Aki Park: Great Uncle of Memories

In family life, love is the oil that softens friction, the cement that strengthens bonds, and the music that brings harmony. ”

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). He was a German philosopher, cultural critic, and scholar who was widely regarded as one of the most influential philosophers of the 19th century.

in In the early 1960s, I had the opportunity to meet and become friends with my great-uncle Saran Elon, also known as Aki Pak.

He comes from a Paku longhouse called Senunok, deep in the river Paku, a tributary of the Saribas River.

Aki Pak is a half-brother of my maternal grandfather, Nalan Jelka, and we had the same mother.

Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet Narang as he died of a snake bite in 1949, before I was born.

Around 1964, Aki Pak was already the grandfather of a granddaughter named Bangi and a grandson named Changai, children of Jelui Saran and her husband Jalil. More grandchildren were expected to arrive later.

I still vividly remember the first time I met him. It was around 1963 when he was a second grader at Assam Primary School in Nanga, Merpa, Kurian, Saratok. Aki Pak came to visit us at our modest residence in Bukittinggi.

While my grandfather Narang was away, Saran was like a second grandfather to me and I treated him with the utmost respect.

In 1964, during the school holidays, myself, my father, my mother and my brother John, also known as Candi, embarked on a long journey on foot from our home in Bukittinggi in upper Merpa to Senunok. Paku.

We left our residence early and followed the jungle path towards upper Melpa, passing through the Melamu area of ​​the river.

We continued up the Megon Hills. This hill served as a watershed between Melpa and the Upper Kelibau River, a tributary of the Limbas River and therefore of the mighty Saribas River.

On the way, we came across a durian tree with ripe fruit. Uncle Neelin, his father’s younger brother, was waiting under the tree for the prickly fruit to fall. He opened some of the fruits he had collected for us to enjoy.

From there we moved on, passing the turnoff leading to the longhouse of Keribau and arriving at the bathing area of ​​Nanga Urai, a longhouse of the same name.

Despite crossing knee-deep water, we decided not to enter the longhouse. It was only later that I learned that Zungin Gungu, a famous Iban inventor, lived there.

It was almost noon when we arrived. According to my father (Apay), who is familiar with the area, our goal was to reach the top of a rugged mountain called Bukit Tampak Panas, which marks the watershed between Limbas and Paku.

However, we quickly realized that we were heading in the wrong direction, as the target peak was to our left.

Fortunately, this area is dotted with hilly paddy fields, and since it was weeding season, we had a good view of Bukit Tampak Panas.

We also encountered two men fishing with nets who pointed us in the right direction to the summit.

Apai led us to a plot of paddy field on a plowed hill, and the farm owner gave us permission to cross into an adjacent farm.

After careful maneuvering, we managed to reach our destination summit, where we took a short rest, knowing that the descent would be difficult.

Although they faced difficulties on their way down, they eventually reached a longhouse called Nangabon at the base of the mountain.

Some of the residents of the tenement house were busy disposing of the rubber sheets and before we knew it, it was already 3pm, but we did not stop.

Instead, we continued on our journey and after an hour or so passed another longhouse called a danau on the banks of the Paku River. It started to get dark along the edge of the jungle.

After about an hour we arrived at Senunok and entered through the second door of the longhouse. Aki Paku was away on a hunting trip somewhere nearby and was not at home.

Nevertheless, everyone was happy and relieved that they had arrived after a grueling 13-hour journey. Shortly after that, the old man, who was in his early 60s at the time, arrived with a mouse deer he had caught.

He was clearly happy to see us. We stayed in Senunok for about 3 days and returned to Melpa with Aki Park.

In Bukittinggi, I developed a deep bond with Aki Pak and we often went fishing together in the nearby Melpa and Sungai Tapang rivers.

We went pole fishing at Lubuk Munei, below Sungai Tapang, and caught a large white carp known as Ikan Tungal (two-striped white carp).

But our most memorable catch was a large catfish, or ikan keri. With the meat he filled three large bamboo containers.

We were baiting it all night along the river bank above the Sungai Tapang estuary. If we had arrived a little later it would have automatically let us off the hook.

As soon as I realized that the bait had been taken, I hurried to bring a specially woven fishing basket called a “pemansai” from my home in Bukittinggi to catch the fish.

Aki Paku said this was the biggest ikan keri he had ever caught in his life.

I was speechless, but it strengthened the bond between me and my great-uncle. He stayed with us in Bukittinggi for at least 2 months.

Even now, 60 years later, the sight of catching fish in the river remains vivid in my memory.

I was in Penang when Aki Pak passed away in the early 70s. However, I managed to attend the funeral of his wife, Ini Pak Nanku, in 1992.

I went there using the Ulupaku road in my brand new Proton Saga. Since then, I have reunited with my cousins, including Bangi.

Mr. Bangui currently works at a hospital in Saudi Arabia, where he has been for over 10 years.

These are precious memories of my great-uncle and his family, and I cherish the friendship we shared.

Aunt Jelui currently lives in Tabuan Dayak, Kuching and is taking care of her grandchildren. She was glad to meet her a while ago. She is in her late 70s.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.

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