Wednesday, December 15, 2004

naik b’ulang

On July 20, 1969, the human race accomplished its single greatest technological achievement of all time when a human first set foot on another celestial body.
Six hours after landing at 4:17 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (with less than 30 seconds of fuel remaining), Neil A. Armstrong took the “Small Step” into our greater future when he stepped off the Lunar Module, named “Eagle,” onto the surface of the Moon, from which he could look up and see Earth in the heavens as no one had done before him.
He was shortly joined by “Buzz” Aldrin, and the two astronauts spent 21 hours on the lunar surface and returned 46 pounds of lunar rocks. After their historic walks on the Moon, they successfully docked with the Command Module “Columbia,” in which Michael Collins was patiently orbiting the cold but no longer lifeless Moon.
(Quote from ‘NASA Apollo 11 30th anniversary website

I had lunch with RI few days ago. He is an aspiring ‘yet to accomplish’ politician. I say ‘yet’ because I personally believe he got what it takes to be a good career politician; education, political experience, charm and vision. But sadly enough, most of the good one like him ‘dies young’; missing on opportunities to be the coveted YB’s. In the troubled water called politics, a ‘broye’ just can’t match the ‘nage’. No, I am not saying he is either of one, but best wishes to him anyway.

RI was lamenting about the challenge of motivation. See, he is a ‘penceramah motivasi’. To him, motivating the Malay youth by telling histories of Malayan Union and Independence is outdated. Those are something they did not went through and could not understand. Instead he says, the approach is to talk about something much closer in their history. I could not agree more. If ever I told my kids that I used to have only ‘seposeng’ a day to school they would remark ‘cakak mende gok hok zamang kirong tu, ni zamang laing doh…’ Imagine what a group of troubled youth would retort to. When he talked about the time when man first ‘naik b’ulang’. Salwa, Shida, ‘Braheng’ and Embong were there. They listened politely; but I saw only amusement on their faces. To the children of 70’s, even the history of 1969 were not really believable. But that part of history was true. I was there then as a ‘nearly’ five years old but I remember.

My recollection of the event.

In 1969, there was not a TV in my kampong. Only radios – and we listened to it just like you would to watching Astro of today. Then at nearly five years old I already could read and I read the Utusan Malaysia which my father devotedly buy daily (even to these days). Moon landing was a big thing; almost fully capturing the headlines and the radio airtime. Because of the news, the sensation it created, we were looking to the heaven, searching for the orbiting ‘rokek’ around the moon.. Of course we saw none, how can we believe the landing to be true. At the ‘kedai kopi’, at the ‘wakah’ while playing ‘dang aji’, at ‘b’asa’ while sorting out’ ikang rebuh’ or ‘be’ki pukak’ and even at the surau, moon landing captured our imagination. Among the elders and among kids, we were arguing. ‘N’awok’ (Lies), some would say, ‘bakpe dok napok pong? (why can’t we see it)’ Others may reply, ‘N’awok g’ane, gangbo ade kang, dok kang gangbo pong n’awok! (It can’t be a lie, there are pictures, pictures don’t lie)’ Then someone chipped in, ‘Tok Imang pong kate n’awok (The imam said it was a lie)’. The village imam (or was it another of the visiting Ustaz?) had passed his verdict. I was there at the surau when the Ustaz was ‘n’gajor kitak’. I was not there to learn any ‘kitab’ actually but to join the ‘makang’. The argument however was captivating. Otherwise how can I remember it to these days.

‘Orang kape belake tu wak cita orang naik b’ulang. Nok n’awok s’ape? Dalang kitak kate doh kang, nok naik langik tu ada berapa lapih? Ada tujoh lapih. Tiak-tiak lapih ade mele’kak tunggu. Nabi naik langik pong kena soal. Kalu orang kape kene soa, nok jawak mende!. Dok leh jawak mele’kak lepo slalu nge api. (Only the non-believers make up stories about the moon landing. In the Books, how many levels of heaven were mentioned? Seven! At every level there was an angel guarding. Even the Prophet was stopped and asked on his way to heaven. If the non-believers were asked, what would they answer? If they can’t answer, the angel will immediately assault them with fire.)

Then he added, ‘Ni ayak Quran ade doh ni. Dok dang sapa langik pong ada doh lapisang api’, (It’s stated in the Quran, there is a ring of fire below the heaven) quoting from the Quran.

In another occasion (and at nationwide too) the debate rages when someone asked ‘Kalu gi b’ulang nok semayang hadak m’ana? (Where do we turn our face to pray on the moon).’

On hindsight that was interesting. Even in 1969, before the introduction of war-cry ‘Malaysia Boleh’ there were already interest among Malays to be on the moon; and a strong desire not to miss the obligation of prayer even while in outer-space.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." - Neil Armstrong

Even until now there are skeptics of the moon landing. The Van Allen Belts of radiations fits the bill of our ustaz own definition of the ‘lapisang api’ (ring of fire). Film buff may recall ‘Capricorn One’ (1978) starring James Brolin, OJ Simpson etc about fake Mars (not moon) landing. Recent lunar conspiracy theorist may refer to
Mary Bennet,and David Percy (2001) Dark Moon: Apollo and the Whistle-Blowers; Philippe Lheureux (2003) Moon Landings: Did NASA Lie?. For current web offering on the ‘bluff theory’ please check ‘Ground Zero (

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