Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Marital Inflammation

She was battering our kitchen's window with her palms. Her chest waved heavily under the thin fabric of her pajama. Panting. Her hairs were messy. Her meagre face looked pale under the hues of the kitchen's fluorescent light. There was a gold necklace slung around her neck, laying helplessly on her protruded collar bone.

I knew it had happened again. It was not the first time. Somewhere from the pitch darkness, a fierce voice of an old man darted into cracks of the wooden walls. I knew the voice.

She battered the window harder than before, crying and pleading for help. I barely understood her words since the turbulent emotion really took a heavy ride in her, galloped mercilessly in her chest. Mother and Father walked hurriedly from the living room to unlock the kitchen's door. But it was a hopeless effort. She disappeared as the fierce bark foreran the gentle click of the unlocked door.

It was her husband -- a skinny old man, tall, dark, but hardly stood ramrod -- back ache. Part of his silver lines on his apex were kept underneath a white kopiah (skullcap), therefore he was a godfearing man, because norm had it that every godfearing man wore it. He was armed with a supple rattan stick.

Mother told me that he was a retired eminent figure of Dungun’s political landscape. He belonged to a political party where men wore skullcaps and despised two towering specimens of the government named Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim. Our neighbour next door, Pok Cik Seng, joined his ship, except he was a mediocrity. And he wore skullcap too, all time.

Neighbours were gathering outside their house already and chattered with each other in a small group. Others craned their neck from the window, looked lost in curiosity of uncertain things in the dimmer rays of twilight, but later joined the swollen group of men and women before their sight that smelled of anxiety. They did not know of what would happen.

"Mok Cik Lah is being beaten by her husband and it's brought outside already!" as the self-chosen leader might had told to the curious ones.

I joined in to socialize with the kids, in another group swelled with wilder hypotheses. Among all the immature heads, we shared a common thought; that the old man was guilty as charged by the mature ones. Verdict; he's a bad husband -- the string of words that came out from eavesdropping at adults' conversation.

Marriage affair wasn't a part of our mental makeup. We neither articulate nor feel emotions connected to Mok Cik Lah. We did not capable of defining "a happy marriage". Unfortunately, we enjoyed the show! We thanked God that the trouble wasn't come from our families.

That night, we witnessed the whole event.

Nobody wanted to mess with other people's marriage problem. It's a taboo in our society. Mother could not do anything too when Mok Cik Lah suddenly appeared from the darkness, ran towards Mother, and cried out "tengok tu Bak nok katok Kak Lah! (look! Bak wants to beat me!)"

She had been running in circles. She had no where to go.

Mother said, "Sabor Kak Lah... sabor..." (calm down Kak Lah, calm down.)

I saw Bak walked swiftly to Mok Cik Lah. He raised his rattan stick into the air. He barked, "Maghi sining mung! Maghi sining!" (come here! come here!)

He pointed the tip of his rattan stick to Mok Cik Lah while repeating the same sentence. His voice turned louder and huskier as he did that. I could feel the sense of rage pressing around him. That stick was so magical that pointing at Mok Cik Lah with it had made her crouched on the tarmac. She propped up with her hands and cried helplessly when Bak approached her in his upsurging rage.

Futile neighbours watched Bak grabbed her wrist and dragged that puny woman back into their house. Each step he made, she resisted it. Bak raised his mighty stick and whipped his wife. Mok Cik Lah shielded the hit with her small palm. Bak raised the stick once again but he didn't hit because Mok Cik Lah had finally moved her feet, pushing the outcrops of the tarmac with her soles in a fading intensity of resistance. But it didn't set down the raging intensity from Bak. He shouted and jerked back her wrist now that Mok Cik Lah stood limply on her feet, hurling herself upon a man who was dragging her back to the house where brutal punishment awaited. She kept crying and shrieking her heart out until the dimmer light of the moon blotted by the eerie-looking night clouds.


Bak died few years later. Aged 77. Mok Cik Lah later married her family's driver after they were caught in the act of indecent behaviour by local religious department officers in the same house she lived with Bak. All characters in this story have undergone 'namelift' for privacy purpose.


  1. would've been better if u had not only done a namelift, but also made them omputih or something. i wouldn't be having goosebumps trying not to imagine a mokcik n pokcik caught in 'the act of indecent behaviour'.

    omputih umo 60 pun boleh berlakon movie and still look good.

  2. Rest in peace Bak (bukan nama sebenar)

  3. The Tea Drinker,
    I thought that white old folks don't beat their wives. Instead, their love grows as time flies. That's why I wanna be like white people (even though I'm quite dark).

    Dottie with Dots
    Rest in piece. Piece.

  4. I'm wondering what it would be like if Richard Gere and Debra Winger play these leading roles? Pehh.

  5. Tranquility,
    Doctor, both of them must go through keropok lekor eating experience first. Then, I'd better offer myself to teach Winger the art of wearing kain batik. And Richard Gere must know how to wear kopiah properly. Don't let it cover your forehead. Pehh.

  6. plauseable!
    wakaka .
    love the last part!

  7. Now my long suspicion on the effect of keropok lekor secret ingredients in alleviating one's aggression especially in male species has been partially proven. Thank you for providing me these substantial evident sir!

  8. DrSam,
    Doctor, if this really true, I will donate half of my salary every month to the scientists so that they could find a concrete solution to replace the keropok lekor secret ingredients with something that is less harmful to our species.

    I should stop consuming this fishy treat from now on. I don't want to beat my wife. I wanna whisper her "I love you" every morning.

    I will miss you keropok lekor.