BRUNO IS STILL ALIVE! Or isn't he? How could a happy man living in a comfortable First World peaceful and beautiful country like Switzerland throw it all away to live in a bug-infested disease-ridden tropical jungle with ferocious wild animals such as poisonous cobras and fierce gnashing sharp-tooth bears?
He could only answer that himself. I do believe though that he fell in love with the jungle and its most primitive nomadic tribe, the Penans.
When I first met him in Miri in 1984, he sounded really enthusiastic about his time with the gentle folks in Ulu Baram.
He shared with me candidly his favorite past-time of caving and other speleological activities and his life with his domestic animals up in the Swiss alps, his concern for the heavy deforestation of tropical rainforests everywhere and the disturbing callous disregard for Mother Nature. It was classic Bruno-trusting and honest about everything. There wasn't a single hint of his decision to remain in the thick Sarawak jungle at all.
The rest, as they say, is history. He stayed behind. He was caught for overstaying, deported, came back again and was never seen or heard from again.
Coming soon: The Borneo Post report on his disappearance...and the latest from his family...
One late sunny afternoon in 1984, as I drove past the Miri District office, I noticed a grinning bearded European, dressed in army fatigues squatting near it.
It could very well be him to save us all from the madness. 1984 was indeed a miserable year. Malaysian kids were gradually learning almost everything in Malay and English was being frowned upon by the authorities as a colonial legacy. Even the freedom to worship was affected with the banning of the Alkitab, the Holy Bible that had been translated into Malay for the local Evangelical Church's Malay-educated members to use.
Added to this misery was the action of an idiotic police inspector who trampled on our human rights and used a road block to detain for over 12 hours whatever vehicles the police disliked. My Datsun pulsar had two small fog lamps, fixtures which were part of the vehicle, on it. Over 20 vehicles were detained in a cramped small traffic depot by the seaside.
In that year, 1984, I was a church-going, smartly dressed slim young man with a clean-cut hairdo, working as a book-keeper for the Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM) which came under the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF). The Evangelical Church of Borneo (SIB) was nurtured by this Mission, which was headed by a wonderful brilliant French-Jewish director, Brian Michell.
Okay, I got you there, angry, anti-semitic turkeys! Actually, he's a Caucasian with French and Jewish ancestry.
Anyway, we'll leave him out of this story because I've never mentioned my acquaintance with Bruno. He would be shocked and astonished to read about this if he ever surfs into this blog, I'm sure.
Part 2 -To be continued.