A Men's Town.
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.