23. How to...Ttekèng
If, by your twentieth birthday you still haven't had a good ttekèng with your next door neighbour or your closest mate or the man who sells you bread, then your weltanschauung needs to be looked at. Ttekèng is an active, transitive verb, meaning that if things do go out of hand, someone’s going to be badly hit, normally on the kèng which is widely believed to be the origin of the word. Kèng is the jawbone that rises to prominence on each side of the cheek when your voice rises to a high pitch and your eyes assume a fixed, glazed look accompanied by hands rising akimbo and your vocabulary picking out choice words from the back of your head, mostly ones pertaining to genealogy, reproduction, kinship and organs hidden in the body's nether parts.
From the ensuing noises and wild hand gestures you will have gathered that ttekèng or, sometimes, nnekèng, is another step up from the mere bbalöh. Bbalöh may be high in decibels and gruff, but it is ttekèng that makes the bones rise. It is easy to see from here how some firm advocates of ttekèng are known as kerah kèng or people whose jaw-bones are hard.
To ttekèng well you must learn to choose right. Never, for instance, take a person taller, higher, mightier, louder than you as your ttekèng mate. Never ttekèng when you're already otherwise afflicted, say by a sore throat, and never in a butcher's shop where knives are rampant and the sight of blood will make yours — and your opponent’s — rise. And never, never ttekèng with a man named Mamat Ppala Kerah or people with monikers that sound like that.
The subject matter is unimportant once a disagreement grows loud, a fierce look helps to keep opponent and spectators at bay, while two rising, prominent jawbones will warn your opponent (and passers by) that you're a seasoned expert. A jovial man and a scholar to boot by the name of Sheikh Zain who used to live by the Masjid Putih kept argumentative folk at bay by giving his potential adversary his famous put-down, "Sokok mung sais berapa?"* But as we're not all as adept as the Sheikh and as loud as the guroh** and just as there are so many folk out there who do not know that we are always right, then we must sometimes gird our loins and show our kèng and the most prominent of our jugular veins or the urat merèh in our neck.
* "What’s the size of your hat?" [i.e. "Your brain’s just not big enough, mate!"]
20. How to...Bbalöh