27 March 2012

Of Timun China and Jambu Golok

Once again I am posting a visitor’s comment with my response.

Awang Goneng (AG) left the following comment against Pakcik’s Three (not tea) for Two (click here).

“ Abang Ngah: You do draw the crowd - cats, poets, investors and grateful children with timung china. Reading the comments is as good as reading your blog.

When I went to Kampung Raja to visit my grandad all those years ago when ferries roamed the rivers and tigers the jungle, he (grandpaw) would make his pre-lunch orders. Go to the pohong ttèrè (that's what they call jambu golok in Besut) and pluck the shoots. Go to the kitchen and ask them to cut the timung china. You know of course that the pucuk tèrrè (guava shoots) was to accompany the budu, but I don't think many people nowadays know that the timung china (watermelon) was eaten with rice in Trengganu in them wild days. Perhaps the three timungs arrived on your doorstep just as you were scooping out the steaming rice? So timely. That was better than durian runtuh - until we get the real durian runtuh when Pak Wan Sharif belanja us all.”


“ Sorry, a mistake: in my rush I wrote this, "pucuk tèrrè (guava shoots)". It's actually the shoots of the cashew tree. Jambu Golok. Is that Golok the place in what is now Southern Thailand, or is that the heavy cleaver ?”


Indeed, one time in the distant past it was a known practice for Terengganu folks to have watermelon with rice. The instance I read AG’s remark my memory flashed back, way back sixty years ago when my late mother’s own habit made me learn to take watermelon with rice. I have nothing to feel ashamed of to admit that, today, I still enjoy timun china with my meals. But, until AG made his remarks, I had all but forgotten that I had been perpetuating something of the past.

When I come to think of it I realise that today one can still see some old folks having timun china with rice at a party where timun china is laid out on the table. One has to watch this to realise the old habit dies hard.

As for AG’s trips to Kampong Raja, Besut, I remember those days when passengers disembarked from their bus and stood beside it while the ferry took them across the river. To us, children, it was a great fun to stand close to the edge to watch the current, imagining the sighting of hungry crocodiles. Yes, Mi, I remember all too well that very special old gentleman, Tokwan Ahmad Hakim. He liked to spin humorous tales about Orang Batak and how I laughed!

Thank you, AG for mentioning all those long forgotten facts.

You questioned where the name jambu golok originated from. Does Golok comes from the place of Southern Thailand, or ‘golok’ the ‘heavy cleaver’? Having cracked my aged brain over this very highly academic subject, I can only arrive at one conclusion that ‘golok’ comes from the heavy cleaver (or chopper – golok)

The jambu golok plant (photographed today)

Flowers and young shoots ( photographed today)

The jambu golok fruit

The difficult part is how to explain my rationale that it is the heavy cleaver, not the Golok of Southern Thailand. Firstly, I must assume that everyone knows the special shape of this fruit. As far as I know, jambu golok is perhaps the only fruit on earth which has its nut grown outside the main body of the fruit, in a kind of appendix. If we rest one of these fruit on its side we can see how it resembles the outline of a cleaver ( a chopper ). The crooked nut ( cashew nut ) which is attached to the broad end of the fruit represents the handle of the cleaver.

Any semblance of a cleaver ??

Try harder!

How else could the old folks of Terengganu design the intricate designs of songket, brass tapak sirih, keropok lekor and so forth without the kind of fertile imagination to make them think of an appropriate and simple name for that jambu fruit? For its unique structure and shape this fruit carries at least four names that I know;

Panggil Jambu golok boleh

Gajus pun boleh

Janggus boleh jugok

Ketereh pun boleh jugok

Kalau pandai orang puteh

Dengan cashew nut kita berlagok


And finally, it is my turn to wonder, and leave it to my visitors to tell me why the following fruit are so named.

Timun china

Jambu kling

Pisang kelat kling

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19 March 2012

Three (not Tea) for Two

We were in the middle of our maghrib prayers when a few gentle knocks were heard at our front door. Whoever was there probably realised that it was not quite the right time to be persistent.

It took quite a while before I was downstairs to switch on the light outside and to open the main door. Instinctively I knew that the visitor would not be standing there. Indeed, no one was within sight. But something was on the floor

Three medium size water melons were staring me in the face.

I understood what this was meant to be. In the past I had had durian, fish, rambutan and so on – an offering, my humble gift . Unwritten was the message, “Thank you Pakcik and Makcik.”

Three water melons just for the two of us!


A few minutes later an sms message arrived, “ Pakcik, I left 3 melons outside your door, Mustapha.”

The boy’s father grows water melons. The likes of that family may not necessarily be people of means, but they do not forget easily what good you do for them.

That is what we can never buy from the market

Thank you, Mustapha, was my reply.

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16 March 2012

Awakened - Enlightened

Taken 6 pm 15/3/12

I woke up this morning to find in my email the following poem. It came from our house guest who arrived with her family quarter to midnight last night. On arrival she commented hearing in the dark the sound of waves beating the shore – hence this poem, perhaps

Sleep well, Rudy, Ninot and your three lovely girls.



had forgotten the sound of the waves
Crashing, hitting, arriving
Against the wide ranging beach

sandy white

At the edge of our little world

How tiny we are, the space we live in

Compared to the vastness

they travess

Powerful winds

Reminds one of our insignificance

The forces of the universe

Supreme creation

To be so close

To the edge of time and matter

Where it does not matter

Awakened. Enlightened.

Al-Manar , Terengganu


Sent from my iPhone


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08 March 2012

Moment to Reflect ( Pt 9 ) – Leopold Weiss and the Quran

Just over twenty years ago ( Feb 20th, 1992 ) died an extraordinary person who accepted Islam and whose translation of AlQuran has been a major book of reference to many. In 1900 Muhammad Asad was born Leopold Weiss, the son of a Jewish barrister and grandson of an orthodox rabbi. He was a confidant of many major Muslim figures of the century including King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. He was given the citizenship of Pakistan for his contributions to that country. But this great Islamic thinker chose to die in near obscurity in a small coastal town of Spain, about 500 years after the expulsion of the Muslim Moors and the Jews from Spain.
Three months after his death ( may Allah bless his soul for all his contributions to Islam) I bought the book ,The Road to Mecca, a book I dearly keep ,written by a man I greatly admire.
One very fascinating aspect which triggered his acceptance of Islam was the way he discerned the words of Quran expressed in the faces of distinguished looking people traveling in the Berlin subway. In brief I will take excerpts from that book.
In Sept 1926 traveling with his wife, Elsa, in the Berlin subway Leopold Weiss’s “eyes fell on a well-dressed man with a beautiful brief-case on his knee and a large diamond ring on his finger,” representing “the picture of prosperity which one encountered everywhere in Central Europe”. But the man’s face did not seem to be “a happy face. He appeared to be worried.”
Leopold Weiss turned away from looking at the man and saw “ a lady of some elegance. She also had a strangely unhappy expression on her face, as if contemplating or experiencing something that caused her pain: nevertheless, her mouth was fixed in the stiff semblance of a smile which, I was certain, must have been habitual”, said Leopold Weiss.
Looking around he could see faces in every one of which he “could discern an expression of hidden suffering, so hidden that the owner of the face seemed to be quite unaware of.
He mentioned to his wife the impression he saw in those faces. “She too began to look around her with the careful eyes of a painter accustomed to study human features.” His wife concurred.
When he returned home he happened to glance on the copy of an open Quran lying on his desk. On picking it up to put it away, “and just as I was about to close it, my eyes fell on the page before me and I read:
Surah 102 : Verses 1 - 8
You are obsessed by greed for more and more
Until you go down to your graves.
Nay, but you will come to know!
Nay, but you will come to know!
Nay, if you but knew it will be the knowledge of certainty,
You would indeed see the hell you are in.
In time, indeed, you shall see it with the eye of certainty:
And on that Day you will be asked what you have done with
The boon of life’ ”
( Surah 102: verses 1-8)
He went on to say, “ For that moment I was speechless. I think the book shook in my hands. Then I handed it to Elsa. ‘Read this. Is it not an answer to what we saw in the subway?’ ”
To Leopold Weiss “it was an answer: an answer so decisive that all doubt was suddenly at an end. I knew, beyond doubt, that it was a God-inspired book I was holding in my hand.” He accepted Islam and became Muhammad Asad.

19 years ago
To this great human being, AlQuran was what the Book should be, an absolute book of guidance.
Semoga renungan kita menghasilkan satu titik bermulanya satu perjuangan.

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01 March 2012

You are my sunshine

You are my sunshine, an old song, as old as I am;

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine You make me happy when skies are gray You'll never know dear, how much I love you Please don't take my sunshine away


It was Sunday morning, the sun was shining bright and I was waiting for a van which hopefully would, for a change, bring a load of bright and enthusiastic children. I was truly looking for a break in the grey skies, as the song goes. Of late the attendance and quality of children had been depressing, to say the least.

And that morning I was to start giving tuition to a new group of Form One pupils from the nearby home for poor children and orphans. Because of transport problems faced by the home we were almost two months behind schedule. At long last they had acquired two vans to transport their children. And there I was waiting the arrival of one vanload of new pupils.

Five minutes before eight the van arrived. The moment it stopped high-spirited children scrambled down. I counted only ten of them, two healthy looking boys and eight girls sweetly dressed in baju kurong and dark head-cover. I was not disappointed to see just ten of them if only they were as good as they were cheerful.

They are my sunshine


I addressed them in English, directing them to the classroom and so on, half expecting to see them blinking at me. Surprise, surprise, they could grasp what I had been saying!

As usual I made them fill in the standard form which records family data and past exam results etc, following which I spent about an hour or so interviewing them individually.

The first person who came forward had something familiar about her face. I looked at the form duly completed by her. Her father, an ex army had passed away. Her UPSR results were far from creditable, grade ‘D’ in English and ‘C’ in Maths and Science, not so encouraging after all. She has six siblings. I could hardly believe to see the name of one of her six siblings, Ana Sarda. There could not possibly be a second person by that name. Yes, that was it. Her face resembled the one Ana Sarda, a girl Makcik and Pakcik will never ever forget.

More than ten years ago Ana Sarda came into our life. To bring out the best of that gutsy girl Pakcik sought special permission from her father, who was still alive then, to allow her to stay in our house for a few months before her PMR examination. It all ended happily.To-day she is a qualified teacher serving in a rural school in Tawau.

Ana Sarda, if you are reading this posting, be sure Pakcik will feature you in my ‘End of the tunnel’ series one of these days, perhaps when you will call at our house ( your house, too, even for a brief period) one day with a wedding invitation card in your hand! AlFatihah for your loving father.


So this new girl is indeed that very girl’s sister, hence the facial resemblance. If Pakcik could help her sister then, perhaps I could do it for her now.

The real surprise, one least expected, was in store for Pakcik that morning; four of the ten new intakes passed UPSR with grade ‘A’ in English and three with grade ‘B’. Almanar never had it so good.

Indeed, they are my sunshine …....


When skies are grey



Please don't take my sunshine away……

Can we have our class up here on the tree house?


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