Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Nek, my late maternal grandmother a.k.a Aminah binti Abu Bakar was a simple village woman even though she was rumoured to be a princess from Kemboja who fled the country when she was a very young child. Her family settled in Perupok, Kelantan. How she ended up marrying a Javanese planter in Merang,Terengganu was a mystery to me. I had a better picture of my father's side of the family tree. I hope Elida, who looks a lot like my Nek would start doing a family tree on the Merang side of the family the next time she is there.

When I was young and in primary school, I got to go to Merang during my school holidays and stay a few days with Nek. Before she moved into the house that my father built, she lived in a very small attap thatched house with walls made of small trees called anak kuat. There was no electricity or piped water. She used pelita ayang, the oil lamp and the nearest well was 300 meters away. Somehow, everything was a novelty to me and I didn't ask why her house wasn't like my Mok Tok's house in town. Mok Tok is my paternal grandmother.

Since there were no TVs or radios yet at the time, Nek entertained me at bed time with her ghoyat bari (old earthy stories) . Ghoyat could be from the word riwayat although in Kelantanese it means "tell or say" and bari could mean" of yore" or "ancient"like the word bahari. Maybe etymologists like Mek Yam can set us straight on this. Anyway, Nek always told these stories in Kelantanese dialect. Nek spoke in Kelantanese while my mother spoke pure Terengganu even though she grew up in Singapore. Just to give another piece of history, Mok and her sister lived with the lady that I called Tok Lat in one place called Istana Kampung Glam which years later I discovered was really glum. Tok Lat's real name was Tengku Zainab. She was the only child of Sultan Ali. Her grandfather was Sultan Hussein, the guy that gave away Singapore to the British. Tok Lat was fond of calling me "Cek Leh" which means monkey.

I am trying to remember some of the ghoyat bari that Nek told me and for now I can remember only one. I shall retell it in English. You can retell it in any dialect or language you want.

Once upon a time there were three friends, Awang Telinga Besar, Awang Taik Mata and Awang Punggong Tajam. You can imagine why they were so named.

One day these three friends set off on a boat to look for birds' eggs on Pulau Karoh. Awang Punggong Tajam was warned to remain standing throughout the whole trip so as not to puncture the boat. Awang Taik Mata was the helmsman and Awang Telinga Besar used his more than ample ears as the sail.

With a stiff wind caught by Awang Telinga Besar's humungous ears, they moved towards the island (which is really between the mainland and Bidong Island). Halfway, Awang Punggong Tajam got tired of standing and dropped his sharp backside on the boat's floor. He made a hole and sea water gushed into the boat. Awang Telinga Besar's ears got red and Awang Taik Mata was peering through his abundant taik mata at the water that was coming into the boat. Awang Punggong Tajam was scolding his backside for causing the catastrophe while Awang Telinga Besar was scolding Awang Punggong Tajam's ancestors, rather sharply I might add.

Awang Taik Mata finally grasped the situation after peering hard through his taik mata. He grabbed a handful of taik mata from his eyes and plugged the hole. They went on their way happily after that.

My Nek didn't get around to telling me what was the moral of the story or if there was any. You tell me.

| 12:01 AM :: ::
29 CommentsOldStyle:
  • Taik mata is one of the emergency tools used by our ancestors a long long time ago.Silly me.=)

    By Blogger Afiq, at 12:58 AM  
  • Buaya's attempt at moral... *ahem*

    1) don't be independent but be interdependent
    2) despite their less than perfect looks, everyone has their own specialities to contribute
    3) must guna kepala hotak, get APT to lie down on the perahu ler to minimise puncturing the boat. kekeke ;)

    By Blogger Buaya69, at 12:58 AM  
  • Selamat Hari Raya Pok Ku,

    Thank you for the Awang story. I have been telling a made-up version of a similar story to my children for their bedtime. All the characters are there except mine went to Pulau Kapas for a picnic. My father told me the same story when I was small but unfortunately I can't remember it correctly. I think the Awang story is like a Trengganu version of superheroes tale for children. Sang Kelembai is another one although he is a dark character (is this what you call this sort of character?)

    Wassalam. UZ.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:02 AM  
  • Great story and hillarious! Apt name too for the characters. If you remember anymore do share. We Malaysian have some pretty good local tales but sadly many are left untold. Is there a second part to the commarades story?

    By Blogger Kervin, at 8:50 AM  
  • Pak Ku,
    I love reading/listening our folklore stories.These stories have powerful messages or moral behind them.
    In fact, I tried to get a round 5 to 10 people to sit down in a garden and each one of us tells a story.But there was no takers:-(

    Btw, here is a link to an interesting short note on the power of the stories.

    The Reader

    By Blogger Berisman, at 9:46 AM  
  • Pokku, your tales and musings has never failed to amuse and awe me! Thank you.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:56 AM  
  • I do wonder about Nyang (as I call your Nek) because so many people tell me that I take after her. She seemed quite independent, and I do wish I can live to a ripe old age like she did, although I suspect it entails that you live in pastoral Merang and "kara" (fetch from the well) your own water and chop your own firewood.

    Mok (my grandmother, the eponymous Mokciknab) had many funny stories,too, told in the dark as we are about to fall asleep. I have since related the one about the fox and the flatulent little chick to my children, who enjoyed it tremendously. Toilet humour, apparently, is timeless.

    By Blogger mokciknab, at 11:18 AM  
  • Pok Ku,
    Yup, I can still remember that Awang Taik Mata's folklore.

    In those years, when I asked my mom to tell a story..she would simply said "Cerita ceritut..taik mata besar lutut..abih cite."

    Pok Ku, may be you can add up an entry about Terengganu's terminology such as 'mana mari doh..' or 'dok rok cettong' or 'supe kando bah' or 'kecik pale-pale' or 'bekok cobbong' or 'se'eh nottong','nok kabbo beri' etc etc.

    just an idea...

    By Blogger d'arkampo, at 1:30 PM  
  • Hahahha.. I can't stop grinning! (My colleagues might start thinking: "something's wrong with this girl!")
    These kind of cerita dongeng needs 'moral of the story is.." ke? I'd be entertained with these stories, no doubt, walaupun the 'moral of the story' might escape me altogether :P

    By Blogger Yam, at 1:57 PM  
  • Moral: Jgn bior taik mata ttempek kat mata..susoh...

    Err..PokKu, need your advise here.. I plan for a trip to Medan.. is it worth going there?
    Actually, my paternal grandfather from there.. No, I am not visiting/searching for my roots (lost contact by the way - due to strong current of Selat Melaka, I guess) but merely want to smell the same air by my grandfather...sob..sob..

    If u been there, give me suggestion..ok? Tq.


    By Blogger zaireen, at 4:40 PM  
  • Afiq: LOL!
    Buaya69: I can buy that. Well done. Heheh.
    UZ: The story made the rounds for many generations. I am trying to remember Sang kelembai who is more "mystical".
    Kervin: I will try my best. Thanks.
    Berisman: Thanks forthe intersting link.
    Leen: You are welcome and it has been my pleasure.
    Eli: Yes, and the stories are still enjoyed today in spite of Spongebob etc.
    d'arkampo: Ideas are what this blog needs. I will get on it straight away.Thanks.
    Mek Yam: Nek's stories are morally deficient anyway. LOL.
    Zaireen: Never been to Medan but I have friends who have been there. They told me it is a nice place. Suggest you get a local contact. Dont get around on your own.

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 5:19 PM  
  • reminds me of blackouts and sitting all in a circle listening to your stories while we try to forget that we can't watch TV.

    Hm.. maybe should start a tradition of telling bed time stories to my kids.. but then by the time we get to bed, I'm usually the one who falls asleep first.

    By Blogger elisataufik, at 6:46 PM  
  • Elisa:
    I didnt tell you THIS story did I?

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 6:59 PM  
  • :) Moral of the story is: don't wash away your taik mata in the morning as it might come in handy later in the day; patch a puncture on your way to or from work, jam parking meters with it, post memos with it when you run out of post-its, seal envelopes or stick postage stamps with it. The possibilities are endless. But really I think people with sharp looking backsides should remain standing all day long.

    By Blogger Kri, at 4:06 AM  
  • May I vote Kri's for the best "moral of the story". :)

    By Blogger Jane Johan, at 10:38 AM  
  • moral of the story - setiap kekurangan ada kelebihan.

    Awang would be the name chosen for the males on the eastern coast naturally.

    By Blogger Lollies, at 12:10 PM  
  • That's a good story to tell my kids.

    By Blogger Nectar, at 11:54 AM  
  • Similar story I heard when I was a little boy (years back of course) there was this 4th guy with a very gassy stomach (like the big rig's brek angin). After Awang Taik Mata fixed the boat the wind stopped blowing and Awang Telinga Besar was no longer of any help but this 4th guy saved the day but vroooming like a speedboat.... I guess someone must have improvised the original story just for the heck of having an obnoxious version... Mallard

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