Hard Kor Player
To have street-cred you must have kor.
A kor is a throwing object which is used in a game. Name a game. Well, as one of you have pointed out, ggeng. There's no mystery to ggeng actually, as it features prominently in the children's calendar of many cultures; it's hopscotch. To hop, like a Scotch (presumably) or to play the ggeng, you'll need a kor to throw into the squares. So you look around for the most balanced piece of discarded porcelain, a chip off an old Ming if you're lucky, trim its corners till it's nicely rounded, then take the sharpness off its edge so that when you keep the kor in your pocket it'll not cut into your delicate areas.
A kor could have come from the sea, from the land where the kor trees grow. In its sodden, unpolished, tangled-in-seaweed state it's called buah ipir or buah gomok, and they come drifting in from the sea as ebony coloured flat seeds the size of a baby's palm. The seed has a tough, white kernel, and needs a lot to be done before it becomes a kor. A good many things come drifting to us from the sea in Trengganu: the spaghetti length rumput jjuluk that I've blogged about, the tune of the nobat, and kor. All, with the exception of the lilt of the nobat come drifting to us in the months of the musim gelora when the waves roll up in turbulent shapes and the sea spirits speak in a deafening roar. Folk don't venture out to sea these monsoon months, the sea comes to us and washes things ashore.
The buah gomok is taken home and polished with spit and Kiwi. Its kernel is sometimes left intact to give weight to the kor but often it is picked out bit by bit with a sharp stick, or cleared out in devious ways. (For a short look at the craft of kor see Long's contribution in Comments below, along with other memories on games that children play(ed) in Trengganu).
The game of wak is indeed toh or tol which basically is hide-and-seek. Wak has the added ingredient of a kor made from a milk can that's filled with pebbles, then sealed like a wedge by flattening its open rim together with a fist-sized stone, with great childish effort as to make the bibir jjueh, till the lips are pursed in concentrated intensity. This kor is the object that is thrown as far as possible when the game is played, and a person on the search team goes to retrieve it, maybe from behind a rok, a bush, then places it within a circle that's been drawn in the game area. The object is to go and catch all the players from the other side by a cot,i.e. by touching him or her, or by naming him or her on sight. For the other side, the object is to creep back quietly, then get hold of the kor and rattle it furiously in the air. Then the game is played again, hiders and catchers taking their positions status quo ante.
A game is an arduous thing and is normally played after school, near ggarib, time of the first solat (prayers)of the evening that comes soon after sunset. The object is to finish the game before bathing time at the well, then home for prayers and dinner. It's better to be a hider than searcher, but some players are born searchers, never managing to go to the one up position, much against their desire. Some just give up, returning home instead of going to retrieve the kor, leaving their tormentors hiding forever in the rak or behind the jambang, the outside toilet. Sometimes the hiders themselves collude to play a dirty trick on the searchers, and go home instead of into hiding, leaving the kor carrier on the lurch. [But see also, buah ggarek in comments below.]
A person or team that cannot play to better their position time and again is called lepek. To be a lepek is an onerous thing, and a shameful thing, for the name sticks even beyond play. To school even, at recess time, you're taunted for being a lepek, carrying the flag of defeat, of a wimp stuck in a rut, and a playground non-performer. Hence the taunting note in the verse that d'arkampo has brought back to us:
Pek pek liIn other words, once a lepek always a lepek. The opening lines to the verse is, I think, mock Arabic. We were influenced in those days by what we learned at Qur'an classes and in religious instruction, and Arabic permeated our lives, even if we spoke little of the language. The way we used to sing it was : Pek li/Watakollang... The ellision between the nonsense words watakok and lang (watakollang) gave it an Arabic flavour, as did pek li which sounds to me like the Arabic fe'li, which means 'actual', 'de facto', 'real'; from the word fi'il, activity or behaviour. We use pe'el in Trengganuspeak, to describe someone's behaviour, as in "Isy, pe'el budok ning hudoh ssunggoh!" ("This kid's behaviour is, oh my goodness!").
I don't know where kor came from, but I suspect it came from Yemeni shores, with the Sayyids on those dhows. We had many in Trengganu of such pedigree, and I can just imagine their little kids playing their little games with the locals, and producing their little kor. Except that it wouldn't have been kor that we were yet to know, but kurah, a globe, a little ball. "Apa tu?" "Ini kurah ana." "Oh, kor!"
It may not be as fanciful as you may think. Some Trengganuers probably remember our bola sekalad, our name for the tennis ball. What's sekalad? Why, from sakhlat of course, which exists both in Arabic and Persian for a woolen cloth, the texture of the tennis ball.
Then there's sakhlat ainul bana' but that's another story...
I can't thank you enough for all your wonderful comments, bringing back all those fun and games from memory, some I've forgotten, some I'm delighted to have rekindled. Those kids' verses especially are a gem. Thank you all, you wonderful people!