Life Without Electricity: Surayati’s Story


My name is Surayati Soh. I’m 19 years old. I live in Kampung Terubing. I live here with my family. There’s my uncle, father, mother, and siblings. My mother asked my father to look for a land for us to farm. My whole family moved here to farm. In the morning we travel to the plantations to tap rubber Besides rubber tapping, we farm for additional income. The money from rubber tapping is not enough to live on. We have to save and be careful with our spending. When it gets dark, it’s very hard to cook, to fold clothes, to do housework. We have to get everything done by 6 or 7 in the evening. Once it’s dark we can’t do anything. Especially when we’re using knives, we may accidentally cut ourselves. When we want to fetch water, we can’t see. The floor is made of wood and it’s slippery. We’re afraid of falling and hurting ourselves. We start lighting the palm kernel fire around 6 in the evening. It gets very hot. You won’t feel as hot if you sit further, but if its too far then we can’t see. It only lights a small area. When the palm kernels are about to be extinguished, it explodes. If it explodes and we happen to be sitting close, we can get burnt. The smoke makes us cough and sneeze. Some people may feel dizzy. If you’re used to it, you can bear with it. But it’s dangerous for kids, they have to stay away from the fire and smoke. At night we will cook, wash the dishes. Then the whole family will sit and talk together. That’s all we can do, nothing else. When night falls and it’s dark, we can only sit until as long as the fire continues burning. I do feel sad. I can’t accept why our lives have been like this since the beginning until now. Even if we want to use electric lights, we can’t afford it. We just use whatever we have. Sometimes we can’t even afford candles. So we just use these palm kernels. Whatever my mother did, we followed. I feel sad that I can’t have electricity like everyone else.

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3 thoughts on “Life Without Electricity: Surayati’s Story”

  1. hayvernlim says:

    We are in need of a paradigm shift to stop measuring our success by how much the rich have but by how much of the poor have their needs met and how much we have contributed.

  2. Lu Xian Gan says:

    An untold story within Sugayati’s life was told around the 3:20 mark. While the subtitles say “using palm kernels”, she says “apa yang mak buat, kita ikut saje”. It translates to “whatever mom did, we just follow”.

    This touched me intensely because it reflected how she wasn’t just struggling with accepting her way of life; she was also contemplating her family’s practices and why it hasn’t improved until today.

    I’m very glad this story was told and I hope it acts as a wake up call for anyone celebrating our urban progress. Kudos to Global Peace for making the huge efforts to acquire these precious tales.

  3. Sami Radcliffe says:

    I lived with n Pakistan for 11 years all the village didt av any gas or ele life was ok I don’t see y she’s making such a fuss 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

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