The Husband

Most men genuinely believe that they are a perfect husband to their wife. Or the king of some sort. Unfortunately, the husbands that I’ve been observing over the years including my next of kin are the complete opposite.

Most of the irresponsible pieces of shit often think they are superior and try in any way possible to make their wives feel inferior. And to me, this is a classic case of low self-esteem. It’s also a classic domestic abuse which so many men get away with. You don’t see the scar on the skin, but they are eating them slowly from inside.

The traditionalistic school of thought believe that husbands have authority over their wives. It is a highly ingrained belief. Today, I personally do not think so. It’s a practice that should stay in the past. I find it downright ridiculous to ask for a husband’s permission to pay your family a visit or shave your armpit. Even if he forbids it in the most gentle way, it does not make any sense. It’s just domineering.

In my opinion, it only makes sense to ask for permission to buy a new car knowing maybe the husband will have to pay for the monthly instalment. But if you are forking out your own money to pay for it, by all means, go ahead and there is no need to ask for permission. It’s fine to discuss before making the decision, however, and if there is a budget, stick to it.

But if you got a job offer and you want to work, and you happen to have a husband who constantly makes a condescending remark or acts as though he is the smartest person in the universe, fucking grab the opportunity by the balls before you both (and your kids) starve to death. We all know that some men have a very bad track record when it comes to monetary and family management. Not trying to be sexist here; just stating a fact.

You see, marriage is founded on the principle of mutuality. It’s a partnership, not a private fiefdom for dominant husbands. I do however understand that men need to feel respected by their wives. Especially around their friends and extended family. They need their ego stroked.

Newsflash dickheads, the keyword here is RESPECT. And women need to feel respected and loved by their husbands too. Not to boss them around, humiliate them and mute them. There is only to a certain extent that a wife can give in and show admiration. And while they can still and want to do so, a good husband should know not to cross the line.

While I disagree with how other religion views this matter, I would like to share a quote. Believe me, I don’t want to use a quote from the Bible as a reference because it will look like I’m biased but it’s so good, I can’t resist.

Proverbs 31:23-26

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

You see there will never be gender or marriage equality. But I do believe a change can be made if men (and women) just leave the old practice in the past. After all, behind every great man is a great woman. And in Proverbs 31, it’s stated that the support of the wife has helped to elevate her husband. He didn’t go up there by himself.

We have all heard jokes about “who wears the pants in the family.” Yet leadership in the home is no laughing matter. And one of the primary roles of a husband which I believe is to lead. That leadership simply means influence. A husband should not dictate or demands total obedience to his every wish and command.

But have I seen this leadership though? No, unfortunately, I haven’t. I’ve only seen pathetic submission and marriages on the verge of failing.

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Being Sarawakian: We No Longer Behead

Here is one of the common conversations I had with the people who met me for the first time when I was in Peninsula.

“So where are you from?”

“I’m from Kuching.”

“That’s in KK?”

“No, that’s in Sarawak. KK is in Sabah.”

“Aah.. So, you’re from the headhunter’s tribe? Do they still hunt heads there?”

“Uhh.. No, we don’t do that anymore.”

I do not know much about my own tribe except the basic knowledge the whole world would have. Let alone, about other tribes and their history. But it is offensive when a conversation like this takes place in the 21st century.

However, I don’t blame people for immediately associating the word “headhunting” with Sarawakians. They are not entirely wrong. After all, Sarawak is the land of headhunters.

The practice of collecting heads was widespread among the Dayaks – the indigenous, non-Malay inhabitants of Borneo. And the Iban tribes are reputed to be the most formidable headhunters on the island.

I am a Bidayuh; a tribe known as “Land Dayak”, a name that was first used during the period of the White Rajah of Sarawak. We are the second largest Dayak ethnic group in Sarawak after the Iban (Sea Dayak).

My parents are from two different geographical areas. While my dad is from the Penrissen district, my mum is from Bau. And they both speaks two different but related dialects. My dad, Bisitang and mum, Bijagoi. One is much softer than the other. But the Bidayuhs are generally very softspoken people.

However, they are also known for their warrior audacity. The men are proud and strong. In a war, a Bidayuh man’s prowess and status are determined by the heads he collected – the more heads, the higher his rank.

And what happened to the heads, you asked?

Well, the brains were carefully extracted through the nostrils. And then the heads were skinned, placed in rattan nets and smoked over fires. I still can’t get this image out of my head. The skulls then, were stored in their baruk, a roundhouse that rises about 1.5 metres off the ground.

Curious about the history of headhunting, I had a conversation with my dad about it. He could not give me the kind of explanation I wanted on the subject, though. But according to him, back in the days, the men would go out for a headhunting expedition once in four (4) months. The first to bring home a head is considered a hero. Sounds to me like headhunting is a form of sport. And sort of… Evil?

But our ancestors were animists, and the skulls were said to possess powerful forms of magic. Since the ideas of manhood were also bound up with the practice, the skulls were considered trophies of manhood and bravery.

Dad also spoke about tribal wars. Our ancestors’ headhunting skills played no small part to their aggressive culture of war against other tribes. When there is the need of territorial expansion due to overpopulation, there is the need to intrude on lands belonging to other tribes. Thus, there is the need for brutal confrontation as it was the only means of survival. And during that time, while the Bidayuh men were killed, the Bidayuh women were taken and raped (a common scenario in any wars).

But our headhunting days has long gone. It was outlawed in the 19th century through the efforts of the colonial Dutch. Conversion to Christianity or Islam had also suppressed the practice. And our humility and peace-loving reputation had opposed our headhunting past.

Her Vision In Infrared

This is an incident that happened many years ago. I can’t precisely remember the day it occurred. But I was 13 and I had a hard time understanding the turn of events for quite a while. But in some weird way, I am glad that it happened and I witnessed it.

We exist in an environment that is filled with malicious negative energies and evil spirits. And there is no indisputable proof that can end the debate on whether ghosts are real. You either believe it or you don’t. And we all have our fair share of encounters with dark shadows, lost souls and angry spirits. We experience paranormal phenomena, hauntings and ghostly occurrences, almost everywhere we go, if not at a specific place.

While that is common, it is a known practice in some parts of the world that people indulge in all sorts of dark arts for property, money and sometimes even plain jealousy. This is synonymous with Borneo and the Southern Philippines. It still is a tradition – practised today, in broad daylight. After all, it is a land filled with legends of headhunters and dense steamy forests.

While beheading is their traditional way of killing their enemies, people back then and now have no qualms stooping as low as they can to hurt people and get a piece of anything that is not even rightfully theirs. And watching their victims in pain is an entertainment. The most notable part of this practice is that it often brings about death. And why do so many people in our society enjoy intentionally do bad things to others?

Dark arts; I have witnessed many of this. And I am somehow conditioned not to ever question this practice, especially its effectiveness. I accepted it but am silently against it. It is still very bizarre to me how dark arts somehow give some people hope and the answers they had been looking for. It may be for some cases, the best of self-defence.

I am far from religious and was always a skeptic about the paranormal, dark arts and shamanic healing. But this particular one proved to be effective. My sister, just a few days old at that time fell sick, it was worrying. My parents were really devastated. They had to resort to the shamanic healing. And fortunately for us, the shamanic healer delivered what was expected of him. And my sister, turning 18 in April this year is alive and kicking. Thanks to – let’s not give it a negative name for this case – the grandmother of all medicine.

Apparently, the house that we live in 17 years ago was located not far from a haunted tree, despite it being in the city. The house was not in a secluded, undeveloped area, and that was quite a strange notion. As hard as I try to imagine the opposite, I did find the tree to be rather spooky.

Stood tall and motionless among the grasses, its branches twisted like distorted limbs extending out into the sky like skeletal hands and partly reaching out towards our house that is probably 3 minutes away. It had that force that gnawed us with unfiltered horror. Looking at it at night especially, sort of felt like it would rape me in my sleep. It was a sight nobody in their stupid mind would dare to capture. And when it comes to a haunted tree, even merely saying offensive things around it would provoke its wrath.

According to the shamanic healer, the haunted tree – I don’t remember what it was called – was stocked with evil spirits and curses. It was hungrily trying to absorb the soul of my newborn sister. And a newborn baby, who happened to have the ability to connect with the other side, saw something that perhaps even us adults cannot handle. She stared and cried at nothing. It went on for days. The sleeping troubles troubled the family.

My parents were cynical in the beginning and went to the doctor but came back with no solution. They panicked. Of course, they were! Something was not right with that precious new bundle of joy. They were desperate. Thus, the shamanism, despite the fact that at the same time, the shamanic healer also practices dark arts that lead to death.

So on that very night, while believing in God, we put all our faith in shamanism. With his impressive toolkit and assistants, the shamanic healer, suited up in all-black clothes, used all the cleansing techniques in his arsenal. I had goosebumps, of course, and I could not take the strong smell. But I was enchanted by his shamanic healing steps. He looked like he was in a wrestling ring, beating the hell out of his opponent. And I began to imagine a wicked-looking, black creature hovering above my sister. Staring at her with its big red eyes, almost popping out of the sockets, screaming its lung out!

Not too long after that, he stopped and fell flat. He looked pale and weak as if he had not been eating for days; as if he had been carrying a heavy load across the city for hours. But he did his job, as promised. His shamanic healing saved my sister. And yes, that incident did shatter my belief system and drove me to question my perceived reality; dark arts and the role shamanism plays in our lives.

Dark forces roam independently in the universe. And the ongoing battle between good and evil in the unseen worlds constantly shapes our experience of reality. Some people do bad things not because they were born bad, but because of the negative energy from outside that penetrated their body which they can’t control. If we choose to not pay attention, we will not be able to recognise between dark and light forces.

And in my sister’s case, several paranormal experts believe ghosts like to hang out in the UV and infrared ranges – so-called the spirit world – which we adults cannot detect. Also, at some point along the way, we have decided and believe that our experiences weren’t real. DENIAL, we call it. But unfortunately, babies are the opposite. While seeing spirit guides and angels are beautiful and magical, seeing something else, as per my imagination, is beyond spooky.

Without doubting the power of God – our creator, we are grateful that the shamanic healing worked. It is, after all, a gift from the Higher Power for the selected few. And we are glad that my sister survived the battle. She survived that and she will survive any battles coming her way.

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