A room with a view

Going back in time many many years ago, a ten year old little girl looked out the window from her bedroom on the first floor of a wooden double-storey house.

She saw a big tree and further across the field was an attap house with little flower pots (some broken) of plants and flowers sitting on wooden plank shelves outside that attap dwelling. The little house across the field was perhaps home to the servants of her family who lived in that big family home before she was born. The house compound was very big, several acres, an open field, overgrown in some parts and a stream separated that big house and the small attap house. Access was through a few pieces of timber nailed together, placed across the narrow stream as a walkway, sometimes submerged in water during high tide. The whole property had endured floods during the monsoon seasons.

She treasured the times when she would go along with her younger aunt to her little ‘jungle’ (that part of the overgrown patch of land) picking wild ferns (paku and bidin) for cooking. It was always an adventure and fun even though they were often bitten by mosquitoes or insects.

Once a month the family would order a whole truck load of logs for firewood (not for heating but cooking). An old man (Ah Pek) would call round with his axe and it normally took him two days to chop the logs into smaller pieces for a wage of eight ringgit. From her bedroom window, she often watched the old man wiped his sweat with a towel that hung loosely over his neck.  She watched as he gratefully ate his lunch, a big bowl of rice and whatever meat her aunt prepared for him. This log chopping task was carried out directly in the field below her window.

Looking out the window, to the left was a fenced chicken pen at the far end. A few ducks and chicken were seen in that compound chirping away. Sometimes, burglars came in the middle of the night with gunny sacks and stole all the fowls. Next to the chicken pen was a standalone concrete building. There were about six steps leading up to a door and that was entry to the family squat down flush toilet. Behind that toilet structure, was a garden that aunt built for this little girl and that secret garden was totally hidden by that out of place toilet.

The little girl’s bedroom was the inner room. First you enter into a big bed chamber leading into a connecting door to her bedroom. Her grandmother, her younger sister and two aunties slept in the master room. Her favorite aunt shared her inner bedroom. There were four other bedrooms on that floor.

Walking up the steps from the main house, you entered an open hallway, then all the bedrooms on both sides and finally a huge family room with many windows like a U shape looking in three directions. There were at least six windows on each side of the U. One side looked out to the main road and the neighbourhood, the other looked into the lush green fields and the big pond which also served as a dumping ground. The other side windows had the same view of her bedroom looking into the attap house.

Memories full of innocence, so soothing, so green and so pleasant. Years later, in quiet moments alone, as she unwind, turned back the clock, reminiscing her childhood as that little girl living in a room with a view. Sweet memories so precious and dearly treasured.

 

firewood
 

Related articles

Bidin and Paku are types of edible wild ferns found in Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo.

An attap house has roof made of attap palm (some including walls made of attap) found in the villages of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

 

 

via The Daily Post, Writing 101 – A room with a View

We’re all drawn to certain places. If you had the power to get somewhere — anywhere — where would you go right now?   For your twist, focus on building a setting description.

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