Sunday, June 24, 2007


It sometimes takes the misery of others for one to count his blessing, to be thankful and grateful, eternally.

I realize from what I went through today, the parallel in the stories foretold often in the Quran. Muhammmad (peace be upon him) was in many occasions, when lost and dejected by the treatment he received from his own people, be comforted in the stories of the miseries and tragedy of the earlier prophets, of Jesus, Moses, Aaron, Jobs and others.

Only in the light of another’s misery one feel the lightness of one’s own pain.

Today, I sat in the company of two old ladies. Distraught and poor. I held back my tears as I watched them eating a few pieces of biscuits and a cup of plain tea. I could see that they are hungry.

Maaf deh, mak cik dok malu nok mitok, sebab mak cik dok makang lagi.

I almost choke as I answered them. ‘Malu mende gok mak cik, orang kaya pung dok berhenti m’itok (meminta).’ And I silently add, ‘and had our fair share of rejection too.’

They could not understand it, I am sure. I said it not about others but myself.

To be here, they must have traveled a long way, and another long way awaits them before they could see the door of their home somewhere. Home – if one could call it such.

And as I watched them, I wash away the anger and frustration bottled within me earlier. The anguish of losing something once in a while, as I could now see, is nothing in the scale of true, almost perpetual misery.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

of kherling and kherlak

If there were to be a grouping, the cerelong would be grouped together with kherling and kherlak. Take note that in kherlak, the a is pronounced as a (as in bar) and not as o (as in lock). Some Terengganuan would prefer to spell as kherelak. The grouping of cerelong, kherling and kherlak was as they all refer to matter of using one’s eye.

To cerelong is to stare.

To kherling (jeling in standard Bahasa Melayu) is to ogle or as some say ‘tengok ikut ekor mata’ (to cast a sideway glance / to see from the corner of one’s eye).

To kherlak is to nod off, to momentarily fall asleep.

When Heliza the sweet Terengganu lass entered the final of Akademi Fantasia 5 recently, many commented on how beautiful her eyes are. ‘Kalu dia kherling ke kita, caaiiir bang.’ (If she should cast a sideway glance at us, our heart melts, brother).

But of the previous year winner from Terengganu ….

Faizal tu? Mende gok? Kalu dia nyanying, aku buleh kherlak.’ (That Faizal? What so? I could fall asleep when he sings.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Of ‘kherlok’ and ‘kherlong'

Kherlok’ describes a state when a person became obviously fearful or intimidated by another person or situation. The best description is of a tortoise withdrawing its head into the shell when in danger. Chicken too, tend to withdraw their head when afraid. Perhaps how the proverb ‘chicken out’ comes about. Kids especially (and elderly too) has a similar reaction to lower their head when afraid, usually when being screwed, gets a lashing or a dressing down. All figuratively.

Kherlong’ means greedy, voracious, gluttonous etc. A kherlong person usually will want to take all to him or herself and has little regards about sharing with others. It is however selectively used on someone who is well off but equally greedy.

Kherlong sungguh Semek, habih nye wak alik kue, padahal orang laing dok dang makang pong’ (That Semek was so greedy. She took away all the cakes when others have not eaten)

‘Mek Yah lagilah, kherlongnya, je’put atas pinggang aku pung dia ambik.’ (Mek Yah was worse, she’s so gluttonous, she even took the je’put from my plate.)

A closer illustration on the right type of a kherlong personality would be on someone who falsify income statement to qualify for free text book, food assistance program, tekun loan, baja subsidi or specifically in the case of Terengganu, the ‘wang ehsan’. ‘Herang sungguh aku. Hok gi ambik wang ehsang tu, ada hok paka kereta pong. Kherlong nye dia.’ (I’m surprised. Among those that take the ‘wang ehsan’ are those with cars. How voracious is he?’

‘Kherlong’ is sometimes confused with cerelong.’ To ‘cerelong’ is to stare, to eyeball or to look angrily at someone.

‘Maroh sungguh dia kat ku. Meroh mata-mata dia cerelong kat ku.’ (He was furious at me. His eye was blood shot when he stares at me.)

An inspirational illustration.

Mamat budak nakal. Dia cuma takut ayah dia je. Kalu ayah dia cerelong pun dia kherlok doh. Kalu ayah dia deheng, lagilah dia takut, kecik pala-pala dia lari masuk rumah.

Mamat is a naughty boy. He only fears his father. He quiets down just by his father’s stare. If the father snarl, he would be scared shit and quickly ran away into the house.

Je’put is the way we pronounce jemput-jemput or cokodok or cucur kodok.
Deheng is to make a noise in the throat, growling more or less.
Kecik pala-pala directly translated as shrinking head to mean being terrified or scared shit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A matter of smell.

Kuala Lumpur has shown its true self. The estuary of mud. Exactly. The June 10 flood had the city soiled. Again?

Lat’s cartoon had me laughing out loud. An amphibian plane flying over Selangor Padang, the pilot announcing ‘we’ll be landing shortly, in DBKL.’ The Datuk Bandar, DID Director, Works Minister, and the Smart Tunnel Engineers, could not even smile I’m sure. Who would? Not after a photo of dejected Pak Lah graced the front page, so soon after a happy one of him gracing the headline a few days earlier.

In one tabloid, a photo of a KL-ite walks pass the muddy road, holding his breath. It must be stinking. The smell of drying mud is normally just ‘hapak’ but with the content of the overflowing river, some carcass incuded, it could be ‘busuk kohong’.

A KL friend, when I called, said there is mud everywhere, it’s good for ‘samak’ he said. It is like somebody wants to samak the whole city. Cruel thought I said. But the flood must have raised their blood pressure level several notches. He must be forgiven for thinking that way.

We have a superfluous way of describing smell. ‘Busuk’ – stinks I think. ‘Busuk kohong’ – stinks to high heaven.

On the lesser degree, there is ‘ko-uh’ to describe the stale air of a damp space. Like the damp carpet in some cheap hotel room. It too of a sweaty body. Not very unlike ‘hapok’ of the Bob Marley hairdo, or the unwashed jeans or ‘spender’ some would say.

But we too love the stinky stuff, the acrid smell of tempoyak, the pungent smell of belacan, or the hapak of ikan pekasam or the durian that had earned the status of ‘taste like heaven but smells like hell’. And then there were budu and cencalok.

The flood would not have happen the engineers say, had the smart tunnel be completed. Or had it not rain that much, the weather man say. The Smart Tunnel would have ensured a flood free city, so they all say. But it floods all the same.

The main work man said, ‘kalau kita tidak mahu banjir berlaku, kita perlu belanja tujuh ke sembilan billion lagi.’

Seven to nine big B? Someone rushes to the drawing board.

Someone else had the proposal ready. Already.

It smells fishy.