergarten class in the school. My father managed to convinced the principal to put me together with the Primary 1 students to instill some discipline in me.