Tuesday, March 07, 2006

World Without Men

Chapter III
A summary

(A joyride like no other.)

Unless you are totally at sea with the nuances of Trengganuspeak, you shouldn't have any problem pronouncing his name correctly. You don't have to be a native of this state to perform a simple act of adding a nasal sound after the letter 'q' in Mamood Botoq. You see, 'botoq' in Trengganuspeak is an adjective, a device to describe a noun. In this case the noun is a man called Mamood, which is Tregganuspeak's version for Mahmood. This is not an exceptional case in Terengganu where 'H' appearing in the middle of a word is usually understood among the native speakers as not an important sound because Mahmood, Mamood, Mahbood, Mahut, they all mean the same thing. Afterall there's only one Mahmood in this men's town and everyone knows him as the trishawman who has a missus in every kampong. His missus in our kampong lives in a house among the coconut trees behind Ayoh Wang Nyior's house. Everyone calls her Mok Song Gigi since heaven knows, how much she needs a row of front teeth having to live all her life without one so the name Mok Song Gigi, to me, is actually a prayer for a miracle for her to be blessed with a set of fine teeth one fine day when she wakes up in the morning. Back to her husband Mahmood Botoq.

Botoq, in Trengganuspeak, simply means a character with a balanced combination of being short, plump and jolly. With a bit of imagination you should be able to construct him in your mind as someone who resembles a jolly penguin.

I know Mamood Botoq is in the village on account of his trishaw, left unattended under pokok saga. He can't take it down the slope to Mok Song Gigi's house because the track leading to the place is sandy and full of pelepoh nyior. Like always he has conveniently left the trishaw a good distance from the house knowing very well no one in this man's town would make a career stealing trishaws. To outsiders every trishaw looks the same but this is not the case. Each trishaw has a painting at the back of it, a sort of very personal identification code that works like today's SIM card on your cellphone. You can tell by the paintings in the back to know for sure whether the trishaw belongs to Encik Musa or Encik Bong Galah or Awang Suna (for serunai). A painting of a padi field for example, belongs to Awang Suna. Mamood Botoq had his painted with a scene of a tranquil fishing village at dawn.

One hot afternoon Mamood Botoq parked his trishaw under pokok saga right next to our house. It was a mistake. A big mistake.

I said to Biding Hidung and Li Bulb Lampu, will you push harder! These two hopeless imbeciles are not doing their job too well that in the end I said to Li Bulb Lampu to go get his sisters to help out. The sisters come running, gigling like firecrackers, towards us but they are useless too because the trishaw is still not moving. Just then I notice Mamood Botoq has clasped the brake lever with a keeper made of cloth coiled into a ring and that all I need to do is slide it to the front towards the handle bar to release the clipper brakes on the tyre. They push real hard that in the end we manage to get it moving while I steer it towards Jalan Lembah which is a downhill run all the way to the junction of Jalan Sungai Udang and Jalan Kubur. I can't pedal very well but it's not a big deal. All I have to do is sit on the cross-bar, pushing my legs as far as they can go, letting the pedal to come back up to catch it on the upward cycle now that the trishaw is moving by itself at the start of the downhill run. Biding Hidung doesn't want to come aboard, which is fine. I don't need a coward. Li Bulb Lampu is already sitting like a maharajah on a country tour while his sisters are all over the place screaming and yelling as if this is an open top MG sports car.

Our trishaw now is on a full run downhill, handle-bar vibrating in a violent shake, left right left right, but I got a good hold on it to keep her steady. Jalan Lembah is a long stretch of downhill run that curves to the left before it intersects at a four-way junction. It's a simple curve to handle with a bicycle but it is a totally different story with something this big with three tyres. I know I gotta guide the trishaw real nice along the curve but the trishaw is moving too fast for me to know any better what to do when it banks too much to the left. I try to yank the handle-bar to the right but my arms are too small to handle a job meant for a man with a pair of strong arms. We are heading straight for the drain at full speed. I don't know what happen, I can't hear anything except the sisters shouting their heads off. I am caught in between the handle-bar and the cross-bar. The trishaw has a mind of its own to kill us all for this ride, a sin we now have to pay with something big.

We crash into the drain, the trishaw tilted like the stern of the Titanic before it went under. There's a sharp pain around the shoulder area that I can't move my arm to get up. The sisters are crying. Li Bulb Lampu is running in circle crying like a madman.

Aunt paid for the damage. I lost a few teeth my name might as well be Awangsong Gigi.


Blogger AuntieYan. said...

Adui!....sakit perut gelak ni....your description is so clear....I could see you as the ketua 'samseng kampung boy'....:-)

12:43 PM  
Blogger RedKebaya said...

Bergen - ur 'da man' laa when it comes to story telling. dok tergelak sakan sengsorang ni but i'm not jeopardizing my rep in any way... friends mmg know me as the crazy ole coot pun lol.

good one berg hehehe.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Queen Of The House said...

hee hee hee ... what a mischief to get yourself into! And what crazy names your friends had!

(eh, beca in T'ganu is not the same as beca in Kedah, I think. And we call it 'teksi')

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've been reading u lately, berg..go write a book or something...this kinda talent shudnt go wasted..


2:29 PM  
Blogger Mama Rock said...

keh keh keh - now all you want for christmas is your two front teeth !

3:17 PM  
Blogger ailin...in aalborg said...

reminds me of the movie sleepers! Hey, they ended up in juvie eh? But wasn't Brad Pitt a lawyer there?

3:23 PM  
Blogger AuntyN said...

Can imagine the whole episode so vividly from the description. It was worth it isn't it? The lost of the teeth for such a joy ride? Hehehe. You, naughty boy!!!!

3:32 PM  
Blogger Noni said...

@ Ailin...

Did u know that 'Sleepers' was a true story? I read the book, the description is much more vivid and frightening, the imagery stuck in my mind for days on end.

Now that I myself have a son, I shall do my damndest to make sure he doesn't go pushing any carts down any alleys or becas for that matter.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

oh mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!! jeezzzzzz Berg, I know a guy who did that where I lived, but you werent him! Only the 'trishaw' was the carriage type, you know the ones used for transporting things and it was filled with unhusked coconuts! Hahahahaha

5:45 PM  
Blogger LifeBloom said...

Lively entry. I can imagine the two girls screaming, laughing away while their hair fly in all directions....I think the ride is worth all that pain AND nickname - any day!

BTW Mak 'Song' Gigi - Is the "Song" an abbreviation of "kosong"??

5:52 PM  
Blogger Sayuti said...

nakal jugak kamu kecik2 ya encik bergen.

6:18 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

haha! sakit perut lah gelak! what a colourful childhood and I love the names of yr friends. did u have a "name" too?

i'll be laughing to bed tonite..and what a story to tell to my boys!

8:13 PM  
Blogger Nekbat said...

You are such a riot. I remember cramming and squatting in the teksi with probably ten 3-4 year olds when I was that age. Pok Pa, who ferried us all to and from the nursery still lives until today and still gateh the teksi. This piece sure brings back memories.

2:05 AM  
Blogger Awang Goneng said...


I love the sisters who laughed like firecrackers. Your friends had lovely names, as did Awangsong Gigi. He must've been very songo.

2:49 AM  
Blogger cloudchaser said...

hilarious! Li Bulb Lampu? hehhehheh
good one good one..a wonderful way to start one's day. thank you.

8:35 AM  
Blogger mommy@lif said...

hehe notty nyeee en bergen! very colorful childhood u have , sir.

10:01 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

AuntieYan: Ketua Samseng Kampong is a nice title for an entry.

Redkebaya: Glad this made you laugh, ma'am.

QOTH: We call it teksi too in Trengganuspeak. In Penang it's lanca. In the 70s there's a song about it. Can't recall the name of the band though.

MilahLawa: Thank you for visiting, ma'am.

Mama Rock: You've got that right, ma'am.

Ailin: Good thing the ride didn't go wrong that could have landed us in a can.

AuntyN: It took about a week to recover from the injury. You will read this in the next entry. See if you think the adventure worth the short fun we had.

Noni: Boys will think of something. They always do.

Maya: I know that one, basikal roda tiga, right? That's even harder to handle. It's dangerous too if you load too much as it has the tendency to tilt over.

Lifebloom: Moksong Gigi, I believe the 'song' is for Kalsom or Kalthum (the Arabic version). In Trengganuspeak this becomes 'Kelsong' 'Kalthong' or 'Kelesong.'

Sayuti: There was no PS2 then, sir.

Anedra: Yes, I've got a name too, but I'm not telling. I hope your boys won't have the same idea to do the same thing with their toywagon. Do you have a downhill run near your house? Oh oh.

Nekbat: I'm sure Pok Pa remembers you too. Gosh I used to watch girls being ferried like this when I was young and wishing that one of them would become my missus.

Awang Goneng: Yes, sir, the experience left me with a rongok for a couple of years. No, Anedra, that's not what they called me.

Cloudchaser: Trengganu natives are very good at ascribing an adjective to your name. I believe this name calling was popular too hicago in the 30s during Al Capone era where they've got names like Pretty Face, Junkyard Dog, Machine Gun Kelly etc. Do you think there's a connection between a man's town like Dungun and gangsters' town Chicago?

Alif's Mommy: I had the best childhood, ma'am. Wouldn't want to exchange it for the world.

11:11 AM  
Blogger A Babe Of Very Little Brain said...

was the song "abang beca"? oh gawd, am i that old?

"those were the days my friends we thought would never end ... we sang and danced .. dum dum de dum ..."

(i am so bad with lyrics)

11:20 AM  
Blogger Nurelhuda said...

Phew! I hope they were baby teeth!

11:38 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Xaviera: Abang Beca came later. I think Broery sang it. 'Lanca' was much much later. So you are not that old, ma'am. I think the song you got there is 'Those Were The Days.' It goes something like 'Once upon a time there was a tavern...'

Dr Nurelhuda: Too bad they didn't have extreme make-over then. They could have re-built my entire face to look like Clint Eastwood. On second thought, nah.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Sayuti said...


good point. very good point.

8:16 PM  
Blogger cloudchaser said...

probably there is, bergen. the way you're telling the story Dungun now sounds more like the OK Corral

11:22 AM  

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