Saturday, May 30, 2009

More ghoulish tales

There were ghosts everywhere. To a young mind, stepping out into the dark would only mean that you would be exposing yourself to an unknown terror. Ghosts preferred the night shifts presumably to retain anonymity as well as to avoid forging any kinship with the very humans they were supposed to terrorize.

An unsuspecting gatherer of the jungle produce learned the hard way that even the regular forays into the domains of these "orang halus" (invisible people) were no guarantee of safe passage. Heeding nature's call, he carelessly relieved the full fury of his bursting "spheres" onto a "busut" (hillock) which as many an informed Malay knew harbored its own "penunggu" (guardian).

True to form, the aggrieved party allowed for a cooling-off period of one night before striking back viciously. The penalty for this indiscreet act was a disproportionately excessive enlargements of the intruder's offending member, globe and all the following morning.

The moral of the story is that if you strongly believe that size counts, feel free to give the next "busut" you see a try. You have been warned though.

Steer clear of suspiciously "keras" (hard!) places like strange depressions, unusually shaped rocks and eerily silent creeks while these denizens were to have right of residence. If you must approach their living quarters, observe certain movements and recite some mantras for protection.

The world of Malay magic is never short of these clandestine figures. Take your pick. The "hantu bungkus" may be in shrouds but modesty was certainly one of its laudable characteristics.

The "jerangkung" meanwhile, had a penchant for raiding the kitchen. The "pontianak" after which a place in the Borneo heartland got her name, I presume, and also made famous by a number of films, such as the recent "pontianak" films that made Maria Menado a household name, was the tragic reappearance of one who succumbed to labour complications.

Speak well of others. These "others" include the inanimate for you can never know who or what you could alienate. Friends who turned up in school sporting shades of blue or pink faces or nicely puffed -up oral organs had only themselves to blame for indiscreet remarks thrown around.

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