In one of my trip back to my hometown last year, I took my mum and kids to my late maternal grandparents' house just to 'see-see-look-look'.
The house brought back lots of memories and was very nostalgic especially to my mum. This was where my grandparents brought up 13 children. At that time, it was the only big wooden house in the middle of nowhere. There were trees and vegies everywhere - rambutan, durian, papaya, coconut, ciku, pineapple, lime, lemon, even rubber trees and those red biji saga trees (not sure what it's called in English) and many kinds of animals and insects - very filial dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, 2 geese, cobras, pythons, huge biawaks (they feast on the chickens), big fat buzzing bumble bees, monkeys, owls, squirrels, etc.. We love the rambutan season cos the grandma has one particular rambutan tree with seedless rambutans and another with yellow rambutans. In fact, all the rambutan trees (and the papaya trees) bore sweet fruits.
My grandparents were from Hainan. Their marriage were arranged. My mum said that grandpa was a very handsome man and many families tried to match-make their daughters to my grandpa, but my grandpa had eyes only on my grandma. They were married at a very tender young age and grandpa left for Malaysia and set up his own bread factory in Kluang (now taken over by my uncles). Grandma later came to Malaysia and together they settled down in this little town.
It was during the Japanese occupation and things were rough. I used to hear stories of Gurkhas in town and how the Japanese imposed a curfew to avoid any mishaps.
Cooking were done in another section of the land, in a custom-made kitchen as big as the hall in my apartment, using firewood and charcoals over a big wok as big as a tractor's wheel! Ya, grandma and aunts had to cook for the factory workers as well.
There's around 43 grandchildren (or more) and about 12 great-grandchildren now. I am the 10th grandchild and we, the older grandchildren share some fond memories of our childhood at my grandparents' house. We loved playing there, sometimes climbing the mango and rambutan trees, or go searching for "bao fu" (spiders), or simply walk along the big, huge longkang looking for fishes and tadpoles... We played lots of our childhood games here - galah panjang, hide-and-seek, police & thief, etc....
Sometimes, we go under the house, digging to see if we can find some old coins. I used to keep some odd-shaped coins and some with a hole in the middle but have misplaced them. We didn't know how valuable such coins would become.
It's sad seeing the place in ruins now...