Memories and Origins

An enlargement of Lejeng Kusin and her Kiva (rattan backpack) (55K, JPEG)

"We are fortunate, like a bird who has wings. We can fly to anywhere we please. If the place where we have built our houses becomes dirty, or muddy, or slippery, and not good anymore, we just move away. If we want to go far away, we move to a place that is far; if we want to live nearby, we move to a place nearby. This is the way it has always been. When we are walking, and we feel like stopping, we might stay in one place for just one or two days, or three days. And if we want to move, we just move, we move to any place that we choose. Thus it has been since our origins, for us Penan who live in the forest. We always move, and always look for a place that we like, a place where we can be happy. And we look for an area where there are many animals, where the sago is plentiful. And we look for a place where the river is near, and where the water is good, where it is easy to make good sago. That is where we stay. That is why we are always moving. "

"Whenever we feel tired, we feel strong again when we look at our beautiful forest, the forest which is so pleasant. And when we are in the forest and hear the sounds, like the hornbill, the monkeys, and the other animals, when we hear them eating fruit, these sounds make us so happy. When we hear these sounds, we feel deeply content, like the feeling you have after eating a good meal, and we feel proud too. The sound of birds, the sound of the merak bird which lives in the forest, these sounds make us feel happy and fulfilled. And when we see an uvud sago palm, or a jaka sago palm, the mere sight of it makes us feel as happy as if we had already eaten it, because we are so content just looking at all the things in the forest that belong to us. And we are reminded of days gone by, of our grandparents who are dead now, when we look at all the things in the forest; we are reminded of them too, and this comforts us, and we feel satisfied and content."

Lejeng Kusin, Ubong River, May 1993

An enlargement of Lejeng and her family around the fire in their nomadic shelter (114 K, JPEG)

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