We spent the shortest time in Sarikei since we met most family members in Kuching. Nevertheless, this trip home was extraordinary. Not only Tony and Jimmy traveled with us from Kuching, but Simon flew from Kuala Lumpur to meet everyone for a few days, with Richard waiting for us in Sarikei. The last time all siblings were back together was during grandma’s 90th birthday celebration six years ago.
Every morning, we headed to downtown Sarikei to have a long breakfast with several family members and relatives. We happily sampled many different dishes ordered by others. After spending the first night at Aunt Hung’s place, we spent the remaining nights at the secluded garden house. Many warned us about the relentless mosquitoes at dusk and how muggy it would be at night due to the lack of air conditioners. Nevertheless, we prevailed by hiding inside the house at night and bathing frequently. The morning temperature was much more pleasant, with plenty of big trees around the house. However, it typically rose to high 90Fs by 10 AM due to the high humidity. After that, it was almost like the scenes from Riddick where we quickly sought shade from the burning sun.
At this time of the year, only a few ripped fruits were available from the garden. Typically, there was an abundance of exotic local fruits available whenever we were home. That said, we rarely visited home in August, either. Many siblings brought and prepared various fruits, such as coconut, chempedak, papaya, pineapple, and jackfruit. This year, the garden has many dogs — six of the nine dogs were puppies. This gang of playful puppies had many mini adventures where they ran around hunting for small critters. They spread lazily on the cement pavement in the afternoon to cool down in the scorching heat. These hungry puppies followed us closely every time we got out of the house. We were the Pied Piper, and they were the rats. They licked our feet whenever we stopped, even for a second, hoping we would drop food on the ground. On the other hand, the mama dog hated our guts. Every time we walked towards her, she stood her ground and barked crazily at us.
Time flew by very fast. One by one, each sibling headed back to their respective home. It started with Simon. We were next, and finally, Tony and Jimmy. Eventually, it would only be just Richard and our parents in Sarikei. It was not easy to say goodbye to one another. Perhaps, it is never goodbye, more like a see you later. We promised each other we would have a get-together next year, perhaps in Kota Kinabalu or somewhere in China when COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past. We all realized it was not easy to see everyone together like this, and this year, everyone made an extra effort to make this a reality. Deep down in our hearts, we cherished the opportunity to enjoy the company and camaraderie of our aging parents and siblings. From Sarikei, we departed for Kuala Lumpur and spent the remainder of our trip in the Klang Valley.