Friday, February 19, 2010

Disassembled Mind

Mat Jeng didn't look like other passersby. His hairs were tangled like hairs of a demented ghoul. He walked about the row of classrooms, wore ragged shorts with and a t-shirt once white. He was holding a bottle of soy sauce for a reason we never knew. He mouthed some uncertain murmurs, poked his head into the entrance door of ours and shouted "arghh!!!". He dragged us out into temporary haywire. We screamed our heart out like he did, but the difference was; he did that with enjoyment while we almost had our heart explode.

He walked away a few paces, paused, glanced back at us with his contented chuckle, revealing his severely decayed teeth, and off he went to somewhere he never thought of going. Teacher, a local lad, looked calm. He knew Mat Jeng -- a mad man.

Mat Jeng was a famous figure among several other weirdos who roamed about our little town Dungun when I was still a boy. Rumour had it that he was a genius scholar when he was an altogether man. Many sad things happened to him then. I did not know what the sad things were. My friends at school told me, Mat Jeng read too many books, which finally led him into the state of disassembled brain. That got me thinking about it the whole week. Another rumour I heard was – he had involved in an accident; a stone was hurled at him (which came out from nowhere and no one knew who did that) and hit his head, resulted an obvious swelling on his forehead and you could see the swollen flesh from a long distance. He lost his mind ever since.

There was another mad man named Pok Arab. He had another nickname; Orang Salamualaikung, known for his weird everyday outfit -- putting on Arab's headgear and a sunglasses (even in night darkness) and his tendency to greet "Assalamualaikum!" at every single person he met, hence his name.

He cycled alone about the town, and sometimes traveled the whole district from Sura Hujung in the south to Kuala in the north. In his never-ending journey, he smiled and greeted "Assalamualaikum!" at every single person he met. He would pause his journey at certain places, stood there still, buried his hands in his pockets, recited a few holy verses from the Koran and Hadiths (the sayings of the Prophet) and started giving out religious lectures occupied with hand gestures which perhaps, an attempt to describe something indescribable by strings of words like heaven and hell. Unfortunately, no one was willingly listening to him.

I’m not sure I can write Pok Arab’s history in good depth. Too many rumours evolved into variations of exaggerated stories about this mysterious man. But the most famous one I’d heard about Pok Arab was about his journey during his younger days. It was told that he had been too obsessed with mystical part of religious teaching the wrong way. He spent the rest of his life thinking of matters beyond his mental ability, such as, How God looks like? or Who created God in the first place? However, there was one thing I loved about this man -- which was the way he lost his mind in searching for truth.

In 1999, a strange man was given a weird nickname, "Mat Boggel", became a part of daily talks among coffee shops' morning dwellers around the town. Mat Boggel was a man who wore nothing but a long piece of cloth wrapped around his loin area, only covered part of his belly and his butt. When it was blown by strong wind, God helped him, that sight wasn't suitable for minors. One fine day, when the wind was as cruel as people around him, he was taken away to a mental hospital in a place called Tanjung Rambutan.

I haven't forgotten the moment I asked Mother regarding those unfortunate people – “Mok, orang giler masuk syurga dok?” (Mum, will a crazy man find his way in heaven?).

She said, yes.

Do I have to be crazy to go to heaven, Mother?

Ha! Ha! What a naughty boy. Keep yourself accompanied by good deeds everyday, and there's a big palace for you there.

I wanna go to heaven.

Haven't you missed your Zohor prayer today, son?


A Dungun man from Dubai named Kamal Musa had posted a comment about Mat Jeng. He said, copied verbatim:

"Mat Jeng passed away before his mum perfom the Hajj. Glad, his mum was not worried about his late son while she's in Mecca... knowing that no body will take care of Mat Jeng mkn minum sakit demam dia. Mat Jeng is lucky enough to have wonderful mother.."

Thank you Mr. Kamal Musa. Al-Fatihah to Mat Jeng. May he found peace in Jannah!


  1. Dear readers,

    Original article appeared at August 15, 2008. I have reconstructed it and I think it's a good story to share. Have a good read.

    Sir Pok Deng

  2. I remember your Pak Arab. Rides a bicycle and i think we can find him at the first row for Friday prayers.

    I never thought he was crazy. Probably just eccentric.

    Also because I know someone who went really nuts after an overdose of mystics. Barely sane and barely clothed.

  3. i have this fear of mentally disable people to the points that it would put tears to my eyes knowing that they are capable of doing unthinkable things towards others.

  4. The Tea Drinker,
    Yeah I never thought he was crazy too. He dressed properly like any other people, except the weird Arab headgear for a Melayu people like him. His sunglasses didn't make him cool at all, but rather... weird. That made him looked like a freak among Dungun folks at that time. Everybody (probably) knew him, but of course he can't beat Mat Jeng's popularity. Mr. Kamal Musa knew Mat Jeng.

    Did I tell you that Pok Arab rode along the town everyday and everytime while at the same he himself did not sure where was he going? Does a religious people suppose to know where is he going?

  5. Dottie with Dots,
    Pok Arab liked someone. To express his love towards the lady, he bought lauk pauk from nearest weekend market and gave them to her.

    "Saya nok jupa dia, (I wanna see her)" said Pok Arab to the lady's colleague.

    You know what happened then? The lady accepted the "present" and she threw them into a trash can when she knew he was not around. She was afraid that he might had performed special witchcraft ritual to make her to fall in love with him.

  6. there was one mad man in perlis called mail sabun. i first heard of him from my primary school friend, sarah.

    she said, 'mail tu dulu duk dengan mak tiri dia. satu hari, mak tiri dia suruh dia beli sabun basuh baju. dia beli sabun mandi. lepas tu mak tiri dia paksa dia telan sabun tu - seketul terus dia telan. sejak tu..dia gila.'

    i once asked my mother too, if the mad people would go to heaven. when she said yes, i was very happy. i couldn't do much for them. but i can pray. =)

  7. A man I interviewed during my psych posting, spent 1 hour telling in detail how he (cencored) his neigbour. Grabbed my wrists in the end and asked "You believe me right doc???"

  8. Nani Othman,
    He was so naive. Very sad to hear that. You know people these days are mean creatures. They all want to take advantage from these kind of people.

    I read somewhere from an article, a naive man being asked to climb up a coconut tree to pick coconuts. This happened in Malaysia (forgot already which state). And he did. He received nothing in the end. They didn't pay him a cent. That dampened my eyes, seriously. And I imagined myself crushing those people's heads with a hammer.

  9. Tranquility
    That sounds scary. I'd run away from the room and pick up a scalpel.

  10. That's one crazy bugger u got there, Tranquility.

  11. i think i know that pok arab.(or maybe it was another person).he always appeared at my school,shook hands with every boy he met,hum his hymn with his tasbih.
    anyway sir pokdeng,feel free to visit my blog :)

  12. Kartika Azmi,
    Maybe we need some more descriptions here. I wonder your Pok Arab did shake hands with people he met. Glad to have you here, miss. I'll drop by at yours soon!