Sunday, June 20, 2021

Never too old to climb another tree

It doesn't pay as much as it used to, but Che At Bahadun, 74, does what he can to earn a living climbing coconut trees to pick the fruit.

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Every day, Che At Bahadun cycles around town looking for work. He is 74 years old but says he is still healthy and fit.

The bulk of his income comes from climbing coconut trees. He takes with him a knife with a special curved blade which he uses to cut down the fruit from the top of the trees.

Despite his age, he is still agile and able to make it to the top without any problems.

These days, though, business is slower. Not many still require such services, and sometimes he is only asked to climb one or two trees in a day.

The money doesn’t go far, but every day he goes out on his old bicycle, looking for work.

Like him, his bicycle is getting along in years and sometimes needs to be repaired. Whenever this happens, he takes it to a workshop in town. Today, over RM50 worth of repairs needs to be made but he can only choose the most urgent problems as the RM30 he earned will not cover everything.

Once his bicycle has been fixed, he cycles home to his wife.

Faridah Che Nut is taking down laundry from the line when he arrives at their simple wooden house with its zinc roof.

She asks how his day went as he sits on a wooden bench, checking his bicycle for what needs to be fixed next.

There is no dining table in the house. Instead, they sit on the floor in a corner where the meal Faridah Che Nut has cooked waits under a food cover.

She is a good cook, and they enjoy their meal together.

After they finish eating, Che At Bahadun takes a break, gazing through the doorway at the world beyond.

All too soon, it’s back to work. It’s also his job to collect firewood for the stove on which his wife cooks their food.

He makes several trips back and forth from the shed, carrying bundles of firewood on his shoulder to ensure a plentiful supply at home.

Once he finishes his task, he washes his face and hands in the small shack near the house which serves as their washroom.

Although his wife is in charge of cooking, he is also comfortable in the kitchen where he boils a kettle of water balanced in a wok over a fire kindled with the wood he has gathered.

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