Wednesday, January 18, 2006

In Memory of Roustabout King.

If you came home from the funeral to an empty house one evening in November you would have noticed the early monsoon sky with patches of clouds slightly heavy with rain. They huddled in a tight circle as if they owned the entire sky and no way they were going to share the last ray of light from the sun that had turned orange the last few minutes when you weren't looking because you stood by a window like a broom, looking down at the communal perigi where mothers making such a racket calling out to their children to hurry up with the bath. Storm is coming. Your father's home.

It's turning dark outside. You can hear mosquitoes wheezing about above your head whispering among themselves how come there is only one person left in the house when there should be three more. They didn't know any better that the last woman of the house had been buried not three hours ago and that the house has nothing left except for the ghosts of Grandma, Aunt, and Cousin. You stand by the window not knowing what to do because you are so used to having Aunt giving the orders on an evening like this when it is dark as coal outside. Close all the windows. Take the cover of a periuk, oil it and go get those mosquitoes, let's see if you can get more than me. Ha ha ha. You are such a clever boy. I show Grandma, look look Grandma, the whole family of mosquitoes. Clever boy. No more mosquitoes in the world tomorrow, thanks to you. Ha ha ha. Cousin, look, mosquitoes! They give me goosebumps. Ha ha, Cousin's a softie.

You stand by the window like a dumb broom not knowing what to think. You don't know if you can sleep in the house tonight because you shouldn't be here at all. You should be with Grandma, Aunt, and Cousin six feet under. But you are not dead. You are here feeling so alone that you don't know if the night is going to last forever.

It used to be a house full of mirth. Aunt at the dinner table counting the money of the day's taking. I am standing next to her looking at the money not really knowing how much is there. Not that it means anything to me. Aunt says, I am so tired and sleepy. She rubs her face pretty as Saira Banu. I look her in the eye, at the mascara now slightly smeared with sweat, and she smells of kuih lapis. You hear Grandma reading the Qur'an. When she gets to the surah that you remember by heart, you recite it in a funny way so you can disturb her and she is going to start on you with a threat that you are going to hell for reading it like that. And you get so scared that you go to her, burying your face on her laps all fluffy and soft feeling so safe thinking that nothing can get you now, not even hell. You sleep like that on Grandma's lap, her voice in a drone finishing the surah, every ayat going deep inside every vein in your body. Every innalazzi na'amanu, every la'allakum, every ta'lamun, every sodiqeen. Everything.

Cousin is in bed with a romance novel faithfully written especially for her by Barbra Cartland. She looks at you from behind the book the size of Aunt's money bag and you say, what's the book all about, what's that man in a nice James Bond suit say to that nice girl in a skirt, why is she wearing gloves, is it cold in England? She says, you ask too many questions.

Aunt built this house.
With her own money?
Yes. She was a busineswoman. The richest person in the village. Thought I told you that.
Yes you did.
How come you are not in business?
I wouldn't be here with you having dinner if I were a businessman, what with meetings and people to meet, suppliers to pay.

Aunt Su said, oh well there's some good that you aren't a businessman.

Me and Aunt Su have spent more than three weeks in the house left behind by the women you know quite well up to this point from the way I have described them in the entries that I have completely deleted so I can start afresh because I need to do this all over again to re-invent myself, like Anita Sarawak, or Cher. No, I am not going to have a sex change so I can become a woman going about my way as Susie, or Brenda or Lily or something. At least for now, I am going to stay as male as the next guy. If ever I become a woman, you will know because I will start a new blog with the title Bergenia Test. That would be me for sure and the blog will talk about all things feminine like being pregnant and all. Or FT Islamic Family Law. For now, I shall remain Bergen with a few more entries of his childhood growing up in Dungun during the 70s when the town was deserted completely because the mine had closed down, and men who were miners went crazy one after another that some of them still roam the streets of Dungun as madmen to this very day. I said to myself the other day, I won't go crazy. I can't go crazy all because Roustabout King died in his sleep, drunk as a skunk, his liver gone bad. I can't go crazy. I won't let it happen. Last night in my sleep I heard Grandma's voice in a drone, reciting laaukrimu bihazal balad...


Blogger Amzira S. said...

that's more like it.hehe...anyway saje nak kongsi website.kalau nak motivation pi lah website dr tuah. masuk kat forum.ok?

9:41 PM  
Blogger Noni said...

Glad ur back... Bergen.

Just to be sure u don't go swimming with the dolphins again... shall I copy and personally archive all ur entries from now on?

Keep well.

9:03 AM  
Blogger LifeBloom said...

Oooooo...Happy day
Coz Bergen's back
He ain't leaving us
No, not today....

Happy to see your entry this morning!

9:52 AM  
Blogger Queen Of The House said...

Glad you're back. Sorry for you that you have lost a friend. May his soul rest in peace.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Kak Teh said...

bergen, hope all is well. Kak Teh

1:45 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Amzira: Thank you for the visit, ma'am. You have a nice day now, y'hear?

Noni: I'll remember that, ma'am.

Lifebloom: Good to know that I made you happy, ma'am.

QOTH: Ma'am. Thank you.

Kak Teh: I've got mail from Sir Awang Goneng. Boy, it made me feel like being on the chopper for the first time.

2:38 PM  
Blogger mommy@lif said...

dear sir bergen, yesterday when i looked at ur "thank you " entry, i thot u gonna stop writing. actually this is my 1st time commenting , just to let you know that you have another silent reader. fyi i can relate well to ur story esp those of kampung scene / atmosphere.

rupanya nak re-invent ! ! ! :)

keep writing okay, eh?

3:57 PM  
Blogger AuntyN said...


*Oh...that feels good*, hehe.

Sorry for shouting. I am down in spirit but very happy to see you are back.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Lollies said...

The return of the Bergen.

5:29 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

I'm sorry to hear about yr friend. Hope u'r coping alright.

It's good to see u writing again! :)

7:34 PM  
Blogger Nurelhuda said...

way to go! atta boy!but it may have been nice to selectively delete..
Ah well , the rashness of youth!

2:42 PM  
Blogger Noni said...

Ok... how aboout we stop calling Noni 'ma'am' now y'all... it makes her feel so tua krepots y'hear?

ps. Balm gamat works wonders on em rashes. Just ask Kak Teh.

6:47 PM  
Blogger solace said...

welcome back bergen. u made me miss my grandma so much, her recitings, her touch, the comfort and peacefulness.

5:41 PM  

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