Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Men's Town.

Chapter I

A fight can break out all of a sudden while you wait for Pok Mat Satay to count the money for your change. You will hear something like thud! thud! or crack! followed by a woman's voice in a shriek saying something you don't want to hear because all you want to do is run to where the commotion is to watch for free two adults exchaging punches with murder in their eyes. I used to be very afraid of the sound of jaws breaking, or chest being kicked, sending the poor guy to the floor, moaning like a cow gasping for air. But I got used to the sound, watching one fight after another that in the end I developed somekind of addiction to the sound that whenever I get into a fight, all I want to hear is the sound of the jaw breaking, and feel my knuckles smash against the bones. It's the kind of addiction that will stay forever in your system, ready to come out in the open at the slightest chance of a fist-off because all you want to hear is that sound. And you want so much to hear this sound that you don't care for a second which way a fight is going to go. In your head you hear this sound being played over and over again that you feel so excited to get into a fight as fast you can, excited to look at the guy in the eye, smiling a little because inside, you love every minute of this moment. The moment that can land you in jail, or hospital, or a funeral home. But all this don't matter because you need to hear that beautiful sound once again. I believe most boxers carry this sound inside their head all the time they are out there in the ring fighting for a title, or for fun. I believe you can train people to become boxers, but you will never train boxers to become fighters because fighters are born with this sound inside their head. That's why they are a little crazy. You need to be a little crazy in the head if you want to be fearless because you can't be fearless if you don't like to smash jaw bones with your knuckles.

In this men's town, Deramang Bogok (his real name, I'm serious), is the only guy I know who likes very much to smash bones that whenever the citizens of this colorful town going round psst psst that a fight is about to go down at a secluded spot on a beach behind sekolah China, I forget about what it is that Aunt wanted me to buy for dinner, getting all excited walking behind a group of adults heading towards the general direction of the beach not wanting to get lost in the dark, or worse missing the spot altogether that I won't be able to tell my friends about this fight tomorrow. Deramang Bogok is a mean-looking guy with a body the size of John Wayne. Unlike John Wayne whose back straight as ramrod, Deramang stoops a little just below the shoulder blades making him all the more threatening when he raises his arms up to the level just below the nose, ready for anything you have going for him. You recognize him right away, always in a tight shirt so you can see the outlines of his V-shaped body as clearly as you can read a movie poster. He's got a pair of biceps the size of professional dumbells. He cycles to this side town on his Raleigh bicycle from a kampung some place near Batu 48, or some place further up where the citizens don't know any better about finer things in life such as cream puff or pudding with fruit cocktail courtesy of S&W brand from Australia. Of course to Deramang Bogok, all this don't mean nothing because you can bet your left ear that he won't be thinking about cream puff when he's busy smashing a guy's face with his poweful knuckles courtesy of all the training he does at the pasar hauling fish baskets from a boat bobbing in the water all the way up the ramp of a jetty to the weighing station. In the evening before it's dark you can see him sitting, talking, eating kacang putih at a table where Tiger and his family run their highly profitable business.

I like a fight like this where you get to hear about it well before hand from the men sitting at a table enjoying their laksang or nasi dagang. You know it's for real when they leave in a hurry after paying for a nice plate of laksang which they don't bother to eat up to the last drop of the gravy to join the rest of the citizens in a parade to the beach because you know for sure this fight involves Deramang Bogok against a guy who doesn't know any better that this whole town was planned, designed and built with Deramang Bogok in mind. There is no need to find out who this guy is who is clearly a dumb of a dumb can be. Whoever that guy is, he must have been motivated by his stupid desire to prove to the women in kebaya and kain susun that he doesn't back out on a challenge, not even if the challenge involves Deramang Bogok.

(The fight scene you are about to read is a combination of my scant memories of the event, fight scenes from movies, personal experience, and fiction.)

Deramang Bogok takes off his shirt but I can't see his chest or biceps on account of the night being dark except for a faint ray of light from the last street lamp about a good distance from the end of the road that leads to the beach. A bet goes about but I am not bothered by this because I don't know how to work the bet or who to give the money to, or where to get the money from if the bet goes my way. I train my eyes on Deramang Bogok standing like John Wayne with a slight incline, waiting for the other guy to make a move but this fight belongs to Deramang Bogok which is only fair that he first takes a swipe at the guy with a wide swing to land a good punch on the guy's face to send him staggering sideways ready to fall to the sand anytime. But this guy is something else. He regains his balance to send an upper hook straight to Deramang Bogok's chin. I believe that one caught Deramang Bogok by surprise that he limps backwards long enough to give the guy a good opening to move in with a left and right punch, and an elbow finish precisely on the temple. I know how this can hurt you. It can blind you for a few seconds that your mind will freeze solid that you won't be able to think of anything. A fight can end right at this point if your opponent doesn't waste time to move in with a series of blows to your nose, jaws and chest. And this is exactly what the guy does to Deramang Bogok. Going after his jaw, temple, chest, ribcage and knees. He comes down like a rhino shot in the legs, slumped in the sand in a heap of carcass, breathing heavily like a cow gasping for air.

It is sad to see a local tough guy brought down by a stranger built like a Gurkha, about a head shorter than Deramang Bogok. Of course at that time no one knew that the guy and three of his friends were army officers on a recce mission to check out sleazy places considered out-of-bound for the regiments of army coming to Dungun for the big military exercise called Latihan Malindo.


Blogger AuntyN said...

Howdy cowboy..

I imagine from your description of Deramang Bogok tu macam Sharif Dol (samseng Kampung Dusun) dalam cerita P Ramlee. Dengan rambut remos ke depan, lengan baju di sinting dan naik basikal.

6:20 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

Deramang Bogok? What were his parents thinking? I mean, with a name like that, he couldn't help but be the town gangsta. Or was this one of those "polis tulis nama salah" cases?? Kesian dia..

6:26 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

AuntyN: He was, I believe, just as tall as Sharif Dol, and shared almost a similar built as the samseng Kampung Dusun. Unlike that samseng, Deramang Bogok doesn't sport a short-sleeve shirt that he could roll to expose the bulging biceps. LOL

Anedra: Deramang Bogok was what people called him. No, I don't think his real Kad Pengenalan name is Deramang Bogok. Then again you never know. People this side of the world is known for being queer. Or the fat sergeant could have got the name with a species of fish or something. LOL.

7:17 PM  
Blogger NBB said...

i can imagine the sound of bone breaking. it goes crack crack crackkkkkkk..exactly like breaking the ribs while doing cpr...

8:29 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Dr Nurul Bahiyah Baharudin: It can be pretty nasty not to mention the inconvenience of it all recovering from a broken bone, or a compound fracture, or dislodged knee-cap. But all this can be pretty fun to go through for a girl. LOL.

9:12 PM  
Blogger LifeBloom said...

Deramang Bogok sounds like a name dreamt up by P. Ramlee for a samseng in his "purbawara" movie....What happened after he was socked by the army chap??

He may have been the town's "kaki gaduh" but you painted him quite romantically and I can't help but feel sorry for the old chap. I hope someone brought him to the clinic after the fight.....

8:45 AM  
Blogger A Babe Of Very Little Brain said...

the pix of John Wayne reminds me of that great western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Are you the John Wayne, James Steward or Lee Marvin of real life?

10:39 AM  
Blogger Noni said...

no its not...!

11:27 AM  
Blogger Sayuti said...

a scary environment for anyone to grow up in. a bloodcurdling descriptive essay.

no wonder you keep telling me to be careful. such agression do exist even in a civilised society. your writing has changed my perspective on the people from that side of this country.

1:13 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Lifebloom: This was pre-24 hour polyclinic. And I don't remember what happened after that because I left with the winner in a victory parade back to the drinking shops behind Panggung Happy.

Xaviera: Clint Eastwood, ma'am. Anytime.

Noni: Yes, it's not. (I hope this is the right thing to say.)

Sayuti: Civilized? We've got boxing matches on tv and other kind of stuff that put men or women against each other in a bout. We've got bombs going off killing the innocents every second of the day. I'm sure you are aware of the sectarian violence between Sunni and Syiah in Iraq. There other kind of violence in highly civilized societies the world over. Women being abused, children too. All this happening every second in every part of both civilized and 'uncivilized' communities.

I am not quite sure what is your perception of the people this side of the country before you read the entry. And after you've read it. I don't mean to shape or influence your thought but don't you think it is premature to judge people this side of the country based on this entry? That's not quite scientific, or fair, isn't it? I hope this won't affect you when you have to interview people from this side of the country when they apply for a job. You won't make me guilty but it wouldn't be fair on them.

The point is, men (and lately women) will always find great pleasure in watching a fight. It could be boxing, wrestling, taekwondo, karate, silat or whatever. I believe later on, men will go back to enjoying watching their enemies being thrown into an arena full of lions. Or watching gladiators killing each other violently with steel chains, iron clubs or baseball bat.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Nurelhuda said...

It is the opioid receptors , that is what it is! All the excitement stilulates it

8:58 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Dr Nurelhuda: I read something about it but gotta confess to you that I don't understand much of it. Is it somekind of chemical reaction in your body that can make you feel like bashing a guy's face with your bare knuckles not feeling any sympathy even when you see him crawling on the floor like a cockroach with half its back smashed to a pulp. Is this it?

9:16 PM  
Blogger dr in the house said...

To put plainly in pyschiatrict term it's a Personality disorder of Aggressive Type, :))

10:55 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Dr Roza: Well said, ma'am.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Sayuti said...

no wonder not-so-young people get scared easilly. they know too much.

ahh, ignorance is bliss.

7:39 PM  

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