Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Malay Thing. E.g Bersunat.

Other kids put on man-sized kain pelikat making them look manly and ready for whoever it is behind the door of a room where you go in one by one according to the name they call out in the clipboard. I want to run away. I don't want to have anything to do with Aunt, Grandma or Cousin, or go back to the house where there isn't a single man there who can lend me his kain pelikat so I'd look like the rest of the boys. All I have to put on is one of Aunt's batik sarung which make me look sissy in front of the boys now talking among themselves as if this whole thing about having the extended part of you sliced off is nothing but just another story to tell. I sit next to Aunt in a bench hating her for doing this to me. For not thinking in advance of getting me a kain pelikat. I want to be a man. And it is impossible to take the first step to being a man in a Pekalongan batik sarung.
A man with a thin moustache calls out my name.
I go in to a room in batik sarong looking silly as a goat that has eaten too much pucuk ubi that it got him all tipsy in the head. An orderly comes in with a tray of equipment that make a lot of noise in a quiet room where they slice the extended part of you as if that extended part of you is a tail of a fish which you have to cut before smothering it in garam kunyit to be deep fried. A nurse comes in. They are talking but I can't make out what they are saying. And then I feel one of them take that extended part of me to prick a needle in it. A few minutes go by and I feel that extended part of me getting big as the trunk of a coconut tree.
In a trishaw I curse and curse Aunt, blaming her and everything in my view for having to wear what she has for me to wear. Now that I'm like a stupid prince in a trishaw on a royal tour of the kingdom while my loyal subjects stand at attention to line the street to have a good look at me in batik sarung, I felt like jumping off the trishaw and run into the woods so I could hide in a cave and live there all by myself.
Grandma greets us at the door but I'm not in the mood to smile. I hear Grandma and Aunt hush hush which got me pretty mad that I yell out to them to get me apples orang putih or I will burn the house down. I must have yelled pretty long that I dozed off until the next day.


Anonymous E said...

So... it wasn't that painful after all, huh? I remember my brother went in screaming "Tolong! Tolong!" and mom just cudn't hold back her tears. Dad was trying his best to calm my brother down. And me...? Oh, for once I thot I was gonna lose my brother already, the only brother I have. Hmmm... lucky thing his two sons didn't create a scene last year.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Bergen
My two brothers went in together for the bersunat. The adik went through it but the abang came out running of the hospital clinic.
An uncle had to go chase after him.
Two days later he went through the procedure, only after the adik convinced him "tak sakit lah."
It was either that or because he wanted the same "royal" treatment that adik got after the berkhatan.
After a while, both were a pain in the you-know-where because the way they were ordering people around really got on the nerves of the people who looked after them!

7:12 PM  
Blogger Nak Tak Nak said...

I did it when I was 4 years old. First we bathed with well water. Cold water makes your thing shrink and slows the flow of blood. Then we waited at the bottom of the stairs. There were 4 of us. I was 3rd to be called. I sat on a banana trunk. The mudim dug my thing so to ensure it is not 'buta'. He asked me to look up and a slight smart and its over. No anesthetics was used. Zaman tu mana ada bius untuk sunat.

11:43 PM  
Blogger tokasid said...

Salam Bergen:

I had mine done by a tok mudim kampong with his bald head and a 'misai melintang'. When the 6 of us cousins and 2nd cousins saw him I think our extended appendages shrunk more than the air perigi effect.

Like che'gu, we were seated on the batang pisang with the tok mudim asking his few good men to do the wrestling lock on us(the victim ).The tok mudim then read his Bismallah and Selawat and engaged me in a little talk: Hang umoq berapa? Hang sekolah mana? hang nama apa?
Before I can answer to any of those questions, he tap my knee and said: Hang sudah dah..angkat dia boh tang tempat tidoq. Wak mai sorang lagi..

No anaesthesia and it was over in a minute( well mine was not 'buta'anyway).The procedure was fast but the healing was a long one.I took almost a month before I can play football or ride a bicycle. The dressing used was a concotion of herbs with abundant serbuk kopi applied to the wound and wrapped in a gauze. Luckily my arwah Pak Tam was in the Medical corp when posted to Congo in the 60s. He deligently dressed my 'awang' every morning after a week of the bersunat. It took almost a week before the 'kundang'(dressing applied my the tok mudim) dropped off( that I had to titis air suam every day,twice.

The next year onwards...all my brothers were cicumcised my medical assistants(MA) and after a week they were out and about riding bike and football.

(After your part 2 I will tell a bit about me doing the sunat on others)

12:31 PM  
Anonymous elviza said...

Ohhh Mr Bergen.... my imagination runs wild with this posting. He he he!

1:18 PM  
Blogger demonsinme said...

I wrote this for Al Akh Master Wailer, and for an unknowingly strong urge, shared it with Master Shariman.

And since I'm at it, I would to share it with you too.

Lead Steel

Take the gun and a sword to compare,
and there'll be no use for a chair,
torso and chest is much better than the head,
so honor will embrace the greatest despair.

Between lead and a steady steel,
one would chain a man with a rosary's reel,
either the hair and the broken heels,
which would one choose to steer the wheel?

11:18 PM  
Blogger NURAINA A SAMAD said...


let's see what i can remember of the (ber)sunat season -- boys laughing, getting soaked wet, laughing, bravado because they are with each other, bonding. all this pre-sunat.
post sunat -- suddenly no longer macho, ashen-faced, some visibly in discomfort (read:pain) and pinching their sarong away from their ...manhood.
and the duit they get from well-wishers!

11:20 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

E: You ought to write about it, sir. Sounds like a really interesting scene right there.

Fauziah Ismail: I reckon it must be pretty tough going in with with a younger brother. It's probably worse if the little brother comes out all right. That's a lot of pressure of the big brother.

NTK: Obviously I'm slightly younger than you, sir. LOL.

Tokasid: LOL, you gotta write about it. Don't wait for my next installment, it may be a long time coming because I am out of the besunat mode for a time being and it'll a while before I'm going to get back in.

Elviza: Like NTK and Tokasid have said, things are different now.

DIM: Let's see, you've got steel, guns, sword. These are good stuff for a good bersunat, right?

Nuraina A Samad: That's a first few lessons in the rite of passage to being a man i.e you take the cut, you got money. LOL

I don't know how you got here, but you got here nonetheless and read the post. Thank you for coming in. Do come again. You have a nice day now, y'hear?

12:38 AM  
Anonymous rose said...

Whenever people speaks about bersunat, the TV 9 ad comes to mind, and never fails to bring a smile to my face. The one where the guy was giving the instructions in gory details about how to search for the channel. It was misunderstood by the boys outside who overheard the conversation. Its really funny. Now that's a cute one..

10:54 PM  
Blogger Theta said...

Haha....thisreminds me of my own sunat ordeal...I must be 9 or 10 at the time....I ACTUALLY ran away to another room inside my house....somehow or rather, them adults managed to coax me to come out....the rest, as they say, is history.... ;)

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Bergen,
I remeber sunat day in vivid detail.I remember the big do that my parents were planning but i was kept in the dark....considering that it going to affect the senior member of my anatomy their absolute silent treatment towards me was uncalled for.
If they were to tell me on the other hand,all hell would have broken loose.Imagine me packing and take the next bus to Dungun all on my own with not a single sen in my name,but the journey would have taken place,no doubt about it ,as to part with the precious asset was unthinkable,not that he is buta or anything.

The arguement that it was for easier cleaning didnt carry weight as far as I was concern as it was as easy as rolling up my sleeve if you care to ask.
Looking on the hindsight,to negotiate with me and rationalize ,as the modern parent would with me then ,would be unthinkable.As 'degil'(read:opinionated person) as I was,to discuss before hand would result in Tok Mudin or the HA staring at an empty seat on the top of banana trunk,come morning of actual event.

To cut the story short,as this is your blog Mr Bergen (not that I care hahhahaa),I was bounded by the silat's 'Kunci' ,hushed and offered to TokMudin.I disagreed with the loudest yell i could gather.So scared was my younger cousin of it all that the TM found it hard to locate his boyhood afterward,as it went 'kerlok' to the deep recess.

The sleeve was taken off after i made my protest and displeasure known to all.Not that i was scared of pain or anything like that, but I thought long sleeve look more elegance and modest when you go skin dipping in the sea.Now that it all bare for all the world to see,I stopped the skindipping eversince.Now I have no choice but to carry on wearing the short sleeve,no thanks to Tok Mudin.


12:30 PM  
Anonymous elviza said...

Dearest Mr Bergen Sir,

Sorry to disturb your day with my inane questioning, but can I have the continuation please? Thank you.

And if you let me Mr Bergen, I need to say something to Jebon.


You know, you are what people called "an attention seeker." So full of drama one. I think you could not last for a day if you were to take that bus trip to dungun.

To be brutally honest with you, I am surprised that you survive the ordeal of bersunat at all. Like a true nature of your "dene" self, I can't expect more.

Thanks for the space Mr. Bergen. I ll cut it short next time.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Nak Tak Nak said...

Reading Jebon's comment reminds me of my nephew. I have never heard a 6 year old shouting so much profanities as the day he had to be 'short-sleeved'.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a non-muslim, I had mine when I was in Secondary Form 5. Looking back, I have to say that it is an experience of a life time that you will never forget.....ever....

Lets say that it has been pain in early in the morning in the toilet for 3 weeks in a row!!!!

Why on earth do I go thru it? I never ask after the 3 weeks...

11:18 PM  

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