Yes we did not have piped water but we had a swimming pool. In fact we had two. I told that to my children but they would not believe me.
The kolahs, for collecting and storing the rain water were strictly used for storing potable water. For washing and bathing it was the kolam, correctly translated as pool and not well. A well is a deep hole, a kolam is not. It could be as big as half the size of an olympic pool.
We had two half olympic sized pool and two smaller ones.
There was one, just twenty metres from the front anjung or the front porch. It was big by the kampung standard, a good 50 feet in diameter, 5 feet deep.
There was a platform and a wooden step into the kolam. Connecting the kolam and the anjung would be the wooden blocks or red laterite blocks to serve as foot steps. Visitor would first go to the kolam to wash their feet, tread on the steps before going up the anjung. The food steps or treads had its own special story. My great grandmother Yut Yam Bako, the prudent entrepreneur used the hollowed footsteps as her piggy bank. It was discovered a few years after her passing.
The kolam had many other functions. Ablution was done in the kolam. Taking your bath meant taking a dip. Imagine after the morning chores of tapping rubber, just before one, taking a cool dip in the kolam. It was heavenly.
I learned to swim in the kolam. I vividly remember piggy backing abah while he swam around the kolam. He would be wrapped in his kain basahan. Nowadays, I can only shower with little adam, minus the basahan.
As i grew bigger I graduated to using two coconuts as my floatation device. The two coconuts would be tied together and with one in each hand, i would be happily pedalling around.
There were times when we had no rain for some times and the water table dropped. It could be so bad that the haruan and the sepat would struggle to survive. The solution was to deepen the kolam. The term used to desilt and deepen is kuras. I enjoyed that because it meant harvesting the fish.
But emak would not have anything to do with the fresh water fish. To her fish meant parang, senangin, bawal, the sea water fish. We caught the fish for fun. At most it would end up with Abang Mat Kak Leng, who were fond off haruan masak lemak.
I learned to appreciate semilang darat from my mother in law in Rembau, mak rombau.
Kangkung, the morning glory of the wet variety was grown in the kolam. As kangkung was best when fried with belacan and cooking oil was a luxury we seldom have kangkong to accompany our meals. So it was left to the visitors to pick or it end up as boiled kangkung for our gado-gado or jenganan.
The other kolam was located near the pelantar or kitchen. Again it was innovative allowing water to be drawn from the house by a pail and line method. Tha kolam was strictly for washing. Near the toilet was a kolam specifically for the servicing the activities in the toilet.
With the piped water, I realized we lost the kolam and off course with the construction of the dam I lost Sungai Biur, the pristine riverine village.
The kolams had its hazard. There were several casualties of toddlers found floating belly up. My cousin brother Latip nearly became a casualty. He was a toddler. Mak Uda realized it and abah responded to the cry for help. Abah jumped into the pond, pulled latip up.
He survived to become a mathematic professor in University Kebangsaan, UKM.
After that incident, and after getting the piped water emak issued a decree, no more kolam.
So now we had none.