21 November 2010
Salt and 'I'm sorry'
The Dusuns do not generally say 'I'm sorry' for their wrongdoings especially among family members. There is the word siou (that means 'sorry') but it is mostly used for politeness purpose. One uses it in such a situation as when one accidentally bumps into a person, for instance- sort of like 'excuse me'. But when the wrong deed is graver, i.e involving deep emotion, one just shows that he is sorry by actions.
Offering a pinch of salt and some rice grains to the person that one has offended is one of the ways of doing it. It is not practiced in all communities anymore, but it is still done nevertheless. My good friend's community still does it. She was giving an example of how the other day she offered her mom a pinch of salt for having lost her temper and hurt the mom's feeling. It's like saying "I'm sorry, I have hurt you". The gesture was well received, and the awkward situation they had was resolved.
Now I don't remember if any of my family members ever did practice this. But it is very practical, I think, especially that the Dusun people are not very good at communicating the soft side of their emotions. Would be good if I could get started with this tradition within my own family...