KUALA PILAH - She is the talk of the town, even at the ripe old age of 81.
Greatgrandmother Kwan Ah Pong, who lives in a wooden house along Jalan Kg Pasir Ambor in Juasseh Tengah near here, has for years been under the limelight of the kampung folk for her habit of keeping the road that runs through her secluded village clean by scooping manure left behind by cows.
And she has been doing that every day for the past 40 years or so while most of the villagers are still under the covers in their homes.
"Ours is a small village. I do not want people, particularly outsiders who come here, to say that our road is splattered with dung whenever they visit us," said Kwan, a widow, when met while making her rounds at 7am yesterday.
Armed with a shovel which has seen better days and plastic bags, Kwan has no qualms doing the job many consider filthy or even taboo.
"Scooping the dung is not difficult. All it takes is a little patience and work is done in minutes," she said, as she struggled to get up after scooping a pile into a plastic bag.
Covered in three layers of worn-out clothing and track bottoms, Kwan waved to fellow villagers as they greeted her.
Kwan, whose four children live in Kuala Lumpur and Seremban, used to tap rubber for a living after she moved to the village 60 years ago.
Widowed two years ago, she now shares her home with her cows, five goats and kids, chickens, a dog and a cat.
With a grin on her face, she readily admits that her cows also contribute to the mess.
The village, located some 10km away from Kuala Pilah town, is popular with its homestays, a national service camp and a deer farm and becomes crowded particularly during weekends and school holidays.
Kwan, who speaks impeccable local Bahasa Malaysia dialect, then packs the dung neatly away and leaves it by the road shoulder.
"Manure makes good fertiliser, so some villagers will happily take it away," said Kwan who has 12 grandchildren and five greatgrandchildren.
Born in the royal town of Sri Menanti nearby, Kwan, who has outlived her two siblings and who makes ends meet on a RM300 monthly aid from the Welfare Department, said she would continue to clean up as long as her health permitted.
"I can't move out as there will be no one to take care of my livestock, my dog and cat," she said as we chatted over breakfast at a stall later.
Stall owner Mohd Nazri Nordin, 63, said Kwan would always take away extra food whenever she ate at his place or at wedding kenduri, to feed her animals.
"Kwan takes good care of her animals. She is well-liked by the kampung folk as she is very, very helpful," he said.
Mohd Nazri, who is also the Village Development and Security Committee secretary, said to reciprocate, he only charged Kwan RM1.50 (S$0.56) each time for breakfast, and this had been the case for many years.