Sunday, June 28, 2009

Scenes of the Father: Farming

Was having a smoke with my father, when he started to talk about animals.

Father: I hate those stupid buffaloes in Africa. They should get together, organise themselves, and start killing lions.

Me: But that's the natural order. Lions kill buffaloes.

Father: It shouldn't be. The buffaloes are bigger, and have horns. They should bathe their horns in lions' blood!

Me: This sounds like Animal Farm.

F: Oh, I bought that book. When I started English school.

Me: Really? Why did you buy it? Was it part of the curriculum? It was part of mine, in Secondary school.

F: Nope. I bought it, because I thought it would be easy to read. You know, animals. Farm.

Me: It isn't that simple. It is about Leon Trotsky and Stalin and Russia.

F: I thought it was going to be like the Old McDonald song. You know? Old McDonald had a pig, blablablablabla?

Me: Well, there were pigs. Like in Babe. They talk. A lot.

F: Things were a lot simpler back then, you know? Coffee was one cent per glass. The richest guy around these parts was Phua Ah Heng. He started working at 20 cents a day. He would save four cents a day and send it back to China. Then he became extraordinarily rich.

Me: How?

F: He's Chinese.

Me: Okay.

F: We, Malays, have nothing else other than this land. This country. And don't you forget it.

Me:'re Chinese.

F: Yeah, but according to the Constitution, I am Malay.

Me: More Malay than I am.

F: What was that?

Me: Nothing. Nothing. Say, I was thinking that since most of these poor folk in our kampung have nothing else save for their land, maybe we should get them to plant stuff. I'll find the markets for them.

F: The easiest is papaya. Just plant them near their drains. And it bears fruits for years and years. And lemongrass. Also near drains. We live near a swamp, so those things could work.

Me: Hey, that could work!

F: No. It won't.

Me: Why?

F: Because these people are lazy. You see what they do? They go out at dawn to tap rubber. Then they go back home at 12 noon. Then? They start their motorcycles and just go around the village.

Me: Okay, I get it. They're stupid. So it's up to the smart ones to think for them.

F: You think they will thank you for it?

Me: Am not doing it for the thanks.

F: They will hate you for it. A fellow Malay, who can see things they cannot? Who can do things they cannot? They will kill you, you know?

Me: They'll have to catch me first.

F: Forget helping other people. Help yourself. Get a car. Get a proper property. And get a shotgun. Protect yourself.

Me: Okay. I'll get those things. THEN, I'll do something for these poor people. They're so poor, it's annoying me. It's extremely ANNOYING.