July 2, 2008

Shall we speak in Iban?

I was in Sahua Estate yesterday when I received a phone call from our Hospital Attendant. As we both are locals, we conversed in Iban and that somehow caught Norseha's attention.

“I don’t know that you can speak Iban very well?”

I was 22, green and listened to NSync when I started my career, and my first estate was that in Sarawak Oil Palm (SOP), CDC Lambir 1. I was euphoric to start my day that I have ignored the sign that said “Welcome to the adult’s world and make a U turn now if you are a baby.”

And so I was introduced to a group of 5 staff, each one of them belongs to someone’s wife and children of at least 4 (I mean the children). They were smiling and said nice things and I started to imagine myself running in a meadow, like the one in the Sound of Music scene, minus that horrendous blue dress and a blond hair off course. But damn I was wrong. They treated me like I was a lost Aborigine in a meadow with that horrendous blue dress and a blond wig which I couldn't recall from which movie it was and talk bitch about me, IN IBAN. They knew I can’t speak Iban and they thought I can’t understand it either. I've lived in an Iban community before so I can understand them well, very well. Apparently they hate me from the first day when we were introduced, that they can’t accept the fact that their new boss was young and good looking. So there goes my purportedly happy career life. Nothing that I can do to stop them and they became awfully meaner and meaner each day. And for all that it's worth, I hate them too.

4 miserable months later, I got a job offer from my current company which was Golden Hope Plantations back then. I couldn’t be happier thinking it was my only guaranteed ticket to leave all that wretched memories behind me. So I sang to one of the NSync's popular number, Bye Bye Bye to them on my farewell party. It’s odd that they can still manage to put up a party for me. Or maybe they have been waiting for it.

So I started new in my new work place which was in Lavang Estate. I got my tongue twisted and in no time, Iban was my second language. And of course I have a better relationship with my new staff because of it.

You see, it’s hard for not doing anything when you know that you are capable of doing it. Your heart is dieing to let it all out, but your mind keeps on saying “you should not do it as you might hurt someone else's feeling”. To have that in mind and to be a better person, I think we have to take that one extra step ahead and be bold with it. Try not to think too much of the later consequences and just be happy with it instead.

And suddenly I received an sms that says hi from my previous staff in SOP, asking for a job vacancy. And that goes directly to the deleted section. What? That's me being generous…

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