Friday, 12 September 2008

Three Ramadan stories

Story 1

There was a hush in the courtroom as the man in black suit, songkok perched smartly on his head, a Quran in hand, approached the bench.

“My Lord,” he stammered looking straight at the presiding judge, “ tonight is the night when the doors of heaven are open wide. It is the night of the Lailatul Qadr. If you release me, I will pay for your tickets to Malaysia to see my birthplace.”

Watching him from the public gallery of the Old Bailey courtroom, my heart sank. From day one it was obvious that the case was not going his way. His further attempts at mitigation only hastened to persuade the judge that he needed treatment.

“I will be getting lots of money as Salman Rushdie is writing my life story. I can pay for your return ticket to Malaysia,” he said, believing every word that tumbled out of his mouth.

Suffice to say, it was in the dank and pitiful meeting room at HMP Brixton that I saw him again. It wasn’t the place for him, not for what he did. He was surrounded by hardcore criminals, tattoo on their arms, violence etched on their faces. He cried for most of the one hour that I was allowed to see him, begging me to get him a transfer back to serve his time in Malaysia, the country he left some forty years before. He started off on an adventure but it was interrupted by love.

He rambled and and I listened, trying to sieve facts from fantasies, trying to find justification in locking him up with robbers and murderers.

“Datin,” he pleaded, forcing me to bite my lips for fear of laughing. “I want to go back. I don’t like it here.”

Ten minutes later, I was a Puan Sri. Such was his mental state that all I could do was listen to his life story, his love story and stories of his very, very sad childhood; all jumbled up with tales of his friendship with Prince Charles and other world leaders and celebrities.

That was our first meeting in Ramadan several years ago. He asked if I could bring him an alarm clock during my next visit as the guards had taken away his alarm clock. It was disturbing other inmates when it went off when it was time for him to take his sahur. He also wanted a new copy of Surah Yasin. When he thought that the guards were not looking he gave me a letter from under the table. It was to be the first of several letters that I received when he was held at Her Majesty's pleasure.

The next visit saw him a happier person as he was then moved to another place – an open prison where he could tend to the gardens that was his lifelong passion. Nevertheless, his state of mind had not improved. Without friends, he took to talking to worms under the floorboards.

I saw him several time after his release and quite recently too. Ahamdulillah he is well. Salman Rushdie never wrote his book and the judge never got the return ticket to Malaysia. He didn’t even recognise me as the Datin/Puan Sri who visited him during Ramadan.

Story 2

A life wasted...

The crowd leaving the mosque after terawikh prayers made their separate ways home. The man in the beige kurta-like shirt crossed the motorway and turned into a side road. It was a warm summer’s night but not many people were around; most probably watching TV or at the pubs. He hastened his steps, perhaps at the thought of continuing the meal that he had after iftar, or perhaps at the thought of his wife who had not been too well during the first week of Ramadan.

The silence of the night was suddenly interrupted by the screeching of tyres; which initially looked as if joyriders were having fun racing along the deserted road. One car was chasing the other not far ahead, then just at the junction of the road, the one behind rammed the other on the side. Then all the man in the kurta shirt could see were flashes that looked like fireworks, momentarily lighting up the night. He stood transfixed as if watching a cops and robbers drama on TV but when the realisation of what was unfolding before him set in, he ran as fast as his legs could carry, passing the car with a body slumped at the wheel.

He arrived home shaken. It took him quite a long time before he felt comfortable enough to walk to the mosque for terawikh again.

Story 3

Why Kueh Gula Melaka will never be the same again....

Thoughts of kueh gula melaka that his wife made for iftar haunted him throughout his terawikh prayers. He couldn’t concentrate as his mind kept thinking of the burst of sweetness of palm sugar that melted in his mouth a few hours earlier. The imam had decided on long verses that night and as usual it was 21 rakaats, none of the 8 that the neighbourhood surau was doing.

The doa’s after the witir prayers seemed unusually long but soon enough, he scrambled out of the mosque and after locating his slippers, said goodbye to his mates and made his way home, the lights from the houses on each side of the road guiding him on his trusty old bicycle.

He made his way straight to the kitchen only to find scraped coconuts left overs of the delicious gula melaka that had been plaguing his mind the whole evening. His disappointment turned to anger.

“Don’t worry, Sayang, I will make some more for sahur,” cajoled his wife sweetly, leading him out of the kitchen to the bedroom.

Like a dutiful wife, she woke up early, washed her hair and prepared the kueh gula melaka, inserting generous pieces of palm sugar in balls of dough before plunging them in hot boiling water. Then she proceeded to roll them in desiccated coconut. She took the pot of boiling water out to the adjoined kitchen that also served as a toilet at night, as it was more convenient than going out to the bathroom, a distance away from the house. Gently, she woke her husband up, promising him the most delicious gula melaka ever made. He needed no more persuasion and woke up and hurried to the kitchen to relieve himself before sahur.

And then, from the dark unlit kitchen came a scream that pierced that silence of the Holy night.

“Oh, dear, I should have thrown out the hot water,” thought the wife guiltily, downing the kueh gula melaka to drown her sorrows.

A disclaimer:

Stories 1 & 2 are based on real events.

Story 3 is just something my mother told again and again when we asked for kueh gula melaka. Tak ada kena mengena dengan yang hidup atau yang mati atau yang tercedera!


Life for Beginners said...

RE: Story No. 3 --- OUCH!!

By the way, if I haven't said it earlier, selamat berpuasa, Kak Teh. :)

Pak Tuo said...

Kak Teh,

Ada lagi satu cerita,
Askar balik Raya...berbuka dirumah tunangnya...
Bakal mak mertua...sediakan makanan best...kesukaan askar tu.
...Gulai Siput Sedut masak Lemak Cili Api.
Siput kan disedut...kalau waktu sedut dan dinyonot bunyinyakan horror..sottttt....sott.....

Waktu berbuka dengan nasi,Askar tadi malu nak sedut siput tu depan bakal mak mertua dan tunangnya,lalu ditelannya aje siput tadi.....terus tercekik...

Selamat berbuka disana.
Berbuka smoke salmon sedap!!

D said...

double ouch!!!

wonderful Ramadhan stories, Kak Teh! would you care to make me some kuih buah melaka some time? ahaks...

ramadhan kareem!

Kak Teh said...

Kenny dear - yes, very ouch indeed! Thanks - am coping very well this year, none of the sugar rush I had last year.

Pak tuo, thanks for sharing the story. Nasib baik dia tak makan ketam!

D, nak kueh gula melaka? hehe, but make sure i throw out the water first !

Madam Tai Tai said...

Hi Kak Teh,

Adui...not only the buah melaka took the plunge into the hot water, someone's buah pun terkena juga air panas! Melecur lah.. :)

Btw, I too love kuih buah melaka.

atiza said...

kueh buah melaka = onde2 right kak teh? it's a simple kuih but the way u told the story (true story or fiction won't matter) buat saya kecurk ayark liork aje :)

mayang mengurai said...

Love those stories! But story #1 leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Anyway, more please.

Kak Teh said...

Madam Tai Tai, tu laaaaa! If you can imagine old kampong houses with the wet kitchen/bathroom ....silap bini juga tak buang air panas.I think both merana.

atiza, oh buah melaka tu onde2, ya? I hope it is fiction - it is too creul to be true.

MM, the first story is a sad case - and old dear who got into the wrong side of the law. ..more? aaah, must look deep in my archives.When you get to be my age, there's plenty and you only need to embellish them a bit!

Pak Tuo said...

Salam Kak Teh,

I wonder how Ketam mengawan and intimates?

In this bless months,for fisrt since ages,I decided to bela ayam. I beli sekor ayam jantan.
He has been going solo for about 3months.Pagi-pagi berkokok tak henti-henti.

After awhile I guess he felt lonely,asyik nak memetok kaki I aje,thus,jes recently I got him a partner.

The rooster I call 'John Boy'the hen is 'Mary Jane'.

The funny thing was,once I letak Mary Jane dalam reban,immediately John Boy 'stunt' Mary Jane.
Now reban ayam I penoh dengan telor ayam.Tumggu Mary Jane megeram.
John Boy dah tak friendly toward me lagi,dia dah dapat partner.

So I wonder,God's AlMighty in pairing all his creature in Pairs.
Kehendak alam I reckon.

Wondering too how on earth ketam mengeram?

bangkai said...

Kak Teh

The guy in story 1 sounds like an old-timer. I wonder what he was in for?

Never in my wildest imagination have I considered 'Buah Melaka' can lead to 'Buah Melecur'

But there you are...

elisataufik said...

hm.. makes me wonder who Story No.1 is about.

dayummm,, terasa nak makan onde-onde lah pulok doh.
*rummages fridge to see if stock kapur masih ada*

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

kak teh, kisah pertama tu buat hati saya berdetik. sedih rasanya. very kind of you to visit him in detention. didn't he have a family?

Hi&Lo said...

Kak Teh,

Story# 1 is the worst tragedy. Fantasy is the only antidote or call it anaesthesia from the pain.

Another word for homelessness is rejection. Failing to find acceptance, people rebel against the system.

Deprived of human dignity, one feels naked. A person needs to be clothed with love and warmth.

Sorry for being melancholic.

bergen said...

Disclaimer: ...yang hidup dan yang mati memang biasa, tapi yang tercedera pun ada masuk sekali? Ini joke Kedah klassssik. he he

Kak Teh said...

Pak Tuo, I wish I did biology or study marine biology - I honestly dont know how crabs do it. Thanks to you, now eating crab sambal will never be the same again as I will be thinking about 'IT'.

Bangkai, he is an old timer who came in 1956 but he has always been a fantasist - In my opinion he did what he did (involving children) honestly thinking that it was alright. Nothing wrong with it. When he was sentenced at the old bailey, I reported it in the NST. Quite a character he is, making headlines even in the British newspapers.

and Buah Melecur?? hahaha, thanks for putting that into my vocab.

Puteri, he did have his own family who disowned him after what he was supposed to have done. I visited him because the only people who cared and were visiting him were people from the church and I was concerned. That was all. It matters not to him who visited him then, because he has no recollection now. But last ramadan I prayed with him, this merdeka celebration, he was around...still quite well. It is a sad story, but difficult to differentiate the facts from the fantacies.

Kak Teh said...

elisataufiq, ooops I 've answered yr question about who that number one is. He had a colourful life. Ya, pi lah buat onde-onde and tell me about it. Just throw the hot water away.

Hi&Lo, I think now he finds support and friendship among old friends. He has support now.

Bergen, hehe, someone has mentioned yang melecur - perhaps I should have added that!

Chahya said...

3 stories from a good storyteller? Tak puas..More...more...I want more.
Re story no 1: mcm kesian pulak..
Re story no 3: lagiii kesian..hehehe

Kak Teh said...

chahya, cerita nombor tiga tu memang kesian...puasa lebih daripada sebulan!!

Sunflora said...


I enjoyed all 3 :)

Kak Teh said...

sunflora, thanks. Oh, last few days, my imam and bilal both wore the jalabiyah from you. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

What if dia ada kencing manis.. aduuuhh...nyaya eh

must have been a good size drop that to get what he got..yeah?

things wont be the same again i guess, esp each time seeing the onde:)

~ dak din

Kak Teh said...

anon: I think that cured his cravings for onde-onde!

NJ said...

Salam Kak Teh,

#3 Triple Ouch!!! Hehehe...

More stories please... :D

Kak Teh said...

nj, i am hardly a story teller, but will try to trawl my archives - hard work that this ramadan...mind tends to mengalamun.

simah said...

cerita gula ai...u made my mind wander dalam dok posa ni akak ..:0) love the stories though...

just a question...forgive my ignorance.. gula melaka tu dari apa yea akak?

Kak Teh said...

Simah, Wikipedia came to my aid to help explain Gula Melaka.

"Gula melaka is made by making several slits into the bud of a coconut tree and collecting the sap. Then, the sap is boiled until it thickens after which, in the traditional way, it is poured into bamboo tubes between 3-5 inches in length, and left to solidify to form cylindrical cake blocks. Alternatively it can be poured into glass jars or plastic bags. Gula melaka is used in some savory dishes but mainly in the local desserts and cakes of the Southeast Asian region. Gula Melaka Sago pudding, shown in the picture, is one of many desserts made with gula melaka. It is among some of the more popular gastronomic delights of Peranakan (Chinese-Malay) origin. This dish consists of a bland sago pudding served with gula melaka syrup. In some ways it resembles the international Creme Caramel and differ only in the ingredients used. It can be served either cold or hot. To enrich the pudding, coconut milk or 'santan' its Malay name, is added. Santan is the South-East Asian non-dairy counterpart of the dairy cream, the latter either whipped or in liquid form, is used mainly in Western cuisines but both add richness or provide viscosity when these are required."

Hi&Lo said...

Kak Teh,

Nona in India celebrating life with her new found community. The joy written all over their faces smack with 'mischief' is very infectious.

Nona is one daughter any parents can be proud of. Not only is she independent but she is willing to discover and broaden her horizon.

She is a survivor in any situations. She thrives on challenges.

Count Byron said...

Lovely stories to recount to our fasting children.. just like the one Mak recounted.. ouchh
Buah melaka these days are dismal relatives of BM in our days; the coconut are no longer juicy, the gula melaka almost none existent and the taste.. ahhh not too good to describe here.
We will make some if you do visit us in Johor KT

Ms B said...

Kak Teh,

Love #3!!! *LOL*

But then again, serves him right. *LOL* How could he ask for kueh melaka during sahur? Poor wifey.

ps: guess fasting pumps out ur creative juice, eh?

Fatehah said...

kesian tok imam..
mesti the next day jalan terkangkang-kangkang..

kay_leeda said...

Kak Teh,

Oh dear... buah melaka is my favourite. Used to help Grandma to prepare this wonderful sweet those days for berbuka. And I know how hot is the air celur nya itu.

Poor guy. Buah melaka would give him the "hots" and not the "sweets" anymore huh...


melayudilondon said...

Eh KT, i pernah tak bikinkan buah melaka for you? hmmm tak ingat pulak.

Typhoon Sue said...

i beli buah melaka last week. sumpah tak beli dah kat org tu. Dah le liat, gula melaka dia pun sikit sangat. Jebon sungguh. Nanti balik kpg nak suruh mak buat lah. But must remind her not to leave the bowl of hot water in the bathroom.

kesian cik abang...

Kak Teh said...

Hi&Lo, thank you and thank you for leaving an inspiring message in her blog. Apologies on her behalf as she is internetless now - just now, after a three hr jeep ride from Darjeeling to jalpaiguri, they too train for a two day train journey to Bangalore. Insyaallah after just a few hours in Bangalore - she will take the plane at midnight to KL. She will need a long rest.

count, i have not had onde-onde or buah melaka for a long time - perhaps I shd try making some and not forget to throw away the hot water!

Kak Teh said...

Ms B, tu laa, some husbands are so demanding and manja , nak makan itu ini bulan posa... Good to see you the other night.

fatehah - hahaha - kalau dia boleh berjalan!! Kalau tidak kena bawa dengan stretcher.

Kak Teh said...

kay_leeda, it will be a long time before her gets the hots for the sweet again. Such painful memories.

melayudilondon, no, no no, you tak pernah pun buatkan onde-onde when you were here - just your delicious nasi ayam and roti john!

sue, memang kalau liat tak sedap. Tu yang cut corners tu..tak cukup bahan. (ish macamlah kak tehtau apa bahan dia!). yes ask yr mak to make it and remind her to throw away the hot water. Kalau tidak nanya saja!

Queen Of The House said...

Hahaha .... tapi takkan tak perasan air hangat??? Ouch!

Hi&Lo said...

Kak Teh,

Nona inspired me more than my mere words. She has an uncommon streak cos it's common to stay within the comfort and familiar zone.

I won't go as far as Nona. She gives me courage to dream dreams and take risks.

msiagirl said...

Dearest Kak Teh, Sorry saya MIA sahaja...I wanted to belatedly wish you selamat berpuasa. Take care ya? x

a malaysian in riyadh said...

May I share a couple of anecdotes on court drama and our traditional kueh.

The first anecdote is a follow up to the drug trafficking trial involving the American. The police found the drug while he was staying at my friend’s house in Damansara Heights, hidden in a Quaker Oats tin. During the trial, one important fact that had to be established early on is who owns the Quaker Oat tin, I suppose. My friend, at times a drama queen, was asked:

Question One: What do you normally eat for breakfast?, or something to that effect.
Oh boy didn’t she relish that question. Pucuk dicita ulam mendatang. Guess what was her selamba answer …

Question Two: Do you take Quaker Oats at any time during the day or night?
Answer: No No No. That is for duck.

Second anecdote is about kueh ketayap or kueh gulung which comes in various psychedelic colours; pandan green, roti jala yellow mellow, or pink guava.

I was taking my first international flight (to London) with my A-level mates (3 from VI, 2from Sek Men Teknik, and myself the only one from the East Coast).

When the stewardess walked up the aisle carrying a tray laden with steaming “kueh ketayap” just before takeoff, I whispered (dengan selambanya) to one of my A-level mates: Cepatnya serve food.

Kak Teh, you know they are not serving food. They are giving the passengers hot towels!!!

The above story is all true, except for Question Two, which was never asked. But I know my friend would give that kind of answer, if asked. I haven’t seen her for more than 15 years now.


Mama Rock said...

hahaha...your onde-onde story had me rolling ont he floor :)

AuntyN said...

Kak Teh,

La ni susah sikit nak melecur dah. Ramai yang dah tak buat kueh buah melaka dah. Beli saja kat pasar ramadhan. 3 paket RM1. Tak gaduh nak bangkit pagi2 nak buat dah....

Salam ramdhan to you and family.

Diam tak dian dah 19 hari dah no. Sat saja dah sampai penghujung,

Lydia Teh said...

I enjoyed those stories, Kak Teh. When are you going to compile them into a book la?

shidah said...

salam kak teh,

story 3 tu mcm real je... tapi since dah ada disclaimer.... btw selamat berpuasa.

Kak Teh said...

QOTH, dia tengah mamai tu...and oh boy, did he raelly wake up after that!

Hi & Lo, of all my children, she seems to be the most determined. Even when she was young, a kid, she'd work washing plates, wait on tables and sweep the floor, to get enough money to buy a scooter or to go on school trips. This trip, I couldnt deny her because she worked hard until the very last day before she flew to Bangkok. And then, I can only pray that she arrives home safely.

msia girl, I have been busy as well and hope you are well. Will keep in touch.

Kak Teh said...

aMiR, your last story reminded me of the time we were in Nahar Cafeteria in Paddington. We were eating when a Mat Salleh walked to the counter - he wanted to impress his friend about malaysian customs etc..and so when he saw the rolls of kueh ketayap on the counter, he told his friend that Malaysians use those to wipe their son had tears rolling down his cheeks as tried to suppress his laugh. And he imagined how that guy's face will be full of kelapa if he were to do that! That was so funny.

mamarock, onde-onde will never be the same again!

auntyN, di sini manalahnak cari gerai jual kueh. Kalaulah ada pasar Ramadan!!

Kak Teh said...

lydia, I wish i am as disciplined as you are...i keep saying - one day! One day!

shidah, mungkin cerita tu betul kut!! Tak ada orang mahu mengaku!
selamat berpuasa to you too.

IBU said...

Kak Teh ni tauu... dok serious baca 1 & 2, then came 3. Hahaha...... kesian PC ni tengok I sengih sorang2. That was a good one! Thanks for the tickle.

Kak Teh said...

Ibu, semalam at malaysia hall i had some onde-onde and I just couldnt stop smiling to myself. It'll never be the same again!

simah said...

salam akak..ramadhan is nearly at itz end.... salam aidilfitri dari kami sekeluarga di istanbul..maaf zahir dan batin..

Class Monitor said...

Salam Kak Teh,

Buat teristemewa Kak Teh dan keluarga moga terhibur di hari lebaran


mekyam said...

dear kt,

"Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir Batin!" to you and AG and your lovely children!

cooler yet over there?

Argus Lou said...

Sad No. 1 story - but what was his so-called crime? Don't mentally disturbed folk get treatment in a psychiatric hospital in the UK?