Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pok Awang

A hand-drill, which I later found out is called a ratchet brace, is a lot of fun to play with especially when Pok Awang was on his afternoon break to perform solat Zuhr.

Aunt had hired him to build us a veranda, an extension to the house that would improve the general feature of our boring house which looked a lot like a birdhouse with windows here and there for you to jump out from if you needed to make a fast escape from Aunt when she suddenly had the idea to send you to Kedai Pok Mat Keling for something embarassing that a ten year old boy like me to carry like lada kering, or belacan.

It was the beginning of May when the sun was exceptionally prickly with the kind of heat that could dry up the skin on your back working under a condition like Pok Awang, bare back with only a bundle of cloth on top of his head which he tied in a knot you and me will never figure out the physics of it till the day we die.

He is smoking rokok daun one after another, not speaking a word, not even when you ask him when will he start using the drill since it has been lying in his wooden tool-box untouched since the day he started work on the verandah which is about two days ago. All he's been doing is sawing two by six, and a lot of two by two, measuring, and marking the woods, and stacking them in a corner. He hasn't knocked a single nail so the whole construction process goes on rather quietly which is not my idea of building something because I want the whole village to know that we've got a project going on and everyone in the village has got to know about this. They have to know that Aunt has got money to build a bigger house, and this house when it's done, will be the biggest in the village, not to mention a trendy veranda where I can run around in it like a dragon-fly that has got one of its hindlegs tied to a thread so you can watch it buzzes about the air trying to break free.

On the fourth day, Pok Awang took out the drill. I saw him worked the chuck to attach the bits. He turned to give me his back. I ran half moon around to watch him from the front. The bits went through the wood as he cranked the handle, applying just enough pressure so the grain came out like curly fries. I waited what must have seemed like a hundred years before Zuhr came and I knew he had to take a break, which he did on the dot. I pretended to walk into the house, as if I didn't care if he gave me the drill to poke as many holes as I wanted. I sneaked back in to have a go at the drill. First the bits turned the wrong way, which I got it right by turning it clockwise. It went through the wood sideways and got stuck in there quite a bit. I pushed and turned the handle left, right, left again, and pulled it out with every energy I got. The bits got bent and the chuck sounded funny. I went into the house, found a spot in the wall and started drilling. It went through neat on a thin piece of wood. I got one hole in the wall. And then another until Aunt caught me.

That day Aunt had to pay Pok Awang extra to replace the timber on the wall so we could sleep at night since the holes would give anyone in the village to have a peek right into my room.

Pok Awang never spoke to me. That didn't matter because he was deaf as a dead fish.


Blogger ailin...in aalborg said...

No wonder he did not hear you fooling around with the drill!

5:54 PM  
Blogger torts said...

awat tangan tak dok diam-diam..? well ... curiosity kills the cat :)

11:15 PM  
Blogger Amzira S. said...

hehe...mcm budak nakal.tp mcm tu baru bole blajar kan?

2:49 AM  
Blogger LifeBloom said...

Mechanical tools in the hands of a 10 year old can be weapons of mass destruction! haha.

My brother once toyed with the ignition of our family car at that age and before we knew it we had a tarpaulin sheet for our door for one whole week!!

9:13 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Ailin: A ratchet brace doesn't make all that much noise to wake up the deads, but it is loud enough for Aunt. It was a lot of fun though.

Torts: Nothing beats the fun of goofing around with tools. That's why you can find me spending hours in a hardware shop eventhough I've got most of the tools they got in there.

Amiza: You learn a lot that one. Like you learn never to drill holes into the wall of your bedroom. And you learn that you need to hold the ratchet brace in a straight position for the bits to drill good.

Lifebloom: Remind me to write about my first experience with power drill.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Noni said...


My father had a tool much like the one you described. He was anal about keeping all his tools clean. The 'MADE IN ENGLAND' mark must be visible at all times baru lah boleh gerenti kebersihannya. Unfortunately, when my father totalled the van that was our lifeline for so long, he left his tool bag in it. I would have loved to have kept something from that old van... a handle... a steering wheel... a sidestep... a seat... anything... but all I have are pictures... actually I just need any excuse just to think of my father...

4:23 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Noni: I'd cry buckets if I lose the kind of tools your dad used to have. Like me, I believe your dad took a long time to collect them. Some of these tools have got a history, and a personality that connect with something in you to produce excellent job be it a table, or fixing a leaking pipe.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Noni said...

I think when my Dad totalled the van and the tools in them he also lost his will to live... he had his stroke soon after and the rest as they say is history...

The tools undoubtedly had each a unique history, we did not come of money so evry possession is treasured (to the point that my mother NEVER throws anything away...), our backyard used to look like a junkyard... there's always something in there that could be used and reused... My Dad instilled in his sons and a few daughters the skill to be handy... something that is sadly lacking in many... many .... people I know!

Ok still using this excuse to think of my father... if u've read my blog u might already know of him... i still miss him...

5:37 PM  
Blogger dee3 said...

jahatnya ayat "he was deaf as a dead fish"... tapi kelakar lah the ending hehe

11:40 PM  

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