On Trengganuspeak and the Spirit of Trengganu

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Green Umbrellas and New Books & Old Wind on the New

Rainy Day Cycling in Merchang

I have borrowed this photo from my friend Zaharan Razak's blogpage. Read the story behind it at Zaharan's blog, 'I' of the Hornbill, and its sad postscript here.

Not a lot happened on New Year's day in Kuala Trengganu: the winds blew stronger than ever, what Mother called anging tahong baru. Days have slipped past and months and years do concatenate looking at them from here now, but it could be that it was the Chinese New Year later in January that she was talking about, not the advent of the new one in the Gregorian calendar.

The streets were gusty, I remember, in the build-up to January, and the surf rebounding from the breaker jutting out into the rivermouth swirled above the milky water. It was the air ulu coming down from the interior, root, branches and all. What deep forests it meandered through, what hefty trees stood on the swelling banks to bid it goodbye as it dashed and washed its way through carrying buöh rengas and tendrils and sometimes a dead cow to desposit on our shore, far away.

This was the month when I would go to Mök Möh when the clouds had emptied its all into puddles on the roadside, and rain drenched the clothes of market people. Green umbrellas unfurled and plastic raincoats of schoolboys bicycling in the rain, oh what joy. Mök Möh, when time was opportune, would open a gap in the fence around her compound and she'd light the fire and fill the steamer with well-water and there was light and warmth in her little corner as she steamed putus in a row. Yellow putus with fenugreek, glistening white ones of tapioca, and plain brittle ones from rice flour.

There was something exhilarating about this recess in the rain, when a slight gleam of light peeked from the sky and people poured out from their cover, from houses, from under trees, and boys and girls - and adults too - waded in the water just flowing above the road surface in Kedai Payang. In this overflow from the monsoon drains, as they were called, came dead rats and specks of dirt that stuck to feet and left watermarks on surrounding walls. This moment of joy was called mmaing air, playing in the water, when nubile lasses raised their sarongs to show comely legs, when young lads' thoughts turned to the fanciful, when market traders muttered beneath their breaths at the lack of assistance from their sons or daughters when they were desperately rescuing fruits and vegetables and basketry from the sweep of the flow.

Mök Möh's putu, in all its variety, was comfort food for the weather. Hot and crumbly, dipped in sugar, or taken just as they came between a newspaper page lined with banana leaf until the chewing came to its putu core of coconut sugar. The sticky tapioca putu filled the gap in the belly until dinner time of bubur (broth) and salted fish, or, as we sometimes did in our house - the children I mean - we took rice piping hot and folded ghee into it and then, for the kick, we mixed in bits of red chilli pounded with grainy sea salt in the mortar.

We were sitting now in the dining quarter, the bucolic side of our house as opposed to the front that looked down into the urban market. From here we could look out into the kampung and Pök Wè's mminja trees and those other houses on stilts. The mother hens were not clucking now, nor goats bleated, but from narrow gaps in the floor of our tall house we heard the movements of domestic animals seeking comfort and warmth down below.

The calender was still untouched, the daily one that gave the working days in black and the Sundays in red numbers. On the top sheet, as yet untorn, was the greeting, Happy New Year. And Lin Dai, the Hong Kong film star, was smiling enticingly on the stiff backing card that also bore the name of the shop that gave the calendar to Father.

On his writing desk Father kept the monthly calendar given to him by the Pejabak Ugama (Religious Department), days of the month in little boxes and the festivals and significant days of the were inscribed where they belonged, in Jawi.

There was a bigger version of this monthly record of passing days, also with days in little boxes, that marked Racing days in Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur as well as high days and holy days that we arrived at at specific times of the year - Wesak Day and Thaipusam and the two Hari Rayas and Christmas at the end of the year.

The New Year meant a new school term, new second-hand books in the satchel, new faces perhaps in class and most certainly a new teacher. We had the book-list at the end of the last school year, we ticked at names of books that we could cadge or buy at half the original price from friends, and then, at the beginning of the new school term - in the new year - Father give us a few dollars to buy unticked ones brand new from the school bookshop, pages untouched and pristine since the day the printers put them between covers.

The cocks crowed as usual at dawn and the sun peeked occasionaly from between covers as the new old wind blew uncertainly with the light that shone through the crack of the first day of the new-born year.

God rest ye merry everyone, may nothing you dismay for three-hundred days and a bit more.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pök Téng Rises to the Occasion

Diary of Pök Téng II (as faithfully recorded by Tuang Wingsteak)
24th December, 1951

Photo of monsoonal coast courtesy of Ajidul.

Kalu tèngök ggining bumi Teganung ning buléh tahang jugök luahnya. Dari Tanjong ke aröh Ladang tu napök pohong ppisang tinggi lönjöng, pohong mminja dok nnari ddalang anging. Napök sura Tok Sheikh, Sura Besör, Sura Haji Mat Litör, rumöh cikgu Khalid dekat jambang ija.

Tanjong ning lèpèr rupanya, bila seperöng betol-betol baru napök Bukit Besör jaoh sayuk, sebelöh sana Masjid Putéh. Napök Kapong Ttani sebelöh Kölang, kubor luah sapa ke Sekölöh Paya Bunga. Pah tu sebelöh ning sekali lagi ada napök Tanjong Kapor, Tanjong Batu Satu, Tanjong Paya - besör jugök Tanjong ning - barulah napök Ladang sikik lepah könar batu satu.

Sebelöh Keda Payang napök pasör, pah tu balék sana nung ada Kapong China. Tu töh Mat Ppala Kerah dok jjalang kèdèk-kedek nujju ke aröh panggong Mak Ming. Banyök sunggoh pohong, banyök sunggoh orang dok jjalang gi mari. Ppala kita mmusing sikik, kelabu mata, tapi kena wak mmölèk ning sebab kalu jatoh gölök ning bbawöh nyanyelah sape-sape hök kena ddamör ppala.

Kita serabuk perok sunggoh hari ning, kalu kira ggitu dök buat setarang kerja ggining. Awang kite tu takdök kerija setarang habok tapi dok agah nök bbining. Kita dok wak dök je, tapi napök nye macang galök pulök sari dua ning, nye dok nnèwö keliling rumöh Mèk Jènak tu, macang kucing jatoh anök, nye hungga ssana hungga ssining, nök keléh jugok budök ttina garék tu. Hör, tu dia dok ddiri ccacang ddepang sasör rumöh mèk tu, kerising kerinyih dok ccakak apa dök taulah, suka gelèkèk dua-dua orang, takdök aröh nök kata. Awang kita pong dok wak jangöklah sökmö, bböjèng rambok apa serba, sapa kkelik macang lapu nye buboh minyök. Baju tu dök söh nök katalah, dok gösök siang malang, said naik ccadöng nye buboh kanji. Tapi pitih takdök sekèpèng harang, nök bbining guane?

Kita le ning serung kalu panjak tinggi-tinggi ggining. Tapi muséng anging nniup ning örang dok mitök tulong sangak takot buöh nyör jatoh ddebök atah rabong. Kemarèng Mök Song tu nasib baik dök kena pelepöh nyör atah ppala, kalu kena tu nök geröh sunggohlah, bicuk nnötöng. Tapi kalu döh tahu kita dok tinggi sayuk ning dök söhlah dok gi masok bbilik air tu kerèk sangak sebab kita dök larak nök ppaling kelaing döh, bukang sengaja nök tèngök, tapi kalu ssilak napök buléh jadi ttimbér mata!

Susöh nök cari pitih wak beli pape muséng ggining. Minggu lepah dapak jugök samah dua ambék upöh gi ppasör, tapi tu pong habih takdök sekèpèng döh sebab kemarèng habih sakör, hari ning berah pulök tingga dua butér je. Berah hancor pong maha ddö'öh le ning, döh nök wak guane, beli dua tiga cètöng pong tahang jugok dekat seria.

Mamak tu pulök dok mitök kita sapa bbuéh mulok, tulonglah catah pohong nyör tu takut ttipa atah rabong malang nnari. Tulah ambe dok atah pohong nyör ning denge gölök ning, kita asöh takdi di batu ttepi sura. Kita pong ada bawök badik jugök selék ddalang kilah ning takot jjupe ulör ccelöh daung ni. Kalu dia keluör sèkör ambe kena catah selalu, dök léh tunggu-tunggu. Kalu tidök aku dok tèngök mung, mung dok tèngök aku, göbör jugök tu.

Bukang nye kita panda sangak tebang pohong nyor ni, tapi kita dok tèngök Bachök dok buak tu napök mudöh je. Tapi dök léh serunglah, kena buak hanelang, tapi kena tèngök bbawöh jugök sekali sekala. Tadi nök naik tu bismillah bbaik döh, selawak dua tiga kali. Satu lagi bila kerabak tinggi-tinggi ning kena paka seluör pèndèk, pah tu paka kaing ssahang lluör ikat kemah keming, ppala pong kena barot semutar macang orang Barat dok mari jjua ppasör. Nasib baik jugök teringak nök pinjang seluör kecik Awang kita tu takdi, takot orang lengök tèngök kang napök kötèng-kotèng malu je.

Bila naik tinggi ggining baru napök pe'el budök-budök lari cerida ddalang kapong dok ngusék örang ppuang gila tidor atah sura. Nye petöng batulah, nye dok tönyèrlah kat örang ppuang tu, ssiang ke dia. Dia pong dok layang budök-budök tu ba'ape? Tapi dia örang gila kang, kita dök léh dok ikut èrè dia sangak, dia jjalang atah anging, kita hök dok jjalang atah tanöh ning lah patut nye dök layang dia. Betol jugök lah kita ning pong dök ppijök ttanöh le ning, tapi kita dok panjak pohong nyör, bukang dok ssaje.

Lama sunggoh kita dök makang umbok nyör, orang rumöh mesti keponang kalu kita dök wak balék ke dia. Pah tu pucok nyör ni buléh wak bukuh ttupak, pelepöh dia kalu jemör buléh wak bakör akök. Lama sunggoh kita dök makang akök, masa nniköh anök Kelesong dululah gamöknye. Tulah kita dok ingak, kalu Awang kita tu jadilah nniköh takdirnya, guanelah kita nök cari akök banyök-banyök. Kalu anök orang laing adelah jugök rasa nök cari kerija, göhék tèksi ke, ambék upöh angkat berah ke, nök gipong pitis buléh nniköh derah sikik. Takdök setarang niak nök wak ggitu, dok harap ke mök pök die je. Tu dia dok kerising kerinyih macang kera kena belacang ddepang rumöh mèk dia.

Bila napök dia dari sining rasa macang nök gi sèkèh ppala dia, tapi dökkanglah kita nök tingga kerija ning, dok tinggi langgok ccelöh buöh nyör.

Parök jugök tebang nyör ni, tèngök tangang kita ning habih bbèce, betih habis nnelah sebab dok ggatong ke batang nyör tu. Kita tèngök Bacök wak ggitulah, dia ppaok ke batang nyör denge dua belöh kaki kemah kkeming, pah tu dia ggatong ke batang nyör sebelöh tangang, sebelöh tangang lagi dok tetök batang nyör lepah sekaki, sekaki, dia tohok bbawöh satu satu. Pah tu dia gelösör turong, catah lagi, sapalah habih dia turong bbawöh pohong, tinggal akör je.

Nnelah jugök betih kita wak ggining, dök apalah sebab kita bese sökmö döh wak kerja ggining, sapa keluör orak merèh, dok akat sasök Wang Ngöh ttepi pata tu. Kerija kita ggininglah, kena buléh buak serema, bukang macang orang kerija pejabak, dok ccökoh je atah kerusi, nnuleh ddalang bok.

Nasib baik jugöklah kita paka seluör katök Awang kita takdi sebab ada dua tiga èkör kerengga masuk ddalang seluör, kita dang kerènyèk dulu, kalu tidök terok mbènglah, bukangnya buléh lömör minyök rima!

[For translation, go here.]


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Diary of Pök Téng

We have found the diary of Pök Téng, as faithfully recorded by Tuan Wingsteak, an Englishman who left the colonial service to go native in Kuala Trengganu's Ujong Tanjong in the 1950s. He spent his life among the fishermen and enjoyed especially his conversations with Pök Téng, a local odd job man and native sage. We are fortunate that Tuang Wingsteak recorded some of his conversations with Pök Téng in a notebook, found in the glove compartment of his Austin Riley that was donated to the Trengganu Museum (yet to be built) by his next of kin in England when his pen ran out of Quink and he himself finally deceased. Tuang Winsteak, as he was known in Kuala Trengganu, wrote in Jawi in his notebook,
in Pökténgspeak:

December, 20th 1951.

Monsoon in Kuala Terengganu courtesy of Malaysian artist Anuar Dan

Bila dengör ömbök dderu tu naik kemarok pulök, nök makang ikang sarök. Tapi le ning, muséng tutop kuala, ömbök kasör, orang dök kelauk. Napök nye kena dok derumöh je lah, dok makang ubi török. Kalu nök makang pisang tu kena jaga lah sikit, kalu kena pisang dök mölèk tu naik mmulah perok, betang demang. Orang rumöh ambe kata pisang bakorang tu baik kalu beri orang baik demang. Dia tohok sebutir ddalang bara api takdi, pah tu kita makang masa tengöh panas berasap, hilanglah rasa luga, rasa macang nök mmaing rödak pulök.

Muséng turong air ulu ning laok mengaung siang malang, macang bbunyi rima je ssepék ccelöh batang buloh. Kemarèng ada budök pasör tu jereloh ddalang pasir rebih ttepi pata, nasib baik dang ppaok ke dahang pohong bbaru. Kalu dök habislah dia hanyuk ke Pula Rèdang, dudok denge Tuang Puteri, dok dengör Mökyonglah tiap-tiap malang. Tapi ssiang jugök ke dia habih nnelah peha sapa ke lutut. Dia dok nnönènglah di dahang pohong tu takdi sapa orang gi ambek denge perahu jalor buat naik ddarak.

Nök gi dok ttepi pata pong gerung le ning sebab anging kuat bawök masok macang-macang benda atah tebing. Kalu ssilap dok ccakong ttepi pata tu kena buöh rengas, ssiaplah sariyang pulök dok ggaru punggong. Le ning napök nye kenalah gi buang air ddalang rök sebab takut tèngök tebing dok rebih. Lagi pong anging nniuk kuak sangak, ssilap buak, kaing ssahang pulök kena tiup di anging, ssèlok lah napok seluör kkatök.

Kerepok lèkör pong takdok setarang muséng ggining, maklong sajalah muséng ömbök kasör ning örang dök gi kelaut, Mök Song pong dök gètèl kerepok.. Hök ada kerepok kering je, tapi nök görèng minyök nyor takdök setitik hharang, habis Sèmèk tu nye buat minyök rambot. Napök nye kena gi ppatalah ambik pasir halus dua tiga cètöng nök buboh ddalang kuali, bila panah tu mölèk jugök buleh görèng kerepok. Natilah dulu, hujang dok turong ning, pasir pong tengöh basöh jjerok.

Mölèklah dok derumöh petang ggining, kalu ada rizki dapak makang ubi kayu denge nyör parok. Lepah kena air kawa segelah gök jatoh ddebing selalu lah, tidor sapa ggarék .

* * *

Kita ssètök sapa jatoh ppale dari nyör kömèng, ingaknye guroh bbunying dari lauk. Bila buka mata baru napök bumi gelak gelemak, api lak dari atah Bukit Tteri nnyala lik-lik dari jaoh, bunyi dari Sura Haji Mat Kerici tulah yang jadi ambe ssètök. Budök-budök pasör le ning takdök kereja serema sebab ikang dök naik, nye dok kkupol ddalang sura, pah tu nye beratang pukol geduk. Habih rèng nye pepöh kulit lembu tu, dengör sapa ddarak.

Dalang dok jjalang balik tu jeremböng denge Mèk Munöh dok tengöh kutip kayu api ttepi pata. Kita teringat nök kkabör kerepok hok ambe beli dari dia dulu tu dök mölèk. Kita kata ikang tu gatal tapi sebab anging kuat dia silap dengör, nye bedal ppale kita denge peranyöh.

"Bukang ambe kata mung Mèk, tapi kerepok tu yang gata." Tapi bila muka dia masang ccatung tu dia wak dök je apa hok ambe cakak.

Bila balik nök cerita guane ke orang rumöh, döhlah ppale mèröh mmerang, nye ddenyuk pulök macang kena sengak ikang ddukang. "Ba'pe yang muka mung bekök nnötöng, tu Yaténg?" orang rumöh kita tanye sambil tangang dia dok ayök tepong nök wak kuih bèke.

"Döh nök wak guane," kita jawak. "Bila jjalang ttepi pata ta'di kita ssèmbak tali sauh Wang Mang. Jatoh gguling bating, teratok ppala bbira wakaf."

"Tulah mung dök semayang ggarék," dia jawak. "Orang gi semayang mung dok nnètèr ttepi laok!"

[For translation, go here]

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