Tuesday, July 27, 2021

No electricity or running water, but ‘Uncle Kapitan’ waits to celebrate new year anyway

Lim Tiap Beng lives alone in an old wooden house in a village in Negeri Sembilan but he is happy that he has good neighbours and a friend who looks out for him.

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For many years, Lim Tiap Beng has lived in a rickety wooden house in Kampung Kapitan, Jelebu. There is no electricity and no running water but it is the only home he knows.

Fondly known among the villagers as “Cina Kapitan” or “Uncle Kapitan”, Lim, 83, lived there with his mother until she passed away in 1988.

But despite the solitude and the rudeness of his home, Lim is happy and is looking forward to celebrating Chinese New Year this week.

“I have lived here for more than 30 years on my own, since my mother passed away,” he told MalaysiaNow, adding that his house is built on land owned by an ex-soldier who allows him to stay there free of charge. In exchange, Lim takes care of the trees in the landowner’s durian orchard.

He is the third of five siblings although only one, his older sister, is still alive.

“She lives in Taman KSM,” he said. “My brother married an Orang Asli but now he is gone and so is my mother.

“Sometimes my nephew will come to bring me some food. But I don’t care,” he added.

He said his neighbours never tire of giving him food and help whenever he needs it. “My neighbours have never been angry with me.”

Although he is old, Lim Tiap Beng can take care of himself and is at peace with living alone.

For himself, Lim is a tidy man who goes to great lengths to keep his humble home clean.

“Every day, I sweep around the house and make sure there is no garbage lying around that could give off a bad smell.”

Although he is poor, Lim is fortunate as he has never had any health problems. His meals are simple: plain rice with salt egg or salt fish.

To support himself, he plants and tends to banana trees and does odd jobs around the village.

“I have a good friend,” he said. “You could call us partners. If there are jobs around the village that need doing, we do them together.

“We always get paid to clean the graves in the cemetery. We do this together.”

Lim Tiap Beng is fortunate enough never to have had any serious health problems.

At 70, his friend, Ng Chook Fah, is a little younger than he is. They have known each other for more than 30 years now, and Ng worries about Lim living by himself.

“Once, he went for a check-up and the doctor gave him some heart medication to take over three days. But he forgot and ate it all within a few hours.

“He fainted, and we gave him what help we could until he came to himself again,” Ng told MalaysiaNow.

With Chinese New Year around the corner, Lim is excited even though he will be celebrating on his own, as he has for years.

He hopes that one day, he will be able to have electricity in his house. Right now, he is afraid to move about after dark or whenever it rains.

“I don’t mind whatever help I receive,” he said. “But for Chinese New Year, I hope I can get some assistance to help me live a little more comfortably.

“That is all I ask for.”

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