Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Friday, April 01, 2005
When Pok Jak was a small boy, he was very shy. He was practically invisible and I rarely see him in the house whenever my father and I dropped by his house to pick up his father, Tok Penghulu Cek Ming to go hunting. Pok Jak's father was my father's faithful hunting companion although he never owned a shotgun. I guessed my father needed a short man to get around the tendrils of the jungle to retrieve wounded jungle fowls and other game.

I noticed Pok Jak again when I took my children back to Merang. The gurgling stream that Elida, Elisa, Dalia and Firhad splashed in while hunting for ikang palla putih was near Pok Jak's house. By then, Pok Jak already owned a small lorry, transporting stuffs in and out of Merang.

When tourists started to flood Merang on their way to Redang or Lang Tengah, Pok Jak already owned a boat and had the concessions to a couple of chalets. He sold the family house by the beach and built a better house further inland. He also bought a used Mercedes and became the chairman of the Fishermen's Association. Not bad for someone who did not finish secondary school. Then Pok Jak found out he got diabetes. The disease did not respond to any of the treatment that he went everywhere for. Now, it has affected his eyes. Pok Jak can no longer drive me in his Mercedes from the airport. He can barely recognizes me until I spoke to him.

Any other person would have stayed home and enjoyed the fruits of his labour. Not Pok Jak. Last week, when I stopped at Merang, I found him as usual, in a coffee shop by the jetty, waiting for tourists to come and be loaded onto his boat and sent to the chalets recommended by him. He has learnt new skills. He learned how to "feel" the worth of each paper money and he learned to recognize the sound of his boat. Pok Jak won't lie down and give up. There is no money in it.