... once upon a time ... a long long time ago ...

Small satchets of happenings from pockets of my life, as lapses of memories rewind to the particular place, moment and time ... realities of life
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Movie at the School Padang

As featured by LAT (the famous cartoonist) in newspapers and books, I was one of those that experience the movies at the school padang. In the late afternoon, the Kementerian Penerangan land rover will pass our house announcing through his loud speakers that there will be free movie at the school padang that night. The school in Senaling would be the Sekolah Kebangsaan Senaling in Bemban.

When the next Kementerian Penerangan van reaches the school padang, we boys and girls will gather there earlier to watch them set up the big screen, the projectors and the power source (normally from a generator). Before we go home for a bath and dinner (to go to the movies tonight), we would have already booked our space in front of the high large screen; but sometimes someone have to stand by at the space to make sure that nobody else claim it. When we come back for the movies that night, our premium spaces are assured.

Most of us will squat or sit on our mats or small chairs that we brought along. Most others will stand to watch the movies. Of course, in between movie, as depicted by LAT, there will be an announcements or statements for the village folks to hear and know direct from the Kementerian Penerangan. It is an excellent way of reaching to the village folks - for things that you want them to hear and know. But, we naughty boys, instead of watching the movies, have other exciting plans. With a torch lights in our hands, we would torch at the squatting girls and peek to their undies. Maybe a cheap thrill, but not to us; but that was then.

Spider Hunting

Besides the spiders that reside in our ceilings or places in the house or barns that we seldom walk into, the only other spider that I have known is the one that catch in the bushes, keep them in match boxes and sometimes make them fight each other.

These spiders are normally found in between leaves in the bushes. They can be found in plants which leaves are as big as our palms. When you see two leaves sticking to one another; and there is some web in between the leaves, surely there will always be a spider residing there. We would cut off both leaves, slowly open it up and capture the small spider. We put them spiders in match boxers normally together with small cuts of the leaves where they were captured. This is to make sure that they feel at home, even though they are in kept in match boxers.

We sometimes fight them, same principle as the fighting fish. They would open up their small fangs (just like crabs) and fight their hearts out. The ones that kept running away is the losing ones. The winner, as usual, will stand tall until his spider is beaten by another. Meanwhile, the spiders will live in the match boxers; with the green leaves that we have kept them with. At times they may just die away.

Trapping Birds with Sticky Tree Saps

Instead of using the bird cage to trap birds, besides trapping it with the snapping swing-up plant type, we also use sticky tree saps to trap. The prepared sticky tree sap is normally place around a stick and the stick is placed among the branches in the tree. When the bird land on the branch with the sticky tree sap, its feet will stick to the sticky tree sap and thus trapped the bird.

It needs special preparation and skills to prepare the combination of the sticky tree saps. We need some special made up ingredients (a few kinds of tree saps) to come up with the right sticky tree sap dough so that it is sticky enough to hold the birds, but not too sticky to our fingers (which needs to place the sticky tree sap on the stick). First of all, we need a small container and some lubricating oil (normally taken from motorcycle engine). We then walk into the bushes near the jungle to look for the various sticky tree saps. I can remember that there are about 5 kinds of tree saps to make the conducive sticky tree sap - to trap birds.

The specialist is 'Ajih Baroh'; together with 'Ajai', three of us would go from one tree (those identified) to another to cut the tree bark and extract the sap. I can only remember two of them. One is the traditional rubber tree and the other the 'Pokok Pulai' which has grown tall in "Pak Tam's" house. When we have them all, we mix them thoroughly and the end product is the sticky tree sap! Depending on the birds we caught trapped, either we slaughter, grilled them over small fire and eat them; or we would keep those birds in cages that we have built earlier.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fighting Fish

The other leisure interesting activity in the 'kampong' includes looking, catching and watching 'fighting fish' (Betta splendens) fights in small jars in the shack behind our house. Before we could enjoy the 'fighting ceremony' we must first find and catch the 'fighting fish'. Off we go to the padi fields, during off-planting-season) or at the creeks flowing gently in the vicinity of the padi fields.

To identify of the place where the fighting fish resides, you have to look for little small bubbles in small area in small (about 6 inches X 6 inches) water catchment areas in the padi fields or on the sides of the creeks. When we found the place, we would watch quietly and wait for the fighting fish to appear - sometimes it may take a good 20 minutes. As soon as we see the fighting fish, we would use both our palms to scoop the fish out (together with the water) and if we caught it, we would then place it in a small bottles. You must not mix them all together in one bottle; as they will fight each other (especially if they are both male).

After catching a few for each of us, we will then put each of them in different bottles and lay them in a row - admire them which are normally very colourful with large long tails. In between the bottles, we will have to place a small cardboard piece to make sure that they do not see each other. When it is time to make them fight, we will place them in the same bottle and watch them fight each other, until one is hurt - that it would settle to the bottom motionless.

Whichever fish won, the 'owner' will stand proud until the next time his fighting fish is beaten. Now it is commercialised that they are sold in "Aquarium Shops" and expensive too! Back then, we just search the bubbles, wait, scoop, admire and fight them till they die.

Ajih Baroh and Cikgu Rahman

'Ajih Baroh' lives across my house, as he leaves on the 'baroh' part of the main trunk road. I live on the 'darat' part; and as such I have always been called 'Ajih Darek'. He goes to Sekolah Kebangsaan Senaling in Bemban. Cikgu Rahman was then the fierce senior assistant at the primary school. That particular year, Cikgu Rahman married Cikgu Azizah with all the splendours of a ceremony.

Ajih Baroh apparently have been talking about their marriage - including the made-up stories of night time adventures that married couples go through. Somehow or rather, the news reached Cikgu Rahman's ears. As angry as he was, he came to Ajih Baroh's house with a 'large' cane about 3 feet long. Went straight to look for him, corner him in his house and being as stern as he is, caned and pokes into Ajih Baroh's mouth. I could hear him screaming his brains out, but being an elder and a respected person - and it was 'during those times', Cikgu Rahman give him his all.

When it is all done; together with the lectures and advised while the cane whipped Ajih Baroh's cheek and mouth, Cikgu Rahman left with a satisfaction that he had taught a 'boy' the need to not 'talk bad behind' or face the consequences. I remembered seeing Ajih Baroh crying the whole day, still in pain from the whipping and poking of his mouth. His cheek was all black and blue with glaring marks on both sides of the mouth. 'During those times' there was nothing anybody would do; but the guardians actually sided the Cikgu or the then elders with authority.

Now! It would be a different story - flashing on the front page of all major newspapers. Where are you, Hashim Abdul Latif?

Pokok Ketapang and Senduduk

Atok Usop has this liking to plant "Pokok Ketapang" (Indian Almond Leaves) in the house compound (laman rumah). It provides a lot of shades from the sun. There were always a few Ketapang Tree in the house. However, the leaves do drop and shred more often than others; and as such it leaves more leave rubbish on the ground - and it has to be cleared / cleaned up every time. We have to sweep the grounds where the Ketapang Tree lives; usually more often than not. The broom wear faster than it should as it it used more often to clear the 'ketapang' leaves.

Atok Usop provides us with the solution. Off we went to the bushes near the road sides or near padi fields to look for "Pokok Senduduk" (Melastoma malabathricum. Common name : Straits Rhododendron). We will look for a few shrubs of this almost up to 2 metres, cut it off at the roots base and shred all the leaves. Tie a few of the 'senduduk plant' together -v and hey presto it is now a large broom. Since the branches and twigs are tough, it makes good sweeping of the grass less compound, especially the 'ketapang' leaves!

The 'senduduk' have always been used for medicinal purposes : For piles : Use roots of the shrub; cut the roots into small pieces; boil the cut roots with a pot of water until 1/3 of a pot; drink the concoction; take about 3 times a week; should see some result and continue until cure. For high blood pressure and diabetes : Eat the young shoot as 'ulam'; For other uses : Lady's white discharge; herbal bath and diarrhea. Its distinguish features : Attractive purple flowers and dark purplish edible fruit.

We have always used the 'senduduk' plants to replace expensive brooms - to sweep our house compound. However, if you eat the 'senduduk' fruits, you will have purple tongue and lips for the whole day!