Sunday, April 27, 2008

Love Letter.

Ustaz says to Yusof and me; you sit here, and you go sit over there. And so that's how I got to sit close enough to Anita to figure out something while the class is going on. This being our second Agama class in a week in Form 1A classroom, I figure there's no need to rush things that could land me in trouble again, but it's hard not to rush things when Anita is so close behind me in a row to my right, and Kamal is a couple of seats further behind in the row to my left.

Ustaz calls out a name. A guy tries to read out a page from a book but he can't read too good and so Ustaz makes him go to the front. Another guy got called out but he can't read too good either and so he joins the first guy standing in front of the class. I figure I'm pretty safe on account I don't have the book which gives Ustaz a good reason not to call me to read out the page, which also gives me plenty of time to write a letter to Anita and pass it to her at the end of class. And so I write Anita a letter that goes something like this;

First I draw a picture of Anita and Faizah walking about the schoolyard. Anita has got the ribbon in her hair, and Faizah doesn't have any because she's not important. And then I draw a guy standing by the stairs looking out to them. This guy has got the dialogue bubble that says; 'Marka Jambu!' And then I draw a bit of the school building, and a bit of people milling about. You can't make out who these people are because I draw them small and they stand very far away that they look more like match sticks lining up the picture. And then I sign my name: Bergen (of course this is not my real name but for this entry let's presume this has always been my name because a guy like me can't have any other name except this one. I put a title on the letter: Anita Marka Jambu.

Ustaz calls out a name and a guy reads good. And then he calls out another name. By now a group of guys standing in front of the class has swelled quite a bit to include some girls too. Anita can't read too good and so she joins a group of girls standing in front of the class. And then Ustaz says; hah, oghang Trengganu, mai baca buang sekali tengok. This got a few laugh from the boys in class but I don't see what's so funny about it and so I look hard at one of the boys who laugh. I say; tak ada buku, Ustaz. He says something like this; Hang jangan nak dok pelemah mai buang, jangan dok nak buat loyar buruk, faham? Between you and me, I've been on Penang Island hardly a few months and I haven't quite gotten used to a lot of things like what he has just said about buang buang buang. And I'm thinking; nak buang apa? But all this comes to an end when a guy from the back gives me the book which he's been kind enough to open to a page I gotta read from. It's a short verse of a Qur'an that I've read long long time ago but I haven't been reading the Qur'an since the first day I came to live with Aunt Su and Pakcik Syed in Penang. They don't have a Qur'an in the house and I don't see a single sajadah in the house and I don't see Aunt Su or Pakcik Syed pray a single raka'at. All I've seen is Aunt Su and Pakcik Syed fighting night after night about money which got Pakcik Syed to leave the house to come back later in the night when every one's asleep, walking into the house swirling about like a boat in a rough storm, smelling of cheap liquor.

I start to read. And the verse got to me deep. I read loud. I think of Grandma. I think of Aunt. I think of Cousin. I think of Dungun. I hear the Azan from the mosque behind our house. I see Grandma smiling. I hear her voice, clear as the morning breeze. I miss Dungun. I miss home. Ustaz says; you read good. Of course I read good. You would read good too if you had been taught by Grandma.

We're walking toward the bus stop when Yusof says; I didn't know you can read good. Maybe you can teach me one day. No, I never had the chance to teach him to read. We were too busy stealing money from the beggars on Penang Road to do any reading. Besides I wouldn't know how to teach someone who doesn't know an Alif if it hits him in the head like a ton of brick. Furthermore, how was I supposed to know that my heart was slowly getting clogged with slime now that I am no better or worse than Yusof and Siva. Dungun is fading in my mind like the land I see slowly disappearing into the horizon when the evening falls on Gurney Drive while I munch on rojak apek feeling brave as a warrior even though it is Maghrib.
I never wrote Anita another letter. I never sent her one either. My heart belongs to the pretty girl I saw in the movie poster in Dungun. I promise myself that I'll write a million love letters addressed to her when I find her.


Blogger tokasid said...

Salam Bergen:

Marka Jambu! Now I have not heard those words for a long time. I'm not sure if its still in used. What I heard now are Minah gua, awek,cewek,gepren. Not Marka jambu.At least not in Melaka.

You must be really high that day,sitting close to marka Jambu.I wonder what Kamal the skinny hairy boy felt. I am sure he must have reacted to you after class. And I am wondering if Kamal got the honour of standing infront too for the reading part.

I can see your life in Penang is becoming a total opposite that of Dungun but its these experiences that made you what your are now. if you were to remain in Dungun you might turn out different(maybe the MB for Trengganu now.LOL!)

Speaking of Aunt Su, how is she nowadays?

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Dhahran Sea said...

Salam Sir Bergen.
Nostalgic lah! I suspect many of us boys did have a brush (or a close one) with 'marka jambu' in our primary school days... those were the days! In my case some of those 'marka jambu' now (after 40+ years to be fair) do look literally like 'jambu batu' or 'jambu siam'... but then again we 'heroes' pun apa kurangnya? Some of us look like 'tempayan' now! That's life I suppose?

8:14 PM  
Blogger tokasid said...

Minta laluan:

Dhahran sea: Ya syeh, what you said about the Marka Jambu are now like jambu batu or jambu siam is very true.And we are no better( but I do think Bergen here is not much different from his younger days).

Just the other day, a friend was telling that in the 80s, his cousin was mengoratting a teacher's daughter which was very jambu. Recently when he went back to Kedah he saw the Marka Jambu. She is more like "guni beraih penuh".

8:34 PM  
Blogger Kata Tak Nak said...

Marka is still used in Penang but awek is more popular. Jambu is now mainly reserved for the not too manly male who shamed a woman with his softness.
From some of my relatives who treats the Penang prison or any other prison for that matter, as a hotel, where they, more than just occasionally frequent for the much needed R&R, jambu is reserved for anyone new who is good looking. Once the term is given to you, you should literally look after your back.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Mek Na said...

haha i LOL reading comments here. tokasid...menggorating, guni beraih penuh.. funny though :P.

cakap tak nak...yaa betui...marka jambu la ni org jarang kadang2 ada gak kami dengaq

sir bergen - ye la how's ur aunt su now?

11:21 PM  
Anonymous asia said...

very good writing..@ least 4 my reading;) the way u put it brought me way back when i was in lower secondary.

wish u good day sir bergen;)

12:06 PM  
Blogger @ir££n said...


2:57 PM  
Blogger Nazlina said...

*LOL!!!* *ROTFL!!!*

Especially part "buang" HAHAHAHAHA! :-)

4:36 PM  

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