By mid 2005 when Lim was contracted to harvest the fruits and maintain the plantation, he had shown to be capable of handling the works well, I was very much relieved and had totally given up the idea of employing my own foreign workers to manage the plantation.


Once every fortnight, Lim would send six of his workers to our plantation to harvest the ripped oil palm fruits. They normally took three days to complete the harvest, using three workers to cut the ripped bunches and three to collect them and load into the Kubota to deposit them along the main tracks. The lorries sent by Ban Guan would collect and transport them to its storage yard in Pagoh. All Lim’s workers lived in the quarters during harvesting and after completing the harvest, some would stay back for a day or two to spray herbicides, prune the palms or apply fertilizers.


There is nothing very much for me to do now in the plantation. I go there once a fortnight during harvesting to make my presence felt and most important to run away from the busy noises of the city and go back to my roots. 


I grew up in farms and took unbelievable pleasures in farming as a kid. I still do now in my golden years as age is no obstacle to indulge in it. Farming is basically dealing with the earth which always returns with interest from what it has received, which is sometimes rather small, but usually considerable, like the recent bumper crops in tandem with high prices of Crude Palm Oil. What I enjoy in farming is not the crop alone, but the soil itself, its nature and power. The genuine pleasure of farming, a recreation in my old age, is to see the growth - from a tiny seedling giving birth so quickly to such enormous trunks and fruits.      


                                                                                                       A year old                                                   Three years later


                                                                             Bumper crop

Though my original plan to spend more time in the plantation has long fizzled out, I still derive enormous pleasures in spending my spare time there. Whenever I am in Pagoh I still love to go to my hometown Muar whenever possible. Though the old houses where I lived were long gone, the town’s park, Tanjong Emas located along the estuary of Muar River, is still an attraction to me. I still derive pleasures in strolling along the picturesque esplanade in Tanjong Emas overlooking the river and watching the magnificent sunset over the Striates of Malacca. 


                                                                      Sunset in Muar  

After the enchanting sunset at Tanjong Emas has whetted my appetite, I always long to look for more pleasures which I enjoyed, though barely affordable when I was young. Invariably when twilight has enveloped the town I would instinctively go to Dham Chia Kuey (Greedy Eating Street), where I would savour and devour the popular foods of this quaint town like, my favorites since young, otak-otak and fried oyster omelet. 


After my short visit to Muar, I would return to my "solitary confinement" in my cabin in the plantation. Often, I laid awake in my cabin in the quiet of the night reflecting on my life. My thoughts always flew back in time to those early childhood days I spent in the kampong among the rubber and coconut trees. And back, too, would spring forth the events which had brought me to this point in my life.


Next Episode:

MY EARLY LIFE – The most significant turning point in my life




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