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Warisan Kelantan in Melbourne

March 11, 2011

Melbourne Central Railway Station looks deserted. Quiet. Still. Dull. The next train to St Albans is at 8:57 p.m. Half an hour to go. A serious-looking lady in her professional work attire is sitting quietly next to me on a bench. Reading a book. She doesn’t look worried nor happy. This train station must have been her second home. Poor lady. I don’t mind waiting like her too. I have this great friend with me in my hands. A monograph. What a weird thing to read at a train station at night.

Warisan Kelantan. The Heritage of Kelantan. That’s what this monograph is called. Simple. I bought it at the Muzium Negeri Kelantan a few months ago. In fact, the reason I ended up visiting that spooky museum was because I had been desperately looking for this monograph (can’t I find a better reason?). If someone at this station asks me what I am reading, I could tell him or her something worthy about Kelantan and they might learn a thing from this dull material specially made for a dull man like me. But nobody asks. I am left alone with my dull monograph. Who on the right mind would want to know about a collection of highly detailed papers written by scholars from various backgrounds on a limited area of a subject? Oh yeah, it’s me.

But this monograph can’t be that dull. There must be a reason for its existence. There are actually a lot of other similar series published by the Perbadanan Muzium Negeri Kelantan since 1982. Of course, all of them are talking about a single and ultimate subject of worthiness – Kelantan. This particular edition, published in 1989, has always been on my wish list. There is a special article that examines the influence of Thai on Kelantan Malay. Perfect. But I think this monograph has a lot more to offer than my linguistic meal. There is also a section on circumcision and its elaborate customs practised by old generations in Kelantan. Gross. My mind is so wild thinking about the image of the fancy Buah Sepulih and the sacred Tok Mudin with a frightened boy on a lovely banana trunk. But the next section page is more magical. It chronicles the classic story of Hikayat Agung Gempita. So magical, I thought I am one of the characters in the story. Magic. Magic. I love magic. Bring them on!

But I have just missed the train.

Yep, I don’t realize that I have been so occupied with Kelantan and its heritage until I miss the train. Shit. But I don’t mind killing the next few hours waiting patiently for the next train. I still have this dull monograph as my loyal companion. Excellent. Next? More reading on the Kelantanese in Cambodia and Vietnam (such a great diplomatic relation during all those hard years!). I turn to the next page and find some rustic pictures of great Tuk Gurus. The air suddenyly turns colder and chillier. I can feel the presence of these great Ulamas at this station. I say aloud their names: Tuk Guru Nik Daud bin Nik Mat, Tuk Guru Haji Ahmad bin Haji Abdul Manaf, Tuk Guru Haji Salleh bin Mat Yusuf (from Kampung Kangkong, Pasir Mas!). They are smiling to me, standing so manly in their white robes and turbans. Amazing people with amazing power. They don’t need thick jackets in a cold weather in Melbourne. I want to know more about their power. Can I be their waris? Warisan Kelantan? Did I miss something here? Where is the fucking train?

Oh there it is.

I get into the train and leave the turban men in their mystical world. I find a quiet space next to the train window. Another long dull ride. I start to read the monograph again. It’s the chapter on Kelantan Malay and Thai. Fascinating phonological stuff. I don’t know that there is a girl sitting next to me until I hear she say: “Why are you reading about Thai?”
I look at her and realize that she has been reading the same article with me. Strange girl. No Hello. No Excuse Me. No Hi.
“Oh, this is part of my research,” I say matter-of-factly.
“But why?”
I want to tell her to mind her own business, but I smile and say, “I love languages!”

I continue reading but can’t concentrate. Of all the people in Melbourne, why did God send a curious girl asking me why the hell I should be bothered with Thai? I should’ve asked whether she is a Thai or not, but I don’t want to sound flirtatious. At nearly 11 o’clock at night, I don’t feel like talking to a stranger on a train. She could be a pontianak.

It’s St Albans station. I quickly say good night to the girl, get out of the train and put the monograph back in my bag. It has been a dull night with a dull monograph. But, I suppose, there is always something charming out of dullness.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2011 3:50 pm

    OMG! A Thai pontianak in the train to St Albans. I’d like to see that. Back in the 2000’s, Thai ghost films was the rage! Nang Nak, of course, come to mine. eeeeeeeee…….. purrrr….meow!


  2. ikpunye permalink
    March 12, 2011 3:11 am

    wrong time….baru nak beramah mesra terus kena gelar pontianak *harum sundal malam*..hehe


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