Age old tradition…

…under scorching hot weather.

What do you think about when you eat your daily portion of rice? It’s hot, cold, soggy, well done, burnt? Do you ever think about all the work that goes into the harvesting of a single grain of rice? Have you ever wondered of that saying “menangis nasi“?

Last week, the Entourage (consisting of me, Dad, Mum, Boipren, Sisters, Nephew and Maid) went on a little outing to my Aunt’s modest padi field in Tutong. Apparently, as my father has informed me 2 days before, it is the harvesting season.

So there we were, armed with shiny, black, gardening boots (purchased the day before at Hua Ho), pocket knives and wide brimmed hats, we scoured my Aunt’s organic rice padi field to do an age old tradition called “mengatam”.

That’s my dad, and my aunt behind him.

Notice also the term ORGANIC I’ve put in to describe the field. It is insecticide free, pesticide free, the padi grows freely, and every grain of rice is retrieved by hand. No machinery used while processing it either. So when I say organic, I’m not kidding.


What “mengatam” entails is cutting off these long strands of matured padi and putting that in a little basket which looks like a mini-tekiding. I cannot for the life of me remember what it’s called. Boo-hoo bad blogger.

Tired knees.

After a while we, the younglings, who grew tired due to our unhealthy urban diet, sat down and gathered all the padi we’ve collected. Three younglings, and almost two hours of labour, resulted in only one sack of rice!

Perky in their pods.

It really gives new meaning to the saying “menangis nasi”. So much work goes into a single grain of rice. To think that me Aunt has been doing it all her life.

It’s in her eyes. 

She really is a nice person. Seen more than others, been through a lot. Nowadays, the padi field is her pride and joy, and puts in a lot of work into it. A German photographer once came to Brunei and took a couple of pictures of her to put in his photo exhibition. One day Sister Two, who’s all the way in Sydney, (who NEVER goes to photo exhibitions) thought she’d go to one. Wahey, whose picture was it staring back at her? 🙂 The world is just full of coincidences.

But for the aunt. It’s all in a day’s work.

10 thoughts on “Age old tradition…

  1. Oooh, good that you posted this up on your blog. Changed my whole view on “menangis nasi”. I grew up listening to old folks telling me not to waste uneaten rice and as I got older I stopped believing that the ‘rice will cry’ when I do so. Now I know. 🙂


  2. Thanks Nonnie! 🙂 I do try my best and a compliment like that.. *sigh* makes me so kambang!

    Sha, I knowwww, ngaleh babe. I was sooooo tired after like two hours or so. IMAGINE doing it every single day!


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